Seoul is the beautiful and historical capital of South Korea. There are many reasons to visit this unique and diverse city and you’ll find yourself caught up in the enchanting atmosphere of the place. To get an idea of the layout of Seoul, the River Han runs through the centre of Seoul and neatly divides the city into four parts. The northern area of the city is where most of the tourist attractions are located and there are some good examples of traditional Korean housing. South of the river lie several trendy districts with plenty of chic bars and shops. Hotels and hostels are aplenty in downtown Seoul and you can find some quite reasonable accommodation and apartments for rent in the centre. Instead of staying in a hotel, have you ever considered staying in an apartment or guest house? You’ll get to experience what it is like to live in Seoul and your host will more than likely give you some useful tips on where to go and what to see in the city. Seoul has something for everyone, including excellent food and shopping opportunities – come visit this fantastic Asian city!
Seoul is surrounded by mountains, the highest is over 800m!
According to the OECD, Seoul is the most densely populated city on earth – over 10 million people live there.
Every state of Korea has its own dialect but Seoul Korean is the standard Korean language.
The number 4 is considered extremely unlucky – many buildings in Seoul do not have a fourth floor!
Fruit in Seoul is very expensive due to the high level of rain. A watermelon costs about the equivalent of US$ 27!
What to do in Seoul
We recommend you concentrate on the northern side of the river – it’s where you’ll find a mixture of interesting tourist attractions and traditional Korean architecture. The Gyeoungbok Palace is one of Seoul’s greatest landmarks and is well worth investigating! It is the biggest of Seoul’s traditional palaces and was built in the 14th century. It’s huge and really enjoyable to walk around. Look out for the collection of earthenware pots – they were used to store chili pastes and fermented soy beans in times gone by. A short distance from the palace is a small square called Gwanghwamun. From here there is a beautiful view of city and it is only a short walk to the city hall, a modern day architectural wonder. Located North of the Gyeongbukgung Palace, Buk-chon is a beautiful district with many traditional ‘Hanok’ houses. It’s become a bit of a tourist attraction in recent years but if you visit early in the morning you’ll find you have the peaceful streets to yourself. Walk up the hill through the district and enjoy the marvelous views out across the city.
Visit the district of Insadong and take a walk along the main Insa Street. It is a traditional Korean street that will give you an idea of what the city used to be like. There are quaint galleries and authentic restaurants down this pretty street. Seochon is another pretty area full of traditional Korean houses, quaint shops, bars and restaurants South of the river you’ll also find hip districts like the now world famous Gangnam, the Hongik University area, TaewonI and Garosu-gil in Sinsa-dong. You’ll find a great selection of trendy bars, cafes and small shops in these areas. Banpo Bridge, located close to Gangnam, is worth visiting at night. The bridge’s ‘Moonlight Rainbow Mountain’ is spectacular – 10,000 LED nozzles shoot out water over the river. It’s totally stunning!
There are many pretty spots along the Han River. You’ll find nice parks and bridges and each park has a different view of the river. There are many festivals held in the parks and they offer the chance to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. If you wish to escape the city even further then you should climb the Nam mountain, located to the north of the city.
Food in Seoul
When it comes to delicious and healthy cuisines, not many countries in the world can beat South Korea. Since time immemorial, spicy, strong flavored, pickled and mouthwatering foods are the main specialties of the restaurants found in Seoul. If you want dumplings filled with meat and tofu, or a kimchi, then Seoul is definitely a good place to go. Here are some of our favorite Korean dishes:
Bulgogi– Grilled, marinated strips of beef served with various vegetables. In a poll conducted by CNN, this dish was voted 23rd most tasty dish in the world!
Bibimbap – a signature Korean dish, Bibimbap literally means ‘mixed rice’. This dish is served in a bowl and consists of rice, sautéed and seasoned vegetables and often raw egg or meat. The ingredients are mixed together just before eat – it was Michael Jackson’s favorite dish!
Kimchi – this traditional Korean side dish is made from seasoned vegetables. Traditionally the vegetables are fermented for months underground in jars. There are many varieties of this dish but usually they contain cabbage, radish or cucumber. Kimchi is also used as the basis for many stews and other dishes.
Galbi – Beef or pork ribs marinated in a Korean soy sauce. This dish is served in special Galbi restaurants and the meat is cooked on guest’s tables!
Seoul’s airport is called Incheon International Airport and is one of the busiest airports in the world. The airport is located 30 miles to the west of Seoul and buses and a metro link the airport with the city centre. We recommend you take the Airport Express Metro Line which will take you into the centre in 1 ½ hours. Travelling on public transport around the city centre is safe and clean. The subway is the best mode of transport and serves all the popular tourist attractions. The bus service is good but hard to navigate sometimes. If you wish to travel outside of Seoul, we recommend you visit Suwon and its famous fortress, or Incheon which is by the sea. Both take an hour to reach on public transport.
Accommodation and Apartments for Rent in Seoul
There are a number of districts in the city which each offer their own attractions and charms. You can choose to stay in a high-end hotel or in a budget hostel, or why not combine the both and stay in a comfortable and private rental with Wimdu, where you can choose from apartments, studios or even bed and breakfast options such as guesthouses. Having a helpful host to hand with insider tips and advice can only be a plus in a city where there is so much to be discovered!