Many people skip South Korea altogether when travelling around the Far East, preferring instead to check out its more famous neighbours China and Japan. However, when you come to Seoul, the nation’s capital, you will be surprised at how well the tradition and modernity is combined to create a tourist destination that is popular, but not overly-so. The city has dozens of amazing attractions, but here I have listed my top 10.
10. The Jongmyo Shrine is a Confucian place of worship and is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Throughout its history there has been a long preservation of its traditions, including memorial services which can be watched every Sunday.
9. Gangnam is one of most affluent neighbourhoods in Seoul and was made famous by that annoyingly popular pop song by PSY called Gangnam Style a few years ago. You can always be sure of something happening in Gangnam, and is a great place for people-watching as this is the area where the rich Seoulites come out to play.
8. The Cheonggyecheon Stream is a recently renovated waterway that runs from the Cheonggyecheon district all the way towards Dongdaemun. The stream is a great way to spend time having a stroll during the day or night, and many of the courting local couples come down here to enjoy a romantic evening. You can sure of some art on the water, or even some street entertainers playing music nearby.
7. Lotte World is the best theme park in South Korea. Many people consider it to be the country’s own version of Disneyland. There are plenty of attractions here for people of all ages and sizes, and the park is split into indoor and outdoor sections.
6. The War Memorial of Korea is a poignant reminder of the troubles South Korea has endured in its recent history. This is one of the top museums in the whole of Asia and the sheer size of the place could overwhelm as much as the emotional content.
5. Bukchon Hanok Village is a brilliant preserved residential area which showcases what life was like for Seoulites many decades ago before modernisation. The hanok houses are built of stone and are usually only one-storey high, and many have heated floors to give comfort in the cold Korean winters.
4. Gwangjang Market is known all over South Korea as being a mega wholesale market, where fresh food of all sorts can be seen, prepared, eaten, and bought! While a very touristy area for backpackers and visitors to the city, it is a real market and much trade goes on here throughout the day!
3. Bongeunsa Temple is a Buddhist place of worship that has always been popular with tourists. Built in the year 794, this small but striking temple is located on the slope of Sudo Mountain in the Gangnam district of the city.
2. Gyeongbokgung Palace is the finest of Seoul’s grand palaces. Although Changdeokgung and Deoksugung are still very good to explore, most people are happy to visit just one of the 3 grand palaces, and Gyeongbokgung Palace is the best bet.
1. Myeongdong Night Market has got to be the finest attraction in Seoul. On a night that isn’t too cold, you can spend hours marvelling at everything on sale here in Myeongdong (known for its hyper shopping!), from cheap fashion to beauty products, and from revolutionary electronics to souvenirs! Arguably the best thing here though at Myeongdong, is its famous night market, which sells all kinds of scrumptious street food under the moonlight – just make sure you try those potato hot dogs and corn ice cream cones!
Please tell me what you think of this list, and what are your own favourite attractions in Seoul?