Seoul is easily the best city to visit in South Korea. The landscape ranges from rolling mountains to soaring skyscrapers. The nightlife is wild. The food is phenomenal and the locals are some of the kindest folks you’ll ever meet. If you are headed to Seoul and are looking for the top things to do in this wonderful city, then you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you have a quick layover or a short few days to spend in this bustling city and you want to make sure you see all the top sights. Below is a compilation of ten of the best things to do in Seoul.
10TAKE A CABLE CAR UP NAMSAN TOWER
Namsan Tower is located in the heart of the city. Visitors can take a cable car up to the top for under $10. Or simply hike the short 2-kilometer trail.
It takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the tower and it is fairly easy to walk up. Once you have made it to the top of the tower, you’ll get some awe-inspiring views of the entire city.
9VISIT A THEMED CAFE
Seoul might as well be the poster child for themed cafes. With thousands of coffee shops sprawled all over the city, there are dozens of themed cafes found in most neighborhoods. A themed cafe is exactly what it sounds like: choose any theme, add some coffee, and you’ve got yourself a themed cafe! And South Korea loves them, especially in Seoul.
There are dog cafes, raccoon cafes, board game cafes, and even Hello Kitty cafes. There are even more unique cafes such as drawing cafes or flowering arranging cafes. At one point, Seoul even had a nap cafe to allow those hard-working business workers a much-needed break in between those long days at the office. Get a coffee, pet a cat, pet a sheep, or pet a raccoon. Whatever your interests are, there’s a cafe for that!
8SHOP IN MYEONGDONG
For all skincare and cosmetic fanatics, Myeongdong Shopping District is where you will want to be. So dash towards the subway and wear comfortable walking shoes because you could easily spend your entire day in this area. Prominent for its skincare products, Korea has developed some of the best skincare companies in the world.
You will find all tourists from all countries who have specifically traveled to South Korea for the best cosmetic products. Not only is this the place where you’ll find top-notch skincare, but its also great to shop for clothing and all things cute. There are even outdoor vendors that sell some knock-off brands, printed tees, and adorable socks with cute characters printed on them.
7RENT A HANBOK AND VISIT A PALACE
Something you’ll often see throughout Seoul will be tourists dressed in traditional hanboks as they casually stroll through the city. A hanbok is a traditional Korean dress with vibrant colors, cute embroidered designs, that poofs out towards the bottom to make anyone feel like royalty. Hanbok rentals are found throughout the city, so you won’t struggle to find a place to rent you one.
Choose your favorite hanbok, bring it to a worker, and they’ll take care of the rest. Hanbok rentals will fit you into the dress and even style your hair. Head towards the nearest palace and get ready for your photo opp with friends. Royal palaces are the perfect backdrop to pair with your new outfits. Plus, if you’re dress in a hanbok you get free entry to all palaces in the city!
6READ IN STARFIELD LIBRARY IN COEX
In the Gangnam district, you’ll find COEX Shopping Centre which is home to the Starfield Library. This oasis for bookworms is easy to find within the shopping mall as you’ll immediately notice the brightly lit tower of books. Free entry for all, you can go ahead and grab any of the 50, 000 books and find a seat to people watch. COEX has many other attractions inside such as the COEX Aquarium.
This aquarium is one of the largest in the country and features over 600 species with over 40,000 fish to see! The mall itself has plenty of brand name stores as well as the famous SM Town. Most KPop fanatics will know that this is the place to get all your album and fan gear needs.
5INDULGE AT ONE OF THE MANY FOOD MARKETS
Food lovers rejoice as you eat to your heart’s content. There is a great selection of food markets in Seoul and they are all over the city. Get properly acquainted with some authentic Korean cuisine at any of these markets. Some well-known markets are Noryangjin Fish Market, Gwangjang Market, and Namdaemun Market. You’ll find vendors selling all kinds of traditional dishes. Try the bibimbap; a rice dish comprised of mixed veggies. Get it meatless or with beef doused in a delicious red hot pepper paste called gochujang.
Other popular street foods are tteokbokki which are rice rolls, gimbap is a stuffed rice roll wrapped in seaweed, hotteok is pancake filled with a variety of flavors. If you are feeling adventurous, try the sannakji. Sannakji is the “live octopus” dish served in sesame oil with some wasabi. It’s essentially octopus sashimi that has been cut up and served with the tentacles still squirming on your plate.
4GET CULTURED AT DONGDAEMUN DESIGN PLAZA
Dongdaemun Design Plaza, also known as DDP, is one of the major landmarks in Seoul. Its neo-futuristic design is truly a sight to see. DDP is a massive cultural center and hosts a variety of events throughout the year. For instance, Seoul Fashion Week is hosted here yearly along with other exhibitions, shows, and conferences. At night, enjoy the futuristic atmosphere and alluring design elements such as the LED Rose Garden.
A permanent exhibition that displays hundreds of roses that light up at sunset. On some nights, visitors can relish in some live street performances or sample some bites at one of the food trucks. The surrounding area is also a good experience with nearby markets and busy streets.
3VISIT ONE OF THE TEMPLES
For a city with tons of contemporary architecture, what makes it great are the sudden pops of traditional temples scattered throughout the city. Bongeunsa Temple is one of the most famous and oldest temple in Seoul. Bongeunsa is a Buddhist temple founded in 794 and is located in the Gangnam district. Jogyesa Temple is another popular site with a spectacular string of colorful lanterns hanging from building to building. There, you’ll also see the seven-story pagoda and three large golden statues of Buddha found in the main building. Visiting temples is a great way to take a calm and pleasant break from the energetic streets of Seoul.
2WATCH STREET PERFORMERS IN HONGDAE
Korea is continuing to grow its international audience and appreciation for dance and music. While sometimes it can be difficult to purchase concerns tickets or other performances, you can easily catch a free show in the middle of Hongdae. Hongdae is a section in Seoul’s Mapu-gu district known for its urban arts, food, shopping, bars, and entertainment scene. In the heart of this area, you’ll find extremely talented buskers performing every night of the week. Street performers you’ll spot are mostly singers and dancers that have drawn in massive crowds to enjoy the show.
1CATCH VIEWS AT LOTTE TOWER
Lotte World Tower is an iconic 123-story skyscraper in Seoul. It is the tallest building in the country and it is actually the sixth tallest building in the world. This structure offers a luxury hotel and a gorgeous observation deck with some stunning views of the city. While entrance tickets are around $25, it is well worth the costs for the grand views. The elevator ride will bring you to the top in a few short minutes for a panoramic view of the city that can be appreciated day or night. There is also a transparent glass floor on the Sky Deck. Just below, visitors can also enjoy the Lotte World mall and amusement.