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The Best Things to Do in Seoul

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Seoul is a vast metropolis with an efficient public transportation system. In addition to major sites like temples, museums, and palaces, the city boasts unexpected gems including nature trails and mazes of alluring backstreets.
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Dosan-daero 13-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
No, it’s not your imagination. Everyone—men, women, children, even dogs—dresses up in Seoul. Sure, you’re bound to see the odd denim-clad dud, but on the whole you’re more likely to spot bow ties and blazers or blouses and heels walking the...
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Cheonggyecheon, Jongno 5(o).6(yuk)ga-dong, Seoul
Located below street level, the public space Cheonggyecheon offers an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Seoul. The area is part of a massive urban renewal project in which an old elevated highway was cleared to reveal the stream...
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105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Look to the top of Seoul’s 860-foot-tall Namsan Mountain and you’ll see the N Seoul Tower, which rises an additional 777 feet. This aerial perch is the highest point in the city and offers incredible views. Far below, Seoul sprawls out...
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South Korea, Seoul, Jongno-gu, Gahoe-dong, 계동길 49-23
Meaning “a place where one can enjoy the traditions of times past and rest one’s soul,” Rak Ko Jae certainly lives up to its name. Styled after a Chosun Dynasty–era house, the 130-year-old hanok (traditional Korean house)...
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40 Hangang-daero 21na-gil, Hangangno 3(sam)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
An integral part of Korean culture, jimjilbangs, or bathhouses, offer much more than just a trip to the spa. Most are open 24 hours, functioning as a place for people to unwind and socialize. Expect unisex areas equipped with pools, showers, and...
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65 Hangaram-ro, Jamsil 2(i)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The Han River is Seoul’s main artery, and the fourth longest river on the Korean peninsula. This glistening waterway bisects Seoul’s bustling neighborhoods, while modern bridges span the divide and pretty pathways meander along the banks. Han...
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99 Sejong-daero, Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
While in Seoul, stop by Daehanmun Gate at Deoksugung Palace, where you can see semi-daily changing of the guard ceremonies.
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Euljiro 7(chil)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
This sleek, silver structure looks as if an alien spaceship had landed in the middle Seoul. It all makes sense, however, when you realize it’s the work of the late architect Zaha Hadid. Completed in 2014, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (known...
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137 Seobinggo-ro, Seobinggo-dong, Yongsan-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
The National Museum of Korea is the largest museum in Korea and houses a comprehensive collection of Korean cultural artifacts that tell the story of Korea’s fascinating history, from ancient days to the modern era. There’s also the Children’s...
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240 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 3(sam)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The world’s largest indoor amusement park, Lotte World gets more than 7 million visitors annually. Seasonal festivals like the Rio Samba Carnival and the Happy Christmas Party dictate the themes of the daily parades and performances, while...
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25 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 7(chil)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A unique cultural event, Korean baseball games are fun even for the sports-averse. The Korea Baseball Organization consists of 10 teams that play from April through October, competing to win the Korean Series. Games go way beyond athletics, with...
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Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The Korean alphabet, known as hangeul, is the only alphabet in the world where the letters were created to resemble the shape the mouth makes as you voice them. Created by King Sejong in the mid 15th century as a way to educate the illiterate, the...
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262 Bogukmun-ro, Jeongneung-dong, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Few people associate a wired city like Seoul with nature. However, South Korea’s capital is nestled amid 37 mountains, putting the great outdoors just a bus or subway ride away. Thanks to its location within the city, Bukhansan holds the...
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273 Ttukseom-ro, Seongsu-dong 1(il)-ga, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Seoul Forest is the city’s equivalent of New York’s Central Park. Divided into five unique areas, it covers a massive 12.4 million square feet, making for an oasis in the middle of the city. There’s no shortage of activities for...
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54 Naksan-gil, Ihwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Constructed in 1396, Seoul’s great fortress walls snake around the 11.5-mile perimeter of the old city, straddling the ridges between Bugaksan, Naksan, Namsan, and Inwangsan mountains. Punctuated by ancient gates, the walls now function as...
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South Korea, Seoul, Myeong-dong, 명동2가 명동길 26 중구 서울특별시 KR
Opened in 1997, Nanta is the longest-running show in Korean history. Similar to Stomp, it’s a nonverbal musical that people of all ages and nationalities can understand. The comedic story follows a frantic kitchen staff as they prepare for...
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35-4 Insadong-gil, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
When most people think of Korean cuisine, the first food that comes to mind is usually kimchi. In addition to being the country’s national dish, the spicy, fermented vegetable condiment has been shown to contain many health benefits. Learn...
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79-12 Gahoe-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
To catch a glimpse of ancient Seoul, head to Bukchon Hanok Village. This historic, hilly neighborhood lies between the palace walls of Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung and consists of more than 800 hanoks, traditional one-story homes with...
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60-16 Itaewon-ro 55-gil, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opened in 2004, the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art seeks to bridge the past, present, and future of art. The sleek complex consists of two wings, one dedicated to traditional Korean works and the other to international contemporary art. The...
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South Korea, Seoul, Myeong-dong, 명동8길 27 M-Plaza 5층 중구 서울특별시 KR
The Seoul Global Cultural Center presents programs that deepen tourists’ understanding of Korean culture. Conveniently located in Myeongdong, the venue offers free weekly classes on everything from Korean handicrafts and cooking to...
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55 Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Constructed in 1910 as the head temple of Korean Buddhism, Jogyesa is a spiritual sanctuary that’s free to the public. Visitors can wander around two 500-year-old trees in the courtyard, then head to the main hall, known as Daeoongjeong, to...
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99 Yulgok-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Changdeokgung Palace is a prime example of pungsu, a style derived from the principles of Confucianism that harmoniously blends architecture with the surrounding landscape. Originally built in 1412 as a secondary...
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Korea

Since 1953, the Korean peninsula has been split by a strip of land about four kilometers (2.5 miles) wide, stretching from sea to sea: the Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, where North and South Korea stare at each other. Since no one ventures into the...

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161 Sajik-ro, Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

This “Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven” was once the heart of Korea. It was the power center of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1897), and was originally built in 1395—some new digs for a new dynasty. Like the Forbidden City in ...

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29 Itaewon-ro, Namyeong-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Seoul’s War Memorial Museum is a massive complex that can easily eat up a history buff’s whole day. The big-ticket items—tanks, planes, missiles—are outside; inside is a complete history of military actions in Korea. One...

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Dongjang-ri, Jangdan-myeon, Paju-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Located between the two Koreas in the Civilian Control Zone along the 38th Parallel, Dorasan station has recently awakened as though from a spell. Once only used as a showcase boasting of hopes for reunification between the divided peninsula for...