Places of Interest in Seoul
Information about the main tourist attractions and must-see sights in Seoul...
Bukchon Hanok Village: In this area of Seoul, a number of traditional wooden Korean houses, or hanok, have been carefully preserved. Many original architectural features of the houses, such as courtyards and painted walls, have been restored. The neighbourhood is also home to many cafés, art galleries and restaurants.
The Royal Palaces: The majority of Korea's former royal residences are found in the Jongno gu district. Gyeongbokgung Palace (also sometimes known as Kyeongbokgung or simply Gyeongbok) was the largest of the palaces built during the Joseon dynasty, and is now the most famous. Its name in English means "Palace of Shining Happiness." The ceremony of the changing of the royal guard takes place every day throughout the year in front of the Heungnyemun main gate.
The National Palace Museum of Korea is located west of the Heungnyemun main gate, and the National Folk Museum is east of Hyangwonjeong.
- Gyeongbokgung Royal Palace
At: 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Tel: 02 723 4283
- National Palace Museum of Korea
- National Folk Museum of Korea
Changdeokgung Palace (also known as Changdeok): Originally the secondary palace to Gyeongbukgung, this palace was used as a residence until the twentieth century. The main building is elegant and colourful. The usual way for tourists to visit the site is by guided tours (in English); however, on Thursdays between April and November, it is possible to visit unescorted. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Changdeokgung's most striking feature is its 'secret garden', or Biwon: a wooded glade with a pavilion and a lily pond where the Joseon kings would relax and study.
- Changdeokgung Royal Palace
At: 99 Yulgong-no, Jongno-gu, Seoul-si
Tel: 02 762 9513
The Jongmyo Shrine: The oldest and most authentic Confucian royal shrine to have been preserved. It dates back to the sixteenth century and is dedicated to the forefathers of the Joseon dynasty. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Traditional ritual ceremonies, featuring music, song and dance, are still performed at the shrine.
- For further information about the Jongmyo Shrine: Click here
Seolleung Park Royal Tombs: Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, this wooded park contains the impressive burial mounds of the Joseon King Seongjong (who ruled from1469 to 1494), his Queen Jeonghyeon and their son Jungjong. The tombs are surrounded by sculptures and statues depicting animal and human guardians. The standing stone lanterns were believed to have been placed there to guide the king's spirit home.
- For further information about the Seolleung Park Royal Tombs: Click here
The War Memorial of Korea: An extensive military history museum, with displays of tanks, planes and guns.
- The War Memorial of Korea
At: 8 Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 140-021
Tel: 02 709 3139
Cheonggyecheon Stream: Nearly 6 Km long, the stream is 4.6m below street level and has numerous small waterfalls. There is a walkway running alongside it. Despite its proximity to the busy shopping street of Sejongro, the stream can be a relaxing place to walk along.
Itaewon: Regarded as Seoul's expatriate neighbourhood, Itaewon attracts many foreign visitors and has a very cosmopolitan atmosphere. It has a large number of expatriate-friendly restaurants, cafés, clubs, bars and foreign food shops, some of which are owned by expatriates. Several embassies are also located in this area.
Hongdae: Close to the university area, this district is popular amongst trendy young Koreans and foreign visitors who come for its entertainment and nightlife. It has several affordable clubs as well as live music bars, cafés, international restaurants and vendors of arts and crafts.
Insadong: A traditional Korean district filled with numerous historic buildings, art galleries, traditional restaurants and teahouses, and souvenir shops. There are also numerous shops selling antiques and traditional Korean arts and crafts. Insadong attracts both tourists and local residents and is a busy, lively area both day and night.
N Seoul Tower: Standing 497m above sea level, the N Seoul tower is one of the most outstanding landmarks in Seoul. There is an observation deck which provides a 360-degree view of Seoul. Other tourist attractions in the tower include a Teddy Bear Museum, roof terrace and restaurants.
- N Seoul Tower
At: San 1-3 Yongsan-dong 2-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Hangang Citizen's Park: This popular public park runs alongside the Han river and has swimming pools, play areas, bicycle trails, snack stands, sports facilities and recreational facilities as well as bicycle rental points. There is also a ferry cruise along the Han river, with pick-up points at Yeouido, Jamsil and Ttukseom.
- Hangang Park
Tel: 02 1330
COEX Mall: One of the most popular shopping malls in Seoul. This underground shopping mall is connected to the Samseong subway station and is also accessible by bus. The mall has hundreds of shops including Zara, Nike, Apple and an ABC store and as well as a number of dining places and a 16-screen cinema. There is also an aquarium, Bandi and Luni's bookstore, the Kimchi Museum and the Hyundai Department Store. It is generally considered to be the best Western-style shopping mall in Seoul.
- COEX Mall
At: World Trade Centre, 159 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul