You won’t be short on things to see and do in Seoul, the world’s second largest city. With over 25.6 million residents, South Korea’s capital is home to five UNESCO World Heritage sites, surrounded by some pretty big mountains, including Mount Bukhan, and is the birthplace of Gangnam Style singer PSY.
1. Visit Dongdaemun History and Culture Park
Wish you could time travel? Head over to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, a historical theme park where you can explore the ruins of a military campsite from the Choseon Dynasty and walk along Seoul’s ancient fortress wall.
2. Cure jetlag at the medicine market
Suffering from jetlag, or did you just go a bit hard on the rice wine? Either way, find a remedy at Seoul’s medicine market. Sample free medicinal tea and pick up some of Korea’s world famous red ginseng, an apparently brilliant cure-all!
3. Battle it out at the Korean War Museum
Relive some of Korea’s most famous battles and learn more about current domestic relations at the Korean War Museum. This highly digital and interactive museum has an F-15K 3D experience room, shooting range and Incheon Landing 4D experience.
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4. Unwind at Bongeunsa Temple
Find time for some soul-searching at Bongeunsa Temple. In Seoul’s financial district, sign up for The Temple Life experience programme and get an introduction to Buddhist culture with a tea ceremony, lantern making, and mental training sessions.
5. Head to a Korean bathhouse
Scrub up at a jjimjilbang, a Korean bath house. Chill out in a themed sauna, take a medicinal bath or have some fun in the game rooms. If all the lazing around tires you out, some bath houses in Seoul even offer overnight accommodation.
6. Eat some Korean barbeque
Forget silver service and dine like the locals. Scream ‘yo-gi-oh’ for your server, get tipsy on countless bottles of Korea’s signature drink, soju, and gorge on bottomless side dishes (banchan) all while your dinner cooks right in front of your eyes at a local Korean Barbeque shop.
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7. Act like royalty at Gyeongbukgung Palace
Gyeongbukgung is the biggest of five royal palaces in Seoul and also the place where you can dress up in traditional royal costumes for free. Don’t get too carried away with all those fancy dress selfies and make sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore the massive grounds and gardens.
8. Shop ‘til you drop in Myeongdong
Love picking up a bargain or hunting down some unusual souvenirs? Score some cosmetics and funky fashion in Myeongdong, stopping for a snack at one of the many street food stands that line the blocks.
9. Be deceived at Hongdae’s Trick Eye Museum
Head over to the Hongdae college district and visit Korea’s most popular museum, the Trick EyeMuseum. Fool all your Facebook friends with pictures of you fighting dragons, climbing walls, and even levitating!
10. Meet locals at Bukchon Hanok Village
Wander through the streets of Bukchon Hanok Village and discover hanok, an ancient style of Korean architecture. Sample signature teas and sweet rice cakes at a traditional teahouse. Homestays are also available, where you can sleep like the locals, on cushions on the floor kept toasty by Korea’s ondol underfloor heating system.
So what is the best time to visit Seoul?
Now that you want to go dancing with PSY you’ve got to find a cheap flight to Seoul. The best time to visit the South Korean metropolis is in mid-January, where prices dip 18.7 percent below their average cost. When does it cost the most to visit? Early-December, where prices jump up 18.5 percent.
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Megan Fox is a journalist and teacher from the Northeastern United States, currently living and working in Seoul, South Korea. She is a blogger and freelance writer, currently writing a blog entitled Seoulmateskorea that is aimed to help expats explore life in Korea. Megan’s love for travel and exploring new cultures has made Korea the 5th country in four continents in which she has worked. Her other interests include cooking, hiking, and volunteering.
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