Gyeongbok Palace

This former seat of power is probably Korea's most famous royal palace. It's tough to miss given its location at the northern end of Seoul's main boulevard, Sejongro, a stone's throw from the Blue Hous (the President's residence) and the U.S embassy. The Palace was built in the late 1300s, and has been destroyed and reconstructed numerous times. Give yourself at least an hour to stroll around the pavilions and halls within the palace's spacious walled grounds.


Bukchon Village

Flanked by two palaces — Gyeongbok Palace to the west and Changdeok Palace to the east — this village has the largest cluster of privately owned traditional Korean wooden homes or hanok in Seoul. Keep an eye out for the half-dozen or so alleys that have beautifully restored architectural features like small courtyards, decorative outer walls and dark tiled roofs. The neighborhood is also peppered with quaint cafés, art galleries and restaurants.


The thing that makes Seoul such a beautiful city are the mountains that surround it. Bugaksan, the peak behind the President's residence, is a great place to spend a day. Several trailheads take hikers through reconstructed 15th-century gates and along Seoul's ancient fortress wall. From the top of the 342-m (112-ft.) ascent, you'll get a commanding view of the capital.



Every foreigner who comes to Seoul gravitates to this gritty expat-friendly neighbourhood near the main U.S. Army base. Itaewon is choc-a-block with bars, clubs, restaurants and shops selling everything from reproduction Korean furniture and tailored suits to jewelry and Korean pottery. One of the best clubs in the city, Club Volume, is here, in the basement of the Crown Hotel.


Namdaemun Market

This is a fantastic place to pick up inexpensive clothing, housewares, fabrics, jewelry, accessories, toys, food, flowers, stationery and appliances. There are thousands of shops located in the 30 or so multi-storey buildings, not to mention an endless sprawl of street-vendor stalls. This market is seriously crowded, so be prepared to get bumped around.


Cheonggyecheon Stream

A walk along this 5.8-km (3.6-mile) stream is almost as good as a spa for clearing one's mind or rethinking a deal. While it's just off Sejongro, one of the busiest boulevards in Seoul, Cheonggyecheon is remarkably quiet because the stream is 4.6 metres below street level and feels a little like a dugout. You can take an organized walking tour or stroll alone. It's very serene with small waterfalls, and nearly two dozen overhead bridges.


War Memorial of Korea

This is the best place to learn about Korea’s troubled history with its naughty neighour North Korea. There’s lots of tanks, planes and guns on display and you might think you’re touring a military base instead of a museum. Given that the peninsula is still technically at war with North Korea, this place seems very relevant.


Lotte World

This is the largest indoor theme park in the world - there’s also an outdoor section called Magic Island that’s connected to the indoor area by monorail. Here you go go ice-skating or bowling in other parts of the complex. It’s a great place if you’re travelling with kids.



There’s many in Seoul and one of the most impressive is Bongeunsa, which was founded in 794 during the Silla (one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea) period. The temple has more than 1,000 years of history and has many interesting historic and cultural features, including woodblock carvings of the Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Garland Sutra).



It’s the national dish of Korea but the smell of kimchi is hard to get your nose around. It accompanies every meal in Korea and making the fermented veggie dish takes a lot of skill, which the Koreans are more than willing to teach visitors at the kimchi classes they offer. However, don’t try and tae this on a plane - most airline ban the lethal food.