What To Do in Seoul in South Korea
Seoul is a lively, bustling city. Located on the Han River, it has been the centre of politics, economy, culture and transportation of Korea for six centuries. Almost a quarter of South Koreans live in this huge megacity. The city has a population of over 10 million.
To start with a good view, head to Mount Namsan and take a trip up North Seoul Tower. The summit of Mount Namsan can be reached by a hiking trail or by riding a cable car. The view from the top of the tower is impressive. If you go as half of a couple, you can also do the romantic thing and leave a padlock with the other 'locks of love' which are attached to the fence at the top.
For a lesson in the city's past, head to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the oldest palace of the Joseon Dynasty. The palace was built in the 1394 and was reconstructed in 1876. In English, Gyeongbokgung means, 'Palace of Shining Happiness.' Within the grounds is the National Folk Museum of Korea. Nearby is the President's residence, the Blue House. Another palace of interest is Deoksugung Palace, which has a Royal Guard Changing Ceremony.
Cheonggyecheon is a great place for a stroll. It's a stream which runs through the city. The story of the stream begins with the construction of a drainage system during the Joeseon Dynasty. After the Korean War, the stream area became a dirty and polluted shantytown. In the sixties, the stream was covered up with concrete and an elevated highway was completed in 1976. A restoration project began in 2003 and the stream was opened to the public again in 2005 as a recreation space. It's a really peaceful place to be. Despite being in the middle of a busy city centre, you would hardly know because the stream is more than 15ft below street level.
Myeongdong is a place for shopping. There a range of brand outlets, including Lacoste, Polo Ralph Loren and Louis Vuitton. It is a popular are for young people and tourists. There are several department stores here which are worth a look: Lotte Department Store, Shinsege Department Store and Migliore. If shopping on the street is more your thing, you should definitely check out Namdaemun Market. With a massive sprawl of street-vendors, it's a great place to pick up all kinds of things. You can buy clothing, shoes, housewares, jewellery, toys and appliances. Dongdaemun Market is another popular place to buy fabrics, clothing, leather goods, housewear and shoes. There are small shops and big malls. If you need to pick up some souvenirs before you head back home, you should take a trip to Insadong. With its mix of art galleries, traditional craft stores, antique art dealers, tea houses and restaurants, this area is a great place to experience the traditional culture of Korea.
For anyone interested in the past, the War Memorial & Museum has exhibits on the history of warfare in Korea, with a section on the Korean War (1950-53). Seodaemun Prison provides an insight into the period of Korean history between 1910 and 1945 when the nation lived under the oppressive colonial rule of Japan. Torture scenes are recreated in the interrogation cells.