The soaring popularity of Korean dramas and K-pop has suddenly placed Seoul on every traveler’s bucket list. Whether you’re a night owl who loves to go bar-hopping or an old soul who finds solace in palaces and museums, Seoul has something in store for you.
Then there’s the exquisite Korean cuisine, which is much more than just kimchi and bibimbap. Between Korean barbecue, kimbap (Korea's take on sushi), mandu (meat-filled ravioli), fried chicken, and more, there are many culinary specialties to taste. And that's without even mentioning the local drinks, such as soju or makgeolli rice wine!
Read more: What Is The Drinking Age In Korea?
When it comes to architecture and attractions, South Korea’s capital city offers an eclectic mix of towering skyscrapers dotted with lights, as well as Buddhist temples and sprawling markets.
There’s a reason why this vibrant metropolis is one of South Korea’s most popular travel destinations. Boasting a population of roughly 10 million, it’s also the largest city in the country. This means that if you’re visiting Seoul for the first time, you’ll be spoilt for choice in terms of travel sights.
That’s why we’ve compiled this nifty guide to help you make the most out of your maiden trip to the city of K-pop, K-dramas, and kimchi. Let’s take a look.
Best Time to Visit Seoul
Seoul’s weather is fairly predictable and can be categorized into four seasons, namely spring, summer, fall, and winter. The best time to visit the city is the shoulder season of spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).
During these months, the temperature is mild with minimal humidity and precipitation. Also, these months witness a slower influx of tourists, which means you’re likely to get better deals on flights and top hotels in Seoul.
Spring marks the onset of the cherry blossom season, with the cityscape wrapped in subtle hues of pink. On the other hand, the arrival of fall paints the city in warmer tones of red, orange, and azure. The natural landscape during these seasons is every traveler’s dream come true.
During the summer months (between June and August), Seoul is hot, muggy, and crowded with selfie-obsessed tourists. This also means that the cost of accommodation and flights skyrockets around this time of the year.
While the mercury levels drop to freezing cold temperatures in winter (December to February), you get to witness a different side of Seoul. The city is enveloped in a blanket of snow, with various ski resorts on the outskirts. If you don’t mind braving the harsh winter, this could be a good time to visit Seoul as well.
Where to Stay in Seoul
Being an urban metropolis, Seoul is studded with a plethora of glitzy resorts and hotels. If you’re looking for more affordable options, you’ll also find plenty of hostels and homestays. Or you could choose to stay in the traditional wooden-floored Korean homes known as hanoks.
Make sure you choose the right neighborhood based on your travel preferences. For instance, if you’d like to stay in a quintessential hanok, it’s a good idea to book your accommodation in Bukchon.
The most popular neighborhoods for staying in Seoul include:
While Myeongdong is the city’s hub of shopping, Hongdae and Itaewon are ideal for exploring the sprightly nightlife and drinking culture. If you’re looking to get away from the cosmopolitan cacophony, you could stay in lesser-known neighborhoods, such as Mullae and Seongsu.
Things to Do in Seoul
Here’s the thing - curating a comprehensive list of things to do and explore in Seoul would be futile. Rest assured, the city won’t disappoint any curious traveler. Whether you’re looking to unleash the history buff inside you or channel your inner shopaholic, you’ll find plenty of options.
For an alternative perspective of the city, make sure you visit Jongno, which is strewn with regal palaces, temples, and hanoks. You could also visit one of the museums for a glimpse of the city’s glorious yesteryears.
Once you’re done marveling at the past, it’s time to get back to the contemporary avatar of Seoul. Start your tour with a visit to a traditional Hanbok cafe. You could also visit other popular attractions, including the N Seoul Towers and Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
Alternatively, for a bit of exercise and a priceless view, make your way to the top of the N Seoul Tower, perched on Namsan Peak, to get a panorama of this sprawling city from above.
Of course, your visit to Seoul would be incomplete without indulging in a shopping spree. Myeongdong and Gangnam are the best neighborhoods to explore the jubilant street markets of the city. From trendy clothes to exquisite cosmetics - these markets have got everything you need to give yourself a K-pop makeover.
If your feet get tired from all the hopping around, pamper yourself with Jjimjilbang, the traditional Korean-style sauna. Rent a room in a noraebang for a bout of karaoke with your travel possee or your new local friends. And finally, conclude your day with a visit to one of the vibrant nightclubs in Hongdae or Itaewon.
Do you have any other tips for planning the perfect trip to Seoul? Share your suggestions in the comments section below.