An Interesting Place to See the Sights
Seoul, South Korea is a city of interesting cultural contrasts. In this South East Asian city, where shanty-type buildings sit in the shadow of deluxe skyscrapers, the views and activities make for some interesting sightseeing.
Visit the Gyeongbok Palace
One of the places you’ll want to visit is the Gyeongbok Palace, noted as being one of the country’s most well-known royal buildings. Located on the northern section of the main street in Seoul, the palace is closely located to the Presidential residence or the Blue House. Tours are given of the 14th century residence three times a day. Plan to stay about two hours in order to explore the halls, pavilions and grounds of the walled structure.
Stroll through Bukchon Village
Another recommended attraction in this Seoul travel guide is BukchonVillage. Close to Gyeongbok Palace, which lies to the west, the village is home to the biggest grouping in Seoul of classic Korean wood houses. Alleys in the idyllic village feature restored courtyards and attractive outer walls. Charming cafes and galleries are also mainstays in the community.
Spend the Day at the Shinsegae Department Store
If you love to shop, then you won’t want to miss seeing the Shinsegae Department store. Noted as being one of the three biggest department stores in Seoul, the emporium showcases all kinds of products. For example, the basement highlights fresh seafood and prepared cuisine while, upstairs, you can find Hermes scarves and a variety of brand-name clothing and accessories. Visit the other two main department stores, Hyundai and Lotte, if you have time as well.
Trek up Bugaksan
If you enjoy hiking, especially uphill, then you’ll appreciate the mountain trails of Bugaksan, which is a pinnacle located behind the Presidential residence (Cheongwadae). Once you get to the top, you can see an amazing view of the surrounding city. Because the trails can get fairly crowded on the weekend, it’s best to make the uphill climb from Monday through Friday. Access the trail at Sukjeongmun Gate, where the best trailhead can be found. Hikers need their passport in order to access the hill.
Go Bargain Shopping at the Namdaemun Market
Although it’s very crowded, you’ll want to visit the Namdaemun Market, which is a flurry of activity 24-7. Endless numbers of shops feature cheap selections of jewelry, toys, housewares, clothing, foods, and stationery. Retailers are located in multistory buildings as well as in street-side stalls. If you get hungry, stop and try some dumpling soup or savor the bindae duk, a fried pancake made with mung beans (small green legumes).
Walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream
Taking a walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream is a nice reprieve if you’ve been traveling along the Sejongno, one of Seoul’s main boulevards. Amazingly peaceful, the stream is located more than a foot below the street. Walking tours are available along the approximate 3.5 mile stretch or you can choose to go it alone.
Visit the War Memorial of Korea
Because South Korea has had a history of war, its War Memorial is a must-see attraction. More of a museum than a memorial, the building exhibits guns, planes, and tanks and provides visitors with a better understanding of the country’s troubled past. South Korea is still an adversary of North Korea. So, you’ll be able to get a clearer understanding of the dispute when you visit the complex.
Luxury Hotels in Seoul
The Seoul Ritz-Carlton
One of the preferred, albeit pricey, places to stay in Seoul is the Ritz-Carlton, which is in close proximity to the Han River. Displaying marbled pillars in its lobby, the hotel features accommodations that are not so ostentatious but are softly elegant. Six restaurants can be found on the property, including the Oksan Buffet, which showcases international cuisine. Take a break in the hotel’s fitness facility and relax in the hinoki soaking tub, which is made of Japanese cypress and is noted for its therapeutic qualities.
The Westin Chosun: Seoul’s Oldest Hotel is Newly Renovated
The Westin Chosun, which runs a little over $200 per night, was first constructed in 1914. The luxury property, which has been around the longest of any other Seoul hotel, was renovated in 2004. Room amenities include hypoallergenic carpeting and padded headboards. Electronic checkout is available as well, saving you a trip to the desk when you’re ready to leave.