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Best things to do in Seoul

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Where in the world: Asia  /  South Korea  /  Seoul
Things to do in Seoul allow you to discover many of the city's charms, including five World Heritage Sites. Start by taking in the sweeping panorama of Seoul from the roof terrace of N Seoul Tower. Dating back to the 14th century, Gyeongbokgung Palace is an expansive complex that provides a glimpse into the private quarters of the Joseon dynasty rulers and encompasses National Folk Museum. For some retail therapy, visit high fashion houses and department stores on Myeongdong Shopping Street. When you get tired of sightseeing, take a relaxing stroll through the capital's only natural reserve, Bukhansan National Park.

Seoul is best known for its Shopping, History Museums, and Lookouts.

Top 15 things to do in Seoul

1. Gyeongbokgung Palace

Dating back to 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace served as the residence of the Joseon dynasty rulers, their households, and governments. Though much of the original structure was destroyed by fire in the late 16th century, the palace was reconstructed during the 19th-century reign of King Gojong. The expansive complex includes a number of pavilions and halls, as well as the royal family's private quarters. Also on premises, you'll find the National Folk Museum, National Palace Museum, and a number of traditional Korean gardens.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. Changdeokgung Palace

Listed as a World Heritage Site, Changdeokgung Palace represents the main palace of Joseon Dynasty's kings, which shelters lotus ponds, pavilions, and some 300-year-old trees. Established in 1395, the palace compound contains a royal family residence, a public area, and a secret garden, as well as other simplistic elements dating back to the period of Three Kingdoms. Go on a tour to explore the harmonious palace and its halls, which were purposely constructed and designed by implementing feng shui principles and Confucian ideology. You'll also find snack bars, shaded rest areas, and benches here.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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3. N Seoul Tower

Ride the elevator to the top levels of N Seoul Tower, a broadcast and observation tower. Serving as South Korea's first general radio broadcasting tower, the 236.7 m (777 ft) structure also includes four floors of attractions interspersed with observation platforms. Visit the teddy bear museum and stop by the observation points, or take a seat at the French or Korean restaurant to dine with sweeping views of Seoul below. Check out the roof terrace and its thousands of "Locks of Love."
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Insadong

Once the prime district to find antiques and ancient art, Insadong remains at the heart of Seoul's cafe culture. The main street, which the municipality blocks off on weekends to allow for safe pedestrian traffic, branches off into narrow alleys, lined with art galleries, teahouses, and garden restaurants. Traditional and modern Korean art are available for viewing and purchase at over 100 local galleries. Munch on taffy and pajeon (Korean pancake) from street vendors while you explore.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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5. Bukchon Hanok Village

Explore a 600-year-old urban area composed of traditional Korean houses at Bukchon Hanok Village. Constructed during the reign of the Joseon Dynasty, the village consists of many neighborhoods which were uses as a residential quarter for nobles and high-ranking government officials. Go on a guided tour to explore the narrow streets and visit cultural and hospitality facilities, such as workshops, museums, restaurants, and cafes. With more than half a million visitors yearly, you will need to book a reservation at least three days prior to your visit.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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6. Namsan Park

Enjoy some fresh air at the mountaintop Namsan Park, one of the city's most popular areas for strolling, picnicking, and relaxing. Make your way up to the top of the 262 m (860 ft) peak via cable car to take in sweeping views over the capital's urban sprawl. Go for a leisurely wander around the network of walking paths crisscrossing the park and meandering through the area's wooded landscape. You'll find sport facilities for badminton, tennis, swimming, baseball, and more around the park, as well as a botanical garden, library, and cultural center.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Myeongdong Shopping Street

Search for treasures on Myeongdong Shopping Street, a major commercial and shopping district in Seoul. Featuring local and international brands, as well as high fashion houses and department stores, the area is popular among young, trendsetting locals and travelers. You can also find many Japanese, Western, and Korean restaurants in the neighborhood-- look out for local specialties like donkas (pork cutlets) and kalguksu (thick noodles) on the menus. While you're in the area, visit the Myeongdong Cathedral, a Gothic Revival Catholic church of immense proportions.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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8. Lotte World

Enjoy thrill rides, shop until you drop, and learn about local culture at Lotte World, home to the planet's biggest indoor theme park. Comprised of two main areas, one indoor and one outdoor, the complex features plenty of entertainment for all seasons. Get your heart beating on a roller coaster, or kick back on a kid-friendly, hot air balloon ride. Try your hand at the shooting range, indulge in some retail therapy at the onsite department store, or catch a magic show from a number of rotating performers. You can have a go on the country's largest ice skating rink to cool yourself down, or stop by the folk museum to learn about key points in the nation's history.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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9. DMZ Haemaru Village, Paju

Take a monorail to explore a blame-game tunnel of DMZ Haemaru Village, the only official venue for meetings between the ROK and DPRK. With the U.S. overseeing the peace process in the Cold War-divided peninsula, the zone gives you a rare opportunity to tour a military administration line amid heavy security. Official English or Japanese-speaking guides accompany your tour, showing you the venue where the 1953 armistice was signed. Observe a change of joint guards and use a telescope to see the northern part of the divided Korea. You must register at least four days prior to the tour, and for some countries a scanned color copy of your passport is required. Certain nationals may be banned from entry--check before you go.
Suggested duration: 5 hours
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10. Cheonggyecheon Stream

See how a successful eco-friendly urban renewal project created a popular tourist spot at Cheonggyecheon Stream. Before the nation's rapid economic development after the war, the district stood as a neglected waterway secluded by an overpass. However, after the renovation and beautification project, it evolved into a modern public recreation space and a haven for natural habitats. Inspect the passing stream from one of two historic bridges--Gwangtonggyo and Supyogyo--and see how it teems with animal and plant life amid a highly urbanized city. You'll find many shops and small businesses here; feel free to pay them a visit and purchase their goods, souvenirs, or services.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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11. Bukhansan National Park

Hailed as the capital's only natural reserve, Bukhansan National Park shelters a rich biodiversity tucked away amid three granite mountain peaks--Baegunbong, Mangyeongbong, and Insubong. Also known as the Triangle Mountain, the national park boasts more than 1,300 species of animal and plant life, as well as an abundance of cultural and historical sites. As you explore the valleys and ridges, you'll come across many Buddhist temples and hermitages scattered all over the gentle slopes. Each season brings something visually unique to the park, so bring your camera and hiking shoes to experience those moments. Always carry extra water with you, and check the weather conditions in order to dress yourself properly for exploration.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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12. National Museum of Korea

National Museum of Korea serves as the country's premier repository of artwork, historical artifacts, and cultural items. More than 300,000 objects grace the museum's three floors, with highlights ranging from 6t-century incense burners to Bronze Age weapons and modern calligraphy. Join a guided tour, offered in English multiple times per day, to learn more about the museum's origins and its most prized holdings. Alternatively, rent an audio guide to explore at your own pace. When visiting with little ones, head for the children's museum section for an array of cultural and hands-on activities. Don't forget to check the museum's website for information regarding temporary exhibits, lectures, and other special events.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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13. Namdaemun Market

The biggest and oldest bazaar in the country, Namdaemun Market offers plenty of shopping and dining options appealing to both locals and visiting travelers. Wandering the bustling streets allows you to explore a market dating back to the early 15th century. Delve deep into the market's various sections to browse hundreds of stands, stalls, and shops offering everything from clothing to traditional utensils. Don't miss stopping by the food market to try classic Korean dishes, including bibimbap (a rice bowl topped with meat and vegetables), homemade noodles, and shellfish soup.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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14. Banpo Hangang Park

Stroll along the waterfront at Banpo Hangang Park, a recreational area home to sports facilities, walking paths, and sweeping city views. Designed as an outdoor haven for relaxation, the park stretches out along the eponymous Hangang River, drawing healthy numbers of visitors looking to enjoy some fresh air. Go for a jog along the water, take along a picnic for a bite to eat on the grass, or simply kick back on one of the many benches and people watch. You can even rent a bike in the area to more easily traverse the promenade. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for fountain shows and other performances within the park.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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15. The War Memorial of Korea

Initially used as the Korean army headquarters, The War Memorial of Korea today serves to memorialize the nation's military history. Established in 1993, the building contains six indoor exhibition halls and one outdoor center, which displays more than 13,000 military items and war memorabilia. With the purpose to educate future generations by collecting, preserving, and showcasing historical records and relics, the museum has become one of the most prominent touristic landmarks of its kind in the world. Explore the halls divided into different themes, such as the Korean War, war history, and large equipment room, among others. Some special exhibitions require purchasing a ticket.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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