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Things to do in Seoul

Seoul is a rambling city of contrasts, with ancient palaces sitting in the shadows of modern high-rise buildings. The main sightseeing area is north of the Han River in the Jung-gu and Jongno districts. The most impressive sites include the Gyeongbokgung Palace and Chandeokgung Palace, home to the royal secret garden. Insadong and Samcheongdong are the present-day cultural centres, packed with street vendors and high-class galleries showcasing traditional ceramics and contemporary Korean art.

Gyeongbokgung  Palace, Seoul. © Korea Tourism Organisation
Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul. © Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
1

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

Art past and present

Showcasing the past, present and future of art and design, the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art is housed in three high-design buildings and brings world-class exhibitions to Seoul's Yongsan area. English-speaking tours are available at 3pm on weekends.



Cost

W10,000; 7-18 yrs W6,000; temporary exhibitions vary

Opening Hours

Tue-Sun 10:30am-6pm, until 9pm Thu; last entry one hour before closing

Address

747-18, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 140-893

Telephone

+82 (0) 2 2014 6900

Transport

Subway line 6 Hangangjin station (exit 1)

Website

Leeum Website

National Museum of Korea. Courtesy of National Museum of Korea
2

National Museum of Korea

Cultural and historical collection

The National Museum of Korea houses more than 11,000 pieces - ancient artefacts, ceramics and paintings - spanning Korea's extensive history on three exhibition floors. The outdoor garden houses pagodas and stone relics in the Yongsang district.



Cost

Permanent collection free

Opening Hours

Tue, Thu & Fri 9am-6pm; Wed & Sat 9am-9pm; Sun & holidays 9am-7pm; last entry one hour before closing; closed Mon

Address

135, Seobinggo ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 140-026

Telephone

+82 (0) 2 2077 9000 (English, Japanese, Chinese)

Transport

Subway line 4 Ichon station (exit 2)

Website

National Museum of Korea Website

Totoman, Seoul. Courtesy of Totoman
3

Totoman

Vintage Korean kitsch

This tiny museum in Insadong district is packed with an eclectic collection of objects and toys from Korea's recent past. Dating from the 1960s to the 1990s, the displays include toy robots, junk food packaging, albums, figurines and other memorabilia.



Cost

W1,000

Opening Hours

Daily 10am-9pm

Address

169-2, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-300

Telephone

+82 (0) 2 2014 6900

Transport

Subway line 1 Jonggak station (exit 3)

Gyeongbokgung  Palace, Seoul. © Korea Tourism Organisation
4

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Main Joseon Dynasty palace

Gyeongbokgung was the main palace during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Its 500-year history starts with the founding king, Lee Seong-Gye. In 1395 he moved the capital from Gyeseong to Seoul and built this palace in the northern Jongno district.



Cost

W3000 adults; W1500 7-18 yrs; free for seniors and under-6s

Opening Hours

Mar-Oct Wed-Mon 9am-6pm; Nov-Feb Wed-Mon 9am-5pm

Address

1, Sejong-no, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-050

Transport

Subway line 3 Geongbokgung station (exit 5) or line 5 Ganghwamun station (exit 2)

Website

Cultural Heritage Administration Website (for Gyeongbokgung Palace)

Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul. © Korea Tourism Organisation
5

Changdeokgung Palace

Palace with secret garden

The most beautiful of Seoul's palaces, Changdeokgung Palace served as the main power seat for the Joseon Dynasty kings for over 300 years. The peaceful "Secret Garden" (Biwon) behind the main palace building has 300-year-old trees, a lake and pavilion.



Cost

W3000; 7-18 yrs W1500; under-6s & seniors free

Opening Hours

Mar-Oct Tue-Sun 9am-6pm; Nov-Feb Tue-Sun 9am-5pm

Address

99, Yulgokro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-360

Telephone

+82 (0) 2 762 8261

Transport

Subway line 3 Anguk station (exit 3) or line 1, 3, or 5 Jongno 3-ga station (exit 6)

Website

Cultural Properties Association Website (for Changdeokgung Palace)

Jongmyo Shrine, Seoul. © Korea Tourism Organisation
6

Jongmyo Shrine

Joseon Dynasty kings' shrine

A place of worship for Joseon Dynasty royalty, Jongmyo is a Confucian shrine. Three paths lead there from the main gate: the middle one for dead kings; the eastern path for the present king; and the western for the prince.



Cost

W1,000; W500 7-18 yrs; under-6s & seniors free

Opening Hours

Mar-Oct 9am-5pm weekdays, (until 7pm weekends/holidays); Nov-Feb 9am-4:30pm (until 5.30pm weekends/holidays)

Address

1-2, Hunjeong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-400

Telephone

+82 (0) 2 765 0195

Transport

Subway line 1 to Jongno 3(sam)-ga station (exit 11)

Website

Cultural Heritage Administration Website

Namsan N Seoul Tower, Seoul. © Korea Tourism Organisation
7

Namsan N Seoul Tower

Best city views

The N Seoul Tower (with its rotating restaurant) is located on Namsan hill in Jung-gu, and offers breathtaking Seoul city views. You can climb the stairs, while the less athletic can pay for the cable car up to the tower.



Cost

Observation deck W7,000; 65 and older W5,000; 4-12 yrs W3,000

Opening Hours

Mon-Thu & Sun 10am-11pm; Fri & Sat 10am-12am

Address

1-3, Yongsandong 2-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul 140-022

Telephone

+82 (0) 2 753 2563

Transport

Subway line 4 Myeongdong station (exit 3)

Website

N Seoul Tower Website

Bongeunsa, Seoul. © Korea Tourism Organisation
8

Bongeunsa

Historic Zen Buddhist temple

The historic Zen Buddhist Bongeunsa temple was built in Gangnam in quieter, pre-skyscraper days. Early-morning percussion rituals awaken the heavenly beings (it's also a great time for visitors to avoid the crowds). English guides are available 9am-6pm weekdays.



Cost

Free admission

Opening Hours

Daily 4am-9pm

Address

73, Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 135-870

Telephone

+82 (0) 2 511 6070 ext 4

Transport

Subway line 2 Samseong station (exit 6)

Website

Bongeunsa Temple Website

Namsangol, Seoul. © Korea Tourism Organisation
9

Namsangol

Traditional Korean village

Moved here from various locations throughout the city, the restored homes in this traditional village show how both peasants and royalty used to live during the Joseon Dynasty. On Spring and Autumn weekends, they hold traditional marriage ceremonies around noon.



Cost

Free

Opening Hours

Apr-Oct 9am-9pm, Nov-Mar 9am-8pm, closed Tue, except if Tue is a holiday, then the following day is closed

Address

84-1, Pildong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-272

Telephone

+82 (0)2 2264 4412

Transport

Subway line 3 or 4 Chungmuro station (exit 3 or 4)

Website

Seoul City Tourism Board Website (Namsangol village info)

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