If you’re looking to visit a city that’s modern yet ancient, exciting yet serene, and cutting edge yet steeped in history, then Seoul is it. The capital of South Korea, this vibrant metropolis has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to tour sacred palaces, take in breathtaking scenery, or shop ‘til you drop. Western Union (WU) has 5 must-see attractions in Seoul, South Korea that will help make your trip unforgettable.
For a stunning example of architecture and design blending in seamlessly with nature, be sure to visit the Changdeokgung Palace complex. This 15th century gem, situated at the foothills of a mountain range, was constructed by order of King Taejong during the Joseon Dynasty. The ornate, beautifully detailed buildings and structures, including three gates and three courts, are fashioned of wood and stone, and influenced Korean architecture for centuries. The wooded complex also incorporates an extensive garden called Biwon, the Secret Garden, which features a lotus pool, terraced lawns, and over 56,000 tree, flower, and plant specimens.
Because of the palace’s influence on Korean architecture, adherence to traditional principles, historical significance, and harmony with its natural environment, Changdeokgung Palace has been designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bukhansan National Park
To take in even more nature, be sure to schedule a hike in Bukhansan National Park. This sprawling geological island, with an area of 79.9 square kilometers, serves as a green oasis from its surrounding urban setting and a natural escape for Seoul’s 20 million residents. The park is home to dozens of granite peaks, gorges, and clear mountain streams, as well as a fortress and over 100 Buddhist temples.
Myeongdong & Insadong Shoping Districts
Love to shop? You’ll have a blast shopping in two of Seoul’s most popular shopping districts, Myeongdong and Insadong. The main section of Myeongdong is lined with brand name shops, while lower-priced options can be found on side streets. If you prefer to be indoors, Myeongdong also offers malls such as Migliore, Avatar, and Lotte World, a massive complex with a mall, hotel, ice rink, castle, and the world’s largest indoor amusement park, complete with rollercoasters and carnival-style rides. Take a break from shopping to grab lunch in the Lotte food court or one of Myeongdong’s many restaurants.
If you’re looking for more handmade, local arts and crafts, be sure to visit Insadong Street, which specializes in traditional Korean pottery, teas, clothing, furniture, accessories, and folk crafts. Here you can also take in art exhibitions at one of Insadong’s art galleries or attend a special event or festival. Vehicles aren’t permitted on the street on weekends, allowing visitors to stroll freely and enjoy the local handicrafts.
Trick Eye Museum
For a kid-friendly activity that’s fun for the whole family, visit the Trick Eye Museum in Hongdae, Seoul. You’ll soon realize this is not your ordinary art museum. The paintings in the gallery have been composed using the trompe-l'oeil (trick of the eye) technique, where 2D flat paintings are made to look like 3D images. Unlike most every other gallery, visitors are encouraged to interact, touch, pose, and take photos with the art.
Kids will also enjoy the Ice Museum, which is free with your admission to Trick Eye Museum. The museum offers a large collection of ice sculptures, and even an ice slide you can slide down.
Bukchon Hanok Village
If you have architecture lovers on your trip, then Bukchon Hanok Village is a must-see. This area will provide a welcome respite from the activities of Seoul and a glimpse back in time at traditional Korean architecture and design. Home to approximately 900 hanok (traditional Korean homes), you can easily spend a couple of carefree hours wandering around, admiring the exquisite craftsmanship. Also stop by the Bukchon Traditional Culture Center to learn more about the area and local culture.
A visit to Seoul is certain to be a memorable adventure for your entire family. If you’ve been to Seoul, where were your favorite places to visit? Let us know in the comments!