Seoul is the capital of South Korea. Called the “miracle on the Han River,” Seoul is the 600-year-old capital and has reshaped itself into a 21st-century urban ideal filled with culture, innovative design and parks. Ongoing restorations are reconnecting the city with its past, its present is one of abundant shopping, eating, drinking and general merriment, and its future is bright.
Best Time to Visit
If you are planning a Travel to South Korea then lasting from April to June, spring is generally regarded as the best time to visit. Flowers are in bloom, and a frothy cloak of cherry blossom washes a brief wave of pinkish white from south to north.
Top Places to Visit in Seoul
1. Changdeokgung Palace
UNESCO World Heritage site, Known for its traditional Korean architecture, the early 15th-century royal palace sits in harmony with the mountains and small streams that surround it. Stone animals guard the main gate, giving way to a paved courtyard perfectly designed to reflect a stately elegance. The blue-tiled government office buildings sit next to the royal family’s private living quarters. Peering inside the rooms, you get a sense of what life must have been like for the kings that once called them home.
Gyeongbokgung Palace arguably the most beautiful and remains the grandest of all five palaces is also called “Northern Palace” because it is the furthest north when compared to the neighboring palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace) and Gyeongheegung (Western Palace). The name of the palace, Gyeongbokgung, translates in English as “Palace of Shining Happiness.” The premises were destroyed by fire at the time of Japanese occupation from 1592-1598. However, all of the palace’s 7,700 rooms were later restored under the leadership of Heungseondaewongun during the reign of King Gojong. The National Palace Museum of Korea is located south of Heungnyemun Gate, and the National Folk Museum is located east within Hyangwonjeong. Opening Hours: March to October 09:00-18:00 / November to February 09:00-17:00. Closed on Tuesday.
3. Bukchon Hanok Village
Situated between by two palaces, Gyeongbokgung to the west and Changdeokgung to the east, this village has the largest cluster of privately owned traditional Korean wooden homes or hanok in Seoul. The Bukchon area is a traditional residential area in Seoul that boasts 600 years of history. Its location reflects the views of neo-Confucianism, regarding the world and nature, during the Joseon Dynasty. Hanok architecture places great emphasis on the topographical features of the land on which it is built. Structural arrangements, layouts, and other spatial aesthetics are major concerns here, as are the styles of the buildings themselves.
One of the most memorable Seoul attractions and represents the focal point of Korean traditional culture and crafts. Stores in Insa-dong specialize in a wide variety of goods that can only be purchased or appreciated in Korea: hanbok (traditional clothing), hanji (traditional paper), traditional teas, pottery, and folk crafts. There are about 100 galleries in the area and you can see every example of traditional Korean fine art from paintings to sculptures. The teahouses and restaurants are the perfect compliment to the galleries. Every Sunday from 10:00 – 22:00, some streets are blocked off from traffic and it becomes a cultural space. Stores set up booths outside and others set up shop (Korean candy merchants and fortune tellers.) There are traditional performances and exhibits as well.
5. Jongmyo Shrine
Jongmyo is the term used for a place where memorial services are performed for deceased kings, and Sajik is the term for a place where services for the Gods of Earth and Crops are performed. The Shrine is the oldest and most authentic of the Confucian royal shrines to have been preserved. Dedicated to the forefathers of the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), the shrine has existed in its present form since the 16th century and houses tablets bearing the teachings of members of the former royal family. Ritual ceremonies linking music, song and dance still take place there, perpetuating a tradition that goes back to the 14th century. It enshrines the memorial tablets of greatly honored kings and their queens, today containing 19 memorial tablets of kings and 30 tablets of their queens in 19 spirit chambers.