With so many things to do in this large city, it can be daunting to know where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our 30 favourite things to do in the city. Enjoy!
Get your spa on at the jjimjilbang
Not for the faint of heart, a day at a Korean spa (jjimjilbang) will probably be the most memorable part of your trip. Just be prepared to bathe naked with other members of the same gender. Don’t worry, it’s not so weird once you get over the fact that you’re naked. Promise. Our favourite jjimjilbang in Seoul is the Dragon Hill Spa!
Shop ’til you drop in Seoul’s many markets…
You can buy literally anything at a Korea market. Fancy eating fresh fish for dinner tonight while wearing cute anime-themed socks? They’ve got you covered. Just be sure to bring plenty of cash with you. Our favourite market is the Namdaemun market, Korea’s largest traditional market, where you’ll find everything from herbal medicine product to clothes to street food.
…or on Myeongdong Street if you love cosmetics
This is a makeup lovers paradise. If you so much as look in the direction of a store you’ll be given free samples. And if you buy something – you’ll probably leave with more free stuff than what you bought. Just beware of getting lost in the streets of Myeongdong. There are 5 of each store on the same street so it can be hard to find your way around.
Take in a great view at N Seoul Tower
Though we never actually went up the tower (the base has a great view as well in our opinion), here you’ll get a great 360 view of the entire city. Our tip: check the forecast before going since Seoul can be pretty foggy/smoggy at times. Also, if you plan on taking the cable car up to the tower be prepared to wait for a couple of hours (the bus is your best bet if you want to get there quickly).
Get your fill of history at Seoul’s many palaces: Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace & Deoksugung Palace
These palaces are a photographer and history buff’s dream all rolled into one. They are large, beautiful and full of history, making them the perfect place to spend a summer morning or fall afternoon.
Squeeze in some exercise in Namsan Park
We ‘hiked’ to the top of Namsan Park (to the N Seoul Tower) by accident in late August and it was a great way to escape the city’s hustle and bustle. It’s stairs pretty much the whole way so there’s no need for intense hiking gear.
Get spooked on a haunted walk with Zen Kimchi Tours
A great way to explore Seoul’s alleyways while hearing of all the spooky things that have previously occurred there, Zen Kimchi’s haunted walk is a fun way to spend an evening in Seoul. You’ll get a knowledgeable guide to give you the 411 on Korean history, explore parts of Seoul you never would have seen on your own and see Seoul’s nightlife come to life.
Bike along the Han River
Another creative way to squeeze in some exercise in this bustling city is renting a bike and cruise along the Han River. Plus you can make it romantic by renting a tandem bike and packing a picnic to eat along the way!
Enjoy locally brewed beer
Okay so let’s be honest: Korean beer sucks. The commonly sold Cass and Hite just don’t quite do it for us so when we heard that there were a few local craft breweries we were all over that like white on rice (haha). There are a few breweries to choose from but our favourite is Craftworks in Itaewon.
See multiculturalism in Korea in Itaewon
Been in Korea for a while and need you fix of Western (or any other kind of food!)? Head to Itaewon for kebabs, tacos, burgers, poutines and sandwiches galore! You’ll find basically everything your heart desires here in the foreigner district. Coincidentally this is also a great place to party if you’re looking to have some fun later.
Walk along the Cheonggyecheon river
Restored in 2005, the Cheonggyecheon river is a great place for an evening stroll (romantic or not) to walk off your huge dinner of Korean BBQ.
Party like it’s 1999
Seoul has some of the wildest nightlife in the world. Head to Hongdae or Itaewon for the top clubs and liveliest bars in the city.
Feel like a VIP in one of the city’s many VIP theatres
4DX, love seats, dine-in movie theatres, Dr. Dre earphones – Seoul has got it all and has, dare we say it, perfected the art of watching movies. Check out this awesome list of unique movie theatres in the city to catch the latest flick!
Catch a baseball game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium
Koreans go crazy for their baseball teams. Seriously. If you’re in the city during the season be sure to catch (haha get it?) a game for a sport watching experience of a lifetime. For the most up to date information about schedules, click here.
Find ancient Korea in the middle of a modern city at Bukchon Hanok Village
It’s quite something to see such a contrast in such a large city. In Bukchon Hanok Village you’ll get amazing views of Seoul’s not so distant past in the middle of a concrete jungle. Basically a guaranteed 50 likes on your Instagram shot. Just saying.
Feel artsy fartsy at the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art
Another great place to spend a rainy afternoon, this museum showcases both traditional and modern Korean art.
Escape a locked room
In case you didn’t know it yet we LOVE escape rooms. Seriously. We go coocoo for escape rooms. Naturally we had to try one while in Korea at an awesome place called The Vault (what an awesome name).
Learn to make kimchi in a cooking class
Impress your friends and family when you come home by learning new culinary skills! Learn how to make kimchi, Korea’s supremely popular dish of fermented cabbage, as well as other popular Korean dishes. We recommend trying out a class at the Food & Culture Academy.
Try on a traditional hanbok
You can rent a traditional hanboks in Bukchon Hanok Village and take awesome pics for your Instagram feed. You can rent these sweet outfits for an hourly rate (usually around 10 000 won) or a daily rate. Be warned though that these are really warm and may not be the best choice on a hot summer day.
Explore various themed cafes in Hongdae
Poop cafes. Hello Kitty cafes. Dog cafes. Cat cafes. Sheep cafes. Racoon cafes. Hongdae has it all. Spend the day cafe hopping for some great stories to tell and those perfect double-tap worthy Instagram shots.
Snap some awesome pics of the Ihwa Mural Village
In an effort to improve the local environment of Ihwa Village, approximately 60 artists painted walls and installed artworks in the area in 2006. The result: yet another prime place for those perfect Instagram shots in Seoul.
Marvel at architecture at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Once you’ve had your fill of this place’s amazing modern architecture you can walk around the Plaza’s various shops, restaurants, museum and art hall.
Sing the night away at a noraebang
Grab your own private karaoke room filled with booze and good times. You can find these rooms in pretty much all areas of the city, but especially in Hongdae or Itaewon.
Glimpse at North Korea by going on a tour of the DMZ
With tours leaving daily, there are ample chances to see South Korea’s close neighbour during your stay in Seoul. Learn about the not so distant Korean war resulting tensions between the two Koreas and see the DMZ for a memorable experience. Tours are easy to find, ask your hotel for recommendations.
Feel like a kid again at Lotte World
This place is like a mini koreanized version of Disney World. Sure it’s a bit on the childish side but it’s a great way to spend a rainy afternoon in the city since the amusement park has both indoor and outdoor rides. They also have a sweet discount on entrance fees if you are a resident in Korea (about 50%)!
Go on a DIY ice cream tour
Seoul has so many amazing and over the top ice cream shops. Scope out your favourites and make your own tour to sample some of the best ice cream the city has to offer. Check out this list for some of our favourites!
Eat live octopus at the Noryangin Market
This is one of Korea’s largest seafood markets. Come here for an afternoon and explore stalls upon stalls of fresh seafood. Feeling adventurous? Buy a freshly caught octopus (about 5000 won) and eat it 2 minutes later! Be prepared for the tentacles to still be moving on your plate (and in your mouth) a few minutes later. Eeeek!
Hike a mountain (like a really legit one) in nearby Bukhansan National Park
Not to be mistaken for a leisurely stroll in the park, hiking in Bukhansan National Park is serious business. Though not as gruelling as our hike to the top of Korea’s second highest peak, Bukhansan will take you a good part of the day but will be well worth it. Nowhere else in the city will you get such an impressive view of this sprawling metropolis.
Walk around the Seoul fortress wall
Catch a glimpse of Korea’s not so distant past by walking along this amazing fortress wall. For an extra magical time check it out at sunrise/sunset.
Trick your eyes (and your camera) at the Trick Eye Museum
Okay, so this wasn’t exactly our favourite thing in Seoul, but we put it on the list since it was pretty cool (albeit a little on the expensive side). If you’re in the area and have nothing better to do this is a fun way to spend a few hours taking silly pictures of yourself.
Have you been to Seoul?
What else would you add to this list?
We’d like to thank Zen Kimchi Tours for generously sponsoring our experience on the ‘Dark Side of Seoul’.
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