City of Seoul / 서울시
Seoul (map), officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. Seoul was the world’s 4th largest metropolitan economy in 2014 after Tokyo, New York City and Los Angeles.
While Seoul today is mostly known as a super-modern mega-city that is home to skyscrapers, malls, and millions of electronic-mad Koreans, the city contains over 2,000 years of history.
The Seoul Capital Area contains five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: *Changdeok Palace (map), *Hwaseong Fortress / Suwon Hwaseong Fortress (map), *Jongmyo Shrine (map), *Namhansanseong (map) and the *Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.
+ More information > Wikipedia • Wikivoyage
Seoul has been a capital of Korea since the Joseon Dynasty. Starting from the Gyeongbokgung, many palaces were built for kings and royal family. The most important of them are called Five Grand Palaces (5대궁). *Gyeongbokgung Palace (map) is the first and main palace, and holds the site of Joseon Palace Museum and Korean Folk Museum (map).
Jongno (종로) (map). The Joseon-era historical core of the city with the famous Joseon Palace, Gyeongbokgung. Bukchon has beautiful traditional Korean house and Insa-dong (map) has the largest antiques market street in Seoul. Cheongyecheon has a renovated stream and park that runs through the heart of the downtown area.
Jung (중) (Jung-gu) (map). This district makes up the other half of the historic core as well as the shopping districts of Myeongdong (map) and Namdaemun Market (map). This area contains Seoul Station and Namsan Mountain (map), with the Seoul Tower at its summit.
Gangnam (map) Seocho (map). Famed for ‘Gangnam Style’, this affluent area is the glitzy center of modern Seoul, home to hundreds of glass and steel skyscrapers, neon billboards, and some of the most expensive real estate in the country.
Seoul has two unofficial backpacker districts, *Jongno (Anguk/Sinseol-dong) to the northeast of the city and Hongdae-Sinchon (map) out to the west. Within walking distance to Dongdaemun Market (map), Jongno is better located for sightseeing and can be reached directly from Incheon Airport on limousine buses or city bus.
Much of Korean social life revolves around food and the city is packed with restaurants, so you would have to be determined to starve to death in Seoul. This fate may still befall you if you insist on English menus and meals consisting only of easily identifiable, familiar ingredients. Seoul has plenty of budget places to eat. Everything from convenience store junk food and noodles to street stall food and lots of 24 hr Korean fast food restaurants.
Itaewon (map) is Seoul’s international district, with a wide variety of Western-styled venues to eat, drink and be merry. Since many foreigners congregate there, Itaewon remains somewhat of a niche nightlife area for Koreans interested in a more international scene. A number of notable bars and clubs spot the area, both on the main street and in the nearby alleys. Long notorious for being somewhat seedy, with prostitutes plying their trade and alleged (gasp!) drug dealings, Itaewon has become cleaner and more gentrified.
Subway – If planning on using the Metro extensively or staying for more than a couple of days, you should consider purchasing a T-money stored value contactless smart card. Typically for most travellers staying less than a week in Seoul, purchasing this card may not be cheaper, but other factors should be considered: it can also be used for taxi fares, buses, storage lockers, pay phones, etc. The T-money card is far more convenient than buying per trip ticket.
Google Maps does not give driving or walking directions in South Korea. The most common software used by locals are Naver Map and KakaoMap.
BUS > Buses (버스 beoseu) remain the main mode of national transport, connecting all cities and towns. >> kobus.co.kr
RAIL > National train operator Korail (KR) connects major cities. (*High-speed rail in South Korea).
AIRPORTS > Incheon International Airport • Gimpo Airport.
The A’REX train link connects the airport to Seoul Station (for further connections to KTX high-speed services) and Gimpo Airport (most domestic flights).
WATERWAYS > –