With more than eight million tourists every year, Seoul, South Korea is one of Asia’s top tourist destinations. With parks, palaces, gardens, museums, folk villages, shopping and lots more, it’s difficult to decide what to visit when in Seoul. There are however four places every tourist to Seoul should visit, or you haven’t seen Seoul without them.
National Museum of Korea – The National Museum of Korea is one of the largest museums in Asia. With more than 220,000 pieces and 20,000 on display at any one time, the National Museum is a wonderful place to start to learn more about the Korean people.
With exhibits of Asian art, calligraphy, bronze statues, pottery, pagodas, wooden bowls, archaeological finds and so much more, the National Museum will keep you occupied for hours. The museum is on three floors and there’s also a lovely garden area, with ponds, fountains and pagodas. The kids too will love it as there’s a Children’s Museum with lots of hands-on exhibits, as well as a nice restaurant and a gift shop.
Insa-Dong – One of the best shopping areas in Seoul, Insa-Dong is special due to its high number of galleries, cafes and traditional tea houses. At Insa-Dong, walk through twisting alleyways, where you can browse traditional Korean artwork, buy old-style Korean candy, enjoy a cup of traditional Korean tea in a beautiful old tea house, and eat Korean pancakes. Choose some hand-pressed paper, a Buddhist amulet or pick up a piece of antique pottery. All of this and more is available at Insa-Dong.
If you’re into art, you must take the ‘Art Center Bus’, which will drive you to 10 art galleries and where a guide will tell you something about each. Insa-Dong can be reached from three different subway stations on the Seoul Subway Line.
Changdeokgung Palace – A new UNESCO World Heritage site, Changdeokgung Palace is almost 600 years old and is one of the famous “Five Grand Palaces” in Seoul. Home to numerous kings, queens and princes, Changdeokgung Palace is made up of several traditional Korean buildings (the architecture is stunning) dotted over more than 70 acres of grounds.
The grounds themselves are gorgeous and include the oldest bridge in Seoul, the Secret Garden, ponds, and hundreds of flora and fauna. Take a guided tour at Changdeokgung. It does take 2-3 hours, but is well worth it as you’ll learn so much about Korean history from the guide that you’d never learn by wandering around the grounds yourself and the history of Changdeokgung is fascinating.
Seoul Tower(Namsan Tower) – To acclimatize yourself to Seoul, you must visit Seoul Tower. Located on the summit of Mount Namsan and itself 236.7 meters high, you can only imagine the incredible view from the top.
Plus, it’s not just a tower. There’s restaurants, shops, cafes and two observatories. Well worth a visit and your photos of Seoul will be stupendous.
National Museum of Korea
Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)