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Things to Do in Seoul - page 3

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Nagwon Instrument Arcade
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Nagwon Arcade is a vast collection of tiny shops selling musical instruments that range from petite woodwinds to massive bass drums. Travelers can wander the stalls lined with pianos, electric guitars and other items. Chat with locals who repair and build these incredible pieces and learn about the history of what is arguably one of the largest collections of instrument shops in the world. Whether you’re a beginner, an expert, or simply a lover of music, there’s bound to be something that catches your eye while exploring Nagwon Arcade’s three stories of stores, shops and dealers.

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Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art
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The Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, tucked away on the hills of Namsan, celebrates Korean and Western art and architecture from the past, present and future. The three buildings, each designed by a world-renowned architect, house works from the Samsung Foundation’s extensive art collection, ranging from ancient Buddhist artifacts to modern works of art. The first building, designed by Mario Botta, houses a collection of Buddhist artifacts and Korean ceramics, calligraphy and paintings. The second, designed by Jean Nouvel, covers Korean an international works of art from 1910 to the present. The third building, designed by Rem Koolhaas, is where you’ll find the Child Education and Culture Center. Make sure to visit the top floor of Museum 1 to see the family’s private collection of Korean celadon pottery. To learn more about what you’ll be seeing, pick up an audio guide as you enter the museum or come on Saturday or Sunday afternoons for free English tours of the museum at 3pm.

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Gana Art Center

The Gana Art Gallery is located in the residential area of Pyeongchang-dong, in the foothills of Mount Bukhansan. It’s the largest exhibition space in South Korea, featuring three halls showcasing over 400 exhibitions. The first exhibition hall features international works from throughout history, displaying many pieces by artists that are now deceased. The other two vast halls are used for temporary exhibitions, plus a range of plays, concerts, and other special events. There is also a restaurant, a shop, and a seminar room on-site, making the Gana Art Gallery a multi-functional cultural center.

Both the exterior and interior of the center blend a sleek, modern design alongside more natural styles. The building is the work of architect, Jean-Michel Wilmotte, who also designed Incheon International Airport.

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Korean Furniture Museum

Opened in 2008, the Korean Furniture Museum is one of Seoul’s best kept secrets. Housed within a series of beautifully maintained Korean traditional houses, or hanoks, the museum contains a collection of more than 2,000 pieces of Joseon Dynasty furniture collected by the private museum’s owner, Chyung Mi-sook, throughout his life.

To maintain a sense of history and authenticity on the exquisitely maintained grounds, the museum has been kept private; visitors can only view the collection on a private tour by reservation only. Thanks to this exclusivity policy, walking the grounds and ducking into the traditional buildings feels like stepping back in time. The tour, available in English, offers an insight into what life was like for a family living in a hanok during the Joseon Dynasty. You’ll learn why the buildings were designed the way they were, why certain materials were chosen and how each room was laid out based on its purpose in the home.

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More Things to Do in Seoul

Petite France

Petite France

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64 Tours and Activities
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Everland Resort

Everland Resort

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South Korea’s largest theme park is like the DisneyWorld of Asia, a massive complex filled with rides, food, fairy tales characters, animal shows and the country’s largest waterpark. One of the highlights of Everland is the T-Express, the first and largest wooden rollercoaster in South Korea. It’s also the sixth largest wooden coaster in the world with more than a mile of hair-raising drops, curves and climbs.

An African Safari bus at Everland takes visitors through an animal park filled with lions, giraffes and elephants, while the Caribbean Bay water park offers a beach-like experience, along with a wave pool and water slides of every shape and size. And Everland Speedway is South Korea's first racing track, holding occasional racing events and also offering visitors the unique opportunity to drive on the track.

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Korean Folk Village

Korean Folk Village

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Travelers to Korean Folk Village can wander some 250 acres of natural South Korean landscape dotted with 260 replica houses from the Joseon Dynasty. A trip to this remote destination offers visitors a colorful and lively look into the nation’s rich history, unique culture and lengthy past.

Learn more about local foods and traditional clothing while exploring the workshops and open-air attractions at Korean Folk Village. Then stop by the Folk Museum and Art Museum where guests get an up-close and informative look at the handmade baskets, brass wares, musical instruments and embroidery the Joseon Dynasty was known for. Daily traditional dance and live music performances are worth checking out and rustic scenery is worthy of a photo album all its own.

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Hwaseong Fortress

Hwaseong Fortress

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This UNESCO World Heritage site was built between 1794 and 1796 as an homage to the remains of Prince Sado, who was murdered by his father after failing to carrying out his own suicide. Its unique architecture incorporates elements from China and Korea and took more than 700,000 man-hours to build.

Today, travelers can explore the impressive grounds that lie beyond a 3.5-mile wall originally erected to protect the fortress. Four main gates—Janganmun to the north, Hwaseomun to the west, Paldalmun to the south and Changnyongmun to the east once served as an entry into the fortress, but today modern roads and sturdy bridges provide the main means of connecting travelers from the outside world to the inner workings of Hwaseong. Visitors should check out some of the 48 structures dotting the wall, including several old-world watchtowers with three-story wooden pavilions that were once used as enemy lookouts.

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Sinheungsa Temple

Sinheungsa Temple

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Shinhuengsa Temple, the oldest Zen temple in South Korea, was built by a traveling Shilla monk by the name of Jajang Yulsa in 652 AD, and has been destroyed by fire and rebuilt many times since. The current incarnation of the temple dates back to 1648. Located in Seoraksan National Park near the Sokcho entrance, the temple features a three-level pagoda, 1,400-year-old, an original stone Buddha statue and a newer bronze Buddha statue depicting a 33-foot (10-meter) seated likeness of the Buddha. Visitors looking for a more in-depth temple experience can participate in Sainhuengsa’s Temple Stay Program, which provides tourists the opportunity to spend two or three days in the temple living the typical life of a Korean Buddhist monk.

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Joint Security Area (Panmunjom)

Joint Security Area (Panmunjom)

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Visit the “truce village” on the border of South and North Korea, known as the Joint Security Area (JSA), to get a glimpse of the still simmering Cold War tensions that remain here more than 50 years after a truce on this spot ended the hostilities of the Korean War. The two countries technically remain at war to this day, and Panmunjom—located deep within the demilitarized zone (DMZ)—is the only place in the country where visitors to South Korea can see the actual border, complete with North Korean soldiers stationed on the other side.

Within the town, there is even a spot where visitors can cross the border, no visa required. The Military Armistice Commission (MAC) Conference Room is a blue building bisected by the border—still used for face-to-face negotiation between the two sides—where you can technically cross into North Korean territory by walking to the other side of the room.

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Jongno

Jongno

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The Jongno district of central Seoul constitutes one half of the city’s main historic area. It is here you’ll find a majority of the royal palaces, temples, parks and shrines, many dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. Four of the five Grand Palaces -- Changdeokgung, Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung and Gyonghuigung -- can be found in Jongno, as well as Jogyesa Temple, the National Folk Museum of Korea and the Insadong antiques market.

Also worth a visit in Jongno is the Bukchon Hanok Village, a historic neighborhood where Seoul’s wealthy and politically important families lived. About 900 traditional hanok houses still exist in what is now one of the city’s most picturesque neighborhoods. Korea’s current president lives in the Blue House, also found in Jongno. When the weather is nice, take a stroll along the recently renovated Cheonggyecheon river walk for some fresh air and people watching.

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Seoul Land

Seoul Land

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Paju Premium Outlets

Paju Premium Outlets

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Mt. Bukhan (Bukhansan)

Mt. Bukhan (Bukhansan)

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Mt Bukhan, also called Bukhansan, is a mountain just north of Seoul with three distinct peaks. It is not only an easily recognizable landmark overlooking the city, but also part of the Bukhansan National Park and a popular hiking, bird watching and rock climbing destination. Climbing Mt Bukhan is one of the more popular day trips from Seoul and every Saturday and Sunday morning, Seoul’s air-conditioned metro cars are crowded with hikers decked out in colorful hiking equipment heading in that direction. At the base of the mountain, spicy fragrances saturate the air where countless food stalls are selling everything from dumplings and bulgogi to hardboiled eggs and kimchi. Sustenance for the steep climb to the main peak Beagunbong and refreshments for the returning hikers. The South Koreans not only visit Mt Bukhan for the nature and a breath of fresh air, but also for the many temples and shrines spread throughout the national park.

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