The First-Timers Travel Guide to Seoul South Korea

There is so much good food to be had in Seoul. From Korean delicacies like ganjang gejang, galbi, and gomtang to popular street food staples like tteokbokki and gyeranppang, Seoul will have you counting down the minutes to your next meal. If youre wondering what to eat in this food lovers Shangri-La, then check out our post on44 delicious things to eat in Seoul.

Check out this post for information on how to get toYeontabal BBQ Restaurant. Keep in mind that meat is typically expensive in Korea, so expect Korean BBQ to be one of your more expensive meals. These grilled king beef ribs at Yeontabal normally cost KRW 38,000 per person, but you can get them for KRW 36,100 if youpurchase a voucher through Klook.

Seoul experiences weather extremes so what you should wear depends on when you plan to go.

Follow this link fordirections to the Namsan Cable Car station. The cable car costs KRW 8,500 for adults and KRW 5,500 for kids roundtrip. Entrance to the Observatory is an additional KRW 10,000 for adults and KRW 8,000 for kids, but you can get them for KRW 6,400 and KRW 5,400 respectively if you purchase them in advance through Klook. Follow the link topurchase N Seoul Tower Observatory ticketsthrough Klook.

We had it at Wonjo Masan Halmae Agujjim, which is one among a cluster of restaurants in Ganjang Gejang Alley that specializes in this dish. Check out this post for information on how to get toWonjo Masan Halmae Agujjim.

Based on our own experiences and what Ive read online,Myeongdong, Insadong, Hongdae, and Itaewonare ideal places to stay in Seoul for tourists. It all depends on what you want. Myeongdong is for shopping, Insadong is for culture, Hongdae is hip, and Itaewon is the international district. Weve visited all four areas but weve only stayed in Myeongdong and Hongdae. Personally, we prefer Hongdae.

Check out my post onChangdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung Palaces in Seoulfor more pictures and information. If you plan on visiting multiple palaces, then you may want to invest in anIntegrated Palace Ticket.

Length of Visit: Whole day / Admission: KRW 29,500 (Everland), KRW 31,000 (Lotte World)


South Korea has been making headlines in recent years in the tech, automotive, and entertainment sectors. Korean brands like Samsung and Hyundai are globally recognized brands. People worldwide watch K-dramas and listen to K-pop. Myeongdong has become a hotbed for cosmetics and nearly everyone I know loves Korean food! Needless to say, South Korea is booming, and at the center of all that excitement, is Seoul.

Check out my post on theJinhae Gunhangje Festivalfor more pictures and information on how to get there from Seoul. If you want the most hassle-free way of attending the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival from Seoul, then you can purchase day trip tickets with roundtrip transportation throughKlook.

BY BUS:Buses are more expensive (KRW 10,000+) and take longer than the subway (around 80 minutes), so I suggest taking it only if youre arriving at Incheon during off hours. Late night airport buses to Seoul Station run from 12:15-4:40AM, while buses to Gangnam Express Bus Terminal operate from 11:50PM-4:10AM. Detailed inquiries on bus routes and bus stops can be made at the Airport Information Desk on the 1st floor. You can also check this link for more information onlate night airport buses.

Copyright © 2018 Will Fly for FoodA travel blog for the gastronomically inclined

This was one of my favorite things to do in our two trips to Korea. DMZ stands for Demilitarized Zone and refers to the 4 km wide buffer zone dividing North and South Korea. Within the DMZ is the JSA, or Joint Security Area. The JSA is the only portion of the DMZ where North and South Korean soldiers stand face to face, which is why its often referred to as the most dangerous place in Korea.

As much as we love visiting restaurants, theres something uniquely thrilling about eating street food. Its like having a degustation experience right there on the street! No first-time visitors trip to Seoul

I asked my Korean sister-in-law (whos a former chef from Seoul) which dishes we should try, and jokbal was one of the things she recommended. Jokbal is a delicious dish of the most tender pigs trotters (feet) cooked in soy sauce and spices. I did a google search for best jokbal 搜索引擎优化ul and Manjok Ohyang Jokbal was frequently cited. Theyre aTripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence awardeewith an average rating of 4.2 from its Korean reviewers. Serious yum.

Like Japan, South Korea has four distinct seasons Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. The most popular times to visit Seoul are during theSpring(March-May) andFall(Mid-September Early November) months when the weather is ideal and the landscape is at its most striking. Both seasons are characterized by a dramatic change in color Spring for its cherry blossom pinks and whites, and Autumn for its fiery reds, oranges, and yellows. Heres what you can expect during every season.

Check out my post onInsadong, Myeongdong, and Hongdae in Seoulfor more pictures and information.

Suggested Length of Visit: 1-2 hrs / Cost: KRW 14,900 per adult including round trip cable car tickets

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Check out my post onDongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoulfor more pictures and information.

Expect to Spend: Around 36,100 KRW per person

Alternatively, you can also withdraw KRW from an ATM. The rates are competitive. Just be sure to advise your bank youll be using your ATM card overseas so you dont run into any problems. In my experience, my ATM card works in some machines but not in others. I didnt have any problems using it in Seoul.

This place is interesting. Located in Paju not too far from the DMZ, Heyri Art Valley is an art community with museums, galleries, exhibition halls, restaurants, and shops. Its a curious place located seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We visited Heyri in 2015 but we didnt know what to make of it since many of the buildings seemed closed at the time. If you enjoy the arts and have time to spare, thenHeyri Art Valleymay be of interest to you.

DEC-FEB:Dress as warmly as possible, especially in January. I was wearing thermal underwear with a hoodie, gloves, and down jacket and I was still freezing. And that was just in early December! Bundle up and dress in layers or youll dread walking outside.

MAR-MAY:Spring is one of the best times to visit Seoul. The weather is ideal and the city erupts with blooming flowers. If you want to catch the cherry blossoms, then you should plan on being in Seoul around the second week of April (around April 9-10). That will give you the best chance to see the cherry blossoms. With that said, keep in mind that the blossoms are largely dependent on the weather so its still no guarantee theyll be blooming then, which is why I think its a good idea to go around that time or a little earlier. If they arent blooming yet in Seoul, then youll have the option of taking a day trip toJinhae, home of Koreas biggest cherry blossom festival. Be sure to bookmark theVisit Koreawebsite for updates on the festival.

Ren and I arent into shopping so we preferred staying in Hongdae, which is the area around Hongik University. Its a fun, hip area with a college town vibe. This was our favorite neighborhood in the city so well probably stay here on every return trip to Seoul.

Needless to say, our appreciation for Seoul has increased tenfold the second time around. We learned what many tourists have known for a long time whether youre into K-pop, K-dramas, cosmetics, or kimchi, there is so much to be excited about in this burgeoning megacity.

BY PRIVATE TRANSFER:Klook offers several transfer options from Incheon to Seoul, including private transfers. Follow this link to check outairport transfer options in Seoulon Klook.

At just USD 34 a night throughAirBnB, i-House is a great value. Theres a kitchen on the top floor of the guesthouse where you can help yourself to breakfast. The only thing I didnt like about the place is that theres an uphill walk to get there from the subway station. If you have mobility issues, then you may want to stay somewhere else.

If you like Korean fried chicken, then you cant visit Seoul without eating at a chimaek restaurant.Chimaekis a compound word forchi-cken andmaek-ju, the Korean word for beer, so it refers to the popular duo of Korean fried chicken and beer. What makes Korean fried chicken so good is that its double-fried, resulting in crunchier and less greasy skin. There are many recommended chimaek restaurants in Seoul, one of them being Oksang Dalbit in Hongdae. Check out this post for directions on how to get toOksang Dalbit.

DEC-FEB:If you want to go skiing, snowboarding, or just experience snow, then Winter is obviously the time to go. However, Winter in Korea is freezing. We went in early November and we were surprised by how cold it already was. It felt even colder thanSapporoin February! If you can stand the cold, then there are several ski resorts you can visit from Seoul. Just be sure to dress warmly.

You can book theDMZ tour(KRW 50,000),JSA (Panmunjom) tour(KRW 86,100), orDMZ and JSA combined tour(KRW 130,000) through Klook. I suggest doing the combined tour if you can. The JSA is intense and nerve-wracking at times. Its an experience Ill never forget.

Suggested Length of Visit: 4-5 hrs / Admission: KRW 1,000

JUN-AUG:It can get hot and humid in Seoul during Summer so be sure to dress comfortably. Summer is rainy season as well so its a good idea to bring shoes that can get wet or at least dry out quickly.

Suggested Length of Visit: Half a day / Admission: FREE, but some exhibits may have entrance fees

If youd like to watch a show or performance in Seoul, then the Cookin Nanta Show is one to consider. Its entertaining and funny and reminiscent of a Korean Stomp with food. There are two Nanta theaters one in Myeongdong and another in Hongdae. Tickets normally cost KRW 40,000 per person, but you can get them at a significant discount through Klook. Theyll cost just KRW 25,400 for Myeongdong, and KRW 26,200 for Hongdae. Follow the link topurchase Cookin Nanta Show ticketsthrough Klook.

We skipped out on Nami Island on our first trip to Korea because we thought it could only be appreciated by fans of Winter Sonata. We were wrong. Nami Island is achingly beautiful and a must-visit for anyone traveling to Seoul. We went in Winter when there was a thin sheet of fresh powder blanketing the island. It was beautiful, though perhaps not as magical as Fall when the leaves are in fiery shades of red, orange, and yellow. Check out my post onNami Island, Gangchon Rail Park, and Petite Francefor more pictures and information.

The madness and magic that is Myeongdong

Check out this post for information on how to get toManjok Ohyang Jokbal. We got the medium portion of thespiced pigs trotters bossam set menufrom Klook for KRW 36,100 (normally KRW 38,000). Its good for 2-3 people and comes with jokbal, bossam (pork belly boiled in spices), dumpling soup, and a slew of sides.

Almost all international flights land at Incheon International Airport. There are several ways to get to downtown Seoul from Incheon.

i-House is a 13-room guesthouse conveniently located in the quiet neighborhood of Hoehyeondong. Its a 3-minute walk to Namsan Cable Car (which takes you up toN Seoul Tower), and just 10 minutes away from the hyper shopping district that is Myeongdong. If youre in Seoul primarily to shop, then Myeongdong is definitely where you should stay.

Gogigui or Korean BBQ is one of the best things about Korean food. Marinated meats like bulgogi and galbi barbecued over a charcoal grill are absolutely delicious. Like many fans of Korean food, Ren and I have eaten at many gogigui restaurants, but these grilled king beef ribs at Yeontabal are the best weve ever had. Smokey, savory-sweet, and tender, its to die for, especially when eaten with steamed white rice and kimchi. I vet restaurants carefully before a trip and Yeontabal BBQ Restaurant had aTripAdvisor rating of 4.2from its Korean reviewers, so I knew it was going to be good.

SEPT-NOV:Unless youre chasing after the cherry blossoms, then Fall is arguably the best time to visit Seoul. Like Spring, the weather is ideal and the foliage is at its most striking. Shoot for late October or early November if you can. My niece visitedNami Islandin November of 2017 and the Fall colors were absolutely stunning.

Seoul is a shopaholics paradise. There are many shopping districts in the city but Insadong, Myeongdong, and Hongdae are three that you cant miss. They each have their own unique personality. Insadong is known for its artsy cultural items, Myeongdong for its brand names and cosmetics, and Hongdae for its hip, college town vibe. All have great food.

If youre a fan of Korean period dramas or just the culture in general, then youll probably want a picture of yourself wearing a hanbok. Its the traditional Korean form of dress worn by both men and women during festivals and celebrations. As described above, Bukchon Hanok Village and any of the royal palaces will make for the perfect setting. Pictured below is my niece Gabby tripping over her hanbok at Gyeongbokgung. ?

JUN-AUG:Summer isnt an ideal time to visit Seoul. Its hot, its humid, it rains a lot, and prices are at their highest with summertime being the peak of domestic tourism. Avoid these months if you can.

Approximate Room Rate: USD 34 per night (as of Jan 2018)

You can also check out this link for more information onhow to get to Seoul from Incheon.

Suggested Length of Visit: 1-2 hrs / Admission: FREE

Bingo House is a small 5-room guesthouse just a short walk from Exit 6 of Hongik University Station. Theres a 7-Eleven and a GS25 convenience store nearby, as well as a few restaurants and cafes. Theres a common area with free water and kitchen supplies but no breakfast. We paid USD 44 a night to stay here throughAirBnB, but you can book a room here viaAgodaas well. Be sure to check both sites to find the better deal. As previously described, you can getUSD 31 free travel creditif youre new to AirBnB.

Our tour consisted of a trip to Nami Island followed by visits to Gangchon Rail Park and Petite France. It normally costs KRW 75,000 but you can get it for KRW 72,800 if you book it through Klook. If you dont want to do the Rail Bike, then theres an option for just Nami Island and Petite France for KRW 38,600. Follow the link tobook a Nami Island tourwith Klook.

As ultramodern as Seoul can be, it was nice to find a place like this right in the heart of the city. Bukchon Hanok Village is a maze of narrow alleyways and traditional Korean houses calledhanoks. Exploring its network of streets will take you back in time and introduce you to a 600-year old Seoul. If you want pictures of yourself wearing a hanbok, then this is one of the best places to do it.

To get there, take the subway to Hapjeong Station (Line 2), Exit 2. Exit the subway station and take Bus No. 2200 or 900 to Heyri Bus Stop. The trip takes about 40-50 minutes.

Hwa搜索引擎优化ng Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located about an hour south of Seoul by subway. Its name means Brilliant Castle and it was built in 1796 by King Jeongjo of the Jo搜索引擎优化n Dynasty to house and honor the remains of his father, Prince Sado. Offering excellent views of Suwon, its a great place to do some hiking, perhaps even trying your hand in some traditional Korean archery. Check out my post onHwa搜索引擎优化ng Fortress in Suwonfor more pictures and information.

Myeongdongis the best place to exchange your currency. There are plenty of money changers in the area and theyre known to give the best rates in the city. The rates at currency exchange offices in other areas were never as good. At the airport for example, the rate I was given was KRW 1,041.10 to the dollar (USD) in December 2017. But in Myeongdong, I exchanged currency at two places and got rates of KRW 1,096 and KRW 1,093. In other areas, they were around KRW 1,085 or even less.

There are plenty of hanbok rental shops in Insadong, but you can rent one in advance through Klook. You can pretend to be a princess for 4 hours for KRW 15,000, or the entire day (24 hours) for KRW 28,000. Follow the link torent a hanbokthrough Klook. Apart from looking regal, another great thing about wearing a hanbok is that it can give youfree or discounted entranceto some attractions.

BY ALL-STOP TRAIN:This is the second fastest way to get into Seoul from Incheon. It will get you to Seoul Station in about 58 minutes and costs just KRW 4,150 each way (with aT-money Card). Trains run from 5:23AM till 11:40PM.

Expect to Spend: KRW 30,000 per small crab

Hi, were JB & Rene, the Traveleaters! We love to travel and eat so weve made it our quest to try every countrys national dish.CLICK HEREto read more about us and our National Dish Quest.

Suggested Length of Visit: 1-3 hrs / Admission: KRW 3,000 per adult (each palace)

Both times, we booked our rooms throughAirBnB, but you can search andAgodaas well. Be sure to go through all three sites to find the best accommodations for you. If youre new to AirBnB, then you can getUSD 31 free travel creditviaTHIS LINK.

SEPT-NOV:Seouls climate in Fall is similar to Spring. Its sweater, coat, and scarf weather.

Suggested Length of Visit: Whole day / Cost: KRW 60,000 via Klook

Many people visit Seoul in Spring to try and catch the cherry blossoms. They bloom for about two weeks and are dependent on the weather, so planning a trip around the cherry blossoms can be difficult. We tried in 2015 but arrived too early. They were only beginning to bud in Seoul so we took a day trip to Jinhae, home of Koreas biggest cherry blossom festival. Its located about four hours south of Seoul so its a lot of commuting in one day, but worth it. If you arrive too early in Seoul like we did, then you have the option of taking a day trip to Jinhae.

BY AIRPORT EXPRESS (AREX):This is the fastest way to get to the city from the airport. It runs like clockwork and will get you into Seoul Station in exactly 43 minutes. The trains are comfortable with free wifi onboard. A one-way ticket typically costs KRW 14,800 for adults, but a special discount is still in effect lowering the price to KRW 8,000 for adults and KRW 6,900 for children. You can save even more on the adult fare if youpurchase AREX tickets in advance through Klook(just KRW 6,400). Follow this link for anAREX timetable.

Seoul is the capital of South Korea (Republic of Korea) and its biggest city. The estimated population within its city limits is 10.29 million people, but factor in its surrounding areas and that number jumps to25.6 million, making it the second largest metropolitan area in the world. With a workforce that large driving its economy, its no wonder Seoul is now the4th most economically powerful city, behind only Tokyo, New York City, and Los Angeles (as measured by GDP).

Within the JSA are five buildings built directly on top of the border, half in the North and half in the South (pictured below). In these buildings are where negotiations between the two Koreas take place. When you go on the JSA tour, youll get to physically cross the border and spend a few minutes in North Korea. Check out my post on theJSA and DMZ tourfor more pictures and information.

BY TAXI:Going by taxi is the most convenient way, but its also the most expensive. A taxi will get you into the city in about an hour and will cost you around KRW 55,000-75,000.

Check out my post onBukchon Hanok Village in Seoulfor more pictures and information.

This place is incredible. If you like design, any kind of design, then you need to put Dongdaemun Design Plaza, or DDP for short, in your itinerary. Its like a museum, design supermarket, and space ship all rolled into one. It was designed by the late Zaha Hadid, who also created the 2012 Olympic aquatic centre in London and the Guangzhou Opera House in China. I suggest devoting several hours to this place if you can, and be sure to come back at night when the building really comes to life.

We skipped out on ganjang gejang in 2015 so I made sure it was the first thing we had on this return trip to Seoul. Ganjang gejang is raw crab marinated in soy sauce. Considered by many to be the ultimate Korean dish, I waited over two years to try it and the experience blew me away. It is so good and unlike anything weve ever tried. If you like crab, then you have to try this dish. Like Korean bbq, ganjang gejang is expensive so expect to pay at least KRW 30,000 per small crab.

MAR-MAY:We went in late March in 2015 and the weather was pleasant, though it would get cold early in the morning and late at night. A sweater with a jacket or coat should be enough. You may want to bring a scarf and light gloves too just in case.

To help you better understand theweather in Seoul, Ive included average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below. Suggested months to visit are indicated in orange.

Seoul has five Jo搜索引擎优化n royal palaces and these are the two you shouldnt miss. Each has an argument for being the most beautiful, with Gyeongbokgung being the primary palace and Chandeokgung a UNESCO Heritage Site and home toHuwon, or the Secret Garden. If you come at the right time, then you can watch the changing of the guard as well. We were lucky to catch it at Gyeongbokgung and it made for some memorable pictures.

If you visit Seoul in Winter (Dec-Feb), then you can enjoy the snow by going sledding, skiing, or snowboarding. We went on a day skiing trip to Oak Valley Snow Park which is a small, 9-run ski resort about an hour-and-a-half away from Seoul. You can check out my post onOak Valley Snow Parkfor more pictures and information.

When it comes to great views, this place towers above the competition. Standing 480 meters above sea level, N Seoul Tower is the best place to get birds eye views of the city. Not only does it give you sweeping aerial views of Seoul, its where you can lock your love for all eternity as well. Its located on Mt. Namsan and something you can easily pair with a trip to Myeongdong.

Length of Tour: Whole day / Cost: KRW 90,000 for the all-inclusive ski package

Dakkochi or grilled chicken and scallion skewers

We booked through Klook and went on theall-inclusive ski packageto Oak Valley Snow Park for KRW 90,000. This included a day lift pass, clothing and equipment rental, and roundtrip transfers from Seoul. You can check that page for other options as well, like sledding or snowboarding. Some packages even come with lessons.

Length of Tour: Whole day / Cost: Starts at KRW 38,600

To inspire you further to visit Korea, check out our video on 10 of the many reasons to love Seoul.

When you figure out which theme park youd like to visit, you can save on the admission cost by booking through Klook. A one-day ticket toEverlandcosts KRW 29,500 (normally KRW 54,000) while a one-day pass toLotte Worldgoes for KRW 31,000 (normally KRW 55,000). If you decide to go to Everland, then I suggest getting theEverland full day tripwhich includes roundtrip transfers from Seoul. At just KRW 52,000 (normally KRW 65,000), its the most convenient option. Bear in mind that going in peak seasons means long queues, so you may want to getEverland Q-Passesas well to bypass the lines at popular rides.

Suggested Length of Visit: 2-3 hrs / Admission: FREE but some exhibits may have an entrance fee

Many tourists, especially those traveling with young children, will probably want to visit one or both of South Koreas biggest theme parks Everland and Lotte World. We visited Everland and it made for a fun day trip from Seoul. Check out my post onEverland Resortfor more pictures and information. If you dont have time to visit both and cant decide between the two, then you can refer to thisEverland or Lotte Worldcomparison post from Klook to help you decide.

Length of Tour: Whole day for the combined JSA DMZ tour / Cost: KRW 130,000

Expect to Spend: Around KRW 17,000 per order (good for 2)

When we first visited Seoul in 2015, we werent into K-pop or Korean dramas. Rens never been too into cosmetics either so the only thing really drawing us to Korea at the time, was the food. Its popularity as a tourist destination, especially among Filipinos, was largely lost on us.

Expect to Spend: 13,000 KRW per bowl

Approximate Room Rate: USD 44 per night (as of Jan 2018)

Fast forward to 2017, and here we are in Myeongdong looking for socks with Park Bo-gums or Lee Min-hos face on it. Our nieces are old enough to want lip and cheek tint for Christmas and the ghost of ganjang gejang, a sumptuous dish of soy-marinated raw crab, has been haunting me for two years. Much has happened since our first trip to Seoul and weve finally come to understand the worlds fascination with Korea. Over 17 million tourists visited the country in 2016, a number that will only grow as Korean pop culture continues to find its way into the global mainstream.

IfOak Valley Snow Parkisnt the right resort for you, then you can check out other ski resort options on Klook:

Myeongdong Kyoja is widely regarded for having the best kalguksu in the city. Kalguksu is a noodle dish consisting of handmade, knife-cut wheat flour noodles served in a large bowl with broth and other ingredients. In business for over 50 years, Myeongdong Kyoja is located in the heart of Myeongdong so its a great place to have lunch or dinner when shopping in the area. Check out this post for information on how to get toMyeongdong Kyoja.

The host manages multiple listings at i-House and other properties as well, which you can check outHERE. You can also book a room at i-House morAgoda. Be sure to check all three sites to find the best deal. As described above, you can getUSD 31 free travel creditif youre new to AirBnB.

I suggest changing a small amount at the airport, no more than USD 100, just to get you in to the city. You can then change the rest in Myeongdong.

Expect to Spend: KRW 36,100 for 2 people

Ive been wanting to try naengmyeon, or buckwheat noodles served in cold broth, ever since I saw a documentary about North Korea. Its originally a North Korean delicacy that became popular throughout Korea after the Korean War. I searched for the best places to try naengmyeon and Woo Lae Oak, one ofSeouls oldest restaurants, often came up. Theyre a Korean BBQ restaurant thats equally famous for their naengmyeon. Check out this post for information on how to get toWoo Lae Oak.