Seoul travel guide

Seoul Tourism | Seoul Guide

You're Going to Love Seoul

South Korea's capital is a pulsating, dynamic modern city with all of the gastronomic and entertainment attractions visitors could need, along with plenty of fascinating historical sights, beauty spots, and places to shop.

If you want to shop for creative, locally designed fashion there's nowhere better than Dongdaemun market. If you want to gorge yourself on bibimbap and kimchi, Michelin-starred chefs at restaurants like Jungsik Dang will oblige. If you need entertainment, there's live music every night in Hongdae, and if tranquility is your goal, the hills of Bugaksan are there to explore.

Whatever you want from your vacation, Seoul will deliver. From college students to senior couples, everyone can find something to enjoy in this fantastic city.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Seoul

1. It's Paradise for Fashion Lovers

If you love fashion, Seoul has it all, from international brands like Zara or H&M in Myeong-dong to quirkier domestic designers at Dongdaemun and the snappy tailors of Itaewon.

2. Delicious Korean Cuisine from Gourmet Chefs

Korean food is enjoying its place in the sun, with people across the world waking up to the allure of bulgogi (shredded beef in soy sauce) and bibimbap (vegetables, rice, spice paste, and meat). The city is full of great places to eat, with options for all budgets, so be sure to tuck in during your visit.

3. Immerse Yourself in Korean History

Seoul has been around for 2,000 years and has been the capital of Korean states for over 600 years, so the city is packed with historical interest. Don't miss Changdeokgung (the Royal Palace), with its elegant gardens, or the Jongmyo Shrine, the burial site of Korea's imperial family.

4. Nightlife and Live Music Every Day of the Week

Modern Seoul feels like a very young city at night, thanks to its many nightclubs, internet bars and music venues, and it's definitely a place to party. Experience the energy of districts like Gangnam, where the soju (rice wine) flows liberally all night long and the dance music never seems to stop.

5. Getting Around Seoul Could Hardly Be Easier

Another great reason to go is the city's transport system, the centerpiece of which is the Metro (subway) that links over 500 urban stations, has WiFi on every train, and a basic fare of just ₩1,050.

Where to Eat in Seoul

Food is one of the major highlights of a vacation in Seoul and the selection is almost infinite. If you want an authentic, beautifully prepared bibimbap, look no further than Gogung in the Myeong-dong district. For succulent Korean BBQ meals, the cosy Wang Bi Jib restaurant is unbeatable but Gangnam's Sutbul Mapo Galbi isn't far off. But you'll also find no end of street stalls selling grilled pork belly, chicken skewers and much more, so try to explore. Expect street food to cost around ₩4,000, a good bibimbap to come to around ₩7,000 and sit-down meals to cost more than ₩10,000 - not expensive for the quality available.

When to visit Seoul

Seoul in April
Estimated hotel price
$87
1 night at 3-star hotel
Seoul in April
Estimated hotel price
$87
1 night at 3-star hotel

Seoul is at its best in early summer and early fall, when the weather is warm but doesn't have the intense humidity of high summer, which won't be too everyone's taste. Try April or September for the best sightseeing conditions. If you're up for an outdoor adventure, winter can be a great time to visit too, with ski resorts in the nearby hills.

Data provided by weatherbase
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Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Seoul

Plane

The vast majority of international flights touch down at Incheon International Airport (ICN). From there, your best option is to take the AREX rail service into Seoul which takes 40 minutes and costs ₩8,000. Limousine buses are a good alternative, particularly for large groups, and cost ₩15,000. Public buses are around ₩8,000, but no faster than trains.

Train

Seoul can be reached by train from all of South Korea's major cities, including Daegu, Busan, and Gwangju. There are two stations in the city center, Seoul Station and Yongsan, and both of them are on the Metro, so finding your accommodation should be easy.

Car

For those driving from Busan or Daegu, just take the Gyeongbu Expressway all the way to Seoul (but check whether you'll need to pay any tolls before you leave). There's also a direct road connection from Gwangju in the southwest, and the journey takes around three hours to complete.

Bus

Seoul is South Korea's busiest bus terminal, with five intercity bus stations dotted around town. Most domestic services terminate at Gangnam Station, which is on lines 3, 7 and 9 of the Metro, so is readily accessible from most parts of town.

Airports near Seoul

Airlines serving Seoul

United Airlines
Good (69,490 reviews)
American Airlines
Good (47,667 reviews)
Lufthansa
Good (28,404 reviews)
KLM
Good (3,806 reviews)
Delta
Good (30,741 reviews)
Air France
Good (4,361 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (23,614 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Excellent (11,534 reviews)
Austrian Airlines
Good (4,859 reviews)
Air Canada
Good (25,044 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (15,778 reviews)
Finnair
Good (3,876 reviews)
LOT
Good (5,410 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (6,759 reviews)
LATAM Airlines
Good (5,791 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Excellent (3,957 reviews)
Aeromexico
Good (9,965 reviews)
Egypt Air
Good (2,079 reviews)
Ethiopian Air
Good (2,428 reviews)
Copa Airlines
Good (12,985 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Seoul

Seoul is huge, and there's no single hotel district. However, areas like Jongno and Hongdae are popular among backpackers, with plenty of affordable accommodation. For higher-end hotels, check out the Grand Hyatt Seoul and the JW Marriott, which has its own golf driving range and Olympic-sized pool. The Ritz-Carlton is another luxury option, with a handy location at the heart of Gangnam.

Popular neighbourhoods in Seoul

Gangnam – made world famous by rapper Psy's single "Gangnam Style", Gangnam is every bit as exciting as the song suggested. Well, the area around Gangnam Station is, with an endless choice of bars and clubs. The rest of the area is more civilised, with historical attractions like the Bongeunsa Temple and places to chill out like the Yangjae Citizen's Forest.

Jongno – north of Gangnam, Jongno could hardly be more different. Instead of the skyscrapers and clubs of the center, Jongno is Seoul's historic core. It's home to the Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Changdeokgung palaces and charming neighborhoods like Bukchon, a picturesque community of ancient homes and streets.

Jung – Jung makes up the eastern part of Seoul's historic center, and it's the place to be if you love to shop. That's because Jung hosts both Myeong-dong and Dongdaemun markets, home to chain stores and the city's up-and-coming local fashion designers.

Most popular hotel in Seoul by neighbourhood

Where to stay in popular areas of Seoul

Most booked hotels in Seoul

The Shilla Seoul
Excellent (9.1, Excellent reviews)
$369+
Nine Tree Premier Hotel Myeongdong 2
Excellent (8.9, Excellent reviews)
$73+
LOTTE City Hotel Myeongdong
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
$84+
Conrad Seoul
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
$320+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Seoul

Public Transportation

Seoul has one of the world's best subway systems. The city Metro covers every corner of the city via its 18 lines. Fares are cheap and rise depending on how far you travel. If you get hold of a rechargeable T-Money card the basic fare is just ₩1,250. Buses are slower but slightly cheaper, at ₩1,050 per journey with a T-Money card.

Taxi

Seoul has a tiered taxi scheme with standard taxis (orange or silver) and deluxe taxis (black and yellow). Fares for standard taxis are ₩3,000 for the first 1.4 miles, then around ₩1,000 per mile. Deluxe taxis cost ₩4,500 for the first two miles, then around ₩2,000 per mile but are much more comfortable.

Car

Given the quality of the public transportation system, few people choose to rent and drive in central Seoul, but having your own car can be handy to get out to attractions like Bugaksan Mountain or the electronics market at Yongsan. Rental companies in the city include Sixt, Europcar, and Avis and you can find deals as cheap as ₩23,000 per day.

The Cost of Living in Seoul

Shopping Streets

Seoul is a fantastic shopping destination. If you want to head home with suitcases stuffed full of designer garments, Myeong-dong is home to brands like Uniqlo and Zara, while Dongdaemun hosts department stores like Doota and many smaller Korean brands. But it's just as much fun to wander around Gangnam, stumbling across places like the men's tailor Beaker or the designer outlet ILMO.

Groceries and Other

Buying food and drink in Seoul is easy and there are supermarkets in every major neighborhood. Some of the most popular food stores include E-Mart, Lotte, and HomePlus, and there are a number of traditional markets as well, like Gwangjang and Garak. If you shop at supermarkets, expect to pay around ₩9,500 for a gallon of milk and ₩3,100 for a pound of apples.

Cheap meal
$8.73
A pair of jeans
$92.08
Single public transport ticket
$1.56
Cappuccino
$5.75
Other popular cities in Seoul