Seoul is one of Asia’s most vibrant cities. This bustling metropolis has a lot to see and do, however, there are moments when we feel compelled to leave the city behind us to clear our heads and explore new possibilities. Here are eight interesting places to see in and around the South Korean capital.
The city of Yongin, about a 40-minute drive from Seoul, is best known for its massive amusement park, Everland, which is popular with Koreans of all ages.
If a Disneyland-style adventure doesn’t appeal to you, you should know that Yongin also hides a lesser-known but equally charming treasure. This is a Korean folk village, the ideal location for a unique perspective on the Land of Morning Calm.
This village was built from the ground up with authentic late Joseon-era houses found all over the world. Several traditional events and festivals are held here. This charming village is a visual treat, and must not be missed.
2. DMZ BETWEEN NORTH & SOUTH KOREA
The demilitarised zone between the two Koreas, located in Panmunjom, about 50 kilometres north of the Southern capital, is a popular tourist attraction. The Korean War Armistice, signed in 1953, was signed here. Between North and South Korea, the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) is 4 kilometres wide and 248 kilometres long.
The Joint Security Area (JSA), also known as the “Common Security Zone”, is the only location where the two armed forces meet. This location served as an inspiration for Park Chan-(Old Wook’s Boy) 2000 film of the same name.
You can sneak into the third underground tunnel which can be done with an authorized guide. Also take a look at the Pyongyang station, which was designed in anticipation of the reunification of Korea.
This location is critical to comprehending Korea’s history and the country’s turbulent past. It also helps to clarify current issues.
3. IN SUWON, HWASEONG FORTRESS
The Hwaseong Fortress is less than an hour from Seoul and can be reached by public transport. King Jeongjo built this fortress in honour of his father, Prince Sado, in the late 18th century during the Joseon period (1392–1910).
This monument is an example of filial piety in action.
At the age of 27, crowned prince Sado died of starvation after being imprisoned in a rice chest for eight days. On charges of insanity, his own father, King Yeongjo, handed down the sentence.
Filial piety is a cornerstone of the Confucian family system and culture, on which South Korea was founded and continues to be built. While the Hwaseong Fortress was constructed for political and military purposes, it also permitted King Jeongjo to pay a visit to his father’s grave, which he had relocated to a mausoleum further east.
The fortress was partially damaged during the Korean War and was rebuilt in the 1970s. Since 1997, the site has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bukchon is number four on the list of places to visit in and around Seoul. Hanok is a traditional Japanese style of clothing.
Bukchon is a district with traditional houses (Hanok). It is made up of private residences, much like Eunpyeong. You can, however, visit for free since it has been converted into an art gallery and has been made accessible by the tourist information centre.
The visit aims to walk the streets however, keep it quiet andavoid disturbing the locals as it is a fairly quaint neighbourhood. If you want to the avoid crowds, one can definitely check the eastern part of the borough.
Jeonju Hanok Village enjoys a rich history and offers a variety of attractions. This is where a French priest founded the Jeondong Cathedral.
5. NATIONAL PARK BUKHANSAN
This national park is a popular weekend hiking destination for both Seoul residents and visitors alike. It’s less than an hour north of Seoul, and ishome to beautiful walking trails, temples, and the Bukhansanseong Fortress, which was designed to defend Seoul in the early 1800s.
This mountain has plenty to offer! Enough for a pleasant day spent in the fresh air. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring a picnic so that you can take a break on the ridges and enjoy your lunch.
The Eiffel Tower is located in Paris, and the Namsan Tower is located in Seoul. Mount Namsan, which rises to a height of 262 meters, is the capital’s symbol.
Not only can you enjoy the tower and its facilities (observatory, technical entertainment, restaurants, shops…), but you can also enjoy the park, which has a breathtaking view of Seoul.
Changdeokgung, which dates back to the early 15th century, became the king’s main residence over time. When compared with Gyeongbokgung the arrangement here is far more harmonious and well-suited to the surrounding climate.
The palace is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it a must-see. The throne room, the king’s office with its blue roof, the prince’s apartments, and the famous Secret Garden are all worth visiting (on a guided tour only).
An artificial river runs through the historic centre of Seoul. It extends for ten kilometres, including an eight-kilometre stroll along the river, and makes for a peaceful refuge for the locals, away from the urban chaos.
You can begin your visit with the more developed area (Cheonggye Plaza) and then move on to a more remote location. You can check out some fantastic Street art along the way and, if you’re lucky, herons can also be seen on your walk.
Founded in 1395, Gyeonbokgung was the Joseon dynasty’s first royal palace. It is one of the city’s landmarks, towering over Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul’s historic centre. You can easily spend 2 to 3 hours exploring the palace because it is incredibly vast and befitting of a palace.
The Throne Room, the lake, the library, the Queen’s quarters, and the Hyangwonjeong Pavilion are some of the highlights of Gyeonbokgung palace(currently under renovation). The magnificent view of the mountain from this palace is a pleasant bonus.