Visiting Seoul – A City Guide
Seoul is a welcoming city where temples sit in the shadows of modern high-rises. Bustling local markets, edgy art galleries, historic palaces and upmarket hotels offer visitors to Seoul an endlessly fascinating mix of past and present.
Seoul: City Layout & Top Attractions
Seoul sits on the banks of the mighty Han River. Northern Seoul is defined by the Gwanghwamun Gate
in central Jongno, the art galleries of inner Insa-dong,
and the multicultural melting pot of Itaewon. The flashy nightclubs of Gangnam lie to the south.
Booking your hotel directly through the IHG® website and joining IHG® Rewards Club gives access to affordable “Your Rate” offers at places like Holiday Inn Express® Seoul Euljiro. This hotel is close to famous landmarks including the National Museum of Korea
, N Seoul Tower
and the lively shopping district of Myeong-dong
History buffs can visit Bukchon Hanok Village
, which dates from the Joseon Dynasty, while families should head out to Jamsil to visit Lotte World
, one of the world’s largest indoor theme parks.
Eating Out in Seoul
Seoul is renowned for its street food, and the Jongno-gu District is a great spot to dip into the local scene. Packed with attractions and family-friendly hotels, it’s also home to Gwangjang Market
, a bustling maze of stalls where vendors serve bibimbap (a rice dish with chili paste) and yukhoe (a kind of steak tartare).
If you want to dig further, then add tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), bulgogi (Korean barbecue) and patbingsu (a red-bean dessert) to your must-try list.
Shopping in Seoul
As well as the chance to test your haggling skills, Seoul’s shopping scene offers the opportunity to peruse the world’s best luxury brands and try out the latest tech.
Open 24 hours, the sprawling Dongdaemun
district has over 25 malls and 30,000 specialty retailers. Visitors can browse some of Korea’s hippest fashions, take in an outdoor concert and sample some soju (distilled Korean alcohol).
Upmarket Gangnam is home to the huge, underground COEX Center
mall. Redeem your IHG® Rewards Club points at InterContinental® Seoul COEX and you can treat yourself to a day here. You can watch a movie, journey through the Undersea Tunnel at the COEX Aquarium
, or play baccarat at the Seven Luck Casino
, as well as browsing for bargains at the duty-free shops.
Culture & Nightlife in Seoul
Seoul has some of the most vibrant nightlife in Asia. The international Itaewon neighborhood is popular with locals and expats alike. You can people-watch at glitzy rooftop lounges, catch a match at a raucous sports pub, or enjoy global cuisine at numerous modern restaurants.
Crammed with fine-dining establishments and 5-star hotels like Grand InterContinental® Seoul Parnas, Gangnam presents a world of not-so-casual wealth, sharp suits and sleek cars. Thrill-seekers come for the VIP atmosphere and neon-soaked nightlife, and stay for the sunrise over the skyscrapers. For something more highbrow, the Opera Gallery
displays artworks by Hirst, Haring and Picasso.
Leisure in Seoul
The city’s traditional side is well worth discovering. Why not begin your stay in Seoul with a tour of 14th-century Gyeongbokgung Palace
, or a wander past the traditional wooden houses in Bukchon Hanok Village
At night, a game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium
is the perfect way to share the locals’ passion in a friendly, communal atmosphere.