Whether traveling for pleasure, adventure, business of education, Seoul in South Korea is the perfect destination for you. Boasting of a cosmopolitan and metropolitan population of over 26 million, it is surely the largest city in the country and a center of both economic and social life of the larger Eastern Asia. A chance to participate in its unique and exciting cultural and technological prowess is a dream that can only be fulfilled by own presence. Traveling to Seoul and indulging in the unique cultural and traditional, yet technologically fast aspects of the city is irresistible, fun and refreshing. Endowed with vast night life districts, a beehive of food selling activities, superb educational facilities, fascinating and holy Buddha temples, highest contrasts of urban architecture, vibrant youth culture and countries social amenities, the city is surprisingly outstanding and attractive.
History of Seoul City
Traveling to Seoul, one will be amazed by the historical heritage associated with the city. It traces its roots to the Korea’s dynasties of 18BC. As the capital of South Korea, the city boasts of a rich heritage that spans many years since the 14th Century. Those travelers in search of historical associations, activities and relevance of Seoul get an excellent opportunity to re-live the city’s historical development from the time it was called Hanseong and the seat of a dynasty called Joseon between the years 1392 and 1910 to the time of Japanese colonial rule. These historically interested tourists and visitors will be amazed by the relevance and connection between most of the city’s architectural heritage and dynasty. Five Grand Palaces are among the most prominent milestones of this dynasty and are reminiscent of the cultural developments of the regime. After the fall of Japanese occupation, the city changed to its current name and has been the capital of South Korea since its inception in 1948.
Form its humble and simple beginning; Seoul has some of the most popular landmarks in form of modern skyscrapers, temple reconstructions, subways, suburbs and other massive developmental infrastructure making it one of the cleanest and modern cities of the world. It is notable that a fast adventurer and traveler can take only a few days sampling the various attractions that the city offers. However, for those travelers that would like to get deeper and enjoy all the nice and exciting sceneries, landscapes and other touristic attractions, just a few days are not enough. You will find yourself immersed in the niceties of the city such that you may end up not getting enough of it even after weeks of exploration.
Traveling to Seoul, one will be excited to realize that it is the traditional destination of Chinese, Japanese and other Asian travelers. It is normal for you to utter one or two of your best Mandarin, Cantonese or Japanese foreign words while enjoying the best traditional dishes associated with these areas in a restaurant in Seoul. Among its competitors for western travelers include Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beijing. However, this has been changing in the last six years and tourists from the West are finding their way to the city in greater numbers as they continue discovering what they have been missing by overlooking this exciting and fascinating tourist destination.
Today, the city covers an area of about 600km² on the North Western region of South Korea. Travelers to this city are surprised to realize that the city is roughly divided into two by a river called Han which runs west from the east. The half on the North is called Gangbuk while the Southern is called Gangnam. For its administrative purposes, the city is composed of 25 districts and other many sub-districts. These districts have a population that is comparable to that of a small city while the whole of Seoul looks more of a collection of closely-neat small cities rather with their own economic and social semi-autonomies rather than one big and single city.
Traveling to Seoul one has a lot at his or her disposal to sample and enjoy. However, one needs to be equipped with the necessary money and the paying method on many of these attractions. A traveler in Seoul city should familiarize himself or herself with T-card form of payment. Among the most important places that one cannot fail to visit while on a Seoul city tour are the following:
The city boasts of at least five historical palaces that date back to the earlier ancient civilizations and dynasties of centuries past. The five most recognizable and a delicacy to the history-loving travelers include the palaces of Gyeongbok-gung, Changdeok-gung, Changgyeong-gung, Deoksu-gung and Gyeonghui-gung. These palaces are different in terms of the historical attachments and reminiscence as well as their dates of construction and use. Some are the oldest and long serving structures that resemble and stand for old civilizations. Others have a fusion of western and Korean architectural designs that offer a visiting historical eye such pleasure and roll-back to years of rich heritage and culture.
You cannot fail to notice the Seoul Mountains when you have a hiking obsession. These mountains have height of three thousand feet and are accessible through simple and difficult hiking trails. Among the most popular hiking mountain in Seoul is Bukhan which is usually crowded during weekends and other holidays. Gwanak, Inwang and Samseong are other popular mountains that are enjoyed by those who like to treat their souls and body with the experience of their lifetime.
The Seoul city is rich in collection of parks and national culture and heritage sites. If you would like to pay tribute to those who died on the April 19 Movement then you need to visit the 4.19 Memorial park. For those in need of spreading around and having fun while communing with nature in a city environment, then there are many other parks and forests within Seoul offering unimaginable relaxation and refreshment. The youth and student travelers find a Seoul city tour very incomplete without having the rare opportunity to enjoy Yangjae Citizen’s Forest.
Religious travelers and other worship tourists feel closer to their creator while touring the various religious sites in the city. There are important shrines, temples and other places of worship and ritual that are conserved for the visitors to sample and identify with the earlier and current religious and ritualistic beliefs of the Koreans and past dynasties. These places have very deep meanings to anthropological touristic experiences that take the visitor to traditional cultural and religious practices of the people who form part of the original cultural heritage. Among the most popular in this category include Inwang Mountain that houses Guksadang, a very popular shamanistic shrine. There are however other shrines and temples conserved in remembrance to the city’s Buddhist religious traditions and practices.
Seoul city has some of the most popular landmarks and architectural wonders in the whole of Asia. A visitor in this city is overwhelmed by the fusion of modern structures with the traditional architectural heritage of the years past.
For those who have a keen eye to past civilizations through the study of artifacts such as the archeologists would love, then there are countless archaeological sites in the city including its suburbs. Among the most important of these archaeological sites and attractions include the Korean national Museum and the Korean Folk village.
Where to Have Fun
Anyone looking for exciting and fascinating activities to overwhelm him or her during his or her stay in Seoul, then there are other attractions such as amusement parks and gambling joints. You can enjoy the activities in these amusement parks or try your luck on one of the many gambling joints and casinos in the town. This is without mentioning that you can enjoy horse racing in the town and probably win a jackpot.
Many people have found bicycle rides up and down the mountains one of the best experiences to write home about. Others have delved deeper into happiness and excitement by participating and enjoying in the highest qualities of performing art theatrics and talent. Seoul city offers countless avenues of relaxation, enjoyment, pleasure and leisure.
For those looking for a perfect way to cool the mind, relax the soul and maintain a perfect balance between the soul and body, then they cannot fail to visit the highest quality services offered by sauna, spas and massage parlors in the city. This provides a perfect way to relax and you can still be offered a place to sleep overnight as an alternative to rather expensive hotels.
How to Get Around
Traveling to Seoul by Air
Incheon International Airport
If you are planning your travel destination to be Seoul, then you must know that most travelers arrive here through Incheon International Airport. There is an excellent network of railways that connect the airport to the other parts of the city, the country and the larger Asia. The hardworking immigration officials at the airport ensure that you do not get delayed unnecessarily and you are out of the airport the soonest to start enjoying your stay in the city. You can also get connected to Gimpo Airport for your other city connections in Seoul. Asian Air, Korean Air and Jeju Air are some of the airlines that are the best options for anyone traveling to Seoul as well as connecting to other parts of the City using the railway networks. There are however many options for you to choose from in terms of the means that you want to use to and fro the Incheon Airport. There are countless taxis, buses, trains and car hire services traversing to and fro the airport.
If you are arriving at the city from other domestic departures, then you can use Gimpo Airport that operates domestic flights. It also serves regional flights touching on Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei and Osaka. From this airport, you can find your way to the city depending on the area or region that you want to sample in your travel or touristic escapades.
Arriving by train
The city serves as the northern terminus of the high-speed train system. The three railway stations at the Seoul vicinity include the following;
- Seoul station; this will make the traveler access areas such as Daegu, Busan, Suogu and other exciting destinations.
- Yongsan station; here you can catch a train to Mokpo, Daejeon and Asan among other places and destinations.
- Youngdeungpo station; this can be used by those travelers who want to visit the southern destinations
- Cheongnyangni Station; this is used by those visitors wishing to go to the east through other destinations that are also served by the above stations.
Other transportation methods
Depending on where you are coming from, there are other many transportation methods that one can use to reach Seoul city. These ones include the various buses and other public transport traversing to and fro the city. You can also take a boat to Seoul from China using the port town of Incheon. You can also use your own personal vehicle to reach the city form other towns in the country and neighboring states. Once you are already in the city, then it will dependent on your wish the type of transportation that you will need for your movement from one point in the city to the other.
Traveling to Seoul provides a life-time rare opportunity for one to sample some of the most fascinating places, areas, cultures, regions and civilizations. A visitor is given a perfect chance to speak a few foreign words, sample a traditional dinner, learn some new and foreign poetry and culinary tactics, go shopping in one of the best market malls and places in the world as well as boast to his or her country folks of an experience dear to his or her life.