Things to do in Seoul
For many visitors, the most compelling things to do in Seoul involve its deep history, by way of the ancient temples and museums, but the modern-day delights offer an excellent balance. A few highlights:
See Jongmyo. This complex of shrines dates back to the 14th century but are still used for some ceremonies today.
Visit Changdeokgung. When it was built in 1405, this gorgeous spread was just meant to be the secondary palace in town, but it took the top role in the 16th century and held that role until the end of the 19th century.
Wander Namdaemun Market. This is one of the best things to do in Seoul that's also a bargain: You can spend all day (and much of the night) browsing this market with hundreds and hundreds of stalls. You can buy clothing , jewelry, toys, kimchi-flavored seaweed and almost anything else you might imagine. For a snack, head to its Noodle Alley, which features several stalls selling all manner of soups and noodle bowls.
Explore Inwangsan Guksadang. For another type of temple, visit this famous shamanist shrine (once the local spot for exorcisms and sacrifices).
And what to do in Seoul if you have kids in tow? Check out Lotte World, the world's biggest indoor theme park, which has roller coasters, kiddie rides, museums and theaters.
Head to the candy-colored basement Stereo Bar, where a slogan written on an ashtray could pretty much sum up the national mood: don’t work too hard. Is it really worth to you?
The War Memorial of Korea features dioramas of life in wartime; its hokey cardboard nature notwithstanding, the exhibit shows a civilization that came within millimeters of being completely snuffed out.
Head to the Yongsan Electronics Market, also known as Electroland.
The new Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, up on Mount Namsan and overlooking the seedy Itaewon district, has been spearheading Seoul’s reputation as an arts destination.
This exquisite bar is truly a hole in a concrete wall, full of glamorous nerds munching on dried anchovies.
The Hurest Well Being Club sits between the 15th and 17th floors of a skyscraper, and offers great views of the surrounding office towers and the teenybopper shopping area of Myeong-dong.
Forget powdered sugar, the doughnut flavors here run from banana pecan to Valrhona chocolate to crème brûlée. The shop is one of the newest outposts of the lower Manhattan original— they’re all the rage in the Far East right now.