Dominated by the towering peaks of Mt. Bukhansan and Mt. Namsan, Seoul is a thriving metropolis that marches to the beat of millions of busy residents. Travelers to South Korea’s capital can discover UNESCO World Heritage–listed treasures such as Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and the Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae); take a day trip to the DMZ, the no-man’s-land between North and South Korea; or go shopping in the commercial zones of Dongdaemun, Myeongdong, and Gangnam. The city boasts an impressive public transportation system that makes it easy to get around, but in-the-know visitors opt for guided tours that provide added value with insightful commentary and visits to off-the-beaten-track attractions. Seoul also serves as a convenient launch pad for outdoor adventures, and many visitors who wish to explore more of South Korea use the city as a gateway to Gongju, Buyeo, Suncheon, Yeosu, and Busan.
Nowhere is the tension between North and South Korea more palpable than in the no-man’s-land known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ. As a divided nation, only 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) separate the North from the South at what is the most heavily armed border on earth. Even with its past, the 150-mile (241-kilometer) zone is quite safe for travelers and is one of the most fascinating day-trip options from Seoul. Visiting the DMZ without a guide is impossible due to restricted civilian access and mandated military protection.
Perfect for clients who don’t have a full day to dedicate to the DMZ, this popular tour lets your client fit the trip in easily either in the morning or afternoon.
This best-selling full-day tour lets your clients get closer to the border than is possible on half-day excursions.
A great option for those with a serious interest in the history of the Korean conflict, this private tour goes well beyond the standard experience, featuring itinerary highlights such as the invasion route used by North Korean spy commandos when they infiltrated the border in 1968.
Read more about DMZ tours here.
The royal palace grounds stretch for 100 acres (40.5 hectares) and offer a number of sights to see, including Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, Hyangwonjeong Pond, and the National Folk Museum of Korea. Other highlights include the Third Inner Gate, Throne Hall, the Executive Office, and the king’s and queen’s quarters. The palace is a featured stop on most Seoul city tours and just about every royalty-themed tour.
Seoul City Sightseeing Tour Including Gyeongbokgung Palace, N Seoul Tower, and Namsangol Hanok Village
This tour combines the palace and other top attractions with a visit to Insadong for the chance to shop for unique souvenirs like traditional Korean paper, pottery, and other crafts.
This full-day tour gives an in-depth look at Korea’s rich cultural heritage by visiting some its most important attractions: the Gyeongbokgung Palace; the National Folklore Museum; the Korean Folk Village; and Jogyesa Buddhist Temple.
For clients short on time, this tour package combines the Royal Changing of the Guards Ceremony, a look inside Gyeongbokgung Palace, Korean street-food tastings, and lunch at Tongin Market, all in just a few hours.
Read more about Gyeongbokgung Palace tours here.
Namiseom (Nami) Island
Namiseom Island, or Nami Island, is a popular day-trip destination just northeast of Seoul. Nami Island offers stunning scenery with chestnut and mulberry trees, and grassy fields frequented by ducks, chipmunks, squirrels, and peacocks. All in all, the tiny island could have been plucked straight out of a fairy tale dedicated to perfect harmony between nature and humanity.
For clients looking to leave the busy city behind and discover a different side to South Korea, this relaxing, full-day tour combines Nami Island with Petite France—a French cultural village nestled in the heart of the countryside.
This hiking tour covers a lot of ground both in the Wondae-ri Birch Forest and on Nami Island, but your client doesn’t have to worry about where they’re hiking because a guide knows the safest and best trails to travel on.
Hiking is optional on this Nami Island and Mt. Seorak day trip, so even clients who aren’t big hikers can enjoy some of South Korea’s most beautiful outdoor places.
Read more about Namiseom (Nami Island) tours here.
Myeongdong Shopping Street
Seoul’s answer to New York’s Fifth Avenue, Myeongdong Shopping Street teems with affordable brand-name shops and department stores selling all varieties of clothing, shoes, and accessories. The daytime population of this commercial hub swells to near 2 million people who come to shop, eat, work, and play. While many Seoul sightseeing tours include Myeongdong, you could easily dedicate an entire day to this vibrant neighborhood, either independently or with the help of a tour guide.
Perfect for clients looking to spend a whole day shopping in Seoul, this tour visits three premier shopping districts, including Myeongdong, with a guide who gives advice on finding deals and bargaining for the best price.
This combo pairs a visit to Myeongdong Street by cable car with additional stops at Namdaemun Market and Mt. Namsan for a well-rounded experience that offers a splash of culture along with shopping.
If your client doesn’t want to waste precious daylight time shopping, this popular tour hits Myeongdong in the evening—when the area is most vibrant. Bonus: A street-food tasting at Gwangjang Market.
Read more about Myeongdong Shopping Street tours here.
Things to Know
When to Visit
The most comfortable temperatures can be found in spring and fall. For clients visiting in fall, check the dates of Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), as many businesses and attractions close for the holiday.
The city-wide subway is the fastest way to explore, but it’s best to avoid traveling during rush hour (weekdays from about 7 – 9am and 6 – 8pm) when it’s near-impossible to squeeze onto a train.
In Korea, it’s considered impolite for people to pour their own alcohol. Visitors should serve drinks for others (using both hands) and wait for the favor to be returned.
Things to Bring
Those planning on taking advantage of Seoul’s shopping should pack light or even bring extra luggage. Women’s hygiene products are hard to find, so bringing extras is advised.
What Locals Know
Chimaek (fried chicken and beer) can be delivered to almost anywhere in Seoul. On nice evenings, locals head to the Hangang parks (Han River parks) and order from their favorite chimaek franchises for an alfresco meal.