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 possesses an impressive public transportation system that makes it easy to get around. In-the-know visitors opt for guided tours that provide added value with insightful commentary and visits to off-the-beaten- path attractions. Seoul also serves as a convenient launch pad for outdoor adventures, 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.
Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) Half-Day Tour From Seoul
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.
Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and JSA Panmunjom Tour From Seoul
This best-selling full-day tour lets your clients get closer to the border than is possible on half-day excursions.
Private DMZ Tour: North Korean Spy Commando Invasion Route
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. Some itinerary highlights include the invasion route used by North Korean spy commandos when they infiltrated the border in 1968.
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.
Korean Heritage Tour: Palaces and Villages of Seoul Including Gyeongbokgung Palace
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.
Half-Day Walking Tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace and Tongin Local Market
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.
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.
Full-Day Nami Island and Petite France Tour From Seoul
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.
Full-Day Wondae-ri Birch Forest and Nami Island Hike From Seoul
This hiking tour covers a lot of ground both in the Wondae-ri Birch Forest and on Nami Island, your client doesn’t have to worry about where they’re hiking because a guide knows the safest and best trails to travel on.
Mount Seorak and Nami Island Day Trip From Seoul
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.
Myeongdong Shopping Street
Myeongdong Shopping Street teems with affordable brand-name shops and department stores selling a wide variety of clothing, shoes, and accessories. The daytime population of this commercial hub swells to a near two-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.
Seoul Shopping Tour in Dongdaemun and Myeongdong
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.
Morning Walking Tour of Namdaemun Market, Namsan Mountain and Myeongdong Including Full-Day Option
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.
Night Shopping Tour in Seoul
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.
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Things to Know
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 al fresco meal.
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. You can get a TMoney card from many convenience stores and load it at the closest suway station.
Renting a car is always an option, but driving in Seoul might be a daunting task to most.
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.
Seoul is a very fashion forward, so be sure to pack some of your best ensembles. It can also be difficult to find laundry, so be sure to pack enough clothes!
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. By far, the most popular drink across the nation is soju.
Tipping is expected in South Korea, but it’s polite to do so discreetely. Avoid leaving tips openly on the table when at a restaraunt.
Don’t worry about getting elbowed
Seoul is a crowded place and the people are generally very friendly, so not be surprised if you get pushed or elbowed lightly as people try to navigate around you. Do not see this as a sign of disrespect.