18 things to do in Seoul, South Korea
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
Seoul is the capital of South Korea and it is a popular destination for many Southeast Asians. Especially with China's boycott of South Korea, all the more you should head over to Seoul as they are less crowded than before! Be sure to catch the winter olympics if you're visiting in February 2018!
So now that you've booked your tickets to Seoul and completed the South Korea visa application form (if applicable), what exactly is there to do? We have a list of 18 things to do in Seoul, South Korea that can be completed even if you only have one day in Seoul!
1. Stroll within the Korean palaces
There are just so many palaces to cover in Seoul. If you are there for the first time, definitely head to Gyeongbukgong. It is the largest and most beautiful palaces out of the other palaces in Seoul (Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, and Gyeongbokgung Palace). In the palace, you can expect to marvel at the amazing Korean architectures, and the vast landscapes. You can also walk around the lake within the forest grounds!
Pro Tip: Rent a hanbok and get into the palace grounds for free! You can also take pretty pictures with the hanbok!
2. Hike up Namsan and head up the N Seoul Tower
Get an amazing view of Seoul while you're here! It is quite a lengthy hike but it can be quiet enjoyable on cooling evenings. Do pay to get up to the highest building in Seoul.
Pro tip: Don't forget to visit the toilet at the N Seoul Tower. This amazing restroom is located, one floor from the top.
This may also be the best place to perhaps take a dump as you marvel at the scenic views. I mean, most times when you visit a public toilet, you'll probably want to get out there as soon as possible. But this, it is an attraction in its own right!
3. Cycle or stroll along the Han River
There are several parks that are adjacent to the Han River so take your pick to whichever you'd prefer. This was at Banpo Hangang Park where you'll see these three floating pods. In there, you can take a break and have a cuppa coffee or shop in the souvenir stores.
Banjo Hangang Park is also less crowded than the other Hangang Parks so do give it a go when you're in Seoul!
4. Marvel at the architecture of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Apart from the shopping centres in Dongdaemun, the design plaza is indeed an amazing landmark. The space in the design plaza often holds concerts and events that you can watch when you are there. Otherwise, head underground for some cafes and shops.
5. Walk around EWHA, a women-only university compound!
While most of us are familiar with boys or girls only schools, South Koreans have women-only universities. Here, South Koreans believe that studying in a single-gender university would help its student focus only on their studies without the complexities of any boy-girl relationships.
What's more, their university grounds are splendid! This is shows a building that houses EWHA's library, small marts, and possibly some classrooms? Do note that not every place is open to the building so do heed the warning signs when they say that it is restricted to their own students!
6. Fill your tummies with Korean food at Gwangjang Traditional Market!
Gwangjang Market sells everything, from food, to groceries, and even clothes, pots and pans. Majority of the locals love heading to Gwangjang Market for meals. At the middle portion of the market, you can find a long line of various stalls selling all sorts of Korean food. You can enjoy fresh raw seafood, fried korean pancakes, buckwheat noodles, and more!
Do try to avoid mealtimes as these markets can get extremely crowded and crazy (especially dinner time)! One of the must-eat in Gwangjang is the Mungbean Pancake. Get them freshly pan-fried and eat them in the stores, or take it away as a snack in your hotel!
7. Stroll along the Cheonggyecheon Stream
This would be an interesting experience as you'll get to walk along the stream from one place to another. Here you'll even get to "cross" the stream using these stepping stones. It is a great way to avoid the hectic traffic when getting to your destination and enjoy the greenery along the stream!
8. Experience the traditional Seoul while visiting the Bukchon Hanok Village
Hanoks are traditional Korean houses that still exist in some areas of South Korea and in Seoul. Many of these houses are still homes to the locals so when you walk along the streets, do keep your volumes down! These historical houses are preserved to enable locals and visitors to learn more about the history of the Joseon Dynasty.
Pro-tip: Another bonus "new" area to check out is the Ikseondong Hanok Village. Here, you'll find interesting and quaint stores housed in Hanoks and many beautiful cafes!
9. Go on a date at the Gyeongui Line Forest Park
The Gyeongui Line Forest Park is similar to New York's high line where an old railroad is repurposed as a park for locals and travellers. This forest park is still relatively unknown to many but it is definitely an upcoming attraction!
Especially during fall, where the weather is nice, and the leaves are starting to display pretty colours, it is definitely a great place for dates!
10. Get into the Groove at Hongdae
Hongdae is a district that is known for its vibrant youth culture, where there is a display of expression, song and dance. The name Hongdae is named after Hongik University and it is a popular spot for teenagers to display their talents on the street. Especially in the late afternoon to the early evening, you can catch various group of individuals singing and dancing. It is definitely an interesting scene.
Here, you'll also find lots of interesting cafes like the One Piece cafe shown above.
11. Shop for beauty products and cosmetics at Myeongdong
Myeongdong is a heaven for beauty and makeup gurus! Along the street, you'll find popular korean brands like Laneige and Innisfree. Often, they also have much better deals for their products as compared to anywhere else in Seoul. If you're looking to get your 2018's supplies of beauty products and makeup, this is the place to go!
For the boys, don't worry. As your partner is shopping to her heart's content, you can also indulge in the variety of street food available! Do note however that street food in Seoul isn't cheap. Be prepared to pay good money for grilled clams, scallops, and lobsters!
12. Visit an authentic Korean Bath House (jjimjilbang)
After all that walking, eating, and shopping, head to the jjimjilbang to relax and unwind. Most bath houses are open 24 hours and you can take a bath, enjoy the sauna, eat, play some games, sleep, and catch up with your travel partner(s). Although we didn't visit one in Seoul, we went to the one in Busan and it was really an extremely relaxing experience.
If you are looking for a jjimjilbang in Seoul, try out the Myeongdong Traditional Sauna and let us know how it goes!
13. Head to Nami Island for a day trip!
Nami Island requires an entire day as it is located about 2 hours away from Seoul. There are lots to do in Nami Island, from taking the thrilling zipline to cycling within the island. Head over to our post on: All you need to know about Nami Island.
14. Visit the largest indoor theme park at Lotte World
You do not need to check the weather forecast to head to Lotte World. What's better, if you happen to have a rainy day in Seoul. This would be the best place to ensure that the weather doesn't dampen your day!
15. Or go for the thrill rides at Everland!
If you are so done with shopping, why not head to Everland for some thrill rides and adventure! A must-ride is the wooden roller coaster!
16. Dance to Oppa Gangnam Style at Gangnam!
One must definitely visit Gangnam after hearing the viral song by Psy. Gangnam is an upscale district where you can find all the luxurious brands. There's also a shake shack here!
The Starfield Coex Mall also deserves a special mention. It is located in the Gangnam district and it is a huge mall that even holds their own library!
17. Ride the Gangchon Rail Bike
Who needs to ride a regular bicycle when you can ride a on the rail bike? Old railroads are repurposed into a rail bike park where you can ride on the railway tracks on a cute little pram and take in the views of the countryside. Click to read our blog post on the Gangchon Rail Bike!
18. Visit the DMZ border!
This was one of our must-do but we didn't manage to visit the DMZ border because there were travel advisories that were issued during the duration that we were in Seoul. Nevertheless, head over to Kattie's post on her visit to the DMZ border!
There you go! If you're wondering what to do when you are in Seoul, South Korea, there are just so many things to do! Do let us know if you've tried any of these!