- Lotte World/Lotte World Tower
- Gangnam District
- Dongdaemun Market
- Namdaemun Market
- Namsan Tower
- Bukchon Hanok Village
Traveling to Seoul might not be easy during COVID-19. However, once travel restrictions loosen post COVID it is a good idea to plan ahead before traveling to Seoul. If you don’t plan ahead you might not experience Seoul life to the fullest. This is why we have written this article on the coolest places to visit in Seoul. Potential visitors can also watch YouTubers to get a taste of Korea. For those that have already visited Seoul and think you have seen it all, think again.
Korean travel companies do a great job of showcasing Seoul, but Seoul Space is here to let you know some tips about visiting some of the coolest spots in Seoul. Seoul is an incredibly vibrant and exciting place to visit. Seoul does a great job of balancing the futuristic with the traditional. Traditional Korean cultural values are still in existence alongside Seoul’s modern fast-paced life. Since it is difficult to choose which places to visit on your first trip to Seoul.
We have made it easier with this article on the top 10 coolest places to visit in Seoul. Remember to get a metro card because the Seoul Metro is by far the easiest and cheapest way to travel around Seoul. Buses and Taxis are also very cheap but taking the Seoul Metro is both fast and easy. Buses could be confusing, especially if you can not read Korean. However, taking a taxi is cheaper when compared to cities like Tokyo, however, most taxi drivers do not speak English and it can be difficult to communicate where you would like to go.
At the top of the top places to visit in Seoul are Lotte World Adventure and Lotte World Tower which we will group together for #1. Lotte World is the World’s largest indoor amusement park. It is pretty much the Disneyland of Korea. Moreover, there are often “foreigner only” discounts of up to 30% from coupons that can be found at Incheon airport. For those that like western Chinese food, there is a Panda Express inside Lotte World! Make sure to ride the Flume Ride, French Revolution (In VR if available), and Pharaoh’s Fury.
They also have an outdoor amusement park called “Magic Island”. It is an artificial island inside Seokchon Lake. There you will find two must-ride attractions in Gyro Drop and Atlantis, make sure to check them out. Walk across the street and you will find Lotte World Tower, the tallest building in Seoul. It is a 123-floor skyscraper that was opened in 2017.
The Lotte World Tower is the tallest building in South Korea and the 5th tallest building in the world. It is walking distance away from Lotte World and right next to Lotte World Mall. Lotte World Mall offers 4 floors for shopping and dining. In addition, Lotte World and Lotte World Tower both have luxury hotels.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting Lotte World Area
- Visit the Lotte World, Amusement Park. Make sure to ride Gyro Drop and Atlantis. The admission price is 54,000 won for adults and 45,000 won for children. After 4 pm adults can get in for 46,000 won and children can get in for 35,000 won.
- Go up to the top of the Lotte World Tower (Seoul Sky). Price: 27,000 won.
- Check out the largest movie theater screen at Lotte Cinema (SuperPlex G) inside Lotte World Mall.
- Visit the aquarium inside Lotte World Mall.
- Ice skate at the Lotte World Ice Rink or play VR games at the VR Space.
Address: 240 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 3(sam)-dong, Songpa-gu Seoul, 138-220
Gangnam was made famous by Psy’s famous single “Gangnam Style”. But Gangnam has always been a must-visit place in Seoul for years. It is not one location, Gangnam spans a whole district. There you can shop, eat, and party all night long. In addition, inside the Gangnam station, you will find a wide variety of boutique clothes shops. Outside Gangnam Station is the main street that is filled with big brand stores. Therefore, remember to check out the side streets on either end which are filled with Korean restaurants, bars, and game rooms. Check it out to find some great deals!
A few minutes away by taxi and you can visit COEX Mall which is the world’s largest underground shopping mall. The mall has hundreds of shops, a Megabox movie theater, the COEX aquarium, and a large indoor bookstore that reminds people of the bookroom in Beauty and the Beast. They also hold a lot of events and conferences. In addition, for those interested in doing some gambling, remember to bring along your passport so you can enter Paradise Casino. Paradise Casino is located next to the COEX mall.
Sinsa Shopping District (Garosugil)
Sinsa has one of the most popular shopping areas in Seoul. If you ask anyone, Garosugil is the place to be in Seoul to shop and eat. Garosugil literally means “tree-lined street”. It is a narrow 1km long road that cuts through Sinsa. It is full of art galleries, shops, huge coffee houses, and restaurants. However, it is a relatively quiet street for such a popular place in such a big city. It is located between Gangnam and Apujeong and can easily be accessed via subway by getting off at Sinsa Station. What makes Sinsa different from other shopping areas in Seoul is that it offers a more boutique-style while also offering many chain stores. Others go to Garosugil for their many great restaurants. Therefore, it is a great place to go just for window shopping!
Remember the Gangnam District encompasses multiple blocks, therefore make sure you reserve a whole day to see everything.
Coex City Airport Terminal (CALT)
At the COEX Mall City Terminal, you can catch a bus that goes directly to Incheon or Gimpo airport. However, you can also check in for our flight and leave our bags at CALT! There is also an immigration office right next to the bus waiting area, so you will be able to fast-track this process at the airport. Therefore CALT is a great place for airline check-ins, immigration clearance, and getting a non-stop limousine bus.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting Gangnam
- Check out Gangnam’s many clubs. Recommendation Octagon.
- Take a picture in front of the “Gangnam Style” Logo off of exit 11.
- Visit the COEX MALL.
- Gamble at Paradise Casino next to COEX MALL.
- Check out SMTOWN@coexartium.
Address: 804 Yeoksam 2-dong, 303 Gangnamdaero Jiha, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
MyeongDong is Seoul’s top shopping district for Korean fashion and skincare. It is considered a hub for shopping, commerce, banking, and culture. It has an average daytime population of 3 million. There are many street stalls, retail outlets, and Korean cosmetics stores. As you walk along the main alley you will find stall after stall of street food vendors. For those who love Panda Express… as I do, there is actually a Panda Express located inside the Lotte Shopping Mall B1 floor.
As you walk the streets of MyeongDong you might see a lot of foreigners mainly from China and Japan. MyeongDong and Dongdaemun are considered the top two places for clothes shopping. Moreover, shopping can be done indoors or outdoors. Therefore these areas attract a lot of tourists all year round.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting MyeongDong
- Visit the Hello Kitty Cafe or various cat and dog cafes.
- Pick up moisturizing face packs that are sold in bundles. Look out for the 1+1 offers.
- Avoid visiting in the spring as it will be the peak season called the “Golden Week”. Tourists coming from China and Japan will make the area overcrowded.
- Make sure to collect free samples as you walk around.
- Try their famous Kalguksu which comes with some of the spiciest kimchi around.
Open 10am to 10pm
Address: 66, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Hongdae has long been known as the clubbing area of Seoul. Therefore you will find mostly college students at night as they walk the streets that are filled with pubs, clubs, and hofs. Hongdae is a place where Korean culture mixes with pop and indie at night. For those looking for hip-hop motifs, shop at Hongdae. Those that like K-pop will love Hongdae as there are many K-pop singing and dance performances along the streets.
If you are planning to party in Hongdae, remember that it will be very difficult to find a taxi after 2 am. Therefore if you plan on partying in Hongdae expect to party all night and into the morning hours. Subways are usually up around 6 am. Furthermore, you will also be able to find a lot of hostels for foreigners in Hongdae. Shared rooms can be as cheap as 30,000 won per night. So for those looking to visit Seoul on the cheap, staying at a hostel in Hongdae might not be a bad idea.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting Hongdae – Coolest Places to visit in Seoul
- For those looking to shop, the clothing stalls and vintage shops can be found along the main passageway, Eo Ulmadang-gil.
- The last Friday of each month is known as “Club Day”. Club hopping costs only 20,000 won. You will have access to all the clubs in Hongdae.
- Visit Coffee Lab which gives a futuristic take on caffeinated beverages.
- Check out Handmade World, a cafe-craft hybrid that sells coffee along with handicrafts.
- Visit the Trick Eye Museum Seoul which uses parallax effects and other visual trickery. Admission is 15,000 won for adults and 12,000 won for children and students.
Address: 365-8 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Insadong is a famous area filled with Korean culture. It is home to many little art galleries and artsy shops, as well as funky tea houses, restaurants, Buddhist temples, and lively street culture. There you can rent hanbok, drink Korean traditional teas, have Korean traditional snacks, and watch street performances. It is one of Seoul’s most fascinating and creative neighborhoods. Furthermore, it was the first commissioned area for artists to display their works and sell traditional Korean art in the form of paintings, calligraphy, and traditional Korean carved masks. As the years went by, many shopkeepers started to sell Korean souvenirs.
Many tourists come to Insadong to buy traditional Korean art, products, and other souvenirs. Insadong has special tax breaks for the purpose of promoting Korean culture. They also have a variety of antique shops, art galleries, and traditional stationery shops. In addition, make sure you check out the alleys as well as there are many interesting restaurants and family shops waiting for you there. In addition, don’t be surprised if you are interviewed by a group of students for their school project or report.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting Insadong
- Rent a Korean Hanbok and walk around Insadong. You can get discounts in shops, cafes, and Palaces if you wear Hanbok. Not too embarrassing because many people do it.
- Enjoy a cup of tea at a traditional Korean teahouse.
- The best time to go is on Sundays since most of the traditional performances and exhibits happen on a Sunday.
- Eat Korean BBQ at Cha Iyagi. They have a great selection of pork and beef. In addition, the rice is cooked in a hallow bamboo stick and comes with a variety of side dishes and wrappings to choose from.
- Make sure you try Korean pancakes called Jeon which can be sold in many restaurants. There is the Kimchi Jeon and Seafood Jeon. However, I would recommend the potato Jeon.
Open from 10am – 10pm.
Address: Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Dongdaemun Market is a large commercial district that is made up of traditional markets and shopping centers. It is Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping district and features over 30 shopping malls, 30,000 unique shops, and 50,000 manufacturers. Here you will find a wide range of items such as clothing materials, electronics, leather goods, shoes and accessories, sporting goods, office supplies, and pet products, just to name a few. However, they are mainly known for being the best place to find the latest fashions at cheap prices. It is open late into the night so it is a great place to shop for those looking to use the daytime to explore Seoul. For those interested in fashion, Dongdaemun Plaza hosts Seoul Fashion Week every year. Therefore make sure you check out their schedule to time your trip accordingly.
Walking Distance to Cheongyecheon
Cheongyecheon is about a 10-minute walking distance from Dongdaemun Plaza. It is a man-made stream where you can walk along the bottom to get away from the city streets. It is known for its Lantern Festival in May and November. Moreover, during this time the stream is filled with beautiful lanterns about Korean history and culture. In addition, you can build your own lantern and write a message on it before you float it down the Cheongyecheon stream.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting Dongdaemun Market
- Visit Mukja Golmok which is a famous food alley that sells delicious Korean cuisine.
- Take a walk around DDP (Dongdaemun Plaza). It hosts design-related shows and conferences, exhibitions, and other gatherings. Seoul Fashion Week is held at DDP. Make sure to visit the LED Rose Garden (25,550 white LED roses) at night at DDP.
- Similar to Namdaemun, items usually don’t have a price tag which means you will have to bargain and price compare.
- Visit Migliore to find the best deals but you will need to negotiate. We recommend going with a Korean speaker.
- For those not interested in bargaining, visit Doota (located in Doosan Tower) which offers prices upfront.
Open 10:30 am to 5 am (except Mondays and some public holidays)
Address: Euljiro 6(yuk)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
Namdaemun Market is number 7 on our list of the top 10 coolest places to visit in Seoul. It is the largest traditional market in Korea. It has over 10,000 stores and boasts one of the largest distribution structures in Korea. Their visitors will be able to buy cheap items, medical supplies, and local fruits and vegetables. In addition, they also sell a variety of popular Korean foods and snacks. Customers will be able to purchase many of the goods straight from the manufacturers at wholesale prices.
Namdaemun could get a bit confusing for foreigners and it is mostly outdoors. Therefore if you have already been to Myeongdong or Dongdaemun, we would suggest you skip Namdaemun on this trip.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting Namdaemun Market – Best Places to Visit in Seoul
- There are many items that don’t have a price tag. Therefore it is important to bargain with the seller. Sometimes you can get up to a 50% discount.
- Cheap place to buy Hanbok (Korean traditional dress)
- Cheap place to buy Korean cosmetic products
- Go to Kal-guksu Alley and try Kal-guksu. This is a noodle dish that is made from scratch and cut with a sharp knife. The noodles are paired with a light seafood broth, seasonal vegetables, fried tofu skin, and sesame seeds.
- Try the hot steamy buns! We recommend the Kimchi Bun.
Open until 4 am.
Address: 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu Seoul, 100-804
Those visiting Seoul might want to check out Korea’s history and culture need to visit Gyeongbok Palace. There is no better place to go than Gyeongbokgung also known as “Northern Palace”. The name of the palace, Gyeongbokgung translates in English to “The Palace of Shining Happiness”. The palace was mostly destroyed by Japan during the early 1590s. However, the Korean government has put a lot of time and resources into restoring and maintaining the palace. Furthermore, it is considered one of the most beautiful palaces not only in Korea but in the world.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting Gyeongbokgung
- Visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace. It is the first and largest royal palace that was built during the Joseon Dynasty (1395 AD). There are 4 other grand palaces such as Gyeonghuigung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and Deoksugung Palace. However, since you probably won’t have enough time to visit them all, we suggest visiting Gyeongbokgung. It is similar to the Forbidden City in Beijing. Admission fees are 3,000 won for adults and 1,500 won for children.
- Before visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace. Rent a hanbok at one of the many hanbok rental shops around the Palace. Moreover, if you wear the hanbok you will get into Gyeongbokgung Palace for free!
- Visit the National Folk Museum of Korea
- Don’t miss out on the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony or the Gwanghwamun Gate Guard-on-duty performance. Both happen every hour between 10 am to 4 pm (except Tuesdays). There you can also wear the gatekeeper’s costume for free at the Sumunjangcheong Building, which is located behind the Gwanghwamun Gate.
- Get a free guided tour by going to the information center at Heungnyemun Gate. The tour lasts 60-90 mins. English tours are at 11 am 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm. Japanese tours are from 10 am to 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm. Chinese tours are at 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2pm, and 4pm.
Open 9 am to 6 pm. Closed on Tuesdays.
Address: 161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Namsan Tower is located on top of Namsan Mountain. It is commonly referred to as the N. Seoul Tower. This is one of the best places to visit in Seoul if you are on a date with that special someone. It has been featured in some Korean dramas. The top of the tower is the second-highest point in Seoul at a height of 236m. It was built in 1969 as Korea’s first integrated transmission tower for T.V. and radio broadcasts in Seoul. Namsan Tower is the best place for panoramic views of Seoul. Moreover, it is a great place for a hike day or night.
If you don’t want to hike you can take one of the “Namsan” buses which are colored green off of Chungmuro Station. There is usually a small wait time and it only costs around $1.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting Namsan Tower – Best Places to Visit in Seoul
- Check out the multi-colored digital art which is projected onto the tower at night.
- Go up to the digital observatory which offers a 360-degree panorama view of Seoul. In addition, there are 32 LCD screens that tell the 600-year-old history of Seoul.
- Have coffee on top of the Roof Terrace which also has a wooden viewing deck.
- Don’t take the cable car (round trip – 8,500 won). Walk and enjoy the surroundings on Namsan Mountain. In addition, there are many viewing platforms along the way so visitors can take pictures of Seoul.
- If you are going up with a significant other, make sure to leave lock locks at the top to signify the long-lasting promise of your relationship. (I have done this 5 times…)
Open 10am-11pm. Closes at Midnight on Saturdays.
Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Bukchon Hanok Village is #10 on our list of top 10 places to visit in Seoul. It is located between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung. It has over 400 traditional Korean houses which are called Hanok. Besides the traditional houses, there are restaurants, cafes, and shops that sell handmade crafts. Therefore, many visitors like Hanok Village because it feels like you are going back in time to see how Koreans lived over 600 years ago. Bukchon Hanok Village is a great place to experience Seoul’s traditional culture.
Top 5 Tips When Visiting Bukchon Hanok Village
- Make sure to pick up a map at the Tourist Information Center.
- Visit the traditional teahouses.
- Check out the beautiful street art and take pictures of the traditional houses.
- Do some souvenir shopping.
- People live in the Hanok houses so be respectful of their privacy.
Address: Seoul, Jongno-gu, Gahoe-dong 37