South Korea has captured the attention of many tourists, as seen by the success of the Oscar-winning film Parasite, the acclaimed k-pop group BTS, and the internet hit Squid Games. Seoul is one of the most stunning cities in the world. The architectural splendour is a pleasant complement to its well-known attractions, clubs, hotels, and a lineup of restaurants providing traditional Korean cuisine.
How to reach Seoul from India
India and South Korea do not have a direct road or rail connection. As South Korea is an island country, the best way to go there from India is by plane or cruise. To visit Seoul from India, flying is the fastest, easiest, and most practical mode of transportation available.
Direct or connecting flights to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport are available from India’s major cities. The airport is 50 km from the city of Seoul. The flight time from New Delhi to South Korea is the fastest of any other city in India. It takes about nine hours and 44 minutes to fly from Delhi (DEL) to Incheon (ICN. In addition, you will likely spend about one hour and 42 minutes waiting during your stopover. Air India, Asiana Carriers, and Korean Air are just a few of the many airlines offering these routes. The average weekly frequency of flights is 12. Remember to double-check the schedule in advance since things may change on the weekends and holidays.
Cruises to Seoul are an excellent choice for anyone looking for an extended break. Direct itineraries between India and South Korea are not provided by any of the cruise companies. However, China, Singapore, and Australia all serve as departure hubs. If you find yourself in any of these destinations, you should plan ahead for a cruise and make it a priority to take a flight from Seoul back to India.
Top places to visit in Seoul
The following is a list of the most popular tourist destinations and things to do in Seoul. Use it to plan your trip to this vibrant city for an unforgettable experience.
N Seoul Tower
The Namsan Seoul tower was built on Mount Namsan, over 500 metres, to provide visitors with a view of the city’s most breathtaking sights. It is also the country’s first general radio wave tower, transmitting TV and radio broadcasts to the capital area beginning in 1969. A cable car transports you up the mountainside to the foot of the tower. You can ascend the tower from here and visit any of its four observation decks, one of which is a revolving restaurant.
The N Seoul Tower has five distinct eating options and several gift stores. The GRILL, located on the top floor, is regarded as among the popular French fine-dining restaurants in Seoul. The façade of the skyscraper is lit by LED lights controlled by a computer, creating a dynamic visual cultural experience of Seoul.
The Bongeunsa Temple is one of the numerous Buddhist temples in and around Seoul. It is a large complex consisting of many structures and shrines that originally opened in 794. Located in the heart of Gangnam, one of Seoul’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, it’s a breeze to get there.
The temple can be found on the slope of a small mountain, immediately beside the shopping mall. Convention attendees often stop here to take a breather and soak in the serene ambience during their downtime. The temple encourages people to come and explore and even provides them with the opportunity to participate in a programme that simulates the routine activities of a monk for a brief period.
Lotte World Tower
The Lotte World Tower is a skyscraper that opened relatively recently as a tourist destination in Seoul. It stands at the height of 500 metres above ground and is now the fifth-highest skyscraper, the tallest structure in South Korea, and one of the best places to visit in South Korea. At the top of the building, on the 117th – 123rd floors, there is an area named Seoul Sky with many observation decks, both indoor and outdoor. The views are breathtaking both during the day and at night, and you can get a full 360-degree circumnavigation of the city from this vantage point.
The world’s tallest glass floor can be found on the SkyDeck, located on the 118th level. Even climbing to the top of the building is entertaining since it is taken in double-decker, super-fast elevators with windows on one side and LED displays on the other three sides and the ceiling.
The Joseon dynasty was responsible for constructing all five of Seoul’s major palaces, although the Gyeongbokgung Palace is the biggest of the five. Its construction began in 1395. While being razed to the ground and reconstructed many times throughout the ages, it was brought back to its former splendour after the Second World War and then completely renovated in the 1990s.
Both the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea can be found on the grounds of the palace. The palace museum has artefacts that were originally housed during the Joseon Dynasty. To illustrate the narrative of the Korean people from ancient times to the present, the National Folk Museum concentrates on clothes and dioramas, in addition to displaying things from everyday life.
Gwanghwamun Gate is the biggest and major gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. It is also the location of the changing of the guards ritual, which has been done continuously since 1469. The event takes place every day (except on Tuesdays) at 10 am and 2 pm. The gate has been renovated and repaired many times, the most recent of which took place in 2010, when it was relocated to its original location and reconstructed using local materials using traditional tools and construction methods.
The gate is in front of the enormous Gwanghwamun Square, which is the site of many political protests and also has a major metro station, a massive fountain, and several enormous sculptures of Joseon-era figures.
Seoul Museum of Art
The locals refer to it as “SeMa,” and it is situated just behind the Deoksugung Palace. The museum has a sizable collection of artwork with a strong emphasis on Korean art and Korean artists, but it also has a collection of works by foreign artists. The exhibits are spread out over three levels of a massive structure formerly the seat of the Supreme Court of Korea and now houses the collection.
The museum has six more satellite facilities in various districts of Seoul. Each of these locations features unique exhibitions in addition to revolving displays drawn from the museum’s primary collection. Do not miss the opportunity to see the Nam June Paik Memorial House, which is located inside the museum and serves as both an exhibition and workshop space. Nam June Paik was a well-known modern Korean artist. The area of Changsin-Dong in Seoul is where the home may be found.
The equivalent of the White House in Korea is called the Blue House. It is the official house of the President of Korea, in addition to being the site of the offices and other executive offices of the state. The Blue House is not only a single structure but a full complex of buildings, all of which are constructed in the traditional Korean style and include the blue tile roofs from which the Blue House derives its name.
Tours lasting one hour are provided; however, visitors are required to register online in advance and book their trip through the website. On this tour, you will see many different areas of the palace complex, such as meeting rooms, reception rooms, and the Korean equivalent of the Rose Garden, where the president of Korea makes news conferences.
Jingwansa Temple, Bukhansan National Park
Jingwansa is an old temple complex that offers numerous opportunities to experience Buddhism and temple life. One of the four most important temples in Seoul, Jingwansa was first constructed about 1,000 BC and is on the extreme western edge of the city. It is located inside the magnificent scenery of Bukhansan National Park and is a part of the Bukhansan National Park complex. The historic structures are encircled by miles of hiking routes that wind their way through the mountains. Hiking is popular among tourists.
The temple, which is self-sufficient in terms of food production, hosts a variety of community events and activities. In addition to educational and cultural events, there is also an option to spend the night in the temple as part of a programme called “temple stay.” They also provide culinary experiences such as a traditional vegetarian lunch served in the temple, just as the monks would consume it.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
The Dongdaemun Design Plaza, known simply as the DDP, is a hip design hub located in the Dongdaemun neighbourhood of Seoul. In addition to being renowned as Seoul’s fashion district, Dongdaemun is also famous for its shopping. The DDP building, which is silver and shaped like a flowing sphere, gives the impression that it was brought here from another world. The late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid was responsible for its design. Showrooms, work areas, administrative offices, and design studios may be found inside the complex.
The design centre comes to life in the evening, with the 25,000 white LED flowers that light up. The DDP is considered to be one of the most beautiful locations in all of Seoul because of its silvery, contemporary, and curved architecture and rows of artificial flowers. After your tour, make your way to the other side of the street to the popular new eating venues in Seoul.
Things to do in Seoul
Discover the traditional culture of Bukchon Hanok Village
An excursion to the Bukchon Hanok Village is a delightful and enlightening way to spend an afternoon. Here, visitors can get a flavour of the traditional culture and architecture of Korea. You will get a sense of what life was like in Korea around 600 years ago because of the preservation of an area with multiple old neighbourhoods. It is in the vicinity of the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Changdeokgung Palace, both located in the centre part of Seoul.
Hanoks, also known as traditional Korean dwellings, can be seen in communities with small streets. It is a one-of-a-kind location because it is a historic district visited by visitors, but at the same time, it is a genuine community in which all homes are now inhabited. Some hanoks have been converted into inns and bed and breakfasts, while others have been converted into museums. Most of the structures are individual residences, but some are cultural institutions that exhibit historic elements of Korean society, such as traditional crafts.
Visit the National Museum of Korea for a day
This must-see destination in Seoul displays the history and artwork of Korea and the people of Korea. The Yongsan District of the city is home to the museum, which is regarded as one of the biggest in Asia (close to Itaewon). It focuses on archaeology, history and art, and has an extensive collection of works and artefacts that date back more than a million years.
In addition to a substantial collection of antiques and artefacts, there are also ancient and prehistoric artefacts, sculptures, paintings, and other forms of visual art. Visit the museum first, and then stroll down the street to Yongsan Family Park. The War Memorial of Korea is also located nearby.
Half-day trip to DMZ
The Demilitarised Zone (also known as the DMZ) is a region that runs along the border between North and South Korea. It is a relic from the Korean War and a popular South Korean tourist place. Only authorised personnel are permitted to enter this extremely secure and heavily guarded location. A trip not only allows you to view the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) and escape the hustle and bustle of Seoul.
The Half-Day Korean DMZ trip takes you to the most significant sights in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) region and then brings you back to Seoul after lunch. The tour begins and ends in the central business district of Seoul (if you take the early morning tour). The guided trip will take you to several locations, such as the Dora Observatory and the 3rd Tunnel, both of which were dug by the North in preparation for an invasion. From the Dora Observatory, you will get a view of North Korea.
Spend your weekend in Insadong
Insa-dong is an artistic neighbourhood that combines traditional and contemporary lifestyles and can be found in the historic area of Jongno-gu. This one-of-a-kind area is teeming with art galleries and quaint shops selling folk goods and handicrafts that are typical to Korea. In the shops, you may buy products like Hanji, a hand-made traditional paper, Hanbok, traditional apparel, teas, ceramics, and original works of art. All kinds of Korean fine art may be shown at the galleries located in Insadong. There are also a great number of tiny cafés and tea shops, which are ideal for taking a rest in between bouts of shopping.
When the streets of the Insadong neighbourhood are blocked to traffic on Saturday afternoons and for the entire Sunday, the area transforms into a massive artisan and cultural fair and comes to life like never before. Aside from stands selling food and wares of various merchants, there are also stages with performances of traditional music and dance and other cultural displays.
Take a stroll to Cheonggyecheon
During the economic boom that followed the Korean War, this natural creek that flows through the centre of Seoul was paved over to make way for highways. As part of an urban revitalisation project, seven miles of the creek were uncovered and turned into an outdoor recreation area. This area was first opened to the public in 2005.
There are currently seven miles worth of pathways for walking, hiking, and bicycling that run along the stream. The Central Business District of Seoul has been significantly altered due to the introduction of a waterway and green space into what was formerly a highly urbanised and congested region. In addition, the stream is the location of the marvellous Seoul Lantern Festival that takes place every November. Each night, hundreds of people line the creek to observe and appreciate the floating artwork, which consists of ornate paper lanterns lit up and exhibited in the stream and along its banks.
Visit Itaewon for vibrant nightlife
Itaewon is a lively district in Seoul centred on a few pedestrian streets packed with stores, cafes, and other types of consumer enterprises. It is one of those sites that can offer you a true feel for Korean retail culture in a short time, so if you have a short amount of time in the city, it is a good option for you to visit. A number of the side streets are lined with restaurants, and mobile food vendors and street entertainers can be found here.
Take a stroll along the pedestrian-only Gyeongnidan Street since it is lined with eateries serving a wide variety of cuisines and serves as a marketplace for a wide variety of exotic delicacies that are not readily accessible elsewhere in Korea (like pizza and American-style barbecue). Another street, named Itaewon Antique Furniture Street, is lined with antique stores, and this is usually a great area to shop for one-of-a-kind presents because of the variety of items found here.
Try some of the best street foods in the Gwangjang Market
The street food market in Seoul is a big building with many different vendors selling a variety of mouthwatering street foods. The market is filled with rows of food booths, each of which sells a unique kind of traditional Korean cuisine. Most stalls are outfitted with little seats in front of them, transforming them into miniature restaurants where customers may sit down and enjoy a meal. If you make a request, you may have a taste of the items available.
The market can be found in the middle of Seoul, and it is open from nine in the morning until ten at night. Blood sausage, tteokbokki (stir-fried spicy rice cakes), bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes), bibimbap (rice combined with sautéed beef, veggies, and gochujang red chilli sauce), gimbap (Korean sushi), and different varieties of noodles are among the most popular items offered here. In several other sections of the market, sellers sell clothing and other products for the home.
Getting around Seoul
Public transportation in Seoul is recognised as one of the best in the world. The trains and buses are always on time and spotlessly clean, and there are signs in several languages on most subway and bus stations.
The Seoul subway is one of the most convenient and cost-effective ways to get across the city because of its extensive network and low fares. If you stay away from the subway at the busiest times of the day (weekdays between 8 and 9 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m.) and do not attempt to travel between midnight to 5:30 a.m. when the system is closed, you will have an enjoyable experience riding the subway.
While the subway system in Seoul is user-friendly, international visitors could find the city’s bus lines to be more confusing and overwhelming. Most bus routes do not have English translations, and most bus drivers only speak Korean. The adult bus price is reduced by 100 won when paid using a T-money card, which can be purchased on the bus or online. Unless there is just one door, passengers should board the bus from the front and exit from the back.
In Seoul, hailing a taxi is simple, and a short journey can be fairly affordable. There are also international taxis that guarantee multilingual drivers; however, these cabs have to be booked in advance and cannot be booked from the street. If you want to take a standard taxi, it is recommended that you write down your destination and then show it to the driver, so there is no misunderstanding.
Although Seoul is too large to explore entirely on foot, the city does provide a variety of districts and hiking trails that offer pleasant settings. Be careful while crossing the street since the duration of the green light that pedestrians are given is often brief to facilitate traffic flow; hence, you should cross the street as briskly as possible.
How many days should I stay in Seoul?
Three days is sufficient time to see the city’s major attractions. If you stay between four to seven days, you will have enough time to go hiking, see additional sights off the usual route, or take a few day excursions from Seoul.
When is the best time to visit Seoul?
The months of March through May and September through November are the best times to visit Seoul since the weather is pleasant during those months and the costs of travelling are lower during those months.
When is the rainiest month in Seoul?
There are times when the rain comes down in sheets of lightning. In most years, July is the worst month of the year, with the most rainfall and the fewest bright days.
Which is the hottest and coldest month in Seoul?
August in Seoul is generally the warmest month of the year, with highs of 28°C and lows of around 22°C on average. The cold season begins in December and continues until February, with an average daily high temperature lower than 0°C.
Is Seoul good for shopping?
Seoul is recognised as the shopping capital of Korea. Whether searching for your favourite high street retailers or one-of-a-kind apparel and accessories designed by local Korean designers, you will find that the city has a lot to offer to tourists and locals alike.