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Culture, food & shopping ... 3 days in Seoul

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For city lovers, add Seoul to your bucket list ... it has transitioned from a city I didn't have "on my list" to one of my favorite cities in the world. Here is my ideal itinerary to combine great food, culture, history, shopping and night-life ... Seoul in 3 days! Seoul is so unique as the perfect mix of European elegance and fashion with Asian technology and efficiency (imagine Paris and Tokyo combined). It is also incredibly easy to get around, safe, tourist friendly and easy to get to from nearly all major airports in the world.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Foodie
  • Luxury Traveller
  • Trendsetter

15 Places

6 City Tips

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Map

15 Places

Day 1

Changdeokgung Palace

Architectural Buildings, Gardens, Historic Sites

Jogyesa Temple

Sacred & Religious Sites, Monuments & Statues

Insadong

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Neighbourhoods

Beautiful Tea Museum

Speciality Museums

Sanchon

Restaurants

Day 2

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Historic Sites, History Museums

Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Sin

Monuments & Statues

Sungnyemun Gate

Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Namdaemun Market

Flea & Street Markets,

Namsan Park

Parks, Gardens

N Seoul Tower

Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts

Day 3

The War Memorial of Korea

Military Museums

Garosu-gil

Neighbourhoods,

National Museum of Korea

History Museums

Itaewon

Neighbourhoods, Points of Interest & Landmarks

Shelliu's City Tips

  • In high tourist areas, look for tourist helpers wearing Red Vests to help with directions or hailing a taxi.
  • Tipping in Seoul is not required, similar to the rest of Asia, but it is becoming more common and expected for great service, especially 5-10% in restaurants or for private tours.
  • During rush hour (7am-9am and 4pm-7pm), it is best to not be on the road because traffic can be very bad ... subway is the best option if your location is near a station.
  • Many museums are closed on Mondays or Tuesdays so plan ahead or fly in/our on Monday.
  • Subway & buses are the cheapest way to get around ... taxi's are more expensive but convenient. Most signs are in Korean & English. Download the Seoul metro app before you arrive.
  • All taxi's have tourist numbers for help in your local language (another tourist friendly benefit I have only seen in Seoul)
    Day 1
  • Changdeokgung Palace
    Architectural Buildings, Gardens, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Changdeokgung Palace was the 2nd royal villa constructed and the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal Joseon palaces. Both the palace and gardens are stunning and large. You will find serenity, culture and natural beautify, all in 1 place. I recommend taking the palace + secret garden tour (Huwon tour). The tours are about 2 1/2 hours (60min for the palace & 90min for the garden) which is the perfect amount of time to explore and enjoy this beautiful palace.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Book tours a week or more in advance (more if during a holiday period) and specify your language preference
    • Changdeokgung Palace is closed on Mondays
    • Changdeokgung Palace is open 9am - 6pm most months (closes at 5pm in the Winter) with the last entrance 2 hours before closing.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #12 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Must see 13/02/2019
    • Yolanda Jones 26/01/2019
    • Changdeokgung Palace
    Address:
    99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu
    Seoul 03072
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-762-8261
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Jogyesa Temple
    Sacred & Religious Sites, Monuments & Statues
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    We were incredibly luck to be able to visit Jogyesa 2 days before Buddha's birthday and shortly after the lantern festival where some of the floats that were on the water were there in person. The lantern colors and design was mesmerizing and we got to experience a 15min Buddhist prayer session which is a once in a lifetime experience. Also, the head monk was out talking to folks and offered to take a picture which was also a great memory we will never forget. They have a temple experience where I think you can stay and experience if it you are interested. Otherwise, it is a great place to stop in, people watch, pay respects and it will only take you about an hour or less.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Couples
    Tips
    • Try to visit during a holiday where the lanterns and decorations are amazing. Another option is prayer time which is also wonderful to experience.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Calm and Beautiful 16/01/2019
    • Easy to find 13/01/2019
    • Jogyesa Temple
    Address:
    45 Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu
    Seoul 110-170
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-732-2183
    Other:
  • Insadong
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Neighbourhoods
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Perfect for shopping, gift buying, people watching and dining. Within 3 hours, we were able to see some of the local food being sold on the street, get funny socks for gifts, business holders for our office, an iphone case for a friend with Kia Tigers on it, go to a Tea Museum and try wonderful tea, have some of the best dumplings and cold soup I have ever had, have a beer on the 3rd floor and people watch and have fried dough curved and holding ice cream. I am not sure if you could do this anywhere else in the world in such a small amount of space. It is a must see/do while you are in Seoul and can be great for all ages.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Like a Local
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • Save your appetite and sample different places
    • Bring small bills and bargain when shopping
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #39 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • I want to go back there ! 😭 17/02/2019
    • A nice area to walk around 14/02/2019
    • Insadong
    Address:
    Insa-dong, Jongno-gu
    Seoul
    South Korea
    Other:
  • Beautiful Tea Museum
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Stop in for a cup of tea and check out one of many gems you will find wandering the streets of Insadong. The teas were delicious and made a fabulous gift to bring back for our friends and family. It was also one of the few places to find peace and quiet within the energetic Insadong area.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • It's tough to find but walking down the many small side streets of Insadong is part of the fun.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #223 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    • Good tea, not a museum 10/09/2018
    • A piece of heaven 29/12/2017
    • Beautiful Tea Museum
    Address:
    193-1, Insa-dong, Jongno-gu
    Seoul 110-290
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-735-6678
  • Sanchon
    Restaurants (Asian, Korean)
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Best restaurant in Seoul and one of the top in the world ... fresh vegan food which shocked my husband as I didn't tell the meat-lover until after the meal. There is even a bonus dance performance at 8pm daily that lasts about 45min. When we walked down an alley in Insadong, then another which turns into a dead-end where the restaurant is and we were instantly blown away with the beauty and tranquility of the restaurant. It has a feeling of being outside but also like you have stepped back in time to a peaceful and beautiful place. There is a ton of food so make sure you don't eat ahead of time and it comes out rather quickly. From the squash porridge and water kimchi starter to the herb main course, everything was unique and most things were exceptionally delicious. If you are not adventurous or don't like vegetables and earthy flavors, it could be tough, but if you are willing to take a risk, this is a huge payoff.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Make a reservation ahead of time and try every dish
    • Stay for the show at 8pm and bring your camera (for the show, décor and beautiful food)
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #221 of 27,006 restaurants in Seoul
    • Truly unique and authentic Korean experience 12/02/2019
    • Group visit with 16 persons 27/11/2018
    • Sanchon
    Address:
    14, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu
    Seoul
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-735-0312
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    11:30 - 22:00
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
    Historic Sites, History Museums
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Originally built in the 14th century and rebuilt in 1867 after being left alone for hundreds of years, the Gyeongbokgung Palace is a beautiful place to visit. It is quite busy and lively on holidays. Try to plan your visit to watch the Changing of the Guards & small parade (10am, 1pm & 3pm) and/or military training (9:35am & 12:35pm).

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveller
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Open from 9am -6pm (last entrance is 5pm) most months (closes 1 hour earlier in the winter months)
    • Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed on Tuesdays.
    • Changing of the guards happens daily at 10am, 1pm & 3pm. Military training is daily at 9:35am & 12:35pm.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #11 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Tranquil and picturesque. 18/02/2019
    • One of the highlights in Seoul 16/02/2019
    • Gyeongbokgung Palace
    Address:
    161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu
    Seoul
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-3700-3900
    Hours:
    Wed - Mon
    09:00 - 17:00
    Other:
  • Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Sin
    Monuments & Statues
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Wonderful statue but the gem is the museum underneath. Admiral Yi is a very famous Korean naval commander who supposedly outnumbered 133 warships to 13, and forced into a last stand with only his minimal fleet standing between the Japanese Army and Seoul. He was considered one of the most strategic commanders in history and it is amazing to see the statue and go to the museum to understand how much he was able to do with limited training and with strategy!

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Make sure you take advantage of the museum underneath to learn the history of this great commander
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #68 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    • The War Hero 12/01/2019
    • Amazing Admiral 07/11/2018
    • Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Sin
    Address:
    Sejing-ro, Jongno-gu
    Seoul
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-3991-1146
    Other:
  • Sungnyemun Gate
    Historic Sites, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Namdaemun gate is a great photo spot and is close to another one of my favotire locations, Namdaemun market, so it is worth adding a short trip to your itinerary. This gate is not the original and was rebuilt several times but most recently in 2008 after it was severely damaged by fire but it is great to see the newly rebuilt gate with some of the old bricks. It is also one of the best places in the city for pictures!

    Good for
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Namdaemun gate is right next to Seoul station which is another great place to see/experience and a convenient transportation option.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #80 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    • Quick visit to the historical gate 13/11/2018
    • impressive gate 14/10/2018
    • Sungnyemun Gate
    Address:
    40, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu
    Seoul 04528
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-779-8547
    Other:
  • Namdaemun Market
    Flea & Street Markets,
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    As the largest traditional market in Korea, Namdaemun Market has something for everyone, whether that means gifts for friends and family or a fun, unique gift for your self. We found everything from cool socks & clothing to kids toys, cell phone cases to jewelry and electronics to food items. There are plenty of tourists and locals as the prices are very cheap. It can get quite busy so just be prepared to be overwhelmed. There is also a flower market, jewelry market and some nice galleries and restaurants. A trip to Seoul isn't complete without at least a short trip to this market but if you have the time and patience, you could spend hours here.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Thrifty Traveller
    Tips
    • Namdaemun market is closed on Sundays and open from 11pm to 5pm although hours vary by store
    • Bring small bills and always bargain!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #66 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • A very budget friendly market 17/02/2019
    • Crowded huge place 12/02/2019
    • Namdaemun Market
    Address:
    21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu
    Seoul 04529
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-753-2805
    Other:
  • Namsan Park
    Parks, Gardens
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Namsan Park is a great park in the middle of the city with wonderful statues, flowers, walkways and is the walking path to get to the cable car or to walk all the way up to N Seoul Tower. On the lower end, there are replica pieces of the old wall that you can walk along, there are some statues and beautiful gardens. As you walk up the park to N Seoul Tower, there are great lookout points, nicely paved stairs with handrails in the steeper sections and a few places to stop for drinks along the way.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • At average page, the walk up will be about 45min, 30min if you are very fast and 60min if on the slower side or want to enjoy the flowers, statues and views along the way.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #22 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • One of the main highlights in Seoul 18/02/2019
    • Beautiful dating spot 17/02/2019
    • Namsan Park
    Address:
    100-177 Hoehyeon-dong 1-ga, Jung-gu
    Yongsan-dong, Yongsan-gu
    Seoul
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-3483-5900
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    00:00 - 23:59
    Other:
  • N Seoul Tower
    Points of Interest & Landmarks, Lookouts
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Great hike up Namsan Park to get view of N Seoul Tower from all angles or take up the cable car ... either way, the views are wonderful and you get a true sense of how large Seoul is and can see North Korea in the distance on a clear day. The tower is best to visit in early evening so you can see the sun set over the great city of Seoul and then see the city light up at night. The crowds are quite heavy and if you want to go up, get tickets in advance, make restaurant reservations or get there early and be prepared to sit for a while until your time comes. If you don't want to eat, there is a small gift shop and place to buy drink where you can sit and enjoy the view for free. At the gift shop, you can also purchase a lock, write on it and attach it to the wall or trees which are to signal your eternal love.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Family
    Tips
    • If you are a planner or have a special lock from home, bring it with and you can add it to the collection ... there are thousands and it is quite a fun activity for all ages
    • Observatory is open daily from 10am-11pm except Saturdays when it is open until midnight.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #43 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • What a great way to spend an afternoon/evening 16/02/2019
    • Great view 13/02/2019
    • N Seoul Tower
    Address:
    105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu
    Seoul 04340
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-3455-9277
    Hours:
    Sun - Thu
    10:00 - 23:00
    Fri - Sat
    10:00 - 23:30
    Other:
  • Day 3
  • The War Memorial of Korea
    Military Museums
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    The War Memorial of Korea is one of the best I have ever been to ... it is tasteful, informative and larger than expected. Whether you or someone you knew fought in the war or not, it is well worth a visit. The memorial is much larger than the pictures online show and it is great to see all the nations that fought together represented. Walking up to the memorial, the 2 statues out front are impactful and beautiful, one of two soldiers from opposite sites embracing and the other showing a cross-section of people impacted by the war. To the right of them, there are 30-40 planes, tanks, missiles, etc that have been retired, some used in Korea and others in Vietnam of since the war. This is one place where you don't need a guide or audio as all the history and explanations are displayed in multi-languages. I highly recommend it for all ages, locals and visitors!!

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveller
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The memorial is very large so plan enough time to take it all in. There is also a great Children's exhibit that is being worked on which will be a great addition.
    • Closed Mondays (unless Monday is a holiday then closed on Tuesdays
    • Open from 9am - 6pm (last admission is 1 hour prior to closing) ... arriving at 9am will beat some of the crowds
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • You need half day for this one 17/02/2019
    • Best and Knowledgeable Experience 15/02/2019
    • The War Memorial of Korea
    Address:
    29, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu
    Seoul 04353
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-709-3139
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    09:30 - 18:00
    Tue
    19:00 - 22:00
    Other:
  • Garosu-gil
    Neighbourhoods,
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Europe meets Asia at what I would consider Soho of Seoul. Garosu-gil in the Sinsa-dong neighborhood has everything to have a relaxing lunch and quick shopping trip in between the War Memorial and Museum or do them back-to-back and spend the afternoon enjoying and relaxing in Garosu-gil. From the cafes and great shoe / clothing boutiques that will remind you of Paris to diverse art galleries and shops to enjoy an afternoon snack or ice cream, you will forget you are in the 2nd largest city in the World and in Asia (Tokyo is 1).

    Good for
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Trendsetter
    Tips
    • For your best time, wander down the tree-lined streets without a plan stopping in places that intrigue you
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #61 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Love this place! Must GO 12/02/2019
    • place to shop and walk 17/01/2019
    • Garosu-gil
    Address:
    Shinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu
    Seoul
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 70-8668-4193
    Other:
  • National Museum of Korea
    History Museums
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Huge museum with description in multiple languages and an extensive audio guide. The history of Korea is fascinating and the museum did everything they could to relate it back to today so you can see some of the ways that each of the different eras or regions influenced what we know today as South Korea. There were also exhibits on Japan, India and SE Asia and also an incredible amount of private donations. The museum is huge so either plan for 4-5 hours or plan the places that you want to see ahead of time so you spend more time there either on the tour or with an audio guide and just browse the rest.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • Closed on Mondays (unless Monday is a holiday then closed on Tuesdays). Hours are 9am-6pm Tues/Thurs/Fri, 9am-9pm Wed/Sat, 9am-7pm Sun/Holidays
    • The museum is huge so either plan for 4-5 hours or plan the places that you want to see ahead of time so you don't miss out on the exhibits you really want to see.
    • There is an app that has audio guidance for part of the museum but the one at the museum is better so get that when you arrive for the best experience.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Amazing building, mediocre exhibition 13/02/2019
    • Impressive 04/02/2019
    • National Museum of Korea
    Address:
    137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu
    Seoul 04383
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 2-2077-9000
    Hours:
    Sun
    09:00 - 19:00
    Mon - Tue
    09:00 - 18:00
    Wed
    09:00 - 21:00
    Thu - Fri
    09:00 - 18:00
    Sat
    09:00 - 21:00
    Other:
  • Itaewon
    Neighbourhoods, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Shelliu Says:

    Don't let the title of "foreigner district" (as Itaewon is known) scare you away. It is a great place to end your trip to Seoul with hundreds of restaruatns with any type of cuisine you could want, great shopping and an energetic night scene. There are also quite a few great hotels in the area ... no trip to Seoul would be complete without at least spending one evening in Itaewon.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Trendsetter
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Nightlife heats up from 11pm-3am.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #67 of 821 things to do in Seoul
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • I think it was better... 01/02/2019
    • International food galore! 26/01/2019
    • Itaewon
    Address:
    Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu
    Seoul
    South Korea
    Phone:
    +82 70-7757-4789
    Other:
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