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Plan Your Trip to Seoul: Best of Seoul Tourism

What is Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best?
This award is our highest recognition and is presented annually to those businesses that are the Best of the Best on Tripadvisor, those that earn excellent reviews from travelers and are ranked in the top 1% of properties worldwide.
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Explore Seoul

The business and cultural hub of South Korea, Seoul seamlessly blends the old and the new—a place where you'll see skyscrapers towering over palaces and pagodas. Kick things off by getting a view of it all at the N Seoul Tower, it's built atop a peak in Namsan Park, so you'll catch fantastic, panoramic city views. After that, you can get exploring on foot: The teahouses and shops of Insadong, the grounds and museums of Gyeongbokgung, and Changdeokgung Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) all nod to traditional Korean culture. By contrast, cutting-edge areas like the ritzy Gangnam District cement Seoul's status as a very-right-now style capital. You'll find a mix of high-fashion houses and lesser-known, emerging designers there, but you can always find specialty boutiques, vintage shops, and wholesale fabric markets throughout the city (and K-beauty fans should be sure to check out the Myeongdong District, which has cosmetic shops at every turn). We've got plenty more recs below.

Essential Seoul

How to do Seoul in 3 days

From towering skyscrapers to tranquil tea houses
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The best day trips from Seoul

Seoul is a sprawling and ever-evolving city where you’ll never be bored—take it from me, I lived in South Korea for almost three years and still have a wish list of places to go and things to do. Though it’d be easy to spend your whole vacation exploring the capital, make sure to save time for an incredible day trip (or two). As a resident, I spent most of my weekends exploring the towns and temples outside Seoul. From nature preserves and cultural villages to theme parks and historic sites, here are my picks for the top detours from Seoul.
Ebony Joseph, Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Bukhansan National Park
    Fun fact: Hiking is a major part of Korean culture. Whether you’re an advanced backpacker or a casual stroller, there’s a trail for you at Bukhansan. It’s the closest national park to Seoul (an hour away by train), making it an easy day trip. Early birds can delight in a sunrise hike, or those who skip the challenging trek to the peak can explore the Bukhansanseong Fortress, Buddhist temples, and ancient gates. Have spare time in your schedule? Consider spending the night in a temple, where you’ll share tea with monks in the morning.
  • Korean Folk Village
    Located just outside Seoul in the Gyeonggi-do province, the Folk Village is where you can time travel to the Joseon era (a 500-year reign). Admire hanok architecture, watch classical Korean theater, and even don hanbok (traditional Korean clothing). On your way back, make a pit stop at the UNESCO-protected Hwaseong Fortress. This 18th-century citadel is a stunning, fully-intact remnant of Korea’s final dynasty. When I went, I saw locals lounging on the lawn, having picnics, and flying kites—a great way to end the day’s adventure.
  • Gyeongju
    Gyeongju is hands down my favorite place in South Korea. Surrounded by scenic greenery and ponds, it is quite literally a breath of fresh air. This historic city is often called “a museum without walls” because you’ll find a piece of Korea’s past in every corner. Some key stops are Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto—a homage to Buddha’s journey to enlightenment, at the foot of Tohamsan mountain—and Daereungwon, a royal burial ground. Take a break from sightseeing to shop for traditional Goryeo pottery before catching the sunset at Donggung Palace and Wolji Pond. Stick around to watch the water light up, then return to Seoul on the two-hour high-speed train.
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  • Korea DMZ Tour from Seoul-Hotel Pickup /option: Suspension Bridge
    The Demilitarized Zone is the closest you can get to North Korea. On my guided tour, I crawled through the tunnels North Korea built to attack Seoul and spoke to refugees who survived the harrowing escape. It’s a sobering yet necessary experience to fully understand and appreciate Korean history. At Imjingak Pyeonghwa-Nuri Park, you can check out the Freedom Bridge and the observation deck, overlooking the rice fields. If you’re lucky, Panmunjom (known as the Joint Security Area) may be open; this is the only place where North and South Korean military officers meet.
  • Everland
    Kids will love South Korea’s largest theme park. Everland consists of five parks, ranging from the fairytale-inspired Magic Land to the safari-style Zootopia. Thrill-seekers can take on the T-express roller coaster then wind down with a stroll through the Dutch tulip garden. Single-day tickets cost around $41 for adults and $33 for children. To get here, take the train or hop on a direct shuttle from the city center for an affordable $10 round-trip.
  • Jeonju
    After living out your Joseon-era fantasy at Gyeonggijeon shrine and the Hyanggyo Confuican complex, wander through Jaman Mural Village to admire the whimsical street art and Omokdae (a monument to the first king of the Joseon dynasty). There, you can take in the view overlooking the Jeonju's Hanok Village. Stop by Hankook Jib for some bibimbap or take a rest at the idyllic Gyodong Tea Garden before heading back to Seoul. It’s only 90 minutes away on the KTX (bullet train). Tickets cost about $30.
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  • Nami Island
    From pink cherry blossoms and bright fall foliage to lush, green summers and snow-white winters, Nami Island is a must-visit in any season. The botanical garden is just under two hours from Seoul and is accessible by public transportation, ferry, or even a zipline (the best option, IMHO). Spend the day wandering through the picturesque park—it’s the ideal backdrop for your Insta-worthy pics, so come prepared. You can also rent a bike and cruise between the towering pine, redwood, and gingko trees.