South Korea is known to preserve and honor its cultural heritage even as it advances in the tech age. Remnants of different eras in Korean history can still be found in Seoul – and thankfully, many of them are now open to travelers!
Here are some of the must-visit attractions in Seoul, proving that it has the best of old and new:
55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Built in the late 14th Century, this temple is both the main temple of the Jogye order of monks and the center of traditional Buddhism in Korea.
Despite its traditional exterior, it’s still the center of various modern-day activities, such as the lantern festival held for Buddha’s birthday!
Must-Try Activity: Learn unique skills like temple etiquette, proper meditation, and tea ceremony from the masters.
161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Gyeongbokgung was built in 1395 and widely referred to as the “Northern Palace” to distinguish it from the other four royal palaces that existed in this period.
It is the largest (and often considered the most beautiful) of the five palaces with the wide array of ponds and pavilions found within its grounds.
Must-Try Activity: Capture the moment with a photo by the iconic two-story Gyeonghoeru Pavilion! If you go at the right time of year, you may even catch the surrounding cherry blossoms in bloom.
37, Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Allot a portion of your time at the Gyeongbokgung Palace to roam its museum, which contains over 122,550 Korean artifacts from Choson and earlier periods.
The National Folk Museum houses exhibition halls, a folk video room, and a traditional culture learning space to give visitors a crash course on Korean culture and history.
Must-Try Activity: Grab a free audio guide at the entrance for a guided walk-through of the museum’s exhibits!
99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The Changdeokgung Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the most well-preserved royal palaces from the Joseon dynasty, which spanned from 1392 to 1910. It’s where the royal family resided and where kings and their ministers discussed state affairs.
Must-Try Activity: Slow down and let the experience sink in with a stroll to along the pavilions and the famed 300-year-old tree in the palace’s rear garden!
90 Minsokchon-ro, Giheung-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
Experience a different era the Korean Folk Village, a living museum of traditional culture from the Joseon period located 41 kilometers from Seoul.
It showcases different structures found within that period, such as a Confucian academy, a seodang or private academy, and a nobleman’s house. Several Korean dramas have used it as its location including The Moon Embracing the Sun, Arang Satto, and My Love from the Star.
Must-Try Activity: Enjoy seasonal performances such the farmer’s dance (nongak), martial arts on horseback, and a traditional Joseon-style wedding ceremony.
6. Cheongwadae (The Blue House)
1, Cheongwadae-ro, Jongno-Gu, Seoul, South Korea
The Korean Seat of Government takes its common name from its blue roof tiles and the blue-tinged peak of the Bugaksan Mountain.
The Blue House is a scenic walk away from other notable attractions like the Gyeongbokgung Palace, the striking Phoenix fountain at Mungunghwa Valley, and Samcheong-dong Park.
Must-Try Activity: Follow the paths around the Blue House to explore the many art galleries, stylish cafes, and restaurants within the area!
45, Hyoja-ro 13-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
This two-story historical museum was once the Public Information Hall of Cheongwadae. Most of its exhibits are about Korean history, past presidents, and the vision for the country.
Must-Try Activity: Tour the local culture halls and join a free Korean food and tea tasting. You can also shop for Cheongwadae-themed and traditional Korean pasalubong at the gift shop!
62, Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Found at the the heart of Seoul, Insa-dong offers traditional restaurants and teahouses, over a hundred fine art galleries, a local folk art center called the Hakojae Gallery, and uniquely themed shops.
To walk around the entire area is to fully immerse yourself in traditional Korean culture.
Must-Try Activity: Shop for fine art and handicrafts while nibbling on popular Korean street food like Korean taffy and green onion pancakes (pajeon)!
21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
If Insa-dong is the go-to place for traditional Korean items and art, Namdaemun is where you can buy wholesale commercial products.
Many store owners make their own goods, which range from clothes and toys to kitchenware and carpets.
Must-Try Activity: Shop for trinkets for your officemates, friends, or family in bulk here! It’s like Divisoria, but better.
Explore all of these attractions for free in PayMaya’s Travel Blowout promo!
All of the must-visit places above are included in the Seoul tour packages of PayMaya’s Travel Blowout!
At the end of March 2018, one lucky PayMaya user will win an all-expense paid trip for two to Seoul with P50,000 pocket money. It will be a five-day trip with zero worries since from visa-application to booking and itinerary planning, PayMaya has got you covered. If you win, all you have to do is pack your bags and create travel memories to last a lifetime.
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