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Seoul originates from the word “seo’ul”, a Korean word which literally means “capital city”. The city has had many names in the past which were Wiryseong, Hanyang, Hanseong, and Keijō. After World War II and Korea’s liberty, the city officially came to be known as Seoul.
Early human settlements were known to have lived near the Han River area since 18 BC. The city was the capital for numerous kingdoms up until 1910 when the Japanese invaded. Seoul was under Japanese colonial rule for 35 years which caused the destruction of many palaces. After Korea was released from Japanese rule in 1948, Seoul became the capital city of Korea in 1948. During the Korean War, Seoul exchanged hands four times between the North and the South. In 1953, Seoul was named the capital city of South Korea.
Seoul is the largest metropolis in South Korea. The city has high population density with an estimation of 10.29 million as of 2016. It is the first city in East Asia to have electricity, trolley cars, water, and telephone and telegraph systems. Today, Seoul is a highly modern city with a technologically advanced society.
The city is located in the northwest area of South Korea. It is roughly divided into northern and southern halves by the Han River. Seoul has a humid continental climate with the suburbs being generally cooler than the city centre. Summer in June until September is usually hot and humid while winters are cold and dry in December till February. March to May is spring in Seoul and autumn is from September to November. The main spoken language in Seoul is Korean with differences in dialects. English is also spoken by many. There are those who speak Chinese while some older citizens can speak Japanese.
Most international flights will land at Incheon International Airport which is a metropolitan city bordering Seoul. It is the largest airport in South Korea and one of the busiest airports in the world. The airport is approximately 50 kilometres from the capital city.
The fastest and most convenient way to reach Seoul is via the Airport Railroad Express or AREX. The AREX operates two trains the Express Train and the All Stop Train. It is better to take the Express Train as it runs from the Incheon International Airport Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 directly to Seoul Station with no stops. It would take about 40 to 51 minutes to reach Seoul Station from the airport. The train pass can be bought at the station counter. You can also buy the tickets in advance online at a lower price.
You can get to Seoul by bus but it is more expensive and will take a longer time. Generally, you will reach the city in about 80 minutes by bus. Airport buses will take you to Seoul Station while some may take you to Gangnam Express Bus Terminal. Hiring a taxi to take you to Seoul is also a convenient option although it will be quite expensive. Taxi rides into Seoul will take about an hour.
Once in Seoul, getting around is easy as the transportation system is very reliable. The 21 subway lines interlink the city districts and its surrounding area. Taxis in the city are inexpensive while Seoul’s public bus system is well-developed, cheap and convenient.
Seoul has many interesting and exciting places to visit and things to do. With a reliable public transportation system, getting around is a breeze for solo travellers and even family vacations. The city is hip, fashion-forward and technologically savvy but it is also rooted in tradition. The many cultural attractions are rich with historical information while shopping malls and K-Pop culture are a favourite among younger generations.
N Seoul Tower
Commonly called Namsan Tower, Seoul Tower or N Seoul Tower. You can take the cable car up the mountain and walk to the tower. This tower stands at 236.7 meters high and offers tourists a panoramic view of the city. The tower is also popular at night if you want to enjoy a night time view of Seoul.
The Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty. It is also commonly known as the Northern Palace and is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul. Entrance fee is between 1,200 won to 3,000 won depending on age and group size. The palace is open to the public and has houses two museums; the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea. A favourite tourist attraction is to watch the changing of the guards at the main gate, Gwanghwamun.
Lotte World is great for those who like to do recreations during their vacation. This recreation complex consists of an outdoor amusement park and an indoor park that is the world’s largest. Besides that, there are also shopping malls, sports facilities, movie theatres, a museum as well as a luxury hotel.
Bukchon Hanok Village
Here you can explore the narrow streets of a traditional Korean village. This village is 600 years old and has lots of alleys or hanok. Walk between rows of quaint houses and experience a taste of what it is like during the Joseon Dynasty. Wear a traditional hanbok and take a picture for the ultimate Instagram-worthy photo.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Located in the popular tourist destination Dongdaemun, this architectural masterpiece features five halls: Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, Design Market, and Dongdaemun History and Culture Park. The DDP is a common venue for trade shows, conventions, exhibitions, fashion shows, concerts, and many more.
Also known as Korean Army stew, it was popularized after the Korean War when people had little to eat. The stew was made with leftover tinned Spam and sausages from camp rations mixed with Korean flavours. Nowadays the dish has evolved to include a variety of local favourites like fish cakes, ramen noodles, dumplings, cheese and more. Plenty of restaurants and stalls sell them. Daewoo Budaejjigae and Miseong Sikdang are only a couple of the popular places to get this dish in Seoul.
A popular street food made of glutinous rice cakes. These rice cakes are submerged in a sauce typically spicy gochujang-based. Some varieties have cabbages, onions, fishcakes, and noodles added in. They are usually sold at food stalls and people often eat them while standing. You can try this at Hongdae Jopok Ddeobkbokki or Mimine.
In typical Korean Barbecue restaurants, customers are provided with either with a portable stove with a grill or be seated at a table with one built into the middle of the table. Customers then will be served cuts of meats usually beef, pork or chicken to grill themselves. A standard meal will usually come with various side dishes like kimchi, green onion salad, pickled radish, and cucumber salad. Try Korean Barbecue at the Maple Tree House Itaewon while the Yang Good Halal Restaurant is popular among Muslim tourists.
Seoraksan National Park
Perfect for nature lovers, this national park is designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO. The park has a rocky landscape among a pine forest, crystal clear streams and pool and various hiking courses. You can get there by bus, train, taxi or drive a rental although the best way is by bus. The Park is very popular among tourists and locals, which makes it packed during weekends, public and school holidays. It is best to book your bus ticket ahead of time just in case. The journey will take about two and a half hours. There, you can rough it out and camp in the designated campground or stay at one of the many hotels near the park’s Visitor Center.
About 2 hours outside of Seoul, you can take the train or bus to get to Gapyeong. There you can explore Petit France; a tiny French cultural village with colourful buildings and European decorations. Then explore the Garden of Morning Calm where 26 themed gardens in the compound will chase your stress away. There is also the Gangchon Rail Park where a railbike will take you through the Iron Bridges and Zelkova Tree Tunnel. Finally, take some time and visit Nami Island, made famous by the hit Korean Drama, Winter Sonata. The redwood trees on the island are prettiest in the fall.
With the flight and hotel ticket package available at Traveloka Malaysia, you can visit Seoul easier and cheaper. Choose a variety of tour packages that we offer, and modify as you like to get the combination you want.
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