Seoul, considered the Paris of Asia is fast becoming a favorite tourism spot for people from all over the world. The majority of Seoul is a modern 21st century city: busy freeways carry a steady stream of traffic among steel-and-glass skyscrapers. However–if you look closer you’ll find ancient temples that somehow made it through the Korean War, and many carefully rebuilt historic palaces that date back many, many centuries. A tremendous job has been done preserving all the Korean history and unique culture despite an effort to modernize Seoul. A short distance from the hustle and bustle of commerce, you can find many a peaceful gardens and quaint local markets loaded with oriental vegetables, ginseng roots, jade and dried fish.
You can alway call 1 415 827 4981, or use our vacation planner and talk to one of our travel advisors that specializes in South Korea that will call you at the time you specify
Seoul is the heart of South Korea, but rapidly expanding in all directions. It is the seat the government, culture, economy and education. Seoul’s rapid growth has made South Korea an important player around the world.
Seoul has a lot of very luxurious five star hotels. Seoul is a perfect stopover for people traveling to east Asia because of the untra-modern Incheon International Airport and easy access to Japan and China.
Seoul is officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest city of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is one of the largest cities in the world. The Seoul National Capital Area is the world’s second largest metropolitan area with over 24.5 million inhabitants, which includes the Incheon metropolis and most of Gyeonggi province. Almost half of South Korea’s population live in the Seoul National Capital Area, and nearly a quarter in Seoul itself, making it the country’s foremost economic, political, and cultural center.
Seoul has been a major settlement for over 2,000 years, with its foundation dating back to 18 B.C. when Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, established its capital in what is now south-east Seoul. It continued as the capital of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty and the Korean Empire. The Seoul National Capital Area is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeokgung, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.
Today, Seoul is considered to be a leading global city, ranking among the top ten global cities in the Global Cities Index of 2010. It is one of the world’s top ten financial and commercial centers, home to major multinational conglomerates such as Samsung, LG and Hyundai-Kia. In 2008, Seoul was named the world’s sixth most economically powerful city by Forbes.
Seoul has a highly technologically advanced infrastructure. Its Digital Media City is the world’s first complex for IT and multimedia applications. Seoul was the first city to feature DMB, a digital mobile TV technology and WiBro, a wireless high-speed mobile internet service. It has a fast, high-penetration 100Mbps fibre-optic broadband network, which is being upgraded to 1Gbps by 2012. Seoul Station houses the 350 km/h KTX bullet train and the Seoul Subway is the third largest in the world, with over 200 million passengers every year. Seoul is connected via AREX to Incheon International Airport, rated as the best airport in the world by Airports Council International.
Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, 2002 FIFA World Cup and the 2010 G-20 Seoul summit. The city was named the World Design Capital for 2010 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.
Shopping in Seoul
The renowned Myeongdong Shopping District is the largest market in South Korea, the Dongdaemun Market, is located in Seoul. Myeongdong is a shopping and entertainment area in downtown Seoul with mid- to high-end stores, fashion boutiques and international brand outlets. The nearby Namdaemun Market, named after the Namdaemun Gate, is the oldest continually running market in Seoul. Sinchon is a shopping area that caters mainly to a younger and university student crowd.
Insadong is the cultural art market of Seoul, where traditional and modern Korean artworks, such as paintings, sculptures and calligraphy are sold. Hwanghak-dong Flea Market and Janganpyeong Antique Market also offer antique products. Some shops for local designers have opened in Samcheong-dong, where numerous small art galleries are located. Itaewon caters mainly to foreign tourists and American soldiers based in the city. The Gangnam district is one of the most affluent areas in Seoul and is noted for the fashionable and upscale Apgujeong-dong and Cheongdam-dong areas and the COEX Mall. Wholesale markets include Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market and Garak Market. The Yongsan Electronics Market is the largest electronics market in Asia. The Gasan Digital Complex also has an extensive variety of electronic products.
Historical Architecture in Seoul
Gyeongbokgung palace.Seoul has many historical and cultural landmarks. In Amsa-dong Preshistoric Settlement Site, Gangdong-gu, neolithic remains were excavated and accidentally discovered by a flood in 1925. Urban and civil planning was a key concept when Seoul was first designed to serve as a capital in the late 14th century. The Joseon Dynasty built “Five Grand Palaces” in Seoul: Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung and Gyeonghuigung, all of which are located in the district of Jongno-gu and Jung-gu. Among them, Changdeokgung was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997 as an “outstanding example of Far Eastern palace architecture and garden design”. The main palace, Gyeongbokgung. is currently being restored to its original form. The palaces are considered exemplary architecture of the Joseon period. Beside the palaces, Unhyeongung is known for being the royal residence of Regent Daewongun, the father of Emperor Gojong at the end of the Joseon Dynasty.
Seoul has been surrounded by walls that were built to regulate visitors from other regions and protect the city in case of invasion. Pungnap Toseong is a flat earthen wall built at the edge of the Han River which is widely believed to be the site of Wiryeseong. Mongchon Toseong is another earthen wall built during the Baekje period which is now located inside the Olympic Park. The Castle Walls of Seoul are the remaining walls of Seoul from the Joseon Dynasty.
Although many walls and fortresses were demolished, some palace and fortress gates have played a role in the city’s heart such as Sungnyemun and Heunginjimun. The gates are more commonly known as Namdaemun (South Great Gate) and Dongdaemun (East Great Gate). Namdaemun was the oldest wooden gate until a 2008 arson attack, and is currently undergoing reconstruction. Situated near the gates are the traditional markets and largest shopping center, Namdaemun Market and Dongdaemun Market.
There are also many buildings constructed with international styles in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. The Independence Gate was built in 1897 to inspire an independent spirit from Sinosphere. Seoul Station was opened in 1900 as Gyeongseong Station.
Museums in Seoul
Seoul is home to over 100 museums including three national and nine official municipal museums. The National Museum of Korea is the most representative of museums in not only Seoul but all of South Korea. Since its establishment in 1945, the museum has built a collection of 150,000 artifacts. In October 2005, the museum moved to a new building in Yongsan Family Park. The National Folk Museum is situated on the grounds of the Gyeongbokgung Palace in the district of Jongno-gu and uses replicas of historical objects to illustrate the folk history of the Korean people. Bukchon Hanok Village and Namsangol Hanok Village are old residential districts consisting of hanok Korean traditional houses, parks, and museums that allows visitors to experience traditional Korean culture. The War Memorial, one of nine municipal museums in Seoul, offers visitors an educational and emotional experience of various wars in which Korea was involved including Korean War themes. The Seodaemun Prison is a former prison built during the Japanese occupation and is currently used as a history museum.
The Seoul Museum of Art and Ilmin Museum of Art have preserved the appearance of the old building that is visually unique from the neighboring tall, modern buildings. The former is operated by Seoul City Council and sits adjacent to Gyeonghuigung Palace, a Joseon dynasty royal palace. For many Korean film lovers from all over the world, the Korean Film Archive is running the Korean Film Museum and Cinematheque KOFA in its main center located in Digital Media City (DMC), Sangam-dong. The Tteok & Kitchen Utensil Museum and Kimchi Field Museum provide information regarding Korean culinary history.
List of parks in Seoul
Seoul Olympic ParkNamsan Park offers hiking, recreation and views of the downtown Seoul skyline. The N Seoul Tower is located here. Seoul Olympic Park is located in Songpa-gu and was built to host the 1988 Summer Olympics. The Wongaksa Pagoda 10 tier pagoda is situated In Tapgol Park, a small public park with an area of 19,599 mÂ². Areas around streams serve as public places for relaxation and recreation. Tancheon stream and the nearby area serve as a large park with paths for both walkers and cyclists. Cheonggyecheon, a stream that runs nearly 6 km through downtown Seoul, is popular among both Seoul residents and tourists. The Seoul metropolitan area accommodates six major parks, including the Seoul Forest, which opened in mid-2005. The Seoul National Capital Area also contains a green belt aimed at preventing the city from sprawling out into neighboring Gyeonggi Province. These areas are frequently sought after by people looking to escape from urban life on weekends and during vacations.
Seoul is also home to the world’s largest indoor amusement park, Lotte World. Other recreation centers include the former Olympic and World Cup stadiums and the City Hall public lawn.
Geography of Seoul Korea
Seoul from BukhansanSeoul is in the northwest of South Korea. Seoul proper comprises 605.25 kmÂ², with a radius of approximately 15 km, roughly bisected into northern and southern halves by the Han River. The Han River and its surrounding area played an important role in Korean history. The Three Kingdoms of Korea strove to take control of this land, where the river was used as a trade route to China (via the Yellow Sea). However, the river is no longer actively used for navigation, because its estuary is located at the borders of the two Koreas, with civilian entry barred. The city is bordered by eight mountains, as well as the more level lands of the Han River plain and western areas.
Seoul lies in the border region between a humid subtropical and humid continental climate (KÃ¶ppen climate classification Cwa/Dwa), depending on the definition. Summers are generally hot and humid, with the East Asian monsoon taking place from June until July. August, the warmest month, has an average temperature of 22.1 to 29.5 Â°C (72 to 85 Â°F) with higher temperatures possible. Winters are often relatively cold with an average January temperature of -6.1 to 1.6 Â°C (21 to 34.9 Â°F) and are generally much drier than summers, with an average of 28 days of snow annually.