With an area of over 605km² and a history stretching back more than 2,000 years (including the past 600 years spent as the nation’s capital), Seoul is a place of almost never-ending discovery. So where to begin if you only had a day to spare? Below are two recommended courses to inspire your journey – one by day, the other by night.
Seoul by Day – Traditional Culture & Great Food
In which travelers can explore the history and culture of royals and citizens alike during Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), as well as a wide selection of authentic Korean food!
Start your exploration of Seoul by traveling back to its early days as Korea’s capital by taking a 60-90 minute guided tour of one of its five royal palaces. Top picks are Gyeongbokgung, the main palace, or Changdeokgung, a popular residence for many kings of the Joseon Dynasty. As the largest palace, Gyeongbokgung especially shows off the beauty and complexity of Joseon-era royal architecture (such as the eye-catching Gyeonghoeru Pavilion,pictured), while a visit to the National Folk Museum of Korea in its grounds reveals every facet of everyday life down through the centuries. Changdeokgung meanwhile earned its UNESCO World Heritage status for being the most well-preserved of the palaces, impressing visitors with its picturesque rear garden.
Follow this up with lunch at Seasons Table or Nature’s Kitchen (자연별곡), two very popular buffet/salad bar restaurants specializing in modern takes on traditional Korean cuisine using fresh, in-season ingredients. Menu items include samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly), bibimbap (mixed rice with in-season vegetables and optional meat), and nakji bulgogi jeongol (octopus hotpot), among many other favorites.