Known for its super-fast internet speeds, automated convenience stores, innovative smart cities and industry-leading tech companies (think Samsung and LG), South Korea is without a doubt one of the techiest destinations in the world. So get ready to get your geek on and experience the country’s technological prowess first-hand at these ultra-futuristic attractions.
Ranked among the best airports in the world, Incheon International Airport is so much more than a transport hub. Packed with amenities and facilities that could make even the most jet-lagged traveler love their layover, the airport is also a leader in tech innovation. Here, robots help passengers find their way around the massive complex; photovoltaic panels on the roof keep heating and ventilation costs down; and self-service check-in kiosks, self-bag drop and automated immigration processing make the airport experience more seamless than ever. There’s even a café called Beat where coffee is made by robots, and orders are placed via the company’s app or using a self-checkout kiosk.
Samsung D’light (삼성딜라이트)
Unlike many museums, which generally paint a picture of the past, Samsung d’light enables visitors to better imagine the role technology might play in our world in the next decade and beyond. Instead of simply featuring how its products convey its vision, Samsung Electronics demonstrates how its devices and solutions are changing the way we live through a series of immersive activities. The “Sense” area, for example, lets visitors utilize gestures to interact with cutting-edge mirror displays, while the “Home of the Future” exhibition uses augmented reality to illustrate how the Internet of Things will make everyday life more convenient and connected. The future is here!
VR Plus (브이알플러스)
Cafe, Fast Food, $$$
As South Korea’s very first virtual reality café, VR Plus is dedicated to showcasing the latest and greatest form of entertainment to the public, offering multiple virtual experiences that visitors can try out for a small fee. Go on a wild ride on the VR coaster or try out the HTC Vive headset, which is currently rated one of the best in the industry. Just be sure to pack a few motion sickness pills, as some of the experiences can be a bit dizzying.
Robot Museum (로봇 박물관)
Let your inner geek run wild at Seoul’s Robot Museum. Here, exhibitions invite visitors to follow the development of robots, from the earliest models to the highly complex AI designs of today. Learn about the aspirations and inspirations of developers and designers as you explore a number of interactive displays created under the theme of “Entertoyment,” a concept centered on advancing conventional education and entertainment through the technologies of tomorrow.
Couldn’t get your hands on those hard-to-get (not to mention incredibly expensive) Big Bang tickets? Fret not, as K-live, the world’s first K-pop hologram performance hall, lets you experience Korea’s biggest acts on a budget – and your schedule. At K-live, K-pop fans can transport themselves into a Hallyu fantasy world as they attend holographic concerts of their favorite stars. Combining the best in hologram technology, a 270-degree media facade, and a 14.2-channel surround-sound system, the 30- to 50-minute digital shows feel just like the real thing. Sure, you might not actually be able to touch G-Dragon or high-five CL, but the K-live experience makes for a pretty decent alternative.
DJI Arena (DJI 아레나)
Looking to take your drone for a spin in the world’s techiest country? Then look no further than the DJI Arena. The 15,000-square-foot complex provides a space for aerial enthusiasts as well as novice users to pilot their toys. The venue offers an adjustable LED-lit circuit for visitors wanting to advance their skills, LCD TVs that display the first-person view from the drone, and a maintenance room furnished with charging docks as well as a workstation for minor repairs. Visitors are required to make reservations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and should include their name, expected date and time of arrival, and number of visitors. Each booking session is for three hours of practice time and the entrance fee is 15,000 won (US$13) per person per session. Participants are required to bring their own drones.
T.um - SK Telecom (티움 - SK 텔레콤 홍보관)
Representing SK Telecom’s – one of Korea’s biggest wireless telecommunications operators – enthusiasm for bringing to life the technologies of the future, T.um invites visitors to get a sneak peek of tomorrow through themed zones where SK’s state-of-the-art IT technologies are incorporated. Self-driving cars, for example, can be previewed at the “U-Driving” zone, or sit back in the motion-sensored living room of the future in the “U-Home” area. Fashionistas shouldn’t miss the “U-Fashion” zone, where they can make a highly accurate avatar of themselves, and virtually try on the latest trends.
Yongsan Electronics Market (용산전자랜드)
Established in 1988 as part of a Seoul Metropolitan Government rehabilitation project, the Yongsan Electronics Market is today comprised of more than 3,000 stores selling every kind of electronic imaginable. From computers and cameras to imported audio systems and game consoles, the market offers both general and specialty products and parts at prices 15 to 30% cheaper than those at retail stores. Keep in mind, however, that bargaining is acceptable, and is often anticipated by the vendors, so put your negotiating skills to use.