The sprawling Korean capital of Seoul may at first come across like an unnerving labyrinth of bright lights, cacophonous sounds, and enticing aromas. But with some strategic planning and a little help from Culture Trip, you can get the most out of your visit. Score some unforgettable experiences in one of Asia’s most exciting metropoles by checking these 50 must-do activities off your Seoul bucket list.
For the culture vulture…
Don a hanbok, Korean traditional attire, and explore Gyeongbokgung, the largest of Seoul’s five grand palaces, which served as a royal residence during the Joseon dynasty.
Wonder at awe-inspiring traditional Korean homes and get lost in the enchanting alleys that wind through them at Bukchon Hanok Village.
Experience Korean culture through a non-verbal performance such as Bibap, a cooking-themed b-boy show or The Painters: HERO, an entertaining look at the process of painting.
Use one of these essential Korean phrases to impress a local with your language skills.
Explore ancient treasures at Seoul’s best museums, such as the National Museum of Korea, the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum of Korea.
Split a board in half with your bare hands while you learn the basic movies of taekwondo, South Korea’s representative martial art.
Pay your respects to the fallen soldiers of the Korean War at the War Memorial of Korea.
Shop for souvenirs like ceramics, embroidery, and Korean-style tea in Insadong, the city’s premier spot for traditional culture.
Book an appointment with a Korean acupuncturist to realign your chi.
Attend a live recording of a televised K-Pop concert.
Check out one of Seoul’s many festivals, such as the Yeong Deung Hoe (Lotus Lantern Festival), Ultra Music Festival, the Seoul International Fireworks Festival, and the Sinchon Watergun Festival.
Wander Iwha Art Village, a dilapidated residential district that has been given a facelift through the installment of sculptures and the creation of countless street murals.
For the foodie…
Get chimaek – fried chicken and beer – hand-delivered to you on the Han River.
Learn how to make kimchi, South Korea’s most iconic culinary dish.
Explore the quirkier side of Seoul by visiting one of the city’s themed cafés that feature Hello Kitty themes, antique cars, and even live raccoons.
Treat yourself to sugary sweets (and enjoy the eye candy) at the dessert cafés of Sinsa-dong, a favorite hotspot of the city’s most fashionable, trendy people.
Chow down on live octopus (and lots of soju) at Noryangjin Fish Market.
Do as the locals do and sample bindaetteok (mungbean pancakes) and makgeolli (Korean rice wine) on a rainy day at Gwangjang Market.
Gorge on sundae (blood sausage), odeng (skewered fish cakes), kimbap (rice rolls), and other Korean street food treats, at a pojangmacha (Korean street food stall vendor).
Enjoy a truly unusual dining experience, whether eating your meal in a tee-pee or in complete darkness.
Stuff your face with juicy cuts of samgyeopsal (pork belly) and galbi (marinated ribs) at one of these top Korean-style BBQ joints.
For the trendsetter…
Load up on Korean beauty and skincare products in Myeongdong, one of Seoul’s most popular shopping districts.
Secure a lock at the top of Namsan Tower with your significant other to demonstrate your everlasting love.
Catch an exhibition at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, a neo-futuristic architectural masterpiece by the late Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid.
Check out the latest looks of Korea’s up-and-coming designers at Seoul Fashion Week.
Get a glimpse into the future as you explore Samsung d’Light, an exhibition space that showcases the latest technologies of Korean tech brand Samsung.
Purchase matching couple underwear for you and your significant other at one of the city’s many lingerie shops.
Picnic under the cherry blossoms at one of Seoul’s many gorgeous green spaces.
For the night owl…
Dance until the sun comes up at Club Octagon, Gangnam’s hottest dance club.
Strip down to your birthday suit at a jjimjilbang, or Korean style spa, where you can soak in hot tubs, relax in steamy saunas and even get a body scrub.
Eat a breakfast of cup noodles at a convenience store alongside hungry students in uniform and hungover office workers.
Top off a night out on the town singing your heart out at a noraebang, or Korean-style karaoke room.
Catch an underground rock concert and wander the eccentric galleries of Hongdae, Seoul’s premiere youth district and alternative art hotspot.
Cool off with a cold drink at one of the city’s best rooftop bars.
Have your tarot cards read by a Korean fortune teller.
Explore the wares of local designers in multi-story shopping complexes and markets in Dongdaemun – at 3 o’clock in the morning.
Challenge your friends to a game-off at a PC bang, and admire the gaming skills of the sleepless teenagers surrounding you.
For the adventurer…
Hit the hiking trails of Bukhansan, Dobongsan, or Inwangsan Mountains to partake in one of Korea’s favorite pastimes.
Gaze down over the dazzling Seoul cityscape from atop the 123-floor Lotte World Tower.
Go forest bathing at Baeksasil Valley, Seoul Forest, or Dream Forest.
Lose your voice as you cheer wildly in the stands of a Korean baseball game.
Participate in a marathon (or simply go for a morning jog) along one of Seoul’s well-established running routes.
Get your adrenaline rushing at Lotte World, the world’s largest indoor theme park.
Go camping in the middle of the city at Nanji Camping Site.
Promenade through the pampas grass fields at Haneul Park in Mapo’s World Cup Park, and watch the sunset from one of the best viewing spots in the city.
Put on your walking shoes, throw out your guidebook, get lost, and experience all the surprises Seoul has waiting for you!
Take in Seoul’s skyline by bike as you traverse the city along the Han River.
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