Seoul is a city of contrasts in which the ancient and the modern harmoniously coexist. In one sense, it’s a hi-tech 21st-century city awash with neon lights and the sights and sounds of a 24 hour metropolis, while at the same time, a city retaining the majesty and graceful ambience of ancient dynasties that once ruled. Like the river Han on which it sits, Seoul is constantly moving as it strides boldly into the future, yet simultaneously managing to keep one foot firmly entrenched in its historical past.
South Korean Won (KRW)
KRW1,000 ~ US$0,89
Fire or Ambulance: 119
Red Cross: 1339
The Seoul Times
The Korea Times
The convenience stores are open 24/7; departments are open 9am to 8pm while small retail shops are open 10am to 8pm. Restaurant chains are open 24/7 while independent dining rooms are open until 10pm. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
Gwanghwamun Tourist Information Center
215 Sejongno 1-ga, Jongno-gu (in front of Donghwa Duty Free)
Opening hours: 9am - 8pm
Languages: English, Chinese, Japanese, Thai
+82 2 735 8688
Korea Tourism Organization
40 Cheongyecheonno, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-180
Opening hours: 9am-8pm everyday
Korea Travel Hotline: +82 2 1330
(Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
The Jongno-gu area of Seoul is one of the city's most fascinating districts, symbolizing the duality of Seoul as both ancient and modern. Here, the historic palaces and the old quarter of Insadong sit aside Daehakno and University St, which is the centre for alternative art brimming with galleries, theatres, restaurants and bars. This dichotomy between the ancient and the modern is also seen in the district of Gangnam, where skyscrapers tower above the delicate architecture of Gyeongbukgung Palace. The city’s commercial centre, Gangnam, is more workmanlike than other areas of the city. However, like Myeongdong, the city’s financial district, Gangnam is also becoming known for its restaurants and bars.
Missing home? Then head for Itaewon - the international hub of Seoul, where expatriates, tourists and locals gather. It is known for its legendary nightlife where Western-style pubs and nightclubs proliferate. Failing that, a spot of retail therapy in the Namdaemun and Dongdaemun areas should certainly cure all.
As one of the largest cities in the world, Seoul offers visitors plenty to explore. Any traveller will find an activity to fit their taste - the Korean capital has everything from historical sites to museums, art galleries, recognizable landmarks, traditional parks and palaces, casinos (only open to foreigners!), theme parks and much more. Seoul certainly is one of those cities that boasts the thrilling variety a traveller craves.
Much as expected from a busy Asian metropolis sch as Seoul, the city really has a lot to offer in the way of dining - from traditional Korean restaurants to flavourful and endlessly varied street food, along with, of course, a plethora of eateries serving cuisine from all corners of the globe. In Korea, every sit-down meal is accompanied by kimchi - a spicy pickled cabbage, and some of the must-tries include bibimpab (vegetables and rice with an egg on top), Korean-style BBQ, and the many side dishes (banchan) that come with a staple of steamed rice.
One thing that becomes instantly obvious when walking down any street in South Korea is that coffee shops are incredibly popular - both international chains and small independent cafés dot the capital, providing a plethora of options to choose from. Seoul is known for its quirky themed cafés - ones where you can enjoy a beverage while playing with a resident cat or dog, those selling a very specific type of food or drink (the everything-green-tea O'Sulloc, for example), and even Hello Kitty-themed establishments, where everything revolves around the iconic character.
Nighttime entertainment in Seoul is really more about the neighbourhood than a particular establishment - each area is known for its very specific vibe, and knowing what kind of pastime you're looking for might be a good idea before deciding on a location. The go-to areas are the stylish and bohemian Hongdae, Gangnam (favoured by young, trendy twenty-somethings), and Itaewon - a location most favoured by internationals. Most clubs and bars remain open late into the night, some venue remaining in operation as late as 1pm of the following day. One type of entertainment for those looking for an authentic expereince of sorts is one of the many Seoulian "noraebang" - karaoke bars still rather popular with locals. Other great nightlife areas of town include lower-key Myeongdong and Daehangno, as well as upscale Apgujeong-dong or Sinsadong.
Seoul is absolutely the place to be for shopping devotees - from street markets to high-end shopping malls, the Korean capital has it all. Some of the most popular shopping areas are Myeongdong, Itaewon, and Insadong - each with its own distinctive character. Seoul is a metropolis filled with shopping opportunities at every turn. Markets worth a stop include Namdaemun and Dongdaemun, the Gyeongdong Oriental Medicine Market selling all sorts of traditional miracle cures (Chegidong Station) and Noryangjin Fish Market, even if only to watch the traders in action (line 1, Noryangjin Station).
Incheon International Airport
Incheon International Airport is located approximately a 1-hour ride from downtown Seoul by bus or taxi.
Airport buses are normally stop directly outside the airport building (Limousine buses run not to Seoul only, but also connect the airport to other provincial cities). The Limousine bus runs to and from the airport every 10-15 minutes and stops at most of the major hotels. You can buy your bus ticket from ticket booths next to the bus stops outside on the sidewalk.
Taxis are available from stands no.16-21 on the arrivals floor. Some taxi companies offer English-language service.
Address: Incheon International Airport, Yongjongdo
Phone: +82 2 1577 2600
The Underground is clean and efficient and operates from approximately 5.30am to midnight non-stop every day. All stations display signs both in Korean and English. You can buy your ticket at the ticket vending machine. Check the website for details (www.seoulmetro.co.kr).
Seoul Station is a central hub for transportation. Standard buses are frequent and inexpensive. You can pay your fare by either scanning your T-money card or paying in cash when entering the bus. Make sure to have change since you cannot pay with bigger bills.
There are several city buses operating in Seoul. For example the "Blue Bus" which connects inner Seoul with the outer suburban areas. The Yellow Bus (Circular Line) goes in a circular pattern around the very central part of Seoul. There are also the Red Bus (Wide Area Line), Maeul Bus (Local Bus) and the Green Bus (Branch Line).
Taxi in Korea is an affordable means of transportation. Taxis come in two varieties - regular and deluxe (easy to recognize by the black-with-golden-stripe color scheme; prices for those are slightly higher).
There is also the International taxi which was specially created for foreign tourists in Seoul who cannot speak Korean. They are orange with a "Haechi", the Seoul mascot, on the side of it.
+82 2 1644 2255
In addition there is also the water taxi. There are total of 17 water taxi stations located along the Hangang River.
Post boxes are red in color and may be found all around the city.
Seoul Central Post Office:
Address: 70 Sogong-ro, Myeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
Phone: +82 2 6450 1114
There are many different pharmacies and you will find one on nearly every major street or road. They are marked by a sign that says “약,” (“yak,” which means “medicine”). However, many pharmacies are closed on Sundays, but pharmacies located in large shopping malls, subway stations, bus terminals are open on Sundays.
24-hour phone information service: 120 and 1339
Country code: +82
Area code: 02
Round two-pin plugs, 110V but most hotels now have a 220V supply.