Travel Guide Asia South Korea Gyeonggi Seoul

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Introduction

Night time traffic in Seoul

Night time traffic in Seoul

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Seoul (서울) is the heart of South Korea, hosting about a quarter of the country's population of nearly 50 million. Seoul was also the historic capital of Korea from the 14th century until the nation's partition into North and South in 1948. Located just 50 kilometres south of the North Korean border, Seoul symbolises the division of North and South Korea.

Seoul enjoys a lively nightlife, which has earned it comparisons with Tokyo. Thankfully though, Seoul is much cheaper than the Japanese capital.

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Neighbourhoods

Administratively, Seoul is divided into 25 districts (구 gu), each with an area and population comparable to a small city. The districts are then further subdivided into 522 sub-districts (동 dong). The Han river splits the city into two halves: Gangbuk (강북), the northern, more historical half, and Gangnam (강남), the southern, wealthier and more modern half. The sheer size of the city means that travelers to Seoul will find it difficult to locate a true "center" of Seoul; instead, Seoul is almost more like a collection of cities that happen to be bunched together, each with their own central business and commercial districts. The two largest core ares are Jongno/Jung in the north, and Gangnam in the south. For travelers with more time, there are many more, smaller centers and districts to be explored, such as the island of Yeoui-do and the college district of Hongdae/Sinchon. For the typical traveler, it would be useful to divide the city into the following areas:

  • Jongno (종로) - The Joseon-era historical core of the city with the famous Joseon Palace, Gyeongbokgung. Bukchon has beautiful traditional Korean house and Insa-dong has the largest antiques market street in Seoul. Cheongyecheon has a renovated stream and park that runs through the heart of the downtown area.
  • Jung (중) - This district makes up the other half of the historic core as well as the shopping districts of Myeongdong and Namdaemun Market. This area contains Seoul Station and Namsan Mountain, with the Seoul Tower at its summit.
  • Seodaemun-Mapo (서대문/마포) - These two districts lie immediately west of Jongro and Jung, and contain dozens of universities and colleges. As such, this area is home to some of Seoul's most active nightlife districts: Hongdae (홍대) and Sinchon (신촌).
  • Yongsan (용산) - Yongsan is home to the US Army Military Base as well as one of the huge Yongsan Electronics Market. This is also where you'll find Itaewon (이태원), perhaps the most culturally diverse area in Korea and home to dozens of restaurants featuring cuisine from the world over, numerous shops selling everything from custom-tailored suits to antiques, and several Western pubs and bars.
  • Yeongdeungpo-Guro (영등포 / 구로) - Covering Yeoui-do on the Han River as well as an area on the south side, this is often referred to as the 'Manhattan of Seoul'. Guro is one of the IT venture company clusters.
  • Gangnam & Seocho (강남 / 서초) - Recently famed for 'Gangnam Style', this affluent area is the glitzy center of modern Seoul, home to hundreds of glass and steel skyscrapers, neon billboards, and some of the most expensive real estate in the country.
  • Songpa-Gangdong (송파 / 강동) - A residential district east of Gangnam where you'll find Lotte World, Olympic Park, Seoul (Jamsil) Sports Complex, and the Sincheon nightlife district.
  • North - Northern area including Eunpyeong, Seongbuk, Gangbuk, Dobong and Nowon. Mt. Bukhansan and Mt. Dobongsan area.
  • South - Area south of the Han river including Dongjak, Gwanak and Geumcheon. This is where you can enjoy fresh seafood at the huge Noryangjin fish market.
  • East - Dongdaemun, Jungnang, Gwangjin, Seongdong with greenery and some interesting cultural sites.
  • West - Western area south of the Han river and including Gangseo and Yangcheon

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Sights and Activities

While Seoul today is mostly known as a super-modern mega-city that is home to skyscrapers, malls, and millions of electronic-mad Koreans, the city contains over 2,000 years of history. The city contains 4 UNESCO sites marking important monuments from its 505 years as the capital of the Joseon Dynasty. Until recently, it was a walled city with 20 ft stone walls and narrow lanes inside. Though many buildings were destroyed or damaged during the violent events of the first half of the 20th century, much of its historic core remains. So, anyone staying in Seoul should visit the many historical treasures the city has to offer, including the many palaces and city gates within the Jongno district.

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace - Located in 1-91, Sejongno, Jongno-gu. The Gyeongbokgung, Which means "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven.", was built in 1395 in Joseon Dynasty. It was the heart of Joseon Dynasty because the government ministry district was focused here. Even if it was razed by Japanese during Hideyoshi invasions of 1592-1598, it was reconstructed in 1876, only for many buildings to be razed again by the Japanese during the occupation from 1910-1945. Nevertheless, Gyeongbokgung remains one of the most magnificent and historically post significant places in Seoul, and restoration to its pre-Japanese occupation state continues to be take place at a painstaking pace. It opens everyday except Tuesday. There is also free guide tour for tourists everyday(English : 11:00, 13:30, 15:30). It is also good to get opportunity of night opening, which is held a few days of a year, you have to reserve by online. You can access here by subway(Gyeongbokgung Palace station Exit 5, Subway line 3) or Seoul City Tour Bus.
  • Hangang Citizen's Park - Located along the Han River through 13 districts - Gwangnaru, Jamsil, Gangdong, Ttukseom, Jamwon, Banpo, Ichon, Yeouido, Yanghwa, Mangwon, Seonyudo, Nanji, and Gangseojigu. You can see many people strolling or jogging along the trail paths, as well as in-line skaters, bicyclists, and soccer fields or basketball courts. Yeouido, Jamsil, and Ttukseom districts are especially popular because of the cruise services on the Han River
  • Deoksugung Palace
  • Insadong
  • Myeongdong
  • Namsan Park
  • Namdaemun/Dongdaemun Markets
  • Itaewon
  • Hangang River
  • Olympic Park

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Events and Festivals

Lotus Lantern Festival

Lotus Lantern Festival

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National Events and Festivals

  • Shinjeong - means New Year's Day, on the 1st day, January. Shin(신) is a Korean word that means 'new'. January 1st is named 'Shinjeong' because after Korea adopted the Gregorian calendar it became the new way to mark the New Year.
  • Seollal - Lunar New Year, also known as "Korean New Year", or "Gujeong." Families gather together, eat traditional foods-especially Ddugguk (떡국) and perform an ancestral service. The public holiday lasts for 3 days, which includes the eve and second day. Many shops and restaurants close for the 3 days, so this might not be an ideal time to visit.
  • Sameeljjeol - 1st March, in commemoration of the March 1st resistance movement against the invading Japanese Imperial Army in 1919.
  • Orininal - children's day on the 5th May
  • Buchonnim osinnal or sawolchopa-il - means Buddha's birthday, 8th day of the 4th month in the lunar calendar.
  • Hyeonchung-il - means memorial day, 6th June. In commemoration of the people who gave their lives to the nation.
  • Gwangbokjjeol - Korea's independence day on the 15th of August. This day is actually the end of the second world war with the official Japanese surrender to the allied forces, which also meant Korea gaining her independence after many decades of Japanese colonialism.
  • Chuseok - often translated as "Korean Thanksgiving", this holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the year (usually September-October). Koreans celebrate by eating traditional foods, notably a rice cake called songpyeon (송편) and playing folk games. The public holiday lasts for 3 days and much like Lunar New Year, everything shuts down which makes visiting rather boring.
  • Hangeulnal - 'Hangeul Proclamation Day' anniversary for the Korean alphabet system on October 9th.
  • Gaecheonjeol - 3rd October. In commemoration of the first formation of the nation of ancient Korea.
  • Christmas - a significant holiday in South Korea, although it is mostly celebrated by young couples spending a romantic day together. Since a significant proportion (approximately 30%) of the country is Christian, there are no shortages of celebration in the thousands of churches whilst everyone else takes a well deserved rest at home.

Seoul Events and Festivals

  • Seoul Lunar New Year - Every January/February, Seoul celebrates its New Year with a grand festival lasting 3 days. This big event brings the city to a halt, where locals prioritize celebrations with their families over other activities.
  • Lotus Lantern Festival - This traditional Korean folk festival honors Buddha's birthday, with brightly-colored lanterns lit up all around the city. Visitors can also enjoy browsing through local flea markets and attending culturally-fueled shows at a Nori-Madang (outdoor stage). Buddhist monks perform ceremonial rituals, and you may seem them around town carrying lanterns in procession.
  • Prehistoric Cultural Festival - A fun event for children or adults who are interested in ancient Korean prehistoric cultural. Visitors can participate in craft-making stations, meet "ancient" Korean cavemen, and watch a display of traditional Korean music and dance. Food stalls and fireworks are also an integral part of the festival. This festival occurs once a year every fall in Seoul.
  • Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival - This enjoyable event is held in the COEX Centre every year in July and features six days of all the movie-watching you and your children can handle!
  • Seoul Drum Festival - Occurring every year in September, this dynamic and exciting festival features both local and international artists. For the event, the drummers take the stage to perform songs using traditional and electronic drums and other percussion instruments.
  • Seoul Tano Festival - This spring agricultural festival, with deep historical roots, is held every May/June in Korea. The Tano Festival started as a planting ritual and a time to pray for a good harvest, but it has since become of the country's three greatest festivals of the year. Festivities include swinging contests for girls, and native Korean wrestling matches for the boys. This is a family-friendly event that also includes rope skipping, stick-tossing (chachigi), while traditional music and dance performances play throughout the event.
  • Jongmyo Daeje - This historically important festival is celebrated the first Sunday of May. On this holiday, residents pay homage to their ancestors with offerings of food, wine, music, dance, and other celebrations. The majority of the festivities occur at the Jongmyo Shrine in Jongno, Seoul.
  • Hangang Yeouido Spring Flower Festival - This festival features the beautiful springtime blossoms, street performers, and art displays. Visitors can come to view this magnificent site in Yeouiseo-ro every year during mid-April.
  • Chuseok - This holiday is Korea's day of thanksgiving; it's the biggest and most important holiday in Korea. Families use this holiday to get together to hold lavish feasts and celebrate together. Deceased relatives are honored with incense offerings and rituals. Visitors to the city can expect to see dances parades around town, wresting matches, and traditional food like Songpyeon (rice dumplings) and Baekju (local white wine) are served. Dates of the festival vary annually depending on the lunar calendar, but it typically takes place in September.
  • Dano Folk Festival - This eclectic festival is one of Seoul's most popular events because it is believed that on this day, "yang energy" is at its highest. To celebrate, festival goers participate in traditional fan-making and cheer on their favorite wrestler in sumo wrestling competitions. Some adherents also participate in ceremonial hair-washing and nail painting events that are believed to make one lucky in love. This event occurs annually in June.
  • Seoul Fringe Festival - This festival is a forum for the ever-growing independent arts community in Seoul. During this festival, visitors can view a myriad of art events highlighting original works from local artists that will appeal to people of all ages.
  • Korea-Japan Festival - A colorful festival highlighting the long-lasting friendship between these two cultures. Visitors can expect to see grand performances and displays of traditional dance, music, costumes, and theater from both cultures. Event occurs every year in September.
  • Seoul Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Culture Festival - This festival celebrates Seoul's long history success in utilizing local herbs as medicine. Medicinal growers gather to sell their herbal concoctions at this event. Natural practitioners offer free screenings and diagnosis to those who want to try a natural approach to curing their ailments at this event. Held every October in the Seoul Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Market.
  • Seoul International Fireworks Festival - The greatest in fireworks and special effects engineers from across the globe are invited to showcase their skills at this remarkable event. During the evening of this event, the Seoul night sky is illuminated with one of the best fireworks displays in the world. Look for this event in October.
  • Itaewon Global Village Festival - This multi-cultural event brings together a fun mix of Korean tradition with other cultural traditions from around the globe. Visitors can expect to see a variety of dance, music, food, art, and other culture presentations. This event is held every year in October.

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Weather

Seoul has cold but relatively dry winters, averaging around zero degrees Celsius during the day and around -8 °C at night, but dropping as low as -22 °C sometimes. Most of the precipitation during this time is in the form of snow. Summers are tropical with hot and humid conditions. Temperatures average between 26 °C and 31 °C from June to September with nights around or above 20 °C. This is also the wet season with July topping at almost 400 mm of rain. The best times obviously are spring and autumn with much less rain and agreeable temperatures.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max1.6 °C4.1 °C10.2 °C17.6 °C22.8 °C26.9 °C28.8 °C29.5 °C25.6 °C19.7 °C11.5 °C4.2 °C
Avg Min-6.1 °C-4.1 °C1.1 °C7.3 °C12.6 °C17.8 °C21.8 °C22.1 °C16.7 °C9.8 °C2.9 °C-3.4 °C
Rainfall21.6 mm23.6 mm45.8 mm77 mm102.2 mm133.3 mm327.9 mm348 mm137.6 mm49.3 mm53 mm24.9 mm
Rain Days7.166.888.81015.513.88.76.697.3

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Getting There

By Plane

Seoul Incheon International Airport (ICN) serves as the gateway to Seoul and South Korea. It is one of the busiest airports in the world, located around 70 kilometres west of the capital and has been ranked one of the best airports in the world, together with the ones in Hong Kong and Singapore.
Korean Air serves dozens of destinations in Japan and China, as well as other cities and countries in Asia. It also has connections to about a dozen cities in North America and even more to European cities. It has flights to Australia, Sao Paulo and Pacific destinations like Fiji and Guam on top of that.
Another big airline is Asiana Airlines with just slightly less destinations further away but even more in both China and Japan.

Getting to/from the airport:

  • Rail: The Incheon International Airport Railroad (A'REX) started operations in 2007. The station is located in the Transportation Center adjacent to the main terminal building. From 2007 onwards, only the first phase of the construction was opened to the public (Incheon International Airport - Gimpo Airport). The remaining phase of the construction is expected to be completed by 2010 (Gimpo Airport - Seoul Station). Until then, from the old Gimpo airport there are connections to the Seoul Metro Lines 5 and 9.
  • Car: Link to the main land is provided by the Yeongjong Bridge and an expressway. Tolls are collected at the bridge. A second expressway on the Incheon Bridge connects the island with central Incheon. Parking and rental cars are available at the airport.
  • Taxi: both white (cheap) and black (expensive) taxis are available at the airport.

The old Gimpo International Airport now mainly functions as a center for domestic flights although there are services to Tokyo, Osaka and Shanghai.

By Train

Seoul is the northern terminus of the KTX high-speed line. There are three KTX stations within city limits:

  • Seoul Station for trains to Busan, Ulsan, Kyeongju, Daegu, Daejeon Cheonan/Asan, and Suwon. Accessible via subway lines 1 & 4.
  • Yongsan Station for trains to Mokpo, Gwangju, Daejeon and Cheonan/Asan. Also on line 1 & 4 (Sinyongsan Station).
  • The newly added KTX at Youngdeungpo is now running to southern destinations.

Nearly all ordinary (non-KTX) services also use one or both of the above terminals, but services east to Chuncheon or Gangneung and southeast to Gyeongju via Danyang use Cheongnyangni Station to the east of the city on line 1.

By Car

No matter where in Korea you start your journey, there will be tolled expressways (Gosok Doro) and national highways (Gook Do) that lead to Seoul; the most important one is the Gyeongbu Expressway, linking Seoul with Busan. To avoid the daily traffic jam on the Gyeongbu Highway near Seoul, take Jungbu/2nd Jungbu, Seohaean, or Yongin-Seoul Expressway.

By Bus

There are several bus terminals, but Seoul Express Bus Terminal is the largest and serves pretty much the entire country, but most services head east (incl. Busan, Daegu, Daejeon). Lines to Jeolla, however, use the Central City/Honam Terminal right next door. Nambu Bus Terminal, Nambu Bus Terminal stn (Line 3). Serves places southwest of Seoul (Southern Gyeonggi, South Chungcheong and nothern North Jeolla). Sinchon Bus Terminal, Sinchon (Underground) stn (Line 2) or Sinchon stn (Gyeongeui Line). Buses to Ganghwa Island.

By Boat

Ferries from China arrive at the nearby terminal Incheon, which is about an hour away from Seoul.

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Getting Around

By Car

Internationally known car rental companies can be found in Seoul; just be prepared for a driving challenge and long rush hours. In addition, parking spaces are hard, if not close to impossible to find, especially during peak hours. Therefore, unless you are planning to head out of the city, it is not advisable to rent a car and you are better off relying on the excellent public transport system instead.

Deluxe taxis are black with a yellow sign and are more expensive than regular taxis but provide better and more comfortable service. Regular taxis are silver. For the most part, regular taxi cabs have leather interiors and the drivers are nice - so, for many people, "regular" in Seoul might be "deluxe" in their hometown. It is easy to hail a taxi any time of the day or night along any relatively major Seoul street.

By Public Transport

In Seoul, you can visit most places by using the vast subway network. There are currently nine numbered lines plus a smattering of named suburban lines, all distinguished by different colors. All signs in the subway system are in Korean (both hangeul and if applicable, hanja) and English. The signs leading to the platform for a particular direction of travel on a given subway line typically list the names of a number of stations in that direction. Stations each have a 3 digit number, but locals rarely make use of these numbers, and they're not on most subway maps, so don't rely on them. A subway map can be found here.

Subway fares are based on the distance traveled, but the shortest ride costs ₩1,150 (base charge) plus card deposit ₩500 (refundable if you return the card at designated machines at each station). The base charge roughly covers up to 10 km of the journey and ₩100 is added for every 5 km beyond that. Cards can be purchased from vending machines only. All vending machines accept coins and bills, up to ₩10,000 notes (and some ₩50,000 notes, but cash exchange machines are at each station). Hang onto your card until the end of your trip, as you'll need it to get out. Most of Seoul's automated card machines are equipped with touchscreen and full English support (along with Chinese and Japanese). Since ticket machines may be crowded, buying two cards (one for each way) is recommended.

If planning on using the Metro extensively or staying for more than a few weeks, you should consider purchasing a T-money stored value contactless smart card. You can buy this card at most subway stations and many newspaper kiosks near subway entrances, as well as convenience stores. The card itself costs ₩3000 and cash can be charged onto the card as often as you like. When entering and leaving a subway turnstile, place the card on the reader (leaving it inside your purse or wallet is fine) and it will deduct the appropriate fare from the card. Using this card will allow you to save ₩100 on all transfers (these are common with Seoul's extensive subway system) and you can get all but ₩500 back if you have unused credit.

Typically for most travellers staying less than 2 weeks in Seoul, purchasing this card may not be cheaper but other factors should be considered: it can also be used for taxi fares, buses, storage lockers, pay phones, etc. However, using a transportation card is highly recommended if you wish to use it for buses as well simply for its ability to transfer between them since you will not have to pay for the basic 900 fare twice for a single journey when using two modes of transport. It also saves the hassle from figuring out how much you need to pay or waiting in line to buy a single-use ticket. The subway is not open 24 hours, so you may be stranded late at night.

Seoul also has an extensive bus service. There are four different kinds of buses: yellow, green, blue, and red. Yellow buses have a short circuit usually around tourist areas. Green buses travel around neighborhoods and connect with the subway. Blue buses go across town, while red buses are intercity buses. Buses will only stop at designated bus stops and will not wait for indecisive travelers.

By Foot

The major roads twist and turn, the various rail lines, rivers and mountains are obstacles and the smaller roads turn into a labyrinth of alleys. Most people will try to help you find your way around but often won't know themselves; best to familiarize yourself with some landmarks and the nearest subway stations. Learn the landmarks closest to where you are staying. The better-known landmarks in Seoul (such as the N Seoul Tower located in the center of town) can prove helpful at times. A compass will still work when a GPS fails.

Once you know your immediate surroundings, you'll find that Seoul isn't such a huge place and the pedestrian approach can be an enriching experience.

There's usually a subway stop within a ten-minute walk in any direction.

Numerous mountains with hiking trails can be found in the city.

By Bike

If you like cycling, there are many bike rental stations in Seoul (and other cities). You may however need a Korean-speaking friend to help you with registration or troubleshooting.

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Eat

Much of Korean social life revolves around food and the city is packed with restaurants, so it would take a determined man to starve to death in Seoul. This fate may still befall you if you insist on English menus and meals consisting only of easily identifiable, familiar ingredients. An alternative is to just point and eat, your hosts generally will accommodate. If you look in the right places, a good meal (lunch or dinner) including side dishes can cost ₩5,000 or less (try basements of large department stores).

In addition to Korean food, Japanese restaurants in Seoul tend to be excellent, featuring excellent sushi and sashimi. Chinese restaurants exist, but are typically adapted to suit local preferences. There are a few Italian restaurants; these are generally excellent, with chefs trained in Italy, although flavors tend to be more or less Koreanized, with sugar in the garlic bread and meatballs.

Bakeries are found throughout, including some of the common big chains.

Seoul has plenty of budget places to eat. Everything from convenience store junk food and noodles to street stall food and lots of 24 hr Korean fast food restaurants. The 24-hour restaurants are great because they've usually got a wide variety of foods, including: mandu, odeng, dokbokki, naengmyeon, udon and ramyeon. Prices do vary from about ₩2,000-9,000 at these restaurants. Also open late into the night are Korean BBQ restaurants, which are everywhere in Seoul. These can be very cheap and are usually of good quality. Barbecue options usually are limited to pork and beef, and they often come with a smattering of side dishes. Korean BBQ is, in itself, an experience that makes you feel like a Seoulite. The larger department stores in the city have basement food courts that offer excellent food (not recommended if you care about atmosphere).

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Drink

Seoul features a mind-bogglingly large array of nightspots catering to every taste and budget. Hongdae and Sinchon in Seodaemun-Mapo are Seoul's most active nightlife districts. Itaewon in Yongsan is Seoul's international district, with a wide variety of Western-styled venues to eat and drink. Since many foreigners congregate there, Itaewon remains somewhat of a niche nightlife area for Koreans interested in a more international scene. Much nightlife in Seoul revolves around soju. Soju is a traditional Korean spirit that comes in many varieties, including original and many kinds of fruit-flavored soju.

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Sleep

As with any large city, Seoul has many different areas to stay, such as Gwanghwamun, Insadong, Bukchon Hanock Village, Myeongdong, Itaewon, Honggik/Sinchon/Ewha.

Seoul has two unofficial backpacker districts, Jongno (Anguk/Sinseol-dong) to the northeast of the city and Hongdae-Sinchon out to the west. Within walking distance to Dongdaemun Market, Jongno is better located for sightseeing and can be reached directly from Incheon Airport on limousine buses or city bus 6002 to Sinseol-dong stop (₩9,000, 90 min). There are many budget accommodation places across Seoul. Hongdae, Itaewon, Myeongdong and Jongno (Hanok area) are traditional hot spots for Foreign Individual Travelers(FIT). Furthermore Gangnam is emerging thanks to the huge success of the eponymous song. Hongdae, Sinchon area is located in university area. Yonsei Univ., Ehwa woman's Univ., Hongik Univ. and Sogang Univ. are around this area. so there are many restaurants, bar, club and shopping center and easy to be reached from Incheon Airport by limousine bus and Arex (Airport express train) in 1 hour.

Gangnam has a wide range of luxury with the Imperial Palace Hotel, the Park Hyatt Seoul and the Ritz-Carlton Seoul.

Upscale

View our map of accommodation in Seoul or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Work

There is an immense demand for ESL (English as a Second Language) instruction in Seoul.

Note that Seoul municipal government has decided to phase out foreign (non-Korean) teachers of English in all public schools. Although it has yet to be seen if this will be successful in practice, it may have an effect on your options in Seoul.

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Learn

Seoul is home to many universities, including Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Korea University, the three most prestigious universities in Korea. There are opportunities for potential international and exchange students to enroll in these universities and live in Seoul for an extended period of time. Many of these universities also conduct Korean language classes for foreigners, including some 5-week long summer intensive programmes that might be useful for short-term visitors to learn the Korean language.

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Keep Connected

Internet

South Korea is the world's most wired country and Internet cafes, known as PC bang, are ubiquitous through the country. Most customers are there for gaming but you're free to sit and type e-mails as well, typical charges are about ₩1,000 to ₩2,000/hour. Like anything, it may be more expensive in more "luxurious" places. Also, snacks and drinks are available for purchase in most PC bangs. However please be wary of using these computers for sensitive activity such as banking as the PC bangs can have keyloggers installed on them.

There is also a lot of free wifi available throughout South Korea. Just check for an unencrypted signal, although using open wifi hotspots is a potential security risk anywhere in the world so be careful what you use it for. Many coffee shops offer free wifi with no registration required.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

International dialing prefixes in South Korea vary by operator, and there is no standard prefix. Check with your operator for the respective prefixes. For calls to South Korea, the country code is 82. Emergency numbers include 112 (Polie) and 119 (Ambulance and Fire).

The country has three service providers: KT, SK Telecom and LG Telecom. They offer prepaid mobile phone services (pre-paid service, PPS) in South Korea. Incoming calls are free. South Korea uses the CDMA standard exclusively and does not have a GSM network, so most 2G (GSM) mobile phones from elsewhere will not work. Even quad-band GSM phones are useless. However, if you have a 3G phone with a 3G SIM card, you can probably roam onto the UMTS/W-CDMA 2100 networks of KT or SK Telecom; check with your home operator before you leave to be sure. 4G LTE has recently been made available in Korea; again, check with your provider. Mobile phone coverage is generally excellent, with the exception of some remote mountainous areas.

If you want to buy a prepaid SIM card, you should be able to get a prepaid SIM card at one of the olleh expat locations. However, you must have been in Korea for at least 3 days, and you must bring your passport. The fee for a prepaid SIM card is ₩5,500, and you have to charge at least ₩10,000 at the spot. You must also have a compatible phone. All modern iPhones (3GS and later) should work.

Post

Korea Post is the national postal service and has fast, reliable and well-priced services. Postage for a postcard anywhere in the world is ₩370, while letters and packages start from ₩480. On their website you can find more about pricing details, as there are many different rates, depending on the zone (which country) you want to send it to, how much it weighs, wether it is air or ground service etc. Generally, post office hours are from Monday to Friday 9:00am to 6:00pm, though the larger central post offices tend to be open until 8:00pm and sometimes also on Saturday or even Sunday, usually only mornings. If you want to send package internationally, you might also check international companies like TNT, FedEx, UPS or DHL, as they have fast, reliable and competitively priced services as well.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 37.5139
  • Longitude: 126.9828

Accommodation in Seoul

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Seoul searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Seoul and areas nearby.

Contributors

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Seoul Travel Helpers

  • zergsprincess

    I've been able to see Seoul with my cousin who is a native of Korea since I was in 3rd grade. I'm now out of college. Also, I've lived in Seoul and have gotten to know the city very well because of my work which requires me to travel to different cities daily !

    I can let you know the good areas to go shopping in, give some good general tips about Korea, and give you some recommendations on housing among other things :)

    Ask zergsprincess a question about Seoul

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