This post is part of the series Seoul
Seoul is the capital and largest city in South Korea.
The city is situated in the northwest part of South Korea on the Han River. Han River was previously used as a trade route to China. Nowadays, Han River is no longer used for navigation because its estuary is at the border between North and South Korea.
Its official name is Seoul Special Metropolitan City.
Where to Stay in Seoul
As you would expect from a major Asian city, Seoul has no shortage of options when it comes to accommodation. As always, I’d suggest you stay somewhere central, to make accessing all the attractions as easy as possible.
The best places to stay in Seoul are Hongdae, Insadong, Myeongdong and Gangnam. However, my suggestion would be to stay in Hongdae or Insadong. Insadong is located in the heart of Seoul, close to most major attractions, plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants and street food options. Hongdae, on the other side, is a bustling university neighborhood which is the best choice if you are searching for a good nightlife and shopping area in Seoul.
You can find alternative hotels in Hongdae here and in Insadong here.
You can find apartments in Seoul here (Airbnb + up to 41 € off).
Read more reviews and compare Seoul hotel prices here.
The city of Seoul is located in 24km from DMZ and 50 km from the border with North Korea.
Seoul is noted for its population density, which is almost twice that of New York and eight times greater than Rome.
The city is bordered by eight mountains but Seoul itself is relatively flat because it is on the Han River plain. Its average elevation is 38 meters above sea level.
64% of South Korea is covered in forest. The country also has 2.413 km of seaside and nearly 3.000 small uninhabited islands just offshore.
With a population of over ten million people, Seoul is considered a megacity. With a population of 10.208.302 the National Capital Area of Seoul is the second largest in the world.
Seoul has a population density of 44.776 people per square mile.
Seoul is considered a global Asian city and it is the centre of South Korea’s economy, culture, and politics.
Seoul is divided into 25 administrative divisions called gu. Each gu has its own government and is divided into several neighbourhoods called a dong.
The climate of Seoul is considered both humid subtropical and humid continental. What does it really mean is that the summer is hot and humid and the winter is usually cold and dry.
Seoul gets an average of 28 days of snow per year and the average temperature during January is -6°. In contrast, the average temperature during the summer months is 29°.
The settlement of the Han River area began around 4000 BC. In the year 18 BC, the kingdom of Baekje founded its capital city Wiryeseong (nowadays Seoul).
During the reign of Joseon Dynasty, the capital of Korea was renamed to “Hanyang” and later “Hanseong”. The present name “Seoul” is believed to have originated from the Korean word for the capital city “Seoraneol”.
Because of its very long history, Seoul is home to a number of historic sites and monuments. The Seoul National Capital Area has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Changdeok Palace, Hwaseong Fortress, Jongmyo Shrine, Namhansanseong and the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty.
Gyeongbokgung Palace was built in 1395 by King Taejo and is nowadays Seoul’s most popular attraction Gyeongbokgung Palace is also the largest and most striking of the Five Grand Palaces which houses more than 300 buildings, the National Folk Museum, and also the National Palace Museum.
Changdeokgung Palace is the most well-preserved of the five remaining royal palaces in South Korea. Construction of Changdeok Palace began in the year 1405, and was completed in 1412. The Palace was burnt to the ground during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and reconstructed in 1609 by King Seonjo and King Gwanghaegun.
In the late 19th century, after hundreds of years of isolation, Seoul opened its gates to foreigners and began to modernize.
In 1910, the Japanese invasion took the regime of Korea and the city of Seoul. For 35 years Seoul was dominated by the Japanese colonial rule. During that time, the city became known as Gyeongseong.
In 1948, Korea released from Japanese rule in 1945 and Seoul become the main capital again in 1953.
During the Korean War in 1950, North Korean troops occupied the city and almost the entire city was destroyed.
Gwangjang Market is one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in South Korea. It has an area of 42.000 m² and is home to more than 5000 shops and the largest food alley in Seoul.
Dongdaemun Market in Seoul is the largest wholesale and retail shopping district in Korea! It has more than 30.000 fashion shops and 50.000 manufacturers most of which have 24/7 service.
On March 14, 1951, the United Nations forces took control of Seoul and since then, the city has grown continuously.
After China and Japan, South Korea is the third-largest exporter in Asia and the seventh-largest in the world!
Seoul has become the headquarters for many international companies like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and Kia.
The capital city generates over 20% of South Korea’s gross domestic product. South Korea is a relatively small country but it has one of the biggest economies in the world with a GDP of $1.6 trillion, according to the latest ranking by the World Bank.
Bukchon Hanok Village has the largest collection of privately owned Hanoks, or the traditional Korean homes with tiled roofs and stone floors in Seoul. All 900 Hanoks were built during the reign of Joseon Dynasty.
The longest bridge fountain in the world is located on the Banpo Grand Bridge (1140 m) over the Han River in Seoul.
South Korea is the world’s leader in IT. It has the fastest average internet connection speed in the world! Its broadband adoption rate is about 28.4 megabits per second, which is way better than the internet connection speed in the United States, Hong Kong or Switzerland. Seoul also has the best 4G availability in the world.
Seoul is the breakdancing capital of the world. South Korea has been home to some of the world’s best break-dancers for years after break-dancing was introduced to the country in the 19’s by American soldiers.
Having some gardens, free showers, and sauna, Incheon International Airport in Seoul is home to one of the world’s best airports.
The most crowded flight path on Earth is found in South Korea!
Seoul has 24-hour study rooms as education is one of the most important topics in South Korea. A room can be rented for as little as 5.50€ a day.
Seoul is the Mecca of Cosmetic Surgery and Skincare products! Korean do care how they look, therefore Seoul was reported to have the highest per capita rate of cosmetic surgery in the world!
South Korea is one of the few countries around the world where Google Maps won’t draw borders around and is actually not working! Google Maps is operating even in North Korea but North Korea is probably one of the many reasons why South Korea has a restriction on this Google Service.
Drinking and partying is THE BIG THING in Seoul and the best place to enjoy the nightlife is in Hongdae (the student neighbourhood).
Seoul has one of the best food scenes and cultures in the world! During the last 10 years, Korean food such as kimchi and Korean BBQ became famous across the globe. Nowadays there are 26 Michelin-starred restaurants in Seoul.
South Koreans love kimchi – the spicy cabbage dish was celebrated when scientists showed that kimchi helps prevent bird flu and Newcastle disease.
No tipping rule – Seoul has incredibly good service and you always get some random freebies, but tipping is not common and can be seen even as rude.
The Digital Media City in Seoul (557,00 m²) is home for broadcasting, film production, games, telecom companies, cable channels, online shopping centers, and e-learning rooms.
Seoul is the Mecca for Smart homes too – nowhere in the world, you can find as many apartments with Smart home system as here in Seoul!
The city of Seoul has the most art openings per square mile!
COEX Mall in Seoul is Asia’s largest underground mall and is home to the most incredible library I’ve ever been to!
You can get the best view of Seoul from the N Seoul Tower which is a communication and observation tower located on Namsan Mountain in central Seoul. The tower was built in 1971 and with its 236.7m is the second largest point in Seoul.
South Korea Accommodation:
Ready to visit South Korea? Start looking for your next accommodation now while it’s fresh in your mind.
Want stylish accommodation in South Korea you can afford?. Find the cheapest prices for the best accommodations possible:
- Click here to search for hotels in South Korea (Booking.com)
- Click here to search apartments in South Korea (Airbnb + up to 40 € off)
- Click here to search hostels in South Korea (Agoda)
South Korea Flights:
If you are flying to South Korea it is beneficial to use a flight comparison site to find the cheapest flights. I recommend and use Kiwi.com. Click here to compare and book cheap flights to South Korea.
Rental Car in South Korea
Rentalcars.com searches all the big car rental companies in South Korea and finds the best price for you. This is probably the easiest way to rent a car in South Korea and around the World.
South Korea Tours
If you are the type of person who prefers joining a tour, there are all kinds of guided tours around South Korea including Seoul.
Enjoy the day!
*This post contains Affiliate Links. I only recommend high-quality items and services I am confident about. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.