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Travel Logs November 2014

Compulsive Traveler

10 Great Things to Do in Seoul, South Korea

By Sandra Scott

The 20-minute ceremony is reenacted several times a day with the beating of the giant drums and guards in full regalia. It is a rare chance to get a glimpse into a traditional event. Every effort has been exerted to keep the ceremony authentic.

Seoul is the bustling capital city of South Korea and an excellent gateway city to Asia. The city has been called “The Miracle on the Han River” due to its transformation from a war-torn city to thriving metropolis. The 1988 Summer Olympic put Seoul on the radar of travelers. For more information long on to www.visitseoul.net.

  1. Bus Tour: Get acquainted with the city on the hop-on/hop-off bus tour. The ticket is good for the day and can be purchased on board. There are several routes to choose. Board at 9 a.m. and take it once around, deciding what to get off and see. The Downtown-Palace Course is probably best for first-time visitors.
  2. Best View: The best view of the city is from the Seoul Tower with a 360-degree city view and screens that relate the 600-year history of Seoul. The revolving restaurant offers excellent views. Guided tours for groups of up to 20 people are available in English, Japanese and Chinese by prior arrangement 3 to 7 days in advance.
  3. Gyeongbokgung Palace: Built in 1395, it was the first royal palace built by the Joseon Dynasty. It is located in the heart of the city not far from where the city bus tour starts. Plan on an hour to stroll around the pavilions halls palace's spacious walled grounds. English tours are available about three times daily for visitors to learn more about Korea's architectural traditions.
  4. Changing of the guard: In ancient times the royal guards protected the Gwanghwamum Gate. The 20-minute ceremony is reenacted several times a day with the beating of the giant drums and guards in full regalia. It is a rare chance to get a glimpse into a traditional event. Every effort has been exerted to keep the ceremony authentic.
  5. Folkloric Museum: Explore 4000 years of Korea history at the National Folkloric Museum and learn about the Korean way of life throughout the years. The open-air exhibition area includes jangseung spirit posts to which villages prayed to ward off disaster. At the stone guardians of the 12 directions find the one that represents your birth date.
  6. Free walking tours: Seoul offers nine free walking tours in seven different areas offering insight into Korean culture and history. Options include tours of the palaces, city walls, gardens, and Hanok Village.
  7. Shopping: Today the word “Gangnam” is associated with a style of music that originated in the Gangnam area. It is an area known for shopping where there is everything from designer items to vintage clothing. It is a favorite area of the young and fashionistas.
  8. Cruising: The Eland Cruise offers several short cruises on the Hangang River. It is a great way to relax while enjoying the scenery around the river that flows through Seoul. There are themed cruises with music, magic and/or lunch or dinner.
  9. Food: Foodies will love Seoul. One of the best ways to experience a culture is by taking a cooking class. O’ngo Food Communications offers cooking classes, restaurant tours, and one on how to experience street food. There are cooking classes for the beginner and professional along with a Halal class.
  10. DMZ: The best way to experience the Demilitarized Zone, one the world’s most infamous borders, is on a group tour. The guide offers information on the DMZ, the Joint Security Area and the opportunity to enter the Third Tunnel of Aggression, said to be one of the ways the North Koreans planned to invade the South.

 

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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