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Your guide to Seoul
All About Seoul
Seoul is an always-thrumming, ultra-modern metropolis that truly never skips a beat. The beating heart of South Korea and one of the fastest-growing metropolises in the world, Seoul is a beautiful clash of old and new: glass skyscrapers rise up over the relics of 14th century shrines; noraebang karaoke bars and trend-setting shopping districts sidle up against the ancient fortress wall; night markets spill over with septuagenarians hawking traditional delicacies like bindaetteok scallion pancakes and other mysterious trinkets, while younger innovators set social media’s next viral trends (think cheese-stuffed, sugar-sprinkled corndogs). From K-pop tunes to K-beauty cosmetics to historic Buddhist temples, there is enough to keep you busy in Seoul for several lifetimes. All of which is to say that the city of Seoul never sleeps, and while you are here, neither will you.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Seoul
Seoul benefits from a full four seasons, with the weather to match. Summers are hot and humid, and are typically quite busy as many Koreans flock to the capital and rent houses during their summer holidays. Winters are cold, with temperatures dipping below freezing, but the trade-off is picturesque snowscapes and great skiing slopes just outside the city. Spring is probably the most popular time to visit, as April is when the famous cherry trees bloom, making the whole city look like a cotton candy-hued fairytale. The weather is warm and mild during this time, without being too humid. The autumn foliage rivals the spring cherry blossoms in beauty, with equally mild weather — aim for late October or early November for the best fall colors and nicest weather.
Top things to do in Seoul
Sing your heart out at a noraebang
Korea’s answer to karaoke, these are usually walk-in, private rooms where locals and tourists alike flock during the wee hours to belt out golden oldies and K-Pop bangers. With noraebangs on just about every street corner, you’re more likely to stumble into the nearest one than actively seek it as a destination, but if you do prefer to plan ahead, ask a local for their best recommendations — there are noraebangs for just about every budget, mood, and style.
Shop till you drop at a night market
Seoul is famous for its night markets, and a trip here wouldn’t be complete without spending an evening or two eating your way between neon-lit stalls, shopping for bespoke clothing, and picking up a few souvenirs. Gwangjang Market is the place to go for vintage threads during the day, while at night it’s a gastronomic paradise with hawkers selling everything from pig’s trotters to traditional gimbap. Dongdaemun Market sprawls out from behind the show-stopping Dongdaemun History & Culture Park, into a complex of open-air stalls and linked mall complexes open until 2 a.m.
Step back in time at Bukchon Hanok Village
Bukchon Hanok Village is a slice of Old Seoul in the middle of the city. Wandering through its narrow alleys lined with traditional hanok houses (recognizable by their deeply sloped eaves), is to take a step back 600 years in Seoul’s history. Today, this charming historic neighborhood is the site of several interesting cultural centers and museums, old school restaurants, and classic tea houses. Despite being a point of interest for visitors, this is still a residential neighborhood — so be mindful when you visit.