"Never let your memories be greater than your dreams..." - Doug Ivester
Seoul’s many attractions and excellent transport links make it South Korea’s number one destination for foreign visitors and the logical place from which to embark on a tour of the country. The capital since 1394, it is a bustling, sophisticated commercial centre, which nevertheless retains numerous reminders of its rich heritage. Seoul’s greatest attractions are perhaps the royal residences, several of which are UNESCO-listed.
Changdokkung Palace is surrounded by the picturesque Secret Gardens, while the nearby Chongmyo Shrine, set in wooded grounds, contains the ancestral tablets of the Kings of the Yi Dynasty. A colourful Confucian ceremony takes place here annually on the first Sunday in May.
|(One of the many tourist attractions)|
The Museum of Modern Arts is within the grounds of Toksukung Palace, a former royal villa which presents an interesting contrast with the surrounding skyscrapers. Kyongbokkung Palace, the most impressive of the palaces, dates in part to 1394 and has within its grounds the excellent National Folk Museum and temporary displays of treasures from the fantastic collection of the National Museum of Korea (currently being reconstructed). Symbol of Seoul, the Great South Gate (Namdaemun) was the main gate in the city’s 15th-century defences. Pagoda Park (Tapkol Park) commemorates the 1919 Korean Declaration of Independence.
|(Cultural Village next)|
For fine city panoramas it is worth ascending Seoul Tower which sits atop landscaped Namsan Mountain in the heart of the city. The War Memorial and Museum on Yongsan-gu military base traces the history of conflict on the Korean Peninsular. Seoul is a great place to see performances of Korea’s vibrant performing arts. For those interested in finding a unique souvenir, the traditional shopping area of Insadong offers everything from antiques to calligraphy brushes. Bargain hunters will enjoy the city’s huge markets such as the daily East Gate (Dongdaemun) Market, while for fashion shopping and nightlife the Itaewon district is the place to head for. Lotte World is a massive entertainment complex featuring everything from a major theme park to sports facilities and a luxury hotel.