Hotels in Seoul, South Korea
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Seoul: A City Like No Other
Once known as a hermit kingdom, South Korea has blossomed like a lotus flower into a country that knows no limits. It simultaneously embraces cutting edge technology and tradition, with a Confucian revere for its elders and past. It’s truly a country of contrasts; for every temple there is a flashing neon sign, and for every traditional tea house, there is a 24-hour convenience store. At the heart of it all sits exciting Seoul, one of the biggest and most dynamic cities in the world. With a sky high population and a list of hotels, shopping malls, and museums to match, it’s hard to know where to begin. But one thing is for sure: Seoul will have you at annyeong (hello).
Nightlife, Here You Come!
Seoul might just be the real city that never sleeps. Its frenetic urban pace culminates when the sun goes down, and if you let yourself, you’ll be swept away in the night time revelry faster than you can slurp a ramen noodle. You’ll quickly see that for a conservative country that places high importance on manners and modesty, it can get downright debaucherous at night.
Sunset at YTN Seoul Tower is a fitting place to begin your after-hours adventure. Either embark on the walk to the top of Namsan Mountain, or save your energy with the cable car. As the sun sets, you can watch the city transform into a twinkling sea of lights, and take in the vastness of Seoul. When you get back to ground level, put yourself in a Korean frame of mind and look for an appealing pojangmacha (outdoor food tent). Nothing says, “I’m in Korea” like dining in one of these makeshift street tents, and in addition to rubbing elbows (literally) with the locals, your taste buds will thank you. From spicy to sweet, Korean street food is surprisingly delicious, and while most of it might be a mystery, it’s best to just dive on in.
When you’ve had your fill of unidentifiable dishes, it’s time to get the party started. For a uniquely Korean experience, now is the time to test your vocal chords and let your inner pop star shine at one of the many nori bangs (karaoke rooms). But don’t be shy, even if you can’t hold a tune in the shower, nori bang rooms are heavily sound-proofed, and you can croon to your heart’s content. If you don’t want the fun to stop, there are endless restaurants, bars and nightclubs open 24-hours, with the highest concentration in the Itaewon and Hongdae areas of Seoul. And if the night has gotten the best of you and you’re too far from your hotel, there are an abundance jjimjilbangs - a 24-hour public bathhouse with communal sleeping rooms, where you can sleep it off.
A Calmer Side of Seoul
Now that you’ve gotten the need for indulgence out of your system, it’s time to tone it down a notch. Seoul may be able to let loose like an expert, but it can also bring it back to a snail’s pace. For a tranquil day and a welcome respite from the city, take the subway to the base of one of four mountains that keep watch over Seoul. Bukhansan is a picturesque mountain that deserves all of the attention that it gets. Streams, granite peaks and stunning fall colours make this a hiking spot to remember, and while you might not exactly feel like you’re at the top of the world, there are some challenging trails. Back at the bottom, keep the peace with a meditative visit to a Buddhist temple. Two of the best in the city are Jogyesa Temple and Bongeunsa Temple, which is one of the few working temples in the country. For a little afternoon treat, the Insadong neighbourhood also provides a calming place for reflection. Lined with traditional tea houses, it’s a good spot to breathe in the incense and sample some tea. And if you’d like to learn more about Korea’s history of tea and different ways to make it, the Beautiful Tea House Museum is also located in Insadong. The end of your visit will have you wishing that a cup of ginseng tea and a handful of green tea rice cakes were part of your daily routine.
Don’t Go Home Without It
Seoul has a lot going for it, but there are a few attractions that you should do your best to fit in before you return home. Namsangol Hanok Village is the kind of place that will stay with you long after you’ve left the city, and a visit here is like stepping back in time. A hanok is a traditional Korean house, and great care has been taken to furnish village houses with accuracy. You’ll get an in-depth look of what it was like to be royalty and a commoner during the Joseon Dynasty, and a visit here should be on every Seoul itinerary. Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace should also be on every tourist’s radar, with Changdeokgung being the most picturesque if you had to choose one. Dating back to 1405, Changdeokgung became the primary royal residence in 1872. It was built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty, and with its beautiful gardens and original features, it’s a sight to behold. And when it comes to accommodation, make sure you don’t leave Seoul without sleeping like a Korean. In the past, Koreans used to sleep on heated floors called ondol , and to this day, older Koreans often sleep this way. Many hotels also have rooms with portable mats for floor sleeping - just make sure you set your alarm, because there’s a good probability you’ll sleep like a baby.
Price rangefrom AU$12to AU$232,756
- Hotel Skypark Dongdaemun 1deals from AU$87
- Hotel Seoul N Hotel Dongdaemundeals from AU$19
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- Hotel Sleepy Panda Stream Walkdeals from AU$46
- Hotel Skypark Myeongdong 2deals from AU$100
- Hotel Lotte Hotel Seouldeals from AU$258
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