South Korea, a country plagued by war in the 1950’s and near-constant threats of invasion by their communist neighbor to the north, has defied all odds to become a major first-world powerhouse. The capital city of Seoul is a gleaming metropolitan city home to 10 million people (30% more than New York City). Visitors travelling to Seoul for the first time may not realize it’s home to major electronics brands LG and Samsung, or transportation brands Kia, Hyundai, and Daewoo.
Seoul citizens have demanded new and fun things to do and the city has delivered! Seoul is now home to it’s own brand of pop music, internationally-renowned food markets, the world’s largest beauty market, the biggest indoor theme park, animal cafes, and many, many, many more unique and cool things to do.
Going to a community bath house after beauty shopping and dining with parrots is just a regular day in the life of someone living in Seoul!
Here is our ultimate list of things to do in Seoul!
In no particular order….
1. A Hanok Home Stay
Hanoks are traditional homes from the Joseon Dynasty in Korea. The rooms are spread along beautiful gardens for optimal entertaining. The homes are made of stone, wood, and colored tiled. They are absolutely beautiful and a stark contrast to the modern-day skyscrapers and apartment complexes that have taken over Seoul!
Visit Bukchon Hanok Village to see these Hanok homes in person, or book a stay at a Hanok guesthouse to experience life in a Hanok first-hand.
As an overnight guest at a Hanok house you’ll sleep on thick futons on the floor, eat at a low table while sitting on cushions, and be served a traditional Korean breakfast.
It’s a great way to immerse yourself in the traditional Korean culture!
Where to Stay:
- Rent Hanbok: Rent traditional Hanbok clothing and have a photo shoot here
- Bukchon Guesthouse: 20-17, Bukchon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 03059
- Price: 80,000W/ night (subject to change)
- Features: Family rooms, private bathroom with amenities, heated floors, breakfast included
2. Bike or Swim at Yeouido Island
Though not technically an island, Seoul citizens love to spend time at Yeouido Island! It borders the Han River on one side and Gangnam, Seoul, on the other. Visiting Yeouido Island should definitely be on your Seoul Bucket List!
Koreans love to stay active, and Yeouido is a great place to do that. The “Island” is surrounded by trees and views of the Han River, which make it feel very secluded from the busy city.
On Yeouido you’ll find many places ready to rent bikes for 3,000W/ hour. You’ll also find a walking/ running path, children’s splash park, Han River cruise boats, and swan pedal boat rentals.
If you need to take a break from the craziness of Seoul and get back to nature an afternoon in Yeouido is the best place to go!
3. Visit the K-Pop Museum at SMTOWN
SMTOWN is the K-Pop museum of music powerhouse company Seoul Music.
Located in Gangnam, it’s full of exhibits, posters, and souvenirs from Korea’s favorite music idols of the last 20 years (and lines of screaming Korean girls to go along with it).
We don’t follow the phenomenon of K-Pop, but still found SMTOWN an incredible experience. It was amazing to see the impact this relatively new music style has had on modern Korean culture!
How to get to SMTOWN:
- Address: 648 Samseong-ro, Samseong 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
- Hours: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
- Price: Free to enter, some exhibits cost extra
4. Go to a Jimjilbang (Korean Bath House) Spa
Jimjilbang is the traditional name for a Korean Bath House. It’s one of the most authentic things to do in Seoul!
Koreans take health and wellness very seriously, and going to a public bath house is part of their wellness routine. It involves a shower, 10 minute stay in a hot bath, 5 minute sit in a sauna, shower, and repeat. The routine is personalized by adding a cold water dip or incorporating hot baths with special mineral or herbs designed to help certain ailments. Participants can also bring scrubbing tools to invigorate the body or add on a massage to their regimen.
A trip to the jimjilbang is often done in groups. You’ll find sets of sisters or groups of friends in the designated female or male floors. Since the visit is thorough and can take hours to enjoy and complete, it’s nice to have someone there to talk to!
The only catch- you’re naked.
Going to a Korean bath may take some courage, but rest assured no one is looking at you. Everyone is concerned with their own health and well-being, so don’t be afraid to be the odd foreigner out. It’s a unique experience that will not only help your body but also open your mind if done properly!
Visit Dragon Hill Spa Korean Bath House:
- Address: 40-712 Hangangno 3(sam)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Hours: 24/7 (including beds to use for overnight stays)
- Price: 12,000W adult, 6,000W child/ weekdays, 14,000W adult, 6,000W child/ weekends
- Features: Male and Female bath floors, a unisex bath floor (including mandatory uniforms), game floor, restaurants, and bed rooms.
5. Get Cosmetic Beauty Treatments
South Korea is one of the leading countries for cosmetic procedures, so getting your own procedure done could be a really fun thing to do in Seoul!
The culture places a high value on appearance and health, and, as such, beauty treatments are common, affordable, and professional. It’s even reported that 4/10 Korean women have had plastic surgery!
Depending on how long you find yourself in the area you could opt for common surgical procedures like LASIK eye surgery, botox, eye bag removal, semi-permanent makeup, or breast augmentation.
If you’re interested in a Korean beauty consultation and makeover buy tickets here!
6. Go Beauty Shopping at Stylenanda Pink Hotel in Myeongdong
Since Koreans (both men and women) place such a value on presentation, there are more beauty stores in Seoul than we’ve ever seen anywhere else. People tend to develop a favorite store based on preferences for certain products or ingredients, and it’s a very cultural experience to visit a few to find your favorite!
Take a walk down the main streets of Myeongdong to find the highest concentration of beauty stores. You’ll find employees on the street offering free face masks to anyone willing to come inside. Collect your sample and take a walk in. Notice all of the colors, the cutesy product packaging, and the sheer volume of products meant to fix everything from a smelly scalp to your collarbone to wrinkly feet. Seriously. It’s something else!
If you can only go to one place make it the Stylenanda beauty brand headquarters. The flagship store is called the “Pink Hotel” and has 5 stories of beauty products, clothes, and accessories. Each of the 5 stories is decorated to portray a different hotel theme, like pool, guest rooms, hotel lobby, etc. It’s one of the most popular things to do in Seoul!
Stylenanda Pink Hotel is the single best place to go to see unique and creative Korean product marketing and store decor!
How to get to StyleNanda:
- Stylenanda Pink Hotel: 37-8 Myeongdong 8-gil, Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Hours: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
- Features: Cosmetics, clothing, and accessories in a unique and fun, colorful store
- Get a Korean beauty consultation and makeover here!
Interested in doing more shopping in Seoul? Check the Seoul Shopaholic guide here!
7. Sing Karaoke
Although Karaoke was begun in Japan, it’s proximity to South Korea has made karaoke an important activity in Korea, too.
Collect a group of friends (it’s always better in a group!) and head to a private karaoke room. You’ll be seated in comfortable sofas around a flat screen TV. You’ll have control over which songs you choose and access to a snacks and drinks.
8. Go to LotteWorld Amusement Park
Lotte World is a huge recreation complex in Seoul. It’s a really fun thing to do in Seoul if the weather is poor because you can spend a lot of time inside!
It features the largest indoor amusement park in the world, an outdoor amusement park, monorail, shopping malls, luxury hotel, and more.
It’s at least worth spending one of your tourist days! How often can you tell your friends you rode a roller coaster at the largest indoor theme park in the world??
How to get to Lotte World:
- Lotte World Complex: 240 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 3(sam)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
- Hours: 9:30 am -10:00 pm daily
- Price: 55,000W adults, 44,000W child (amusement park)
- Features: indoor and outdoor amusement parks, water park, aquarium, shopping, hotel.
Read more on the Largest Indoor Theme Park In the World here
9. See the Gangnam Style Statue
Seriously. The statue exists and it’s awesome. It should definitely be on your Seoul Bucket List!
There’s so much to go in Gangnam, so you may as well stop on your walking tour to see Psy’s hands carved in bronze!
The K-Pop song “Gangnam Style” by Korean artist Psy broke the internet in 2012. It was became a beast of a phenomenon; the first video to reach 1 billion views on YouTube and introducing a host of new people around the world to K-Pop music.
The song was also responsible for boosting foreign tourism to the Gangnam district of Seoul.
Psy’s contribution to the area is now permanently immortalized by a bronze statue of his overlapping hands. The statue is large enough that visitors can even stand directly underneath it. As an added bonus the song will automatically play when someone is on the statue platform!
How to find the Gangnam Style Statue:
- Coex Gangnam building: Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu | COEX East Gate, Seoul 06087, South Korea
- Open all year
10. Eat at Myeongdong Street Food Market
Seoul used to be covered by outdoor food vendors, but in recent years they have been largely relocated to specific food markets. This has cut down on a lot of excess pigeons and helped keep the city cleaner than in past years. Street food is harder to find than it used to be, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re looking for something fun to do in Seoul.
There are at least 5 food markets in Seoul worth visiting, but Myeongdong is our top pick. It’s a vibrant area to walk around with interesting buildings and colorful lights. The streets are wide and easy to find and get around. You’ll find the best collection of unique Korean street foods, and it’s foreigner friendly!
How to get to Myeongdung Market:
- Myeongdong Market: Take the blue #4 subway line to Myeongdong station and exit at gate 6
- Hours: Some vendors are up all day, but things don’t start ramping up until at least 5:00 pm.
- Features: Unique, cheap street foods surrounded by fun stores open late.
11. Get a Dr. Fish Pedicure
Pedicures involving live fish are a traditional beauty practice that have become very popular across Asia.
You’ll love the unique feeling of a fish pedicure in Seoul, where you pay 5,000W for 10 minutes of resting your feet in a shallow pool of fish.
You first soak your feet in a bucket of water. This cleanses your feet so the fish don’t get sick (I don’t understand how, so just trust me.) You then dry your feet and move to a shallow pool filled with hungry tiny fish.
The fish range from 1″ babies to 3″ adults, and will immediately congregate around your feet. They nibble the dead skin away, leaving your feet feeling a bit softer than before.
These establishments can be hard to find, so take advantage of having one so close!
How to get to Dr. Fish:
- Address: 21-7 Myeongdong 8-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Price: 5,000W for 10 minutes in the fish pool
Related: Looking for a day trip from Seoul? Here are tips for booking a DMZ tour!
12. Swim in Pools of LEGOs
The War Memorial Museum in Seoul includes a children’s LEGO play zone called Bricks 4 Kidz you don’t want to miss!
The LEGO zone includes pools of individual LEGO colors as well as a larger pool including every color LEGO. You can play in the LEGO pool, build structures, and hang out with other LEGO fans!
This LEGO exhibit is temporary, however, so get there soon!
How to get to Bricks 4 Kidz Seoul:
- Back of the War Memorial Museum: 29 Itaewon-ro, Namyeong-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Price: 10,000W for children, 5,000W for adults.
- Features: LEGO brick pools and building zone
13. Visit the National Museum of Korea
The National Museum of Korea is FREE to enter, and absolutely stunning! It’s a huge museum with lots of exhibits which take you through the interesting history of the country. You’ll find archaeological treasures, new instruments, and unique clothing that will help you understand Korea.
Since it’s free you can come and go as you please! Spend time wandering the beautiful grounds, inside the exhibits, at the adjoining free children’s museum, or eating at the cafeteria or other restaurants.
You could easily spend an entire day here!
How to get to the National Museum of Korea:
- Address: 137 Seobinggo-ro, Seobinggo-dong, Yongsan-gu,
- Price: FREE
- Hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
14. Visit the Kyobo Book Store
Unless you’re an avid reader you may not think visiting a book store should be high on your list. Well, it should be.
Kyobo is the biggest book store in Korea, with many sections housing whatever book or reading accessories you could want! Understandably, they also have a huge section of English language books. If you’re jonesing for a new book for you or your kids this is definitely the place to go.
Even if you’re not looking to get your own book you’ll find this huge store (and the customers in it) fascinating!
How to get to the Kyobo Book Store:
- Address: Line 5 Gwanghwamun Station, 1, Jongno 1-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Price: Free to enter, then varies on what you decide to buy
- Hours: 9:30 am – 10:00 pm
15. See the View From Seoul Sky
Seoul Sky is the lookout from Lotte World Tower. The Lotte World Tower, completed in 2017, is the fifth tallest building in the world. The Seoul Sky observation deck is the third tallest viewing platform in the world!
Since the tower and Seoul Sky are relatively new they are still pretty popular. You’ll be vying for space at one of the famous glass-bottomed looking sections with other visitors, but it is a cool experience to feel like you’re floating above Seoul and the Han River!
How to get to the Lotte World Tower Seoul Sky:
- Tickets: Skip the line with Lotte World Tickets bought here
- Address: Entrance on the ground floor of the Lotte World Tower, 300 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 6(yuk)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
- Price: 27,000W/ adults, 24,000W/ children
- Hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
16. Visit the War Memorial of Korea
This is another FREE museum in Korea, and a great place to learn about Kroea’s fascinating military history!
The War Memorial of Korea was built in 1994 over the former site of the Korean Army headquarters. Exhibits now memorialize the military history of Korea. Korea has been invaded and fought over plenty of times, and the War Memorial of Korea is a great place to learn about it’s sordid past and appreciate the country’s resilience.
There’s also a great children’s museum at the back, so adults and kids will enjoy the War Memorial Museum!
How to get to the War Memorial Museum:
- Address: 29 Itaewon-ro, Namyeong-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- Price: FREE
- Hours: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm
17. See Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace is the crowning jewel of Seoul!
Located in clear view at the end of the busy road in Gwanghwamun, Gyeongbokgung Palace was once the royal home during the Joseon Dynasty. The palace was destroyed by fire and left unused for centuries, but was restored in the 19th century. Gyeongbokgung was again destroyed in the 20th century, and parts are sill under renovation today.
Visitors to the palace can see the changing of the guard (in full traditional Korean dress), replicas of some palace facilities, and even the National Folk Museum and National Palace Museum of Korea inside the complex.
How to get to Gyeongbukgung Palace:
- Tickets: Take a 3-hour tour of the palace and other sites here
- Address: 161 Sajik-ro, Sejongno, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Hours: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm, Closed on Tuesdays
- Price: 3,000W/adults 1,500W children (6 and under are free)
18. Shop Antique Street in Itaewon
The Itaewon neighborhood is known for two things: Foreigners and Antiques.
Itaewon is the largest community of ex-pats living in Seoul, which means it is a dense, walkable neighborhood full of the most international restaurants and shops in Seoul. Ironically, it’s also home to rows of shops pedaling the most historic, traditionally Korea items.
Once in Itaewon you’ll find yourself in one of their antique store pockets simply by wandering around. You’ll find at least four clusters of multiple antique shops around Itaewon-ro and the winding streets behind it!
How to get to Itaewon Antique Street:
- Itaewon: Take bus or Subway to Itaewon and wander the main roads, Itaewon-ro and Itaewon-ro 14-gil, to find clusters of shops. Look for “Antique Stree” plaques on the sidewalks.
- Hours: Vary by store
19. Have a Samsung D’Light Experience
Samsung, the technology company, is headquartered in Seoul.
To give back to the local community it has started the Samsung D’Light building. At Samsung D’Light visitors are able to use virtual reality goggles on a moving chair to experience new rides, they can use sample tablets to experience a smart home, and a host of other cool technological inventions Samsung has yet to release.
Come by Samsung D’Light to experience the future of tech first-hand!
How to get to Samsung D’Light:
- Address: South Korea, Seoul, Seocho-gu, Seocho 2(i)-dong, 11 Seocho-daero 74-gil
- Hours: 10:00 am – 7:00 pm
- Price: FREE!
20. Visit a Cat Cafe (or other animal cafe)
Cat Cafes are a popular place to visit in Seoul, especially if you have children! For a small fee you enter a large room with free-roaming cats inside. You can purchase a drink or cat snacks, and just enjoy your time at a table interacting with cats who wander around!
They keep cat toys, blankets, and brushes around to enhance your time together, but also have a long list of rules you must follow to keep both you and the cats safe.
It’s a really nice, calming, unique thing to do, but don’t expect the cats to be uber playful. They seem really happy (we asked a lot of questions to ensure they are being very well taken care of), but are so used to people and being fed treats that they probably won’t jump for your attention.
If you’re not into cats don’t worry- there are also small and large dog cafes, parrots, meerkat, bunny, and sheep cafes around town!
Hello Kitty Cat Cafe:
- Address: Best bet is to Google or Naver (Korean search engine) “Cat Cafe” to find one near you. They are fairly common!
- Hours: Around 10:00 am – 10:00, varies by cafe
- Price: around 9,000W/ adults, 8,000W/ children. Drinks and cat snacks extra.
21. Take in a Baseball Game
Baseball is relatively new to South Korea, but has been well-embraced!
Koreans put their own spin on the sport, as well, which makes it a fun experience whether you’re a sports fan or not. Korean baseball games include blaring K-Pop music, waving fans and lights, cheerleaders, dancing, and good, cheap food.
The Seoul baseball stadium caters to three different home teams, so there is always someone playing! Pick a team to root for and just enjoy.
How to get to Jamsil Stadium:
- Address: 25 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 7(chil)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
- Ticket Prices: 4,000W – 70,000W. You can try to buy in advance online, but it’s easier to show up around an hour early to buy tickets for the night. They rarely sell out early!
22. Shop at Kakao Friends
Kakao Talk is the main texting app used in Korea. It includes a variety of animal emojis which Koreans love.
The Kakao Friends shop is a chain store with stuffed animals, keychains, phone accessories, and more featuring these adorable creatures. Koreans love these little guys so much the stores are always packed! Have a real Korean experience by walking around to see what makes the Koreans so happy!
Kakao Friends Flagship Store:
- Address: 162 Yanghwa-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
- Hours: 10:30 am- 10:00 pm
23. Olympic Park
The Olympic Park in Seoul, also known as Olpark, was built in 1988 when Seoul hosted the summer Olympics. The Peace Gate remains at Olpark’s entrance to welcome visitors, and you can now wander freely to see old Olympic facilities. The grounds are breathtaking, and also include three museums. You can visit the Seoul Olympic Museum of Art, the Seoul Baekje Museum, and the Mongchon Museum.
It’s great for sports enthusiasts or interested travelers to see how Seoul has re-used this prestigious sports complex!
How to get to Seoul Olympic Park:
- Olpark Address: 424, Olympic-ro, Songpa-gu, Seoul 05540, South Korea
- Hours: Dawn to dusk
- Price: Free to enter, small fee to ride a bisecting train or rent bikes
24. Rent Hanbok, Traditional Korean Dress
Hanbok is traditonal Korean dress originating in the Joseon Dynasty. Characterized by clean lines and bright colors, men, women, and children traditonally wear Hanbok at formal events and ceremonies. Hanbok is still used today under certain formal circumstances, and many Koreans have custom Hanbok outfits made to remember their heritage for those important times!
Take the opportunity to settle into Korean culture by renting your own set of Hanbok! Plenty of places are around touristy areas like Bukchon and Insadong where you can rent Hanbok for a few hours, or rent a photo session which includes Hanbok.
How to rent Hanbok:
- Bukchon or Insadong sidewalks
- Price: 7,000W – 10,000W depending on size and if you include an in-studio portrait session
25. See the NANTA Comedy Show
I was a little hesitant to go to a comedy show in a foreign country, but don’t worry- almost NONE of it is spoken! Guests of all ages will understand and love this hilarious physical comedy.
The NANTA show is a combination of Blue Man Group and Stomp. It’s a comedy about the kitchen staff of a hotel. In the course of the show’s 90 minutes they dance, play music with kitchen supplies, and get into wild hijinks. Our son (and us, honestly) were holding our sides in laughter almost the entire time!
NANTA is the oldest running show, and one of the most popular things to do in Seoul! Buy Nanta tickets here.
How to see NANTA:
- Address: 26, Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu | UNESCO Hall 3F, Seoul 04536, South Korea
- Times: 8:00 pm Mon-Fri, 2:00 pm & 5:00 pm Saturday & Sunday
- Ticket Price: Varies around 32,000W
26. Hike Bukhansan Mountain
Koreans love to hike! You’ll see people walking around the city with hiking gear and full clothing all over the city.
Bukhan is the closest mountain to Seoul and it’s just a few subway stops away. Spend a few hours outside to enjoy the view of Seoul and some time with other Koreans who enjoy nature!
How to hike Bukhansan Mountain:
- Address: Take subway line 3 to Gupabal Station and then use bus #704 to Bukhansanseong Fortress and then follow the other hikers to the mountain
- Time: Plan to spend at least a few hours here, depending on the type of hike you do.
- Bring: water, good shoes, snacks, and hiking poles
27. Shop at Daiso
Daiso is the Korean $1 store. It’s usually a lot bigger, though!
Poop-shaped hand fan, anyone? How about Hello Kitty slippers? Porroro training chopsticks, maybe?
Daiso is absolutely amazing. It’s filled with cheap items you’d find at an American $1 Store, but also full of really useful home items you may need if spending a while in an AirBnB, adorable emoji-style kids stuff, and Korean snacks. It’s a great place to stock up on the everyday items you don’t want to spend a ton of cash on, but also great to get a Korean experience of seeing the cute stuff Asians like!
It’s not only the best place for tourists to find all of the small items that make your stay more comfortable, you can also look for unique and inexpensive Korean goodies to try or take home as souvenirs.
How to Shop at Daiso:
- Address: Look for a shop sign of a white square with nine red circles. This is the Daiso symbol! Stores are found all over Seoul.
- Buy: training chopsticks, milk straws filled with chocolate balls, unique beauty products, Korean stickers or stationary items
- Hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
28. Namsan Tower (Seoul Tower)
This viewing platform goes by both Namsan Tower (the name of the mountain it stands on) and Seoul Tower (it’s official name).
Namson tower is much more than an observation deck, though! In fact, you can enjoy the experience without even buying a ticket up! Walk to the tower base to see incredible views of Seoul without even going up the observation deck.
The grounds are also pretty interesting! Walk around outside decks which feature rows of colorful love locks, snack stands featuring views of Seoul, or the underground floors which feature tons of places for kids to play.
You can easily spend a couple of hours on the grounds of Namsan Tower!
How to Get to Namsan Tower:
- Tickets: Get tickets to Namsan Tower here
- Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
- What to do: Eat Korean snacks at the outdoor observation deck, add a love lock, view Seoul
We love Seoul, Korea for so many reasons. The people are wonderful, the food is amazing, and there are tons of unique things to do! With one of the easiest public transportation systems in the world and amazing food everywhere you go there is pretty much no reason not to do everything on this list!
Planning to travel to Seoul? Pin this article on what to do in Seoul for later!