Seoul is the capital and largest city of South Korea. It is the largest metropolis in the developed world with the fourth largest economy. It covers an area of 605.21 sq km and had an approximate population of 10,442,426 in 2012. It has one of the most advanced technological infrastructures of the world.
The city of Seoul is located on the Han River which forms an estuary as it flows into the Yellow Sea. The area had military advantages and the city could control both sea routes and inland water routes. The city itself lies in a low basin surrounded by small hills, rising to an average height of 1000 feet. This defensive nature was reinforced by the construction of an 11 mile long wall along the hills. A green belt has now been instituted along the perimeter of the city that limits the spread of the city.
Seoul enjoys a humid continental transitional climate. Summers are hot and humid and the East Asian monsoons exercise considerable influence during June and July. Winters are cold and snowfall is common.
How to reach (transport)
You can arrive in Seoul in the following ways:
- The most widely used route to travel to Seoul is the Incheon International airport that is located in the neighboring city of Incheon. Flights are available to several destinations of Europe, Asia, America and Australia.
- The other option is the older Gimpo Airport. It provides domestic flights and shuttle services from several Japanese and Chinese cities like Tokyo, Osaka, Taipei, Beijing, Shanghai etc.
- You can travel to Seoul from any part of South Korea by high speed trains. The city is served by three train stations.
- There are five major intercity bus termini in Seoul and the bus connections to all corners within the country are very well developed. Tolled expressways and national highways connect the city with every part of South Korea.
- If you are coming from China, you can take the ferry to the city of Incheon and then travel to Seoul.
There are plenty of attractions in Seoul in all seasons, but the best time to go is in October and November or in May as the weather remains most pleasant during this time.
Culture (fairs and festivals) and traditions
A number of festivals are celebrated in Seoul. Some of them are as follows:
- The Yeouido Spring Flower Festival is held in April. The cherry trees are in full bloom and flower decorations are put up and street performances are held.
- The Lotus Lantern festival celebrates the birth of Buddha and streets are decorated with thousands of homemade lanterns. Lantern parades are held and street performances are displayed.
- The Seoul Friendship fair is held in May. A number of free events like music and dance are performed.
- Korean motion is a unique festival celebrated for a month in October and November where non verbal performances like street theatre, puppet shows, magic shows and dance are held.
- The Seoul Fireworks festival is held in October, when fireworks displays and laser shows take place.
- The Seoul design festival is held in December when designs from all over the country and abroad are displayed.
- Jongmyo Daeje is a Royal Shrine Rites held on first Sunday of May. The Joseon Royal family take part in a Royal procession and in a seven-hour-long Confucian rite.
- The Seoul international drum festival is held for three days in October or November. Various drumming sessions and competitions are held and participants are invited from all over the world.
Some of the most important places to visit in Seoul are:
- Gyeongbok-gung palace was the seat of power of the Joseon dynasty. Its parks and museum are well worth a visit.
- The Changdeok-gung is another palace that has been declared a World heritage site by UNESCO. The complex includes several buildings of historical importance.
- There are several beautiful parks in Seoul like the Boramae Park, Olympic Park,Tapgol Park, and Yongsan Park etc.
- The Jongmyo Shrine is the most famous shrine of the Royalty.
- The Jogye and Bongeun are important Buddhist temples.
- The National Museum of Korea houses a vast collection of relics and artifacts from across the country from different time periods.
A vast variety of accommodation are available in Seoul and you can plan your stay accordingly depending on your budget and comfort zone. The five star hotels include Westin, Grand Hyatt, JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton while four star hotels include Koreana, Lotte, and Fraser suites. There are a number of three star hotels like Ibis Ambassador, Hamilton, Ellui, Pop Green, and Best Western. Budget accommodation is also easily available in the city and is a great option for those travelling on a tight budget.
Last Updated : December 02, 2013