Free Things To Do in Seoul
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Home to five warning beacons and a protective city wall during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Mount Namsan now hosts a park and a smattering of tourism sites like an aquarium, a library and a bevy of beautiful walking trails.
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Bukchon Village occupies the hilly neighborhood between Gyeongbok Palace and Changdeok Palace in north-central Seoul. The neighborhood has the largest collection of privately owned hanoks, or traditional Korean homes with tiled roofs and stone floors, in Seoul. Not only that, but these 900 hanoks date all the way back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). While a stroll through Bukchon Village may feel like a trip through the ages, the neighborhood is not frozen in time. Some of the hanoks are still private homes, but others have been converted into tea houses, coffee shops, cafes, art galleries, inns and museums. It is not uncommon to see a Korean couple on a date in a hanok-style restaurant or for tourists to stay in a hanok guesthouse (like the Anguk or the RakKoJae). Even if you're not bedding down in Bukchon, recent travelers strongly recommend a visit regardless.
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Located in northern Seoul – but still quite accessible via public transportation – Bukhansan National Park is a mountainous oasis in a bustling metropolis. The park, which covers more than 30 square miles, is home to towering granite peaks, forest-laden valleys and miles of hiking trails in between, as well as about 100 historic Buddhist temples and monks' cells. The historical must-see, though, is Bukhansanseong Fortress, a Joseon stronghold. You also won't want to skip the 5-mile mountain wall that runs along the park's rocky terrain. The fortress was built in 1711 and served as a place of refuge for kings in times of emergency (rebuilt on the foundations of the original, which dates back to A.D. 132). Bukhansan's proximity to Seoul, its natural setting and its historical significance combine to make it the park with the most visitors per square foot, according to the Guinness World Records. That means it can get extremely crowded, especially on weekends.
- #5View all PhotosfreeHongdae#5 in SeoulEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/AreaTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND...Read More »
The neighborhood surrounding Hongik University in west-central Seoul is a hub for Korean youth culture. Hongdae beckons to college students and other young adults with its propensity for self-expression and all-around alternative atmosphere, not to mention its plethora of bars, clubs, shops, restaurants and cafes. And because Hongik University is especially renowned for its arts programs, Hongdae is a noticeably creative area. You don't have to stroll far to find art galleries, walls adorned with street art and students singing or selling their craft on the sidewalks. Join the throngs of college students and tourists to hunt for unique souvenirs at Hongdae's two weekend markets, both held in the playground near the university's entrance. The "Free" Market takes place on Saturdays and the "Hope" Market on Sundays, both from about 1 to 7 p.m.
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In this quaint central-Seoul neighborhood, you can find everything from hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) to herbal teas to calligraphy supplies. About 40 percent of Korean crafts are exchanged in Insadong, though ceramics are the prized goods here. Insadong's alleys, which are lined with street vendors, wooden tea houses, galleries and restaurants, stretch from the Anguk-dong Rotary to Tapgol Park. By shopping here, you'll be contributing to centuries of Korean history – Insadong was central to painters during the Joseon Dynasty and continues to be a hub for artistry today.
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Dongdaemun isn't just a market – it's a shopping mecca. Encompassing 10 city blocks, Dongdaemun features 26 malls, 30,000 specialty shops and scores of wholesale stores, making it place to go if you need, well, anything. Make sure to get a map of the district. With all the options available, there's no way you're going to be able to navigate this overwhelming, multi-street shopping complex without some guidance. Though if you want to try, you'll have plenty of time: Dongdaemun Market is open 24 hours per day and many shops stay open till as early as 5 a.m.
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