Namsan Park and N Seoul Tower#1 in Best Things To Do in Seoul
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.
But most people visit Namsan Park for its panoramic views of Seoul. To scope it out for free, visit Palgakjeong, an octagon-shaped viewing pavilion that boasts alluring vistas of the city. For an even more breathtaking sight, shell out a few won to get to the observation platform atop N Seoul Tower, Namsan Park's real showstopper. Recent visitors said that on clear days, the view from 1,574 feet up is spectacular. Out on the sky deck, you can't miss the thousands of padlocks attached to the fence; couples lock them there as symbols of everlasting love (bring your own lock if you're feeling romantic). For an extra-special experience, reserve a table for dinner in the rotating French restaurant, n.GRILL, on the tower's top floor.
Observation deck tickets cost 10,000 won for adults (about $9) and 8,000 won for children 12 years old and younger as well as seniors (just over $7). The observatory welcomes visitors 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. from Monday through Friday and on Sundays. On Saturdays, you can marvel at Seoul's skyline until midnight. To learn more about N Seoul Tower or make a reservation at any of its restaurants, visit its official website.
There are a few ways to get to the top of Mount Namsan. The hale and hearty may opt to walk up a long stairway – a 20- to 30-minute trek beginning from Hoehyeon Subway Station on Line 4. Others may choose to take the cable car that leaves from Myeong-dong Subway Station on Line 4, Exit 3; round-trip cable car tickets cost 8,500 won (about $7.60) for adults and 5,500 won (about $4.90) for kids (one-way tickets cost slightly less). For more information about Namsan Park, visit the Korea Tourism Organization's official website.
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#2 Bukchon Hanok Village
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.
Travelers found the neighborhood to be picture-perfect and a lovely stroll. Make sure to bring sturdy walking shoes though, as the site is pretty hilly and takes a couple hours to cover in its entirety. Some reviewers say that because of Bukchon Village's popularity, it's best to visit early in the morning or late at night to avoid crowds. Regardless of what time you visit, keep in mind that this is still a residential area, so you'll need to heed the signs posted around the village about noise. To get the most of Bukchon Village, stop by the Bukchon Traditional Culture Center for information on walking tour routes and attractions to see within the village.
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