Seoul, South Korea
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By far, the largest city in South Korea with more than 10 million inhabitants, Seoul is one of Asia’s premier centers for commerce and culture. The city serves as the capital of South Korea. Seoul successfully combines the modern and ancient in South Korea and presents good food, great nightlife, beautiful palaces and prolific shopping among its opportunities for visitors to enjoy. The history of the city extends as far back as 18 BC with its roots as a significant city traceable back to the 14thcentury. Much of ancient Seoul was destroyed during and after World War II and the city has since been widely rebuilt. Seoul has a well-earned reputation for its infrastructure that is exceptionally clean and modern.
The city straddles the Han-gang River and is divided into 25 districts with over 500 sub-districts. Jongno district is the historical core of Seoul. Here visitors will find most of the palaces and government offices along with historic cultural landmarks. The modern, international business area, Gangnam district, is located north of the river while Jongno is on the south side. The bars, restaurants and entertainment venues of Gangnam draw the largest concentration of foreigners. The skyscrapers of Seoul may be found in Yeongdeungpo-gu, an island located in the middle of the river. The performing arts find their home in Seoul’s Hyehwa district (known to the locals as Daehangno) with small theatres and clubs domiciled on nearly every street. Dongdaemun district is home to those shopping for fine fashions and also the location of South Korea’s first modern sports stadium. The culturally diverse Itaewon district harbors a broad spectrum of ethnic restaurants, eclectic shopping areas, Western styled pubs and antiques dealers. Lotte World, Olympic Park and the Seoul Sports Complex are located in the Songpa district which is also home to upscale residential communities.
Among the most visited attractions in Seoul are 5 major palaces, the most famous of which is the Gyeongbok Palace, the Seoul History Museum, the Joseon Palace Museum, the Korean Folk Museum, the National Museum of Korea, the Jongmyo Shrine (devoted to the family members of Korean dynasties), Jogye Temple (the preeminent Buddhist Temple of Korean Buddhism) and the National War Memorial dedicated to the Korean military history. Nearby mountains offer opportunities for hiking and the city possesses beautiful parks with pagodas, lakes and gardens and a Memorial Cemetery that is popular with residents and visitors alike.
Most tourists arrive in Seoul by way of Incheon International Airport located in the neighboring city of Incheon. Incheon International connects to Seoul and points beyond through the A’REX train system. Limousine buses also provide reliable, relatively affordable transportation into the city. Within the city limits can be found the Gimpo Airport with limited service to and from a few cities in other parts of Asia as well as domestic flights covering the rest of South Korea. Most places of interest within the city may be accessed by utilizing the extensive Seoul subway system.
Include a trip to Seoul, South Korea on your list if you have dreamed about visiting a modern, important city with a history steeped in ancient Asian culture.
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