Information & Facts
Seoul is classed as having a temperate climate with four
distinct seasons, but temperature differences between the hottest
part of summer and the depths of winter are extreme. In summer the
influence of the North Pacific high-pressure system brings hot,
humid weather with temperatures soaring as high as 95°F (35°C) on
occasion. In winter the city is topographically influenced by
expanding Siberian high-pressure zones and prevailing west winds,
temperatures dropping as low as 7°F (-13.7°C). The bitterly cold
days tend to come in three-day cycles regulated by rising and
falling pressure systems, however, bringing some relief. The most
pleasant seasons in the city are spring and autumn, when azure blue
skies and comfortable temperatures are a sure bet. The city
experiences heavy rainfall, but most of it falls in the summer
monsoon period between June and September.
The selection of Seoul restaurants is vast and varied with
everything from local specialities, such as
Saeng Galbi, to huge American cheeseburgers and exotic
Moroccan kebabs on offer. Options for eating out in Seoul range
from cheap noodle stalls to fine-dining establishments. The Itaewon
entertainment strip has the best collection of Seoul restaurants,
serving both local and international cuisine. Otherwise, good areas
for traditional Korean food are Gangdong-gu and Yeongdeungpo-gu,
while restaurants with international menus can be found in
Gangnam-gu, Seodaemun-gu and Namdaemun. Tipping is not customary in
Korea but some Seoul restaurants may add a service charge of 10%.
Restaurant hours vary throughout the city and reservations are
The easiest and quickest way to traverse the crowded city is on
the subway, which has eight lines and serves all the main areas of
interest. Station signs are written in English as well as Korean,
and most lines have English announcements too. Subways are
extremely crowded during the morning and evening rush hours, but
are generally safe, though plagued with hawkers and beggars.
Tickets are bought from vending machines or at ticket windows.
Debit tickets for a certain amount can be purchased which have the
amount of each fare deducted when swiped at turnstiles. Buses are
frequent and cover the whole city, but tend to be very crowded.
Tickets can be bought on boarding, or debit tickets can be
purchased. Taxis are readily available. Regular taxis (white or
silver) charge 1,600 won as an initial fee and have a complex
system of metering thereafter. Black luxury taxis, called Mobeom
taxis, are superior both in condition and service, fares being
charged as 4,000 won at commencement.
Many people may not think there is much to do in Seoul for
children on holiday, but look a little closer and you'll discover
that there is actually a surprising amount of fun activities and
attractions for kids to enjoy.
Head to the Samsung Children's Museum which will educate and
captivate young minds, or the IMAX Cinema or the Aquarium which are
both located close to the Grand Hilton Hotel. Lotte World Adventure
Amusement Park will keep the kids entertained indoors and out,
making it an ideal attraction during the summer and winter months.
Renowned as the world's largest indoor theme park, kids will love
the carnival shows, rides, roller coasters, folk museum and ice
Head to Seonyudo Islet, an island park on the Han River for a
day of fresh air, picnics and playing games in the sun, and it even
features a small playground for kids to enjoy.
Children'sPark in Neung-dong is worth a visit for families
with children as it features a multitude of attractions including a
zoo, an aviary, a circus, elephant rides, a giant greenhouse and
even a small amusement park with rides which will delight younger
children, but older kids will find these a bit tame.
The official language is Korean.
South Korea's monetary unit is the won (KRW). Currency can be
exchanged at most banks and at casinos, and travellers cheques
cashed at authorised banks and hotels. Most merchants in the cities
accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express credit cards, but
Koreans traditionally prefer cash. ATMs at banks are usually
accessible only during banking hours, and instructions on the
machines are generally only in Korean. Public ATMs at convenience
stores and subway stations are generally available 24 hours. US
Dollars are an accepted form of foreign currency and can be used as
US Dollars in the areas around the American Military bases in South
The cosmopolitan city of Seoul is known as having quite a good
nightlife packed with just about every activity, all kinds of
entertainment and plenty of karaoke in between. Popular places to
enjoy a night out are the Old Tea Shop - Tea house, Time Out,
Murphy's Bar and Salon de Flora.
The nightmarkets in Dongdaemun see plenty of action, while
Myeongdong is a great spot for anything and many people start off
their evenings here with a dinner or a few beers at one of the many
cafés and bars.
Theplace to be seen is at any one of the exclusive wine
bars, clubs and expensive bars in Apgujeong-dong or Sinsadong,
which attracts a trendy crowd.
The more relaxed, younger crowd tends to hang out in Gangnam
where plenty of Western-style clubs and bars can be found.
Dongdaemun is great for a few quiet ales and a spot of theatre, or
to stroll through a gallery. Hongdae is the best area for live
music and great dance floors to show your moves on. Whatever your
tastes, you can be sure to find something in Seoul.
Shopping in Seoul is an interesting and sometimes chaotic
experience; a vast selection of products, busy shopping areas and
communication barriers all offer beguiling challenges. There are,
however, many bargains and treasures that make it worthwhile. Most
shops stay open till 10pm and some markets are open 24 hours,
giving shoppers ample time to spend their money!
Myong Dong, the most popular shopping district, is home to
sports and fashion shops offering cheap and trendy clothes for
young people. In Tongdaemun, Doota sells cheap beads, accessories
and shoes, as well as every imaginable type of fabric for homes.
Second-hand goods such as televisions, CDs, clothing and shoes are
available from the Hwanghak-dong Flea Market. Chang-anp'yong
Antique Market treasures include paintings, calligraphy and old
chests, as well as stone and ceramic artefacts.
The Itaewon area has shops selling discounted designer clothes
from brands such as DKNY, Nike and Adidas; stalls on the street
sell hats and fake designer handbags. Apkujong has upscale
department stores and boutiques, as well as the Kangnam underground
shopping mall. Prada, Gucci, Armani, Stella McCartney and the
Galleria are also found here. Counterfeit goods are illegal and may
be confiscated at home. Tax-free shopping is advertised where
Seoul attractions include historic temples and palaces, as well
as some natural and cultural highlights. The preferred seasons for
sightseeing in Seoul are spring and autumn, with comfortable
temperatures and blue skies, but in winter the city is covered in
snow and can be quite beautiful.
The Gyeongbokgung Palace, built in 1395, and is home to the
National Folk Museum of Korea, a great Seoul attraction. The
Namsangol Hanok Village is also a good stop, featuring traditional
Korean homes from the Joseon Dynasty. The Bongeunsa, a Buddhist
temple founded in 794 AD, offers a 'Temple Stay Program' for
Just out of town, visitors can ride the Namsan Park cable car to
the summit of the mountain to see the maritime aquarium and
botanical gardens. Lotte World is the largest indoor theme park in
the world, one of the most exciting Seoul attractions, while the
1988 Olympic Park and Stadium is another. There are lovely antique
shops and art galleries to be browsed in the Insa-dong
Local time is GMT +9.