Named one of the must-see destinations for 2010, the capital city of South Korea buzzes with possibility and fascinating culture. This global metropolis might not be the first that springs to mind for luxury travel, but affordable taxis, excellent restaurants and some truly top-class hotels make Seoul both splendidly sumptuous and accessible at the same time.
For the best in luxury travel, there’s only one hotel to pick in Seoul – the W ‘Wow’ Hotel on Walkerhill. This opulent and modern luxury hotel boasts the longest bar in Korea (stocked with every spirit imaginable) and a chic spa with outdoor hot tubs overlooking the city.
What Not to Miss in Seoul
1. Tea in Insa-Dong
Insa-Dong is one of Seoul’s most bustling areas – narrow streets are packed with visitors and antique shops. Wander along and window shop (or pick up a souvenir to take home), then rest your feet in a traditional tea shop. There are dozens of tea shops to choose from – and once inside, even more varieties of tea to peruse!
2. A Dip in a Jimjilbang
Jimjilbangs are Korean saunas – a very popular place for groups of friends on the weekends, especially after hiking, which is another favorite pastime. There’s only one thing to remember: men and women bathe separately, and you’re expected to use only your birthday suit…
The W Hotel has one of the best in the country (its also available to non-guests) and has a stunning array of Jacuzzis, from lavender scented baths to massaging whirlpools. The most impressive, however, are the outdoor hot tubs – enjoy the contrast between the cool air and boling water, with the bonus of excellent city views.
3. The Cheonggyeon River
This area in Jongno-Sam-Ga was once a dilapidated part of the city center – thanks to recent regeneration, its now a focal point for modern urban life. Walk along the river banks day or night, and enjoy the chatter of the locals and soothing light shows as you escape from the hectic streets above.
4. A Taste of Barbecue
Korea’s most famous restaurants are a very curious style – customers are given raw meat to cook on a little barbecue at their table. Its an unmissable and delicious experience for visitors in Seoul! Choose from pork, beef or spicy eel – pictures on the front of the establishments will help you work out what is sold inside each one – and indulge in an excellent and very sociable culinary tradition.
5. The Grand Palaces
At the height of the Joseon Dynasty’s power, five magnificent palaces were built in Seoul. Today, they are nestled amongst the modern streets and skyscrapers in Jongno-gu and Jong-gu but remain as impressively grand as in their heyday. The highlight is Changdeokgung, which was named a world heritage site in 1997 as an outstanding example of Eastern architecture and landscaping.