Visiting Seoul is like having your first bite of kimchi, the ubiquitous Korean side dish of pickled vegetables. Just as its flavours burst in the mouth, South Korea’s capital jolts visitors out of their reverie, with surprises every few blocks. Clinging to its rich past while looking towards the future, Seoul is a city of contrasts that blend together perfectly. Sample great street food and explore ancient temples with your family, or party and shop the night away in hip neighbourhoods.
Top Family Experiences
Take the elevator up the 236-metre N Seoul Tower, easily among the city’s most identifiable symbols, for some magnificent views. In March, during the peak of the cherry blossom season, the city wears a veil of pink. Come October, the leaves begin to change colour going from a bright yellow to deep rust orange, eventually falling off with the onset of winter.
Whatever the season, the views from up above are just spectacular.
Located in the heart of the city, Lotte World is a massive recreational complex comprising an outdoor amusement park and the world’s largest indoor theme park. The top attractions are the Gyro Drop and the Gyro Swing that promise to get everyone’s adrenalin pumping. Try your hand at skating at the year-round ice rink inside the theme park or explore the Korean folk museum that showcases the country’s history going back 5,000 years, through exhibits and a recreated miniature village. In between, look out for parades, movie screenings, and laser shows.
Away from the spotlight, Korean cuisine is a well-kept secret waiting to be discovered. Rice is the mainstay of Korean food and is usually served with meat, seafood, vegetables and a variety of side dishes. A visit to Seoul is incomplete without trying the local favourite, Korean barbeque. Have your choice of meat, vegetables and sauces grilled right in front of you, on grills embedded into the table that you are seated around. If you are on the move and don’t have time for a sit down meal, food stalls around the city offer some fabulous food at great prices.
Seafood is an integral part of South Korea’s rich culinary scene and there’s no better place to experience this than the Noryangjin fishery market. Located close to Seoul Station, it is Korea’s largest and oldest seafood markets and is bustling through the day. To see it at its liveliest best, get there in the wee hours of the morning when fish auctions are held. At other times of day take your pick of fresh seafood and head to a nearby restaurant and have it cooked right there.
Enjoy one of Seoul’s longest running shows Nanta, with the entire family and no, you don’t have to speak a word of Korean to partake in all the fun. Three cooks and an apprentice leave the audience in splits with their theatrics, complete with circus acts, tricks, martial arts, and drumming using kitchen utensils. If you fancy being part of the performance, then sit right in front for a chance of being called up on stage.
For a peek into South Korea’s troubled relations with the isolated North, take an organised tour to the four-kilometre wide buffer zone known as the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). Established on July 27, 1953 when the Armistice Agreement was signed during the end of the Korean War, the DMZ is completely out of the ordinary. Walk down a tunnel dug by North Korea to spy on the South. Known as the Third Tunnel, the passage is 1.64 kilometres long, two metres high, and two metres wide.
Looking good and dressing well is second nature to the locals in Korea, and almost every major brand in the world retails in Seoul. The city also has one of Asia’s largest electronic markets, Yongsan. For a fabulous collection of Korean souvenirs head to the markets in the city’s hip neighbourhoods of Insadong and Itaewon. The world’s best beauty products are available in Seoul at reasonable prices. To purchase these, make your way to Myeongdong.
Getting to South Korea from India has never been easier! Korean Air has direct flights from New Delhi to Seoul five times a week, and from Mumbai to Seoul three times a week. Passengers travelling via Economy Class can now enjoy wider 18-inch seats, with a sliding cushion and a 118-degree reclining back support. A 10.6 inch high resolution LCD screen coupled with state-of-the-art audio and video selection offers passengers a new entertainment experience. Winner of the respected Mercury Award two times, Korean Air offers a collection of carefully curated Western, Chinese, Japanese, and traditional Korean menus paired with selected wines. The airline’s exceptional crew will go the extra mile to make you feel special.