South Korea on a funds: the 26 greatest free issues to do in Seoul

A 24/7 metropolis with one thing to do each hour of the day, Seoul will be surprisingly costly. Visiting well-known statement decks, having fun with premium cuts on the Korean barbecue and partying till daybreak can positively do some harm to your bank card.

However veer away from the standard to-do record and also you’ll discover that one of the best issues to do within the capital of South Korea may truly be free. Fill your hours with scenic walks, go to the town’s most poetic websites and expertise views cash can’t purchase – listed here are our favourite free issues to do in Seoul.

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Take in the ambiance at Yun Dong-ju Literature Museum

Inbuilt honor of beloved Korean poet Yun Dong-ju, this three-room museum was transformed from a former pressurization facility in 2012. Guests can flick through previous pictures and first editions of his poems, however the design of the house and the moods it imbues are the museum’s actual highlights. Take a stroll behind the museum on Poet’s Hill and admire the N Seoul Tower from a distance, a view that might encourage Shakespearean musings from a hack.

Pay homage on the Jeoldusan Martyrs’ Shrine

Constructed on the positioning of the worst occasions from the Byeongin Persecution of 1866, the hauntingly stunning Jeoldusan Martyrs’ Shrine commemorates the various Roman Catholics who have been murdered right here. The shrine homes a gallery and a museum displaying implements of torture the place you’ll be able to be taught concerning the website’s tragic historical past. It’s greatest to go to at nightfall when the glow of votive candles lends an otherworldly dimension to the house.

Take a look at the up to date artwork scene on the Seoul Museum of Artwork

One of many few free artwork areas in Seoul, SeMA is a contemporary artwork museum housed in a historic constructing. Whereas particular exhibitions on the museum will be fairly crowded and expensive, the everlasting exhibition is free and sometimes ignored. One a part of the museum that you simply shouldn’t miss is the Chun Kyung-ja, Everlasting Narcissist exhibition, a group of works by the famend Korean artist highlighting her international influences.

It is free to discover the standard lanes of Bukchon Hanok Village © Pakawat Thongcharoen / Shutterstock

See conventional Korean houses in charming Bukchon Hanok Village

Lots of of conventional Korean houses (hanok) make up Bukchon Hanok Village, a neighborhood that recaptures the ambiance of Joseon-dynasty Korea. Though the authenticity of the neighborhood is commonly debated – a number of the hanok are newly constructed whereas others are a century previous – the decision on the allure of the small alleyways and unbelievable views is unanimous. 

Improve your publicity to the humanities at Oil Tank Tradition Park

A cultural middle made out of 5 reworked oil tanks from the Seventies, the Oil Tank Tradition Park hosts free concert events, exhibitions and lectures. Even when there’s nothing particularly taking place, you’ll be able to simply move a couple of hours exploring the house’s hidden nooks and watching musicians working towards within the out of doors amphitheater. The venue’s distinctive curves make it a favourite amongst photographers.

Seoul alternatives: the highest issues to do within the South Korean capital

Learn on the Cheongun Literature Library

On the foot of Mt Inwang, the Cheongun Literature Library is undoubtedly one of the stunning libraries in Korea. The practical decrease degree is dwelling to a mean assortment of books, however the library’s studying rooms are housed in a placing conventional Korean home on the 2nd degree. Spacious and sunny, it’s a bibliophile’s dream come true.

Local people relaxing in Gyeongui Line Forest Park in Seoul
The Gyeongui Line Forest Park traverses a few of Seoul’s hippest neighborhoods © Keitma / Shutterstock

Linger within the Gyeongui Line Forest Park

A park constructed on the route of the 100-year-old prepare tracks that after led to North Korea, Gyeongui Line Forest Park is among the highlights of Seoul’s northwest facet. The park runs via a number of fashionable neighborhoods, and on summer time nights, you’ll see loads of picnickers having drinks and listening to buskers with guitars within the Yeonnam-dong portion of the park. In good climate, pianos are additionally arrange outdoors for the musically inclined to placed on performances.

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Browse the Nationwide Museum’s everlasting assortment 

Displaying greater than 12,000 artifacts, spanning a interval from prehistory to trendy occasions, the Nationwide Museum of Korea is South Korea’s largest museum. Particular exhibitions have an entrance charge, however you gained’t be left wanting after looking the free everlasting assortment. Remember to see the photogenic 10-story pagoda from Gyeongcheon-sa Temple on the middle of the museum. There’s additionally a youngsters’s museum, which is free however requires a web-based reservation.

People taking a break in Hangang Park, near Seonyoudo (Rainbow Bridge)
Hangang Park is one in every of Seoul’s favourite locations to unwind © Maremagnum / Getty Photographs

Hang around by the river in Hangang Park

Seoul’s most well-known free website is that this park alongside the Han River, which zigzags via the town. Stunning lookouts and nice walks will be discovered at any level within the park, however the views from the Mangwon-dong neighborhood are arguably one of the best and a agency native favourite. If you happen to’re right here in summer time, many free occasions happen as a part of the Hangang River Festival; the park’s out of doors movie screenings are terrific.

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Be taught concerning the metropolis’s previous on the Seoul Museum of Historical past

Even particular exhibitions are nearly at all times free on the common Seoul Museum of Historical past, close to Gyeonghuigung Palace. Whereas the museum boasts relics from the Joseon dynasty, the exhibition corridor of donated objects on the first flooring makes the strongest impression, with the whole lot from previous computer systems, cassette tapes, T-shirts from the ’60s and different family items utilized by extraordinary residents. Free occasions showcasing Korean tradition usually happen throughout native holidays.

Stage a photograph shoot in Ihwa Mural Village

Situated close to Seoul’s impartial theater district, the Ihwa Mural Village is the place to go in case you’re searching for the proper selfie. The alleyways are lined in vivid, colourful murals created by greater than 70 native artists in an try and revitalize this as soon as uncared for neighborhood. Standard murals embody Angel Wings and Fish Swimming Upstream.

A photographer takes photos of the sunrise from Bukhansan mountain
Those that put within the effort to climb Bukhansan’s tallest peak are rewarded with heavenly views © CJ Nattanai / Shutterstock

Absorb heavenly vistas from Bukhansan’s highest peak

With dozens of peaks within the space, Seoul has no scarcity of mountains to climb, however ask any avid hiker for one of the best stroll within the space and also you’ll probably be despatched packing up the slopes of 836m (2743ft) Bukhansan. These prepared to succeed in the mountain’s tallest peak can be handsomely rewarded with heavenly views – and maybe even some makgeolli (conventional Korean rice wine) from a pleasant fellow climber (locals are identified to share their mountaintop drinks with vacationers on the prime).

Hike Inwangsan for simpler metropolis views

Much less demanding than Bukhansan, 338m (1109ft) Ingwangsan nonetheless affords breathtaking views of Seoul for hikers, in addition to a free historical past lesson. A collection of historical fortress partitions are preserved right here, and from the path, you’ll be able to spot Gyeongbokgung Palace within the distance. Remember to try the uncanny Seonbawi (Zen Rocks) and the Guksadang shamanist shrine in your approach up.

See the sights without spending a dime on a free Seoul strolling tour

Make a reservation three days forward to make the most of Seoul Tourism’s free strolling tour program. The excursions are run by volunteer guides. The standard of the excursions varies, however they’re free and are provided in Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese language and different languages with an enormous vary of themes, from exploring native markets and historic websites to discovering traces of the artists and writers who as soon as lived in one of many metropolis’s oldest neighborhoods. Excursions are at the moment restricted to 10 individuals every (20 for some palace excursions), and reservations should be made in advance.

A sample-giver clad in a red apron and hat offer samples in paper cups. Free dinner? Opt for samples at the Lotte Mart in Seoul Station © Hahna Yoon / Lonely Planet
Free dinner? Go for samples on the Lotte Mart in Seoul Station © Hahna Yoon / Lonely Planet

Pattern the wares at Seoul Station’s Lotte Mart

Bigger grocery shops in South Korea have a tendency to supply extremely beneficiant samples, however few are as benevolent because the Lotte Mart inside Seoul Station. Pattern-givers often converse primary English, Japanese and Chinese language and aren’t afraid to offer you seconds. Strive the moment noodle aisle at 6pm on a weekday and also you may be capable of skip dinner!

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Study Buddhism at Gilsang-sa

Though Jogye-sa within the coronary heart of downtown is Seoul’s best-known temple, maybe its most stunning shrine is Gilsang-sa, positioned off the overwhelmed path in Seongbuk-dong. A restaurant-turned-temple, Gilsang-sa truly opened in 1997, however its idyllic pure environment and wealth of English-language applications make it a must-visit for anybody fascinated by Buddhism, or these simply searching for a spot to get away from all of it.

Take a breather at Bongeun-sa

Anybody staying south of the Han River and on the lookout for some tradition after purchasing the packed COEX Mall ought to try Bongeun-sa, a temple that traces its historical past to 794 CE, in the course of the time of the Silla kingdom. A lot of the unique website was destroyed by a fireplace in 1939, however the temple’s air of serenity, woodblock carvings of the Avatamsaka Sutra and a library of 3479 Buddhist scriptures make it price a go to.

A variety of antique teapots and cooking utensils on a table. A random assortment of antiques can be browsed at Dongmyo Flea Market © Hahna Yoon / Lonely Planet
Looking the assortment of antiques and bric-a-bra at Dongmyo Flea Market is a enjoyable option to move an hour or two © Hahna Yoon / Lonely Planet

Window-shop at Dongmyo Flea Market

Lots of Seoul’s markets are free to take a look at and effectively price exploring, however the assortment of used items on the Dongmyo Flea Market is extra about looking and fewer about shopping for. This random assortment of the whole lot from digital massagers to previous Korean cash and piled-up hills of low cost T-shirts is most lively on heat, dry weekends. It is positioned close to Dongmyo Park (84, Nangye-ro 27-gil, Jongno-gu).

Rise above the fray at Seoullo 7017

Usually in comparison with the Excessive Line in New York Metropolis, Seoullo 7017 is a “sky backyard” that runs from Seoul Station to Namdaemun Market. Transformed from a former freeway overpass in 2017, this 1km (0.6-mile) park boasts greater than 20,000 vegetation and advantageous metropolis views, and it hosts a plethora of public occasions. The courageous can stand on glass-covered holes via the overpass and look down on the vehicles whizzing under.

Channel European power at Seoul Anglican Cathedral

Though Myeongdong Cathedral is Seoul’s most well-known – and maybe most traditionally important – church, it could possibly be argued that the Seoul Anglican Cathedral is the capital’s most stunning. Designed by English architect Arthur Dixon and constructed within the Romanesque Revival type, this distinctly European edifice is a sight in and out. You’ll be able to go to the church without spending a dime, and common English-language companies are held on Sundays at 9:30am within the crypt chapel.

Artificial waterfall and pedestrians along the Cheonggyecheon Stream
Strolling Cheong-gye-cheon’s nice pathways is a good free option to unwind © Tuomas Lehtinen / Shutterstock

Unwind streamside on the Cheong-gye-cheon

One of many metropolis’s ecological marvels, the Cheong-gye-cheon is a man-made stream that runs via downtown Seoul. Strolling the nice, greenery-lined pathways that run alongside the water is a good way to unwind within the night, and the stream is much more dazzling in the course of the well-known Lantern Pageant in November. The Cheong-gye-cheon Museum can be free if you would like to be taught concerning the website’s advanced historical past.

Take a mini-break at Seonyudo Park

Repurposing a former water purification plant, this inexperienced island in the midst of the town is the primary park of its type within the nation. Locals and guests come to picnic or sunbathe within the botanical gardens and inexperienced areas.

Carry a date for a stroll alongside Seoul Metropolis Wall

Initially inbuilt 1396, Seoul Metropolis Wall is a nationwide treasure and a beautiful place to hike. For locals, it is also a preferred date spot. Strive a night stroll alongside the portion of the wall in Naksan Park, close to Hyehwa Station – it’s laborious to not be seduced as the nice and cozy glow of the traditional fortress’s lights and the panoramic metropolis views sparkle in your lover’s eyes.

The modern architecture of Dongdaemun Design Plaza at night
Futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza is one in every of architect Zaha Hadid’s most placing works © T.Dallas / Shutterstock

Admire futuristic structure at Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Usually talked about for its futuristic structure, the multifunctional Dongdaemun Design Plaza is hailed as one in every of architect Zaha Hadid’s best works. Exhibitions, vogue reveals and different occasions are held repeatedly; not all of them are free, however the edifice itself is free to stroll round and it is positively price a glance.

See the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain’s water present

From April to October, individuals come to the Banpo Bridge part of the Han River Park to see the Moonlight Rainbow Fountain water present. Choreographed with lights and music, 380 water jets placed on a present soundtracked by the whole lot from classical music to pop and rock. Name the Korea Journey Hotline (+82-2-1330) to examine the fountain’s schedule on the day of your go to.

Rejoice Tradition Day at venues throughout city

On the final Wednesday of each month – aka Culture Day – efficiency facilities, museums and cultural websites throughout Seoul open without spending a dime or at a reduced charge. Town authorities works in collaboration with venues to create this in depth record of freebies that features the whole lot from the 5 grand palaces to the Nationwide Museum of Trendy and Modern Artwork and Seoul Performing Arts Company. Reductions for many main film theaters are additionally obtainable on Tradition Day.