72 hours in Seoul

Discover the soul of Seoul in three days with our recommendations for sightseeing, eating and shopping. The whole of Seoul has free Wi-Fi, so your phone can be your guide.

Explore the soul of Seoul in 72 hours

By the way, the correct way to pronounce Seoul is 'soul'.

3 days
First nightArrival
Night view of Seoul, South Korea.

Your non-stop flight from Auckland is scheduled to arrive at Incheon International Airport in the evening. Seoul has one of the best public transport systems in the world, so we recommend picking up a reloadable T-Money card from an airport convenience store. It will make using subways, trains and buses easy during your stay. Another option is a Seoul City Pass card, which combines the transport benefits of T-Money with discounts for attractions and restaurants.

The Airport Railroad Express (AREX) service is the fastest and the cheapest way to get from the airport to central Seoul. If you want door-to-door convenience, get a taxi.
If you're wondering where to stay in Seoul, we recommend you find a hotel in Insadong.

You'll get an authentic slice of Seoul city life, complete with street food, tea houses, pagodas, markets and museums. You'll save on roaming fees in Seoul because there's free Wi-Fi all over the city.

1Insadong, N Seoul Tower and Namdaemun market1 day
Dolsot bibimbap with banchan (side dishes), South Korea.

There's no time to waste, so start your Seoul three-day adventure in the arty and interesting Insadong district. You'll find a mixture of locals and tourists here, as well as an almost-endless supply of excellent places to eat. Next in today's must-do list is Namsan Tower, for a sky-high view of Seoul. It's one of the top things to do in Seoul. Follow this up with a nosey around Namdaemun market. After dark, Insadong Street is alive with restaurants and street food vendors for Korean feasting that you'll never forget.

Things to see and do on day 1:

  • Discover the all-the-flavours excitement of a traditional Korean breakfast. It sets you up for the day with things like rice, soup, grilled short ribs and banchan (yummy side dishes, including kimchi)
  • Shop around Insadong for Korean art, traditional paper products, homewares and antiques. Don't miss Ssamziegil, a multi-storey shopping complex with more than 70 shops, galleries and cafés
  • Find your way up to Namsan Tower, aka N Seoul Tower, which is located on forested Namsan Mountain in the centre of Seoul. You can get there by cable car, bus or on foot. The tower's observatory offers a 360° view of the city
  • Dive into the fashion and food world of Namdaemun. Inside the 24-hour shopping complex you'll find boutiques that are oozing with fabulous bargains. On the main shopping road, there are street eats of every kind to keep your energy levels topped up for all that shopping
  • After dark, stroll down Insadong Street with a Korean dinner in mind. Choices include ginseng chicken with black rice, fried or steamed mandu (Korean-style dumplings), bibimbap, deep fried crab leg, sundubu-jjigae (soft tofu stew) and much more
    2Two palaces1 day
    Changdeokgung Palace, UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, Seoul, South Korea.

    Today is palace day. Very conveniently, the two you'll want to see - Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung - are within walking distance of each other. Changdeokgung has UNESCO World Heritage status, while Gyeongbokgung is the largest palace in Seoul. In all the web searches for Seoul attractions, these two are always near the top of the list.

    Things to see and do day 2:

    • Catch the subway to Anguk station near Changdeokgung Palace. The short walk to the palace takes you past picturesque traditional homes
    • Built in 1405, the Joseon Dynasty Changdeokgung Palace is protected by guards dressed in crimson and jade hanbok uniforms. See if you can catch the changing of the guard, because it involves horses as well as people
    • It takes about two hours to explore Injeongjeon (throne hall), Seonjeongjeon (formal greeting hall), Huijeongdang (king's private residence), Daejojeon (queen's residence) and Nakseonjae (pavilion). You can roam on your own or join a tour with an English-speaking guide
    • Lunch at one of the restaurants to the west of the palace, then stroll on to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Built in 1395, it's huge and sprawling, so you'll need a map
    • Visit the main throne room; Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, which appears to float on water; and residences of the king and queen. If you have time, the folk museum in the grounds is recommended
    • Tonight you can combine your love of food with your passion for fashion at Dongdaemun Market. Established from a traditional market in 1905, this market has since been designated as a 'Special Tourism Zone' in 2002. Not to be missed!
      3Innovation, shopping and Gangnam1 day
      Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, South Korea.

      If you're travelling with kids, fill them up with thrills at Lotte World, one of the top fun things to do in Seoul for families. Alternatively, spend the morning discovering Korean design, then catch the metro to Gangnam for K-beauty and shopping. Every Seoul travel guide covers the glories and glamour of Gangnam, the city's famous upscale neighbourhood.

      Things to see and do on day 3:

      • Make your way to Gwangjang market for lunch. Tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), Japchae (glass noodle stir fry) and Janchi Guksu (warm noodle soup) are just some of the dishes you'll find at this market. Keep an eye out for Cho Yonsoon knifecut noodle shop from the Netflix street food series - noodles are rolled out and chopped up right in front of you
      • The colossal theme park Lotte World is split into two kingdoms: Magic Island, a manmade island in a lake; and Adventure, the world's largest indoor theme park (contained within a huge conservatory). The price for a day at Lotte World is considered to be excellent value for money as theme parks go
      • Futuristic seven-level Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is where you can discover Korean product design at its best, plus a market selling accessories and clothing. The building itself is astounding, completely free of angles and straight lines
      • The subway stop is right outside DDP, so find your way over the river to Gangnam, home of the legendary K-pop hit Gangnam Style. Outside Gangnam subway station is the multimedia Gangnam Style stage, marked by a giant pair of golden hands (a shrine to K-pop rapper Psy). You can dance on the stage or video others working their way through the moves
      • Visit the Sulwhasoo SPA flagship store to stock up with K-beauty essentials. You can also enjoy premium spa treatments here, to get you closer to the Korean 'glass skin' ideal
      • Shopping in Gangnam is legendary - don't miss Apgujeong Rodeo Street, Cheongdam Fashion Street and massive underground COEX shopping mall, which includes an innovative aquarium and kimchi museum
      • Near the river in Gangnam is Bongeunsa Buddhist Temple, where the monks invite visitors to enjoy tea ceremonies
      • Before heading back to your hotel, find a Gangnam restaurant for dinner. Try Eatanic Garden at Josun Palace for Korean-style nouvelle cuisine, Crab 52 for all-you-can-eat seafood, Min's Kitchen for Asian fusion, Mingles for fine dining , Yang Good for great value Korean food or Firebell for Americana burgers.

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        DDP image courtesy of Dae-Hyeong Kim, Korea Tourism Organization; Seoul at night image courtesy of Jiho Kim, Korea Tourism Organization; Dolsot bibimbap image courtesy of Jiho Kim, Korea Tourism Organization; Changdeokgung image courtesy of Beomsu Lee, Korea Tourism Organization