Seoul is a cutting-edge metropolis with a traditional heart. You can experience the South Korean capital’s rich history while luxuriating in the modernity of a destination that has some of the best restaurants, clubs, and bars in Asia. The city’s architecture is outstanding, like the celebrated Tangent Building, while Seoul’s imperial past is visible in the Gyeongbokgung Palace, rebuilt most recently in the 1860s. For a more serene setting, don’t miss the Jongmyo Confucian shrine.
My Best King’s Wedding: Royal Wedding Ceremony
Have you ever been to a royal wedding? Now you have the chance, as this re-enactment of the royal wedding ceremony of King Gojong and Queen Min is held twice a year with all its traditional splendor. King Gojong ruled Korea from 1863 to 1907, and the ceremony precisely follows the practices that were kept in the imperial family until that time. After the ceremony, which takes place in the regal Unhyeongung Royal Residence, there is a photo session with the participants so you can go home with some extraordinary pictures.
Dark Memorial: Seodaemun Prison
You can experience some of the bleakest chapters in Korea’s past by entering the haunted halls of this former prison. Built in 1908 and closed in 1987, Seodaemun Prison was used by the Japanese during their occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945. It’s a place where independence activists were tortured and killed. You can see the interrogation cells along with recreations of the torture prisoners went through, including an execution chair that will give you the chills. There is a memorial to the victims and you can explore the grounds as well.
Cartoon World: Ihwa Mural Village
The mural villages you’ll find throughout South Korea are evidence of the almost magical power of art. Neglected parts of the city, which are called ‘moon villages’ because of their mountain locations, have received a makeover by street artists, giving them a colourful new life you can experience first-hand. Walk through the high-altitude streets of one of the capital’s most celebrated mural villages, Ihwa Maeul, where you will see walls and stairs decorated with everything from flowers and animals to full-fledged cartoon scenes. It’s a unique sight that will be a highlight of your trip.