Korea is famous for its cutting-edge electronics, fashion products, and shopping-themed tourism.
But you may be pleasantly surprised to discover a much greater range and scope of charm that Seoul has to offer as the political and cultural capital of Korea.
Here are the 10 best venues and features you can explore to really get to know Seoul, according to a release by the city's metropolitan government.
1. THE BEATING HEART OF SEOUL
Having been the capital city of Korea for over six centuries, Seoul is the beating heart of the country that embodies the past, the present, and the future of one- fourth of the entire Korean population.
In particular, Sejong-ro, stretching for about 600 meters southward from Gwanghwamun, the main gate to the central palace of the Joseon Dynasty, has been ever since the center of administration, economy, culture, and history of Seoul, and houses almost all the major institutions of the city in a 1.5-kilometer radius.
All the major royal palaces of the Joseon Dynasty is located within this range, as well as major governmental organizations, foreign embassies, and financial institutions of modern Korea. The City Hall is located just south of Sejong-ro; Myeongdong, the center of commerce and shopping, to its immediate southeast; and Jongro, another cultural center of Seoul, to its east.
You can take in the view and feel of the central district of Seoul in just an hour or so of walking, starting from Gwanghwamun and strolling along the pedestrian path along Sejong-ro. At the end of this promenade is the Cheonggye Plaza, housing the entrance to the Cheonggyecheon Trail, an eco-friendly hiking path that runs along the Cheonggyecheon stream.
A leisurely walk on this promenade will reveal the diverse aspects of Seoul, which is one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world, but at the same time, still houses traces of history and preserves a calm and clean river ecosystem.
2. ONE CARD TO RULE THEM ALL
Seoul's Transportation Card System
There are many cities around the world that boast architectural masterpieces, exotic sights, and retail districts devoted to quintessential luxury. Not all of these cities, however, run on a single integrated public transit pass system.
One of the most unique and attractive features of Seoul is its well-ordered public transit pass system, which allows users to enjoy all modes of public transit (buses, subways, and even taxis) using only a single type of card.
Seoul is an enormous city with more than 10 subway lines and innumerable bus types and routes.
No one living in Seoul, however, has to worry about purchasing different types of tickets or tokens to use these diverse types of public transit.
They can simply go into any nearby convenience store, purchase a public transit card, and charge it to the amount they want.
With a little more effort, they do not even need this card.
Any user of smartphones that support near-field communication (NFC) can either purchase a USIM chip or download an application that instantly allows their phone to function as a public transit card. Countless scientists and theorists have speculated about how advanced information technology will profoundly re-shape urban life.
Seoul appears to be the closest approximation of their wildest imaginations.