Known as land of the morning calm and KPOP, Seoul, South Korea has become one of the hottest tourist destinations in recent years. It boasts of low crime rates and impressive subway system. And cheap cosmetics, we should not forget make-up.
The government is hands-on in converting the city into one of the most tourist friendly attractions in the world. You see, Seoul may be a first class city with skyscrapers left and right, but there are free and affordable things tourists can do. You don’t have too worry too much about depleting you bank account when traveling to Seoul, because most of the best activities the city has to offer are completely for free.
Explore this exciting destination with 6 free things to do in Seoul.
1. Listen to live bands in Hongdae Children’s park.
Hongdae is the go-to place for the carefree and young spirit. The name itself is derived from Hongik University, the academic institution nearby. Here, musicians set up camp to play music for free. Yes, they play music that they don’t care about money at all. Be it at night or by day, there will always be artists performing for those willing to listen.
It’s not just music that you can enjoy in the park, too. The district is filled with art insallations and wall graffiti for those looking for something artsy to do in Seoul.
2. Try on hanbok.
For those not in the know, hanbok is Korea’s traditional costume that originated from the Joseon period (1392-1897). Even now, you can see locals walking around town wearing it. It’s still commonly worn in formal ceremonies such as weddings and baptisms.
You cannot leave Seoul without trying it on, and the government makes sure of that. In popular tourist spots around the city such as Myeongdong and Insadong, there are cultural centers that let tourists try it on for free. There are sizes available for boys and girls. Don’t panic if you don’t know how to wear one, because they will assist you. Though you can only wear it for a limited time, it’s still better than paying $20 dollars or more to wear one in a studio.
Hanbok fitting is also available in Gyeongbok Palace.
3. Make a phone call.
Scared of getting lost in a foreign country? Fret not because in some subway stations (Seoul has the most extensive subway system in the world!), especially the busy ones, there’s the Digital View booths that allow you to make free phone calls as long as its domestic. So keep your hotel’s business card safe in case you’ll ever need to abuse this freebie when you get lost.
4. Hike Mt. Bukhan.
For those looking to escape the concrete jungle, be glad to know that Seoul isn’t just a plain city. A mountain you can hike in a day is accessible via subway or bus. Yes, there’s a mountain right there in the city. If you want to get the best view of Seoul, then skip the expensive N Seoul Tower and climb Mt. Bukhan instead.
Mt. Bukhan is the 15th natural park in Korea, and it’s a fun, though tiring, day climb. There are temples to visit and numerous trails to trek. There are even several peaks for those up for a challenge. Be amazed at how quirky elderlies hike along with you and even surpass you minutes into the trail. To make it a lot more memorable, do what the locals do and bring soju and have a drink once you reach the peak.
5. Stroll along Cheonggyecheon stream.
With its 5.8 km-length, there’s much to be explored in this stream. It starts in the downtown of Seoul and passes neighboring districts before reaching its end at Han River. The city government invested 900 billion won in restoring the once desolated stream, and its now one of the most visited attraction in the city.
But don’t just stroll along the stream. Drag your friends along with you and have a meal while watching the water and light displays spread along the length of Cheonggyecheon. (Tip: spicy rice cakes and soju are good mix.)
There are many things to see in Cheonggyecheon but make sure not to miss Cheonggyecheon Plaza, Wall of Hopes, Jochiyagak and Tunnel Fountain.
6. Wear a king’s costume.
Be part of history, and not just write it, by wearing a king’s costume at Gwanghwamun Square. The government makes sure that travelers learn about their culture and immerse themselves in it. The costume fitting activity is inspired by King Sejon who has a statue in the middle of the plaza.
Sorry, ladies. There’s no queen’s costume but that shouldn’t stop you from cross-dressing, Korean royalty style. What’s a better way to learn about culture besides immersing yourself in it? Museums rock, but sometimes it’s not just enough to oggle at the costumes in display.
Robine Fisher offers dissertation help for a living. She’s been bitten by the travel bug ever since her father took her on a trip to the Grand Canyon. Everyday, she adds an item to her travel bucket list.