Seoul Culture & history

Our most recommended Seoul Culture & history

From Seoul: DMZ Half- or Full-Day Trip

1. From Seoul: DMZ Half- or Full-Day Trip

Join a day trip from Seoul for a guided tour of the Demilitarized Zone on the border of North Korea and South Korea. See the world's most heavily fortified border and gain insight into the Korean War. Visit landmarks including the 3rd Tunnel and the Dora Observatory. Begin the tour with a pickup in Central Seoul and travel to Imjingak Park. Upon arrival at Imjingak Park, see the Freedom Bridge and the old steam locomotive, which shows the tragedy of the Korean War. Pay your respects at a memorial for the soldiers who died in the Korean War. Enter the real DMZ to discover the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel and DMZ Exhibition Hall to learn about South and North Korea's conflict. Visit the Dora observatory to see North Korea through telescopes and to get a peek at North Korea's propaganda village. At the end of the trip, relax as you travel back to Seoul, passing by Unification Village, and get dropped off at City Hall.  If you choose the full-day tour, you can enjoy an included lunch and a visit to the War Memorial of Korea.

Morning 3-Hour Intro to Seoul Tour (Palace, Temple & More)

2. Morning 3-Hour Intro to Seoul Tour (Palace, Temple & More)

Begin your tour from the hotel in Seoul between 8:00AM and 9:20AM. Stop first at the Jogyesa buddhist temple. Notice the locust trees and baeksong trees in front of the Daeungjeon, a truly beautiful sight. Gaze in wonder at the Daeungjeon and the main temple building which are about 500 years old. Continue on to the Gyeongbok palace where you'll first observe the changing of the guard ceremony. Then, explore Gyeongbok Palace, built in 1395 and is arguably the most beautiful palace in Korea and remains the grandest of all the five main palaces in Seoul. Next visit Cheongwadae, the presidential blue house, known for its beautiful, blue tiles. These tiles and the smooth roof are in beautiful harmony with Mount Bugaksan behind it. Discover how the blue house with its blue tiles and the smooth curve of the roof represents the beauty of Korea. Here you'll have the chance to visit Cheongwadae Sarangchae, a history center that gives visitors a chance to follow in the footsteps of the presidents of Korea and learn about the fascinating history of Seoul before the tour ends at around 12:30PM.

From Seoul: Evening Tour to Hwaseong Fortress UNESCO Site

3. From Seoul: Evening Tour to Hwaseong Fortress UNESCO Site

Explore a piece of Korean history in a unique light on this night tour of the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress. Discover one of the most well-known and loved UNESCO sites in Korea. Depart from Seoul and head to Suwon, the only completely walled city in South Korea. We will visit Hwaseong Haenggung palace in summer season. 'Haenggung' stands for a temporary place where royal families stayed. Suwon Haenggung palace is the biggest of those. Enjoy the night views of this palace and take some great pictures.  Marvel at the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress which was designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. Designed by the most inspiring ancient architect named Jeong Yak-Yong, the fortress is a fusion of science and industry and incorporates Chinese ingenuity into its plans. The whole fortress is beautifully lit up at night. (Visit only in summer season: Jul-Sep) Learn about the Joseon dynasty's history including the fact that Suwon could've been the new capital of ancient Korea and that the king built the fortress to be closer with his dead father. Heanggung-dong aka. Haenglidan-gil is a new hot place to visit now. The Kimbap place in [Extraordinary Attorney Woo](Netflix) is in this area. And it’s a great area to find something unique and check out one of the cool newtro cafes or restaurants there.

Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace History Walk

4. Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace History Walk

Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, established in 1395 as the main palace in the Joseon Dynasty. Meet your guide at Gyeongbokgung station and head to Gyeongbukgung Palace's main gate. Tap into your English-speaking guide's in depth knowledge of Korean history. Take some time to look around the palace and admire the architecture. Learn about the history and hidden stories of the largest palace of the Joseon Dynasty. Take photos of the locations where kings and queens once stood. Discover the influence the dynasty had on Korean society during its five centuries in power. End the tour at Gyeonghoiru pavilion, the event hall of the palace. Enjoy some time to explore the palace at your own pace after the tour.

DMZ, Gyeongbokgung Palace & Seoul City Tour

5. DMZ, Gyeongbokgung Palace & Seoul City Tour

Since 1950, Korea has been divided into the North and South. North Korea has become more closed off, while South Korea continues to develop as a democracy and leading economy, sharing its culture with the rest of the world. The DMZ area is the only place that you can see the reality of the most divided nation in the world. This tour includes a military tourist guide, shuttle vehicle, and entrance fees to a venue that helps to explain the history of war. Your tour guides are professional security specialists, allowing you to learn about North and South Korean relations. Visit the Third Tunnel Experience, which was designed to invade South Korea by tanks, the observatory where you can view North Korean residents, the War History Pavilion, and Imjingak. Experience every aspect of the DMZ area.    You will also visit Gyeongbok Palace, where the king, his family and 2000 others previously lived as they ruled the nation. Be fascinated as you hear how the palace was run more like a modern day business - with employees and advisers - rather than as the royal-only complex that you might expect. 

From Seoul: Korean Demilitarized Zone Tour

6. From Seoul: Korean Demilitarized Zone Tour

See the reality of the most divided nation in the world, the DMZ (Korean Demilitarized Zone). Enter the restricted DMZ zone with your guide and gain access to key sights inside the DMZ on this guided tour from Seoul. See the Imjingak Park, Dora Observatory, and more. See key areas of security tourism, including the Third Tunnel built for invasion by North Korea, Dora Observatory where you can see North Korea, and Dorasan Station, a wish for unification. Recent news about the end-of-war declaration means that if you don’t take this opportunity to see the DMZ, you might miss out. You’ll also be able to learn all about Korean pop culture and make friends from around the world on this half-day tour.

Seoul: Dark Side of the City and Ghost Stories Walking Tour

7. Seoul: Dark Side of the City and Ghost Stories Walking Tour

Prepare yourself for the creepiest, historically accurate, and frighteningly bone-chilling tales. Korea has a unique history that will suck you in. You will see places where bloody massacres occurred. You will walk under a bridge that carries a dark sinister secret. You will encounter three of Seoul's five palaces and learn the secrets about one of them that even Seoulites do not know. Your tour will be led by a historian who will tell you the dark side of Korean history including Prince Suyang's slaughter of his nephew's men and the massacre at the site where Korea's first Western hospital was at. Tales in Japanese Colonial times will be shared while walking in royal palaces. The itinerary extends to other parts of Seoul such as Nagwon-dong and Chenggyecheon Stream. Hear modern urban legends, true crime events, and quirky secrets of buildings that the local government would prefer you did not know. You might actually meet a ghost so do not be too surprised. You will get a basic orientation of Seoul’s layout and see many sites including the three of five palaces, the Cheonggyecheon Stream, Tapgol Park, the Insa-dong neighborhood, Seoul City Hall, and the iconic Gwanghwamun Square. Your guide is an invaluable source of information and full tips about other places to see and eat. There will be restroom breaks and opportunities to have beverages and snacks. If you want to explore the dark back alleys and secret spots filled with horror, take the "Premium Tour" for extended and exclusive story-sharing.

Seoul: Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Tour

8. Seoul: Suwon Hwaseong Fortress Tour

Visit the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress on this guided tour, and admire a premier example of unique Korean architecture of the 18th century. Learn about the scientific, architectural and artistic aspects of Korea at that time. The fortress has become an icon of traditional Korean culture, and has become a popular tourist attraction. Built during the latter part of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Suwan Hwaseong is widely considered among the region’s most impressive fortresses. And visit Hwaseong Haenggung Palace. The palace is located outside of Seoul, and was the king’s residence when he traveled, during times of war and when he visited the tombs. After lunch (Menu: Bibimbab, Naengmyon, Doenjang stew, Dolsotbab, Samgyetang, Bulgogi*minimum order of 2), visit the Korean Folk Village. A museum that depicts life in Korea as it was several centuries ago. As you explore, see blacksmiths, potters and weavers at work, and learn of the traditional trades by which Korean artisans used to make their living. Admire over 250 traditional houses and perhaps catch a performance of traditional folk music and dance at the amphitheater. At the end of the tour you’ll return to Seoul and be dropped off in the Myeongdong area. [Half day tour] • Pick-up from hotel • Suwon Hwaseong Fortress • Hwaseong Haenggung Palace • Drop-off in Myeongdong area [Full day tour] • Pick-up from hotel • Suwon Hwaseong Fortress • Hwaseong Haenggung Palace • Lunch • Korean Folk Village • Drop-off in Myeongdong area

Seoul: Royal palace Afternoon Tour including Changdeokgung

9. Seoul: Royal palace Afternoon Tour including Changdeokgung

To start your adventure, a guide will meet you in front of the front desk (1 Floor) of Lotte Hotel Seoul. First, you will head to the Changdeokgung palace; the name itself meaning "to brighten virtue." Changdeokgung is Korea's most successfully preserved palace and a UNESCO world heritage site. Explore the Insadong antique shop alley, to experience the traditional culture of Korea in the heart of the city. With art galleries, traditional craft stores, antique art dealers, traditional tea houses and restaurants, this street cannot be missed. Then make your way to Namsangol Hanok village located between the tall buildings in the middle of a normal city scene. This village has 5 restored traditional Korean houses, a pavilion, a pond and a time capsule as well, making it a perfect spot to take a leisure walk. On the grounds you can try traditional games such as: neolttwigi (seesaw jumping), tuhonori (arrow throwing) and yutnori (traditional board game).  Afterwards you will visit Namdaemun gate (Sungnyemun or South gate) and walk in and admire the gate. Next, visit Namdaemun market, which dates back to the Joseon Dynasty. This open-air market is just a few minutes from Seoul’s ancient Namdaemun gate (Sungnyemun or South gate). It is close to the downtown area and a number of deluxe hotels, and boasts an impressive selection of merchandise.  At the end of the tour, you will be dropped off at Myeongdong or City hall subway station Itinerary: • 13:00 in front of the front desk (1 Floor) of Lotte Hotel Seoul (30 eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul) • [UNESCO] Changdeokgung Palace (Jongmyo Royal Shrine on Mondays) • Insadong antique shop alley • Namsangol hanok village (Monday: Bukchon hanok village) • Sungnyemun gate (outside of the Sungnyemun gate on Mondays) • Namdaemun market • 17:00 Drop off at Myeongdong or City hall subway station

From Seoul: DMZ Guided Tour

10. From Seoul: DMZ Guided Tour

With this tour, you will be able to meet and talk to North Korean defectors who have successfully settled in South Korea and can provide a more realistic and accurate picture of North Korean life. On the way to and from the DMZ and at each stop within the DMZ, you will hear from the North Korean defector and the tour guide about the reality of North Korea and two perspectives coming from two Koreas regarding the tragic Korean War. Bring insightful questions to ask the defector about North Korean life, the whole journey to come to South Korea, and other factors about Korean history. At the end of the journey, have some tea and ginseng product tasting at Ginseng center while asking even more questions to your tour guide and North Korean defector about your tour and things that you were curious about. If you select the lunch option, try Bibimbap, a traditional Korean dish with rice and various ingredients, or North Korean-style cold noodles, a traditional North Korean dish that was offered for both Korean leaders in the recent summit. You will head back to Seoul, near the City Hall, at around 1:00-2:00 PM depending on your selected option and the traffic.

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What people are saying about Seoul

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 1,806 reviews

It's not the fault of the tour company but I wish there was some sort of cooperation between DMZ and tour agencies so groups wouldn't have to waste 3-4 hours on waiting. I mean something like online purchase and registration in advance, not on the spot like 20 years ago. There is not much to do, only a few cafes and a small park, so I spent one hour on the bus doing nothing.

A must booked tour package. A half-day trip is just enough to experience & explore DMZ. And Mr. Young, our guide is a gem! Thank you for showing and guiding us through this wonderful experience.

Sadie was a fantastic guide. Really knowledgeable and could answer all my questions. Communication about where and when to meet was good. We did and saw a lot in half a day

Joe was amazing! Definitely worth going on especially around Halloween time!

Informative and Chang did a good job and great to be the tour guide.