The capital of South Korea, Seoul is unquestionably the place to be for Westerners looking to explore the East Asian peninsula. While vibrant and democratic, Seoul, and Korea in general, can be slightly forbidding to visitors expecting a warm welcome and an open, ingratiating attitude toward outsiders. You aren’t likely to experience any outright hostility or violence (it’s a perfectly urbane and orderly destination), but certain xenophobic cultural attitudes persist. For this reason, a little advance planning is highly recommended.
Day 1: Amusement park extravaganza
One thing Seoul has definitely got in spades is a profusion of culture-based theme and amusement parks. At least one full day should be devoted entirely to exploring them. The largest (in fact, the world’s largest) indoor theme park, Lotte World, is home to a massive collection of shopping facilities, extravagant, exciting rides, a folk museum, restaurants, a skating rink, and a luxury hotel. Also worth visiting is Everland, the Korean version of Disneyland, as well as Seoul Land (constructed in coordination with the 1988 Olympics), and the Children’s Grand Park, which houses a zoo, an amusement park, and a collection of restaurants.
Day 2: Shopping and supping
As a bustling modern metropolis, Seoul has world-class shopping facilities and enough exceptional cuisine to keep you well-fueled.
Apgujeong Station, Cheongdam Station, and Gangnam Station are all commercial centers popular with shoppers, as is Myeongdong (which is particularly popular with younger people). The Folk Flea Market located near the Dongdaemun Gate is visited by droves of tourists and local residents alike. It is also an excellent place to sample a wide array of traditional Korean and fusion cuisine.
Day 3: Sports and gambling
Gambling is both legal and widespread in Seoul, but only for tourists. While good Koreans are forbidden by law from entering into games of chance, foreigners are positively encouraged to partake. Two large casinos are located in central Seoul, and the racetrack located in Gwacheon offers races on weekends throughout the year, as well as night races during the summer months. Visitors interested in observing international and regional sporting events (such as the Seoul United FC soccer team) need look no further than the Jamsil Sports Complex, which was created for the 1988 Olympics and seats as many as a 100,000 spectators. Baseball enthusiasts can catch the LG Twins and Doosan Bears at the nearby baseball stadium.