Seoul, South Korea’s capital, positively pulsates with energy. This neon-bathed city is ranked as one of the world’s top financial and commercial centres, one that attracts multinational companies, hosts major sporting events and is fantastically rich, but more than that, it is home to the 12 million people who give it its verve.
Travellers arriving on cheap flights to Seoul can expect bustling markets (Dongdaemun Market for example), serious shopping (particularly in Myeongdong and Gangnam) and world-class restaurants, but also ancient palaces, serene temples and tranquil parks.
There’s plenty of “old” Seoul to discover despite the city’s sometimes turbulent past. Gyeongbokgung is a standout attraction with gilded throne room, and pavilion resting in a lotus lake while Bukchon Hanok Village is an entrancing neighbourhood of traditional Korean houses, art galleries and museums.
To get a bird’s eye view of the city, look to the N Seoul Tower. Getting there involves taking a cable car ride up Namsan mountain and a short walk to the tower. From its four observation decks, there are sumptuous views of the city below.
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Seoul’s climate is humid continental. Summers are hot and humid. August is the hottest month with temperatures between 22 and 30 degrees Celsius (72-86 degrees Fahrenheit). Monsoons occur in June/July. Winter temperatures can be very low. The average temperature in January hovers between -7 and 1 degrees Celsius (19-33F). Travellers taking cheap flights to Seoul during the winter months can expect about a month of snow in each year.
The summer months are peak season.
Spring and fall are shoulder months. Savvy travellers can save on flights and accommodations by planning their cheap flights to Seoul for March/April or October.
The winter months are low season.
Seoul’s subway is one of the world’s busiest, making eight million trips a day across its ten lines. Air- conditioned in summer and heated in winter, subway fares are reasonable. Station names and route maps are written in English, as well as Korean, to help foreign travellers.
Buses: There are four routes – and colours – to remember. Blue (arterial buses) routes link outlying areas with the downtown area. Green (local) buses run within a specific district. Red (express buses) connect downtown Seoul with satellite cities such as Ilsan and Anyang. Yellow (downtown circular) buses operate in major downtown areas. Fares cost about 800-1000 won per trip (up to $1 Canadian).
Taxi service is clean, cheap and safe and can be hailed on the street or at taxi ranks. In general, there are regular taxis (most are silver in colour), more expensive deluxe taxis (black with yellow signs on the roof) and taxi vans that can take up to nine passengers. They cost about the same as a deluxe taxi. These taxi vans can be found at Incheon International Airport.