Serene view of the Gyeongbokgung palace with cherry blossoms
After you take the train in from Incheon (around an hour), visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace, a truly amazing display of traditional Korean architecture complete with ornate buildings, rolling gardens and a large pond with a pavilion in the centre. Catch the changing of the guard ceremony, which happens every hour between 10 a.m and 4 p.m.
View of the city from the Cheonggyecheon stream in Seoul, South Korea
Experience Seoul's vibrant feel on foot. Start at the Cheonggyecheon Stream, a popular promenade and recreational area surrounded by the city's modern skyscrapers on either side – you can relax in the shade or dip your toes in the cool stream on hot days. Or take on Namsan Mountain for some more vigorous hiking: Panoramic views of the city await you at the top.
Take a break from the bustle and centre yourself at Jogyesa Zen Buddhist Temple. Pass through the one-pillar gate to hang out with the golden Buddhas within. Or walk the contemplative gardens and participate in a traditional tea ceremony at Bongeunsa Temple, nestled in the forested hills just behind central Seoul.
Seoul's restaurants and street food stalls is overflowing with authentic Korean delights. Kim chi (fermented cabbage with chilies) and spicy Dakgangjeong fried chicken are local favourites. If seafood is your thing, try jogae gui, a mix of local shellfish served freshly grilled at your tableside. Pair your meal with Soju, a clear, sweet alcoholic drink flavored with fruits; a must try with you Seoul cruise holiday.
Shopping in Seoul is a thrilling, energetic experience. Head to the Namdaemun Market, where shop owners often make their own crafts and sell everything from traditional garments to ceramics. The Insa-Dong district has a wealth of teahouses, art galleries and antique shops – pick up a traditional hahoe ceremonial mask. Shop for modern fashions, electronics and more at the mega shopping centre COEX.
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