- Seoul’s Incheon International Airport is the best in the world. Literally. For five consecutive years, Incheon has been ranked the best in the world by the Airport Councils International. The airport has a futuristic design, is extremely efficient and has several transport media connected to it. The hub contains a museum, spa and casino. Basically if you have a layover there, you have no reason to complain.
- Large parts of the city were destroyed during the Korean War. Buildings were in ruin and there was also a huge influx of refugees. Many historical buildings were also destroyed by the Japanese occupation. Following the 1950’s Seoul took initiatives to modernize and rebuild. But back then, it was virtually unrecognizable.
- South Koreans have a love affair with technology. So it comes as no surprise that Seoul plans to have free public wi-fi within this year. This includes wi-fi at every public space as well as trains and buses. This is a joint project that involves the national government and the municipal government of the city.
- There was once a natural stream in Seoul that was once surrounded by slums. The government covered the stream with a highway and then removed the highway to make a public park by reviving the stream. The Cheonggyecheon project was highly successful, inspiring cities around the world to learn from it. It was truly a lesson for urban renewal.
- History exists among the ultra modern in Seoul (Can’t believe I’d be one to use that tired, cliché phrase). But yes, the Japanese occupation did not destroy everything. There are the 5 Grand Palaces(Changdeokgung, Deoksugung, Changgyeonggung, Gyeonghuigung and Gyeongbokgung – try saying that five times fast!) dating from the Joseon dynasty. The edifices are restored beautifully, however their treasures were robbed during the occupation.
- McDonald’s delivers. That is all.
- Dog Cafés! While we are all familiar with the cat variety in Japan, Seoul is home to ones serving tail-wagging, barks and wi-fi. There are, of course, other animal cafés to please everyone.
- For the history buffs out there, there is the Seodaemun Prison. It was built by the Japanese and has been used to imprison those who strengthened the Korean independence movement. Many died there or were tortured to death.
- There are several hiking trails going up the hills surrounding the city that can give you AMAZING views. One of the most picturesque peaks would have to be Baegundae peak.
- If you want something special and hand-made to remember you trip by, then do visit Insadong. It is the arts and crafts center of the city and compounds Myeongdong as one of its prime shopping thoroughfares.
For more about Seoul, I would recommend The Soul of Seoul for more info. Cheers!