Seoul is one of the world’s great metropolises, second only to Tokyo in terms of population density. One out of every four South Koreans live in the city center, a figure that rises to one out of two if the greater metropolitan area is included. As capital of the 11th-largest economy in the world, Seoul’s financial successes are staggering, but six centuries worth of history are also here to explore.
Sites in Seoul include five royal palaces that served various dynasties throughout the ages. Built in 1405, Changdeok-gung World Heritage Site is the best of these. It’s joined by a host of other historical attractions that include Buddhist temples, royal shrines, and a few world-class museums. The DMZ (de-militarized zone) doesn’t have any hotels of its own, but it’s an ideal daytrip destination from hotels near Seoul. Tourists can also use Seoul as a base for ski outings in Ganwon-do or for sightseeing in the UNESCO World Heritage village, Suwon.