Riding the K-Wave to Seoul? Here are some exciting ways to find the best parts of Seoul that money can’t buy. Check out this guide for free things to do in Seoul if you’re thinking of saving up this September holiday!
Seoul is busy as it is buzzing! On a trip to the South Korean capital city, given its famous attractions, lux food and unmissable nightlife, chances are the bank is going to break a little. But there’s no need to feel the pinch: if you stray slightly from the typical itinerary, you will find the best of Seoul can also come at no extra cost. Here are some iconic free things to do on your next trip to Seoul!
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1. Starfield Library
Image Credits: Seoul Metropolitan Government
We’ve all wanted a wall-length bookshelf carrying our favourite reads, but Starfield Library shows us how it’s done. Towering a whopping 13 metres, the gigantic library is lit with pouring sunlight through the glass windows and hoisting over 50,000 books.
Nestled in the heart of Asia’s largest underground shopping mall, Starfield Coex Mall, the chic library is a reader’s paradise and completely free of charge to enter. While most of the literature is in Korean, there is also a small section for English readers so you won’t be unequipped at all! And the cherry on top? There are also exclusive author talks or performances frequently at the library, which… you guessed it, are also free!
📍 Address: South Korea, Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Yeongdong-daero, 513 스타필드 코엑스몰 B1
Free Things to Do in Seoul 2023: Find out about Starfield Library here.
2. National Museum of Korea
Image credits: Museums of the World
Where are my historical K-Drama enthusiasts at? The National Museum of Korea is South Korea’s largest museum and displays over 12,000 artefacts of Korea’s deep culture from prehistory to the significant six centuries of the Joseon era (1392-1897). While special exhibitions might have a fee, the free permanent collections are enough to keep you mesmerized.
Some unmissable exhibits are the Ten-story Pagoda of Gyeongcheonsa Temple and the Bosingak Bell. English tours are available at 11 AM and 2 PM. Alternatively, the museum app provides a great audioguide that can help you navigate the grand museum at your own pace.
📍 Address: 137 Seobinggo-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Free Things to Do in Seoul 2023: Find out about the National Museum here.
3. Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Image credits: Peapix
After your dose of history, head on to Dongdaemun Design Plaza for a taste of the arts and the future. Designed by the famed Zaha Hadid, the neo-futuristic cultural complex hails as one of the architect’s greatest works. Take some time to appreciate the hub’s mission to bring forth new design and fashion through exclusive exhibitions, conferences, and events. However, the events are ticketed. Nonetheless, the edifice presents itself as a piece of art worth admiring!
📍 Address: 281 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Free Things to Do in Seoul 2023: Find out about the Dongdaemun Design Plaza here.
4. Bukchon Hanok Village
Image credits: Expatolife
So much of Seoul is modern and snazzy that it’s refreshing to visit the Bukchon Hanok Village — an idyllic hamlet with over 900 traditional dwellings dating back to the Joseon dynasty. In fact, a lot of them were royal homes to the aristocrats, the histories of which become timeless in this village, lined against the skyscraping peaks of the metropolitan city.
Most of the hanoks are repurposed to be guest houses and cultural centres (and loads of tea available here!). And of course, entry is free so the camera keeps clicking from the moment you enter! However, several complaints of tourists being loud or disruptive have been coming to light, so tourists are advised to maintain the sanctity of the area!
📍 Address: Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Free Things to Do in Seoul 2023: Find out about the Bukchon Hanok Village here.
5. Ihwa Mural Village
Image credits: Seoul Metropolitan Government
Ihwa Mural Village sits on the high slopes of Naksan, the old “Moon Villages”, where refugees were once residing after the Korean War. Now the the undulating alleyways are covered in colourful murals from artists across Korea to bring colour and charm to the once-forsaken neighbourhood. While the murals remain beautiful and artsy, the residents of the neighbourhood have expressed their discontent over loud and undiscerning tourists — a little something to be mindful of!
In Ihwa Mural Village, also try to catch Naksan Park which offers a great view of the city and of the Seoul Fortress Wall that encroaches on the park — a perfect spot for some rest on your journey!
📍 Address: 49 Naksan 4-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Free Things to Do in Seoul 2023: Find out about the Ihwa Mural Village here.
6. Cheonggyecheon Stream
Image credits: TripAdvisor
Catch the golden hour blending into the night on a walk at Cheonggyecheon Stream, for a romantic spin to your evening. Although man-made, nothing tickles a fairytale fancy than a meandering stream, especially during the stunning Lantern Festival in November, when lit floats and lanterns make the oasis shimmer.
Also don’t forget to catch the Candle Fountain at the base entrance of Cheonggyecheon at night, and spare a penny or two for Palseokdam Wishing Well to make all your dreams come true!
📍 Address: Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Free Things to Do in Seoul 2023: Find out about the Cheonggyecheon Stream here.
7. Hongdae Free Market
Image credits: TripAdvisor
For a unique taste of arts and crafts, visit the Hongdae Free Market where artists, performers, and musicians from all over the country gather to showcase and sell their work. Handmade and authentic, these artefacts are the perfect souvenirs to take home — or just as good to gaze at and socialize with talented creatives! The market runs from March to November on Saturdays from 1 PM to 6 PM, and admission is, as always, free. So time to tap into your creativity!
📍 Address: 19-3 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Free Things to Do in Seoul 2023: Find out about the Hongdae Free Market here.
The government of Korea has arranged also several free walking tours, so if you need to get your steps in, just hop along and take a trip across the city! You might get a local’s overview of the city, a combination of the above attractions to wrap it up!
Ready For Some Seoul-Searching?
No need to worry anymore about the expensive city life when Seoul has so much to offer! So put on your ‘I Heart Seoul’ T-shirt and get going! For transportation and those unavoidable expenses (sadly not everything can be free, can it?), don’t forget to use your YouTrip card while making purchases to make full use of favourable foreign exchange rates, and snag the best deals on air tickets, accommodation, and travel insurance!
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