The city of Seoul offers six different walking tours that cover the major downtown attractions and palaces. These tours are led by English-speaking guides who are trained in Seoul's history and culture. Tours are free, but you'll have to pay admission to each site you stop at. To make a reservation, go to http://english.visitseoul.net; under the "Activities" menu, click on "City Walking Tour." There are a number of guide courses to choose from and you must make a reservation at least 3 days in advance. You can also contact the city at tel. 02/2171-2461. Additional information about the specific courses and where to meet will be e-mailed to you.
In the central downtown area, there are several different walking courses, most centered around historic palaces. For a tour of traditional homes, take the Bukchon course, which takes you through the winding streets of the Bukchon neighborhood, or the Seoul Fortress/Namsan-Hanok Village course. Most tours take about 2 hours, so wear comfortable walking shoes. Both the Bukchon and the Seoul Fortress tours start in front of Deoksugung (subway: City Hall Station, line 1, exit 2; or line 2, exit 12) and depart daily at 10am, 2pm, and 3pm. The tours are not offered Lunar New Year, palace holidays, or on Chuseok.
If you're short on time but want to see the major sights, try the Seoul City Tour Bus run by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Different tours include Cheonggyecheon, the downtown tour (which stops at 27 locations in a 2-hr. period), the palace tour (with 11 stops in 1 hr.), and the night tour. Buses leave Tuesday through Sunday (and Mon holidays) from Donghwa DFS in Gwanghwamun (subway line 5 to Gwanghwamun Station, exit 6) every 30 minutes from 9am to 7pm for the downtown tour, and from 9am to 4pm for the palace tour. Cheonggyecheon tours leave at 10am, noon, 2pm, 4:30pm, and 7pm. Night tour buses leave, rather oddly, at 7:50 and 8pm.
A single ride or night-tour ticket costs W5,000 adults, W3,000 children. A 1-day ticket (good for both downtown and palace tour routes with on-off privileges) costs W10,000 adults, W8,000 children. If you get both a 1-day ticket and a night tour, there is an additional discount. Also, if you have a KTX or KR pass, you can get a 15% discount on the 1-day tour. You can buy tickets from the tour guide once you board the bus. Admission to palaces and other attractions isn't included, but discounts are offered. For additional info, call tel. 02/777-6090 or log on to www.visitseoul.net.
Taking a Han River Tour
Although boat tours run all day from Yeouido's Ferry Terminal, the most romantic is the last one of the evening. There are two excursion cruises available from the tiny island on the Han-gahng. The circular line goes to Yanghwa, turns east at Dongjak Bridge, and returns to Yeouido, while the other goes one-way to Ttukseom. Boats run every hour during popular summer months (July-Aug) and every 1 1/2 to 2 hours in the spring and fall (the river freezes in the winter, making boat tours impossible). The night cruise departs around 7:30pm, though times vary, so call ahead. The trip lasts 90 minutes and costs W15,000 adults, W7,500 children. No reservations are taken, so come early, especially during the popular summer months. For additional info, call tel. 02/3271-6900.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.