Seoul is everything you’d hoped it would be, and more. Eleven million people live in this dynamic hotch-potch of a city – majestic palaces and K-Pop, narrow cobbled streets with traditional ‘hanok’ homes below futuristic skyscrapers. The constant contrast between old and new can be utterly fascinating and, for anyone heading to Korea on a ski holiday, we beg you to allocate some time to Seoul, even if it’s just for a couple of nights.
Unless you have strong feelings otherwise, we’ll place you in a hotel in Insadong, a pedestrianised and somewhat hap-hazard central neighbourhood made up of restaurants, Korean teahouses, ceramic stalls, souvenirs shops and funky art galleries. From here, it’s easy to reach Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Myeong-dong shopping district (largest in Seoul) and Bukchon – a village of alleys, cafés, small shops and nearly a thousand hanoks (traditional courtyard houses).
Gangnam is south of the river, a mainly commercial area with a dazzling array of shops selling everything from expensive designer gear to unique vintage clothes. The young, beautiful and fashionable gather here in force, all exuding a certain ... ’style’.
To orientate, one good idea is to head to Namsan Seoul Tower – a cable-car will take you to a main landing area, which is then followed by an ear-popping elevator ride to the 360° viewing tower, which offers an awesome panorama of the city. If it's clear weather, it's worth doing twice – once by day and once after dark.