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Seoul Searching | What To Do in Seoul During Seollal.

Happy Lunar New Year!
Today marks the first day of the Seollal holiday in South Korea - a three-day event to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The Seollal holiday starts on the day before the Lunar New Year, and ends on the day after it. This year, the actual day of Seollal falls on a Tuesday, February 5; and with the weekend before it, Koreans get an extra two days to enjoy the Lunar New Year festivities.

One of the most important holidays in Korea, Seollal not only marks the passage into a new year, but also gives families the time and opportunity to bond, pay respect to their ancestors, and enjoy a bountiful meal. Majority of the business establishments in Korea are closed during this time (it's a national holiday, after all), but tourist attractions and destinations remain open to the public, hosting various events and cultural activities.

If you're in Korea for the Seollal holiday, here's a list of things to do and places to visit to make the most out of your Lunar New Year trip:

Join a Temple Stay Program.
In a Temple Stay Program, participants can experience Korean culture and immerse oneself in daily monastic life. To celebrate Seollal, various temples across the country will host special temple stays and offer Seollal-related activities such as playing traditional Korean games, commemorative rites for ancestors, and New Year's bow to the Buddha after the Buddhist service.

Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam and Jogyesa Temple in Jongno are some of the temples in Seoul that host Temple Stay Programs.
Customary visit to Bongeunsa Temple whenever we're in Seoul.
Visit a Hanok/Folk Village.
A great way to learn more about Korean culture and experience how Koreans traditionally celebrate Seollal is by visiting a folk village or a hanok village.

The Korean Folk Village in Yongin welcomes the Lunar New Year with traditional activities such as jisinbalgi (praying for abundance through music)daljiptaeugi (sheaf burning/traditional campfire), eating tteokguk (sliced rice cake soup), and fortune-telling. Kids can also experience fun activities such as making kites, playing with tops, and even ice sledding when they visit the Korean Folk Village during this time of the year.

Meanwhile, the Namsangol Hanok Village is all set for the Year of the Pig, with a 6-meter inflatable pig standing tall (more like sitting, actually) in the cultural plaza. Musical performances, cultural plays, traditional games, and food festivals are all part of Namsangol Hanok Village's Seollal celebration.
Photo credit: Namsangol Hanok Village Facebook page
Explore the Grand Palaces of Seoul.
If you're a fan of Korean dramas, no trip to South Korea would be complete without visiting any (or all) of the royal palaces in Seoul. There are five of them in total - Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Gyeonghuigung, and all of them are located in central Seoul. 

Exploring the palaces is a great way to get to know the metropolis, learn about Korean history, and appreciate historical architecture. During the Seollal holiday, admission to the royal palaces will be free of charge. Visitors will also have the chance to participate in traditional rituals such as tea ceremonies, bowing before elders, and receiving saebaetdon (New Year's gift). Traditional games such as yutnori (traditional board game) jegichagi (hacky sack), and tuho (darts) are also included in this year's Seollal activities.
From L-R: Unhyeongung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Deoksugung Palace.
Visit a museum.
Seoul is home to a plethora of museums and galleries, which feature everything from South Korea's rich and eventful history to its present status, at the helm of innovation and technology. Some of the note-worthy, must-visit museums are the National Museum of Korea, the Seoul Museum of History, the National Folk Museum of Korea, and the War Memorial of Korea

The National Museum of Korea in Yongsan is currently hosting a special exhibition to commemorate the 1100th founding anniversary of Goryeo, the kingdom established by King Taejo. On display are paintings, celadons, sculptures, and craftworks dating back to as early as 918.
National Museum of Korea.
Also located in Yongsan is the War Memorial of Korea, a museum/national monument dedicated to Koreans and non-Koreans who sacrificed their lives during the Korean War. The museum houses more than 30,000 artifacts displayed in the indoor exhibition hall and at the outdoor exhibition area. Admission is free, and the War Memorial will be open throughout the Seollal holiday.
War Memorial of Korea.
On the other hand, the National Folk Museum of Korea will be hosting the 'Seol Grand Festival' for the Year of the Pig. The festival will kick-off on the day after Seollal with special musical performances, fortune-telling sessions, and traditional games. Arts and craft activities, food sampling, and fun activities for the kids are also included in the program. If you're born in the Year of the Pig, you'll even have a chance to receive a bokjumeoni (fortune pouch) as a New Year's gift.
Seoul Museum of History.
If calligraphy is your thing, head over to the Seoul Museum of History in Jongno for a special calligraphy event. Participants will have the opportunity to learn some calligraphy basics and write postcards as souvenirs or gifts for loved ones. Kids will also be treated to an afternoon of fun and games as they learn about Seollal traditions. 
One of the displays at the Seoul Museum of History.
Have fun at amusement parks. 
South Korea also has an impressive selection of theme parks, with Everland, Lotte World, and Seoul Land topping the list. All three theme parks are open all-year-round, and they offer special promos in celebration of the New Year.

Lotte World, for instance, has a special discount exclusive for foreigners. By simply presenting their passport or ARC (alien registration card), foreigners can get as much as 50% discount on passes to Lotte World.
Lotte World Adventure.
Aside from amusement parks, tourist attractions such as the COEX Aquarium, N Seoul Tower, and Seoullo 7017 will be open during the Seollal holiday period.

Sae-hae bok mani badeuseyo! 
May you receive many blessings this year, and hope you enjoy your Seollal holiday in South Korea!

29 replies:

Abu Zaid said...

I choose Lotte World, because it suitable with my kids. thank you for share

Nina said...

Looks like a beautiful, fun place to visit. and full of amazing things to do and see for the whole family.

Megan Kerry said...

Very cool! I didn't really know about Seollal until this post! What a great celebration. Thanks for sharing!

Emmeline said...

I never heard of this Holiday before! But Seoul looks like a great place - will have to go there!

Chelle Dizon said...

This is the first time that I have heard about Seollal holiday in South Korea. Thanks for the informative and lovely photos on this article.

Deb said...

Lotte World sounds awesome :) I'd love to go to Seoul one day!
Thanks for sharing these.
Debs @

Geraline Batarra said...

Great post, haven't heard of this places before. I will definitely go here whenever I get the chance.

Natalie said...

This place looks amazing!!

Megan said...

This place looks so fun! I'd really like to visit Seoul one day. This has me convinced! x

Rebecca Sanchez said...

seoul is definitely on my bucket list, aside from kpop and kdramas the place is must visit and lotte world of course

Nate said...

Great you mentioned about Lotte World. My childhood friend just came from there last month, and had so many great things to say about it.

Rachael Eberhardt said...

Wow, there are sure lots of apots to visit in Korea. I won't dare to miss the amusement park and the national museum if ever.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you guys had a great time and got to experience a good breadth of things.

Claire said...

I'm originally from Seoul and there are definitely a lot of fun things to do there! A lot of cultural stuff too!

Reese Woods said...

I would absolutely love to visit here just to see some of the temples. They are so ornate and filled with beautiful history!

Mickal said...

Looks like a beautiful and it must be a fun place to visit.

Shannan Powell said...

Thank you so much for sharing! It looks like Seoul has loads of wonderful things to see and do!

Christa said...

Seoul looks like such an amazing place to visit! It’s definitely on my bucket list.

erica said...

Seoul is somewhere I have always wanted to visit. Every place on my I really need to go list are in Asia

Preet said...

Wow Seoul looks incredible. There’s so much to do and see there during Seollal! Looks like a brilliant place to take the whole family

CORINA said...

Awesome place to visit, I will definitely go here whenever I get the chance. All of your photos are so lovely.

shweta said...

This place seems very amazing, would love to visit with my kids. Thanks for sharing.

Elizabeth O said...

It looks like such an amazing place to visit! Pictures are so beautiful

Cleverly Changing said...

I have friend who is Korean, she used to be one of my homeschool partners. You provided many excited suggestions like, "A great way to learn more about Korean culture and experience how Koreans traditionally celebrate Seollal is by visiting a folk village or a hanok village."

luvyurselfgirl35 said...

Exploring the grand palaces would be right up my alley! I just love being transported back into time through amazing architecture and artifacts!

May Arcenal said...

Korea is one of the top countries I want to visit in the next five years. It must be a wonderful time to visit the country during festivities like these. Thanks for sharing, mommy!

Michi said...

Wow, parang ang sarap pumunta ng Korea pag Seollal at may mga free entrance fee and 50% discount sa ticket. Parang type ko yung calligraphy basics nila. :)

Quen Gavan said...

We love Seoul and walking/running around the city. Must have been more exciting with all the festivities!

Tweenselmom said...

Korea should make you a travel ambassador, we are all excited to go to Korea because of the beautiful places you post.