Travel Guides

Sherpani Travel: Seoul Searching in South Korea - Here's Where You Must Go!

At the end of your first day in Seoul, you'll ask yourself this question: why didn't I come here sooner? Traveling in South Korea will result in profound experiences from the cultural to the culinary.

You'll witness an impressive blend of ancient and modern design in Seoul. Tall, glass buildings climb skyward while ancient temples are preserved among the mystical ginkgo trees (which, if you visit in autumn, offer a new way to appreciate fall colors). The artistry of the city is impossible to miss, but should not be overlooked. Abundant public art will invoke a sense of curiosity and playfulness wherever you look.

A balloon sculpture as public art in Seoul, South Korea



South Korea is situated on a peninsula in the eastern part of the Asian continent, neighboring the island of Japan. Seoul, the capital city, sits in the northern part of the country and inland from the closest body of water, the Yellow Sea.


Safety & Transportation

As women who travel, we are happy to report that Seoul feels incredibly safe. Though crowds are common, they rarely coincide with unease, perhaps because of the welcoming nature of the local population. Whether you're embarking on a solo trip or traveling in a group, Seoul is a female traveler's dream!

A city view of Seoul at sunset

Seoul has well-organized public transportation that is intuitive to use. The ease of navigating the city gives one the confidence required to explore its depths. It's also very walkable, and a comfortable pair of shoes will be your best friend in Seoul - next to your Sherpani travel bag, of course. 😉

Pro Tip: Don't be fooled by your loyalty points. Booking local accommodations will likely be more affordable than a chain hotel.

One thing to note about Seoul is that it may prove challenging for travelers with accessibility concerns or limited mobility. You should expect to encounter steep staircases, narrow alleyways and uneven surfaces.



Seoul effortlessly performs the balancing act of accommodating tourism without compromising authenticity. It is English-friendly, but not English-forward. While not widely spoken, English translations are available on most signs. Monuments await on nearly every corner, eager to introduce you to the stories that shaped Korean culture. The city's captivating history will unfold in real time as you explore.

A temple in downtown Seoul, South Korea

In any metropolis, billboards are a common sight, but we have something special to share about these particular Korean advertisements. Meet Seoul Mate, the new pattern of Sherpani's Compass Packing Cubes.

Sherpani Compass Packing Cubes in new Seoul Mate colorway

The Seoul Mate packing cubes are made from repurposed Korean billboards! As an industry leader in recycled material, Sherpani is excited to nod to beautiful South Korea with this new addition to our collection of packing accessories. We are endlessly inspired by the places we explore.



While some Korean cuisine has found its way to Western culture, the flavors of South Korea have so much more to offer (though Korean barbecue from the source will wow you!). From elegant establishments to streetside stalls, you will be delighted to discover what's on the menu in Seoul.

The food markets can get crowded, but they are worth it. We recommend getting an early start and sampling everything from mung bean pancakes to spicy chicken feet to tteokbokki, a simmered rice cake dish with endless possibilities of toppings.

A public market in Seoul, South Korea

Pro Tip: Take photos of desired items with your phone to show workers and mitigate the language barrier.

One cultural difference to note is that when someone bumps into you in a crowd, you shouldn't expect them to stop and apologize. Add the tourists to Seoul's population of nearly ten million, and bumping into one another is inevitable. This is accepted as not a big deal, and, therefore, not typically acknowledged when it occurs, so don't be alarmed.

While we could go on about all we loved in Seoul, it's time to introduce what is unique to all Sherpani travel guides. We choose a singular experience in each destination that stands out as truly "unmissable." Ready to learn about our must-do for this inspiring destination?

The Sherpani Unmissable recommendation for visiting Seoul: Gyeongbokgung Palace!

A beautiful view of Gyeongbokgung Palace with Bugaksan Mountain in the background.



Gyeongbokgung Palace is a popular stop for tourists in Seoul, and rightfully so. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of Bugaksan Mountain, the palace offers pristine views and sets a contemplative tone for those who visit.

A scenic pond in the Gyeongbokgung Palace grounds

The palace has a powerful history that speaks to the strength and perseverance of the Korean people. Here is a simplified timeline of Gyeongbokgung's past:

  • 1395: Gyeongbokgung Palace was built as the residence for the royal family.
  • 1590s: The palace was destroyed in a fire during the Imjin War; it was abandoned and remained in ruins for over 270 years.
  • 1867: Gojong of Korea, the last king of the Joseon Dynasty and the first emperor of the Korean Empire, rebuilt Gyeongbokgung, which became a royal residence once again.
  • 1910-1945: Gyeongbokgung was destroyed again during the Japanese occupation of Korea. Across the street, the Japanese General Government Building was erected.
  • 1989: The decision was made to restore the 330 structures that comprise Gyeongbokgung. 
  • 1995: The Japanese General Government Building was demolished. In its place, there is now a square that is home to the statues of two historic Koreans: Admiral Yi Sun-Sin, a Korean military general who served in the Imjin War, and King Sejong, a Joseon monarch who invented the Korean alphabet.
  • 2010: Gyeongbokgung Palace was opened to the public; it enchants tourists to this day.
A structure of Gyeongbokgung Palace with iconic Korean archetecture

The structures themselves portray a serene aesthetic. An organized grid of "hip and gable" rooftops with upward curling corners that are iconic to the architecture of East Asia. You'll stroll through vast courtyards and peer into palace windows that depict quintessential Korean scenes. The delicate artwork will captivate your imagination and transport you through time.

View of artwork inside a palace window

The entrance fee for adults is around 3,500 Korean won, less than three US dollars (at the time of publishing). Though this entrance fee won't break the bank, it can be avoided entirely by wearing a hanbok, traditional Korean clothing. In fact, wearing a hanbok will waive the entrance fees at all five of Seoul's palaces! You can purchase these colorful adornments from streetside vending machines, and it's a fun way to immerse yourself in the culture for your day at Gyeongbokgung.

Courtyard inside Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the perfect setting for a day spent in quiet contemplation. It is a boggling experience for US tourists who take into account the scope of their own country's much shorter history. You will want to sit with your travel journal afterward to reflect on your experience inside the palace walls.


Ready to Go?

Is Seoul, South Korea, on your bucket list? We hope you add this incredible city to your list of dream destinations. Have you been to Seoul before? What impression did Gyeongbokgung Palace leave on you? Leave a comment to tell us what else in Seoul is unmissable!

A temple decorated with flowers in downtown Seoul, South Korea

The above post is part of an ongoing segment of the Sherpani Travel Blog. We want to give travelers a singular, tangible recommendation for destinations; something we deem truly unmissable. These recommendations are carefully chosen from the personal travels of the Sherpani team.


Discover More from the Sherpani Travel Blog

Hooked on Sherpani? Read The Complete Guide of How to Clean and Care for Your Sherpani Bag

Discover another Sherpani Unmissable travel guide: You Can't Go to Portugal Without Trying This Wine

Preparing for your next big trip? Check out Travel Tip Tuesday: How to Fight Jet Lag Like a Pro

Ginkgo tree leaves in fall

By women for women, the Sherpani Travel Blog talks about all things travel. With a new post every week on Travel Tuesday, our blog is the go-to place for unique travel guidesgeneral travel tipspersonal travel stories from women in our community, and more!

Reading next

A Love Letter to Boulder, Colorado, Sherpani's Hometown
Bag Breakdown: Seven Purse Styles and Their Uses for Every Day, Travel and More!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.