Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is home to more than nine million people and is considered one of the most vibrant cities in Asia. It is surrounded by rocky mountains and filled with a mixture of ancient buildings and skyscrapers. The skyscrapers throughout the city offer fascinating views over this sprawling metropolis.
Seoul is an extraordinary and fun city where you can find many unusual things to do. Some of the highlights on this list include exploring an abandoned theme park, getting lost in unique markets, checking out ancient buildings, learning more about Korean life at quirky museums, and getting outdoors at a majestic national park.
I have combined my favourite weird and fun things to do that you can’t miss while you are in Seoul. Some of the activities mentioned here don't exist anywhere else in the world! So if you are interested in finding out more, scroll down to take a look at my 14 unusual things to do in Seoul list.
Constructed in 1980, Yongma Land used to be a small theme park. It was closed in 2011 due to low profits and more significant theme parks becoming more popular.
Today, this tiny amusement park is a well-known spot for photos. For a small fee of 5,000 KRW (around 5 USD), you can freely roam around the abandoned theme park.
If you are happy to pay a bit more, for 30,000 KRW (around 30 USD), the current owner of the theme park will turn the merry-go-round lights on. With the lights on, the merry-go-round makes for very majestic photos.
At the theme park, you will find run-down rides, such as a Viking ride, bumper cars, flying planes, and many other iconic 80's rides. The theme park also has a small snack bar where you can purchase snacks, drinks and even balloons for your photos.
While visiting Seoul, you have to try traditional Korean food! Almost every tourist has heard of a Korean BBQ. It's served at restaurants all over the city. When at one, you are given a tray of raw foods that you will have to cook by yourself.
The best place to go for a Korean BBQ is the Wangbijib restaurant situated in Myeongdong. Wangbijib restaurant specialises in grilled beef.
After ordering, you get served raw meat, some side dishes, lettuce, vegetables for grilling and sauces. You will need to put the sliced meat on the grill and cook it how you like it. Once the meat is cooked, put a portion of all the side dishes and meat into the lettuce.
If it’s your first time at a Korean BBQ, the staff are friendly enough to help you.
If you are looking for some fun things to do in Seoul, the Trick Eye Museum is the right choice for you.
The museum is a unique art gallery that combines art with 2D and 3D illusions, allowing visitors to interact with the exhibits. Some of the exhibits at the Trick Eye Museum use your actual photo to come to life, which integrates you into the display.
Inside the museum, you will find another museum, the Ice Museum. It is filled with objects made from ice. Your Trick Eye Museum admission ticket allows you to enter the Ice Museum, too.
After your visit, head to the museum's cafe to get a coffee with latte art designed using photos provided from your phone. Just don’t forget to select your photo before ordering your coffee.
The National Museum of Korea is the largest in South Korea and contains essential objects related to Korean culture and history.
At the museum, you will be able to find more than 220,000 objects scattered throughout six permanent galleries. The museum has three floors that together house several galleries.
The most captivating galleries are the Sculpture and Crafts Gallery, which is where you will find the most well-known Buddhist paintings and sculptures, and the Prehistoric and Ancient History Gallery, which is where you will have a chance to learn more about ancient Korea.
Outside the museum's grounds, you will find a large park with ponds where you can sit down and relax, or eat your lunch.
Nestled between two ancient palaces, Bukchon Hanok Village (Northern Village) is a place that you can’t miss while in Seoul.
Bukchon Hanok Village is filled with hundreds of traditional houses, called Hanok in Korean. Most of the Hanoks are residential houses, and many have been converted into traditional Korean restaurants, art galleries, handicraft shops, guest houses, and museums.
The village dates back to the Joseon dynasty. It was an area where most of the aristocrats and public officers lived. Today, it’s a trendy spot for photoshoots with iconic views of Seoul.
You will find numerous Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) shops around the village. If you are looking to create some unique photos that appear as though you have just stepped out from medieval Korea, you can rent a traditional dress from one of the dress shops. It makes for a fun photoshoot in the village.
Please take into account that Bukchon Hanok Village is a residential area, so be respectful of the residents. Do not enter their private houses and try to keep your voice down.
Near Seoul’s northern border, you will find Bukhansan National Park, which is the closest national park to the city and can be reached by subway. It has almost 100 hiking trails taking you through remote temples and fascinating mountain streams.
The most famous trail leads you towards Bukhansan’s highest peak - Baegundae, which showcases magnificent views of downtown Seoul.
Be aware, a hike up to the summit is very strenuous. If you are uncomfortable with heights, parts of it can be scary. If you aren't a fan of hiking, take a more accessible trail through the streams. Along the path, you will come across an observatory deck with great views of the city.
I suggest picking up a free English map from the information centre. The map will help you identify a trail that is most suitable for you.
Lotte World is a massive indoor and outdoor amusement park filled with thrilling rides, an ice rink, museums, shops, and parades all day long and night.
The theme park is one of the most fun things to do in Seoul at night due to its countless lights and performances. Lotte World is known for its Magic Castle that shines brightly in the dark.
Lotte World is divided into two sections: Lotte World Adventure (indoor theme park with exciting rides) and Magic Island (outdoor theme park by Seokchon Lake).
Make sure you buy a ticket that includes admission to the Folk Museum as it attracts tons of international tourists. In the museum, you will find miniatures of Korean villages, a large playground, and ancient folk objects.
Opened in 1941, Tongin Market was set up for Japanese residents living around the Hyoja neighbourhood.
After Korea became independent from Japanese rule, the market was shut down. However, after the Korean War, Seoul was short of markets, so various vendors decided to use the Tongin Market area to set up their stalls.
Today, Tongin Market has about 75 stores, including restaurants and food shops. However, people don’t come here to shop. Instead, Tongin Market is known for Dosirak (lunch box) cafes.
You can exchange Won (Korean currency) for a collection of old coins. Use these coins to buy your lunch box items from the market stalls. Just walk around the market and select what you like. Most items cost between 1 to 2 coins, and you can get quite a bit of food for a small amount of money. It’s cheap and entertaining!
An overnight temple stay is becoming more and more popular among international tourists. There is no need to go out of Seoul to enjoy this unique experience. Just visit Jogyesa Temple, located in the middle of downtown.
Constructed in the 14th century, Jogyesa Temple is considered to be the centre of Korean Buddhism. It is the head temple of the Jogye Order. Lots of important Buddhist events, rituals, and lectures happen at this temple.
During a temple stay at Jogyesa Temple, you will participate in daily monk activities, including chanting, an eating ritual, a tea ceremony, and traditional Buddhist crafts.
The stay usually lasts for one night and two days, so it suits those who wish to experience something different and relax.
Cafe Yeonnam-Dong 223-14 is one of the unique things to do in Seoul. Why? As soon as you step into this coffee shop, you feel like you have just been drawn into a cartoon. Everything inside the shop has been made to look like a cartoon, including the coffee, mugs, and plates.
However, the cartoon interior is not the only thing that makes this cafe different. Strangely, the coffee shop doesn’t have a name, so people refer to it by its address. Even if you know the address, it can still be tricky to find it, so install a Korean map app on your phone beforehand.
Be aware that you are strictly required to order something from the coffee shop if you want to take photos. Also, be prepared for a queue if you come on a Saturday - it is a trendy spot!
Poopoo Land is a bright and wacky museum theme park in downtown Seoul.
The exhibitions at this museum explain everything about human poop, farts, urine and more.
The most popular attraction in Poopoo Land is the exit tunnel. It’s a dark, steep slide that represents the digestive system. Before the slide, staff will give you shoe covers, long sleeves and ‘poopoo pants’ to cover your clothes. To discover what happens next, you will have to go on the slide!
Poopoo Land has a lovely poop-themed cafe where you can get food and drinks served in toilet bowls and mugs. If you are looking for a cheaper option, head to the ground floor and check out the stall selling various snacks shaped like poo.
Museum Kimchikan is dedicated to the traditional Korean side dish Kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage). The museum also details Kimjang - the conventional Korean process of making kimchi, which was designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Just by visiting the museum, you will learn about the history of kimchi and will have a chance to try various types of kimchi from all over South Korea.
There is a small admission fee, and you have to reserve your tickets online through the museum website. If you wish to rent an audio guide, it is available in various languages.
Seodaemun Prison History Museum is a significant museum for Korean history.
The prison was built during the Japanese occupation and was the place where Korean independence fighters were tortured and executed by Japanese officers.
Today, the building has been converted into a museum where you can learn more about Japanese torture techniques and the history of the Korean Independence Movement.
The most important part of the museum is cell 8 in the women’s prison, which is where the famous freedom fighter Yu Gwan Sun was tortured. The prison cell is dedicated to her quotes and her life. I suggest spending at least 20 minutes here to appreciate the exhibit fully.
Noryangjin Fish Market is located next to Noryangjin subway station. The market is open 24 hours and gets incredibly busy in the morning when the fresh fish arrives at the market. More than 700 vendors sell all sorts of seafood - from octopus to blue crabs to sea cucumbers and more.
You can wander around the market for a couple of hours. Fish or other seafood creatures can be cooked for you on-site by different vendors. If you can’t decide what you want, head to the fish restaurants that have fantastic fish soups from 5,000 KRW (around 5 USD).
There are plenty of unusual things to do in Seoul that are suitable for all ages and solo or group travellers.
Don’t be afraid to visit places and experience what Seoul has to offer you. Some locations can sound like bizarre places; however, I can guarantee that you will love every single activity on this list, so don’t hesitate.
I suggest fitting several things that are near each other in one day so you can walk and explore the city at the same time.
That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed this list of unusual things to do and learned something new about South Korea’s capital city.
Have a lovely trip and bring back unforgettable memories!
This article was first published on Dec 13, 2019 19:14 UTC.
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