Seoul, South Korea, travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights

THE ONE HISTORIC NEIGHBOURHOOD

Old Seoul was levelled during the Korean War but one area of town where a semblance of its past can still be glimpsed is Bukchon, a charming hillside neighbourhood distinguished by its proliferation of traditional hanok wood and stone houses. Some of these buildings, such as those managed by the venerable Rakkojae Hanok Collection, have been sensitively transformed into gracious hotels and tearooms reminiscent of Japan’s ryokans. See rakkojae.com

THE ONE FOOD MARKET

A fun and easy introduction to Korean cuisine in Seoul is the lively and tourist-friendly Tongin Market, home to dosirak or Korean-style lunch boxes. At this colourful covered market diners purchase a chain of special gold coin tokens to be exchanged for any of the dishes they fancy from the array of stalls flanking a long laneway. Once you’ve filled your lunchbox, head upstairs to the cosy dining area above the stalls where drinks and sweets are also available. See english.visitkorea.or.kr

THE ONE MOUNTAIN TEMPLE

A meditative, in every sense, contrast to frenetic Seoul, the origins of tranquil Jingwansa Temple, cradled in mountains surrounding a national park under 90 minutes west from the capital, date to 1010BC. Destroyed during the Korean War and rebuilt three decades ago, foreigners can either visit for a half-a-day or overnight here and join in a Jingwansa Buddhist cultural program incorporating its simple and salubrious vegan temple food. See eng.templestay.com

THE ONE SPECTACLE

D7DG85 The changing of the guard ceremony at Gyeongbokgung Palace in South Koreas Capital Seoul, Asia SatFeb25OneOnly

Photo: Alamy

Photo: Alamy 

Many capitals around the world hold changing of the guard ceremonies at their most important public buildings but few boast one quite as elaborate or rousing as that staged thrice daily at Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace. The Palace Royal Guard Changing Ceremony, complete with traditional costumes, weapons and banners, faithfully reenacts the age-old procedure performed during Korea’s

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