But for a taste of North Korea, try Sadongmyeonok (6) (00 82 2 725 1211), and order naengmyeon, a strange, cold noodle soup, or mandu, a variety of meat dumpling.CULTURAL AFTERNOONKorea's cultural shrine is the royal palace of Gyeongbokgung (7) (00 82 2 779 5310; ), a vast yet sublime complex of wooden gates, pavilions and ceremonial halls. It opens 9am-6pm daily (except Tuesday, 9am to 7pm) from May to October, until 6pm in March and April, and until 5pm from November to February Admission is W3,000 (£1.50). lottehotel.co.kr), built south-west of the centre to house Terry Wogan and other luminaries for the 1988 Olympics. Doubles from W264,000 (£132); breakfast is W27,800 (£13.90).As a budget option, Seoul Backpackers (4) has been around longer than most (00 82 2 3672 1972; packers ). Doubles are W37,000 (£18.50); breakfast is included.TAKE A HIKESeoul is not in general a city for walking - but Hi Seoul Greeters (00 82 2 3707 9453) will provide free English-speaking guides for short walks in the city centre You need to book online, three days ahead, at .
For an eye-opening stroll through Korea's modern history, try the Jeong-dong walk, which takes you past a number of historical locations as well as Seokjojeon, the first western-style building in the city.LUNCH ON THE RUNWherever you are staying in Seoul, you will probably find yourself returning to the Insadong area - and in particular the street known as Insadonggi, running north-west from Tapgol Park (5), which has lots of reasonably priced eating places. Taxis are inexpensive (W5,000/£2.50 buys a three-mile ride), but drivers rarely speak English: it helps to have your destination written in Korean characters.CHECK INThe massive Lotte Hotel (2), right at the city centre (00 82 2 771 1000; ), has every mod con,
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07/13 - 12/12 Pick up One Direction Tickets staging in Madison Square Garden, Mandalay Bay. One Direction is staging in New York, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. One Direction concert 2012including some rooms with internet terminals. If you cannot bear to be without an ice rink, bowling alley and billiard hall nearby, opt for Lotte World (3) (00 82 2 419 7000; www. Doubles start at W471,900 (£236), with an extra W24,000 (£12) for breakfast. cathaypacific ) via Hong Kong, China Eastern via Shanghai (020-7935 2676; ) or Emirates (0870 243 2222; www. emirates ) via Dubai.The main airport, Incheon, is 31 miles west of Seoul. Express buses run frequently to Seoul, with a flat fare of 7,000 won (W7,000 or £3.50), although the charge on some lines is W12,000 (£6) For most visitors a good route is 601 to City Hall (1).
Alternatively, a cab can cost as little as W20,000 (£10) direct to your hotel, but make sure you get a regular taxi rather than the more expensive luxury version.GET YOUR BEARINGSSeoul can seem bafflingly large, but most of the places of interest are in a manageable area. The city has a beautiful setting, with tower blocks jostling for space with hills, and the Hangang river flowing through it. Most visitors stay on the north bank, particularly in Insadong and Itaewon.A fast, reliable and cheap (W800/40p) subway system (00 82 2 621 12200; ) connects almost everywhere in the city. Connecting services are available on Cathay Pacific (020-8834 8800; www. The city of 10 million people is more welcoming and accessible than ever to foreign visitors.TOUCH DOWNYou can fly non-stop from London Heathrow on Asiana (020-7514 0201; ) or Korean Air (020-7495 3377; ). The sprawling capital of South Korea is in cultural overdrive: music, theatre and even soap opera from Seoul are reaching a wider audience in China, Japan and elsewhere.