A thriving metropolis and one of the world’s largest cities, Seoul, officially Seoul Special City, is the capital of South Korea, and its economic, political and cultural centre. It is situated in the centre of the Korean Peninsula’s west coast along the Han River and surrounded by mountains. Nearly half of the people in South Korea live in and around the city. Summers in Seoul are often hot and humid. Winters are generally cold and much drier than during the summer months. March to May is cherry blossom season.
Seoul has a highly developed economy. Although Korea has virtually no natural resources, it is nevertheless one of the G20 major economies. The 2010 G20 summit meeting was held in Seoul. It’s a world leading technology hub and a global leader of consumer electronics, mobile broadband and smartphones. There are numerous transnational companies in Seoul and many international banks have branches here, too.
Le Méridien is located just five minutes by subway from COEX, Korea's largest exhibition facility. Much business activity goes on here, including expos and conventions.
Seoul is a capital rich in culture and historic sites, reflecting its 2,000-year history. Its five royal palaces – Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung and Gyeonghuigung – are well worth a visit. Near Le Méridien lies the stunning Joseon-era royal tomb complex of Seonjeongneung, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bongeunsa is a major temple of the Zen school of Buddhism.
The city is home to plenty of other great tourist sites. Watch a KBO League game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium. Stretching along the banks of the iconic Han River, Hangang Park features cycling paths, a jogging track, a football pitch, a volleyball court, a tennis court, a swimming pool, and exercise equipment. In the summer, options include swimming, windsurfing, and motor boating.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Seonjeongneung is the resting place of Seongjong, the ninth king of Joseon, and his wife, Queen Jeonghyeon. Located in the heart of the city, it features a large forest, offering a relaxing spot for autumn picnickers and local company workers heading out for a stroll.
Buddhism is one of Korea's major religions. To feel a sense of Buddhist culture, head to Bongeunsa Temple, located by the subway station of the same name on Line 9. Built in 794, Bongeunsa offers temple stays and hosts lotus lantern festivals. Visit at midnight on December 31 to witness the new year's bell ringing ceremony that takes place here. On Buddha's Birthday (April 8 by the lunar calendar), Bongeunsa is adorned with row upon row of beautiful lotus lanterns.
N Seoul Tower
This tower, Seoul's defining landmark, is a great place to take in nighttime views of the city. A ride by high-speed elevator leads to an observation deck with views not only across all of Seoul but all the way to Mt. Yongmunsan in Yangpyeong to the east, Incheon and the Yellow Sea coast to the west, Namhan Mountain Fortress to the south and Mt. Songaksan in Gaeseong far away to the north. The tower complex is also home to other attractions such as a teddy bear museum, N Restaurant and N Shopping.
Jamsil Baseball Stadium
To enjoy a Korean pro-baseball game, head to Jamsil Stadium. From March to November, Korean pro baseball games are played here every day except on Mondays. Visit the stadium to experience a taste of Korea's unique sports fan culture. There are snacks including fried chicken, beer and hot dogs on sale here too, offering another way to get into the local baseball-watching spirit.
COEX Mall is Korea's largest exhibition facility and a hub of business, hosting some 200 exhibitions and 2,500 international conferences and events every year. It is also a shopping and tourist destination in its own right, featuring an aquarium, shopping at COEX Starfield mall, duty free stores and a casino.
Hangang Riverside Parks
This series of parks by the Han River has a wealth of sporting facilities including jogging paths, football and volleyball courts and swimming pools. The parks are also great for simply relaxing on the grass and looking out over the river. Convenience stores offer abundant snacks, while local fast food joints also deliver to the park, creating the perfect conditions for a leisurely picnic.