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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN Seoul

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Seoul each year.
The main ones are listed below.

January 1: Sinjeong (New Year's Day, national)

January 28: Seollal (Lunar New Year, national)

Koreans celebrate this three-day festival by getting together with their extended families under one roof to share a traditional meal and honour both elders and ancestors. Even though many of the locals may leave the city during this time, a number of events are organized in Seoul for visitors, at the major palaces as well as the National Folk Museum of Korea.

May: Dano (national)

This traditional Korean celebration of spring features shamanic rituals dedicated to agriculture, dancing and games. A number of events are held in Seoul each year: mask dance dramas, market stalls selling traditional crafts and a variety of snacks, etc.

May 7: Jongmyo Daeje (local)

Early in the morning, a solemn, costumed parade first makes its way from Gyeongbokgung through the centre of Seoul to the royal shrine at Jongmyo. Then a ritual ceremony lasting several hours is held at the shrine – the only opportunity for the public to enter the buildings each year – to honour the past kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty, with traditional music and court dances. This ceremony has been recognized by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

September/October – Fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month: Chuseok (national)

During this three-day festival, one of the biggest events on the Korean calendar, families head to their native towns to celebrate the harvest, share good times and honour their ancestors with a memorial service. Dance performances and martial arts demonstrations are also held.

Late September–mid October: Seoul International Dance Festival (local)

Founded nearly 20 years ago to promote exchanges between the Korean dance scene and the international community and with a strong emphasis on innovation, this festival brings the world's leading choreographers, dancers and dance companies to Seoul for a wide-ranging programme of performances and workshops at several major venues across the city.

September/October: Seoul International Computer Music Festival (local)

Presented every year since 1994 by the Korean Electro-Acoustic Music Society, this four-day festival is one of the biggest events of its kind in Asia, inviting submissions from composers around the world. The festival has achieved international recognition not only by introducing new computer music to Seoul audiences but also due to its success at fostering exchanges among computer musicians and composers.

October 3: National Foundation Day (national)

Every year on this day, Korean celebrate the mythical founding of the Ko Choson kingdom (the first Korean kingdom) in 2333 B.C. by Tan'gun, the grandson of Hwanin, the creator of all things. Ceremonies take place at shrines around Seoul. Parades, often with revellers wearing Tan'gun masks, martial arts demonstrations, traditional dance and music performances, and spectacular fireworks displays are among the celebrations.

October: Seoul Eulalia Festival (local)

Named for a native ornamental grass (Miscanthus sinensis) that blooms every year at this time and symbolizes the overcoming of hardship for Koreans, this week-long festival is held in the Haneul Park area of World Cup Park, which was used as a landfill site from 1978 to 1993 before being returned to a natural state. The park stays open until 10 p.m., allowing visitors to walk though the colourfully lit fields of grass and enjoy the view of Seoul's beautiful nightscape. The festival also offers a variety of performances and fun family activities.

Late October–early November: Gwanghwamun International Arts Festival (local)

Organized around a different theme every year, this festival held at the gallery in the Sejong Center brings together emerging graphic and multimedia artists from around the world to build intercultural understanding through the power of art.

December 25: Christmas (national)

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN Seoul

Seoul has a humid continental climate. There are stark contrasts between the seasons in the city. Summers are relatively hot and humid, with heavy monsoon rains from late June to mid-July. Winters can be quite dry and cold, even frigid.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January -8/18 0/32 20/0.8 Not the best period to go
February -5/23 3/37 28/1.1 Not the best period to go
March 0/32 9/48 49/1.9 Not the best period to go
April 6/43 17/63 105/4.1 Not the best period to go
May 12/54 23/73 88/3.5 Good period to go Good period to go
June 17/63 26/79 151/5.9 Good period to go Good period to go
July 21/70 28/82 383/15.1 Not the best period to go
August 22/72 30/86 265/10.4 Not the best period to go
September 16/61 25/77 160/6.3 Good period to go Good period to go
October 9/48 19/66 48/1.9 Not the best period to go
November 2/36 11/52 43/1.7 Not the best period to go
December -4/25 3/37 24/0.9 Not the best period to go
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Seoul Incheon International Airport

The Seoul Incheon International Airport is located about 52 kilometres (32 miles) west of the city centre.

  • Two terminals
    • Terminal 1
    • Terminal 2 (Air France)

Getting from the airport to Seoul and back:
  • By car
    • Accessible via the Incheon International Airport Expressway, a toll road.
    • Several short- and long-term parking facilities are available at the airport (KRW 1,200 for 30 minutes, KRW 10,000 for 24 hours).
    • Several car rental companies have counters in the arrivals hall (near exits 3 and 4).
  • By rail
    • The Airport Railroad Express or AREX connects the airport with the city centre. Express trains run every 30 minutes from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., travel time is about 45 minutes and the fare is KRW 20,000.
  • By bus
    • Deluxe “limousine” buses, with especially comfortable seats and making few stops, run between the airport and central Seoul. Tickets are purchased at the booths just outside the arrivals area on the first floor of the terminal building. The fare to the city centre is about KRW 15,000.
  • By taxi
    • Taxi stands are located outside the terminal building between exits 4D and 8C. The fare from the airport to the city centre is about KRW 44,000.
  • Services: shops, bars and restaurants, free Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in the airport.
  • Telephone: +82 (0)2 1577 2600
  • Website: http://www.airport.kr

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GETTING AROUND Seoul

Public transport is by far the best way to get around Seoul. Seoul's urban rapid transit system, the world's longest by route length, and the city's buses together offer extensive coverage of the entire metropolitan area. In addition, both are easy to use, clean and relatively inexpensive.

By rail

Seoul's subway has nine lines and is the fastest and most convenient public transport option for getting around the city, serving all the major tourist attractions. Each line has its own designated colour and all signs are written in both English and Korean. On most of the lines, the recorded station announcements are also given in English. A single ticket costs KRW 1,200.

Note : Subways are very crowded during the morning and evening rush hours.

By bus

Like its subway system, Seoul's bus network is particularly well developed, with some 200 lines. A single ticket costs KRW 1,500.

By taxi

If you decide to use taxis, you should note that the standard taxis (coloured white, silver or orange) are metered, with an initial charge of KRW 1,600, including the first 2 kilometres. The total fare is based on distance and time, there are surcharges for trips after midnight, and drivers can make stops along the way to pick up additional passengers heading in your direction (a practice known as “hapseung”).Many visitors prefer to use deluxe “mobeom” taxis, which are coloured black with a yellow sign on top. They offer slightly more passenger space and a higher quality of service than standard taxis. The initial fare is KRW 3,000, including the first 3 kilometres.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in Seoul, you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Korea Tourism Organization – Seoul office

Offers practical information and useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

  • Address: 40, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-180
  • Telephone: +82 33 738 3000

Korea Tourism Organization

The official website of the Korea Tourism Organization provides a wealth of information on Seoul.

Website: http://www.visitkorea.or.kr

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Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency used in South Korea is the Won (KRW).

HKD 1 = KRW 143

KRW 1 = HKD 0.01

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

See your doctor before you travel. Seoul counts several hospitals and medical institutions, as well as quality medical practitioners and health specialists. It is recommended that you obtain insurance covering health care expenses as well as medical evacuation or repatriation before you leave home.

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to South Korea.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

Water

It is recommended to drink only sealed bottled water.

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Administrative formalities

As a general rule, a visa is required to enter South Korea, with the exception of short stays by tourists.

For further information, visit the website of the South Korea’s Immigration Service: http://www.immigration.go.kr/HP/IMM80/index.do

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Useful addresses

To enjoy peace of mind during your stay in Seoul, visit the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of your country.

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Essential phrases

Here are a few basic Korean phrases that will make your stay in Seoul a little easier:

Hello / How do you do?: Annyeong haseyo.

Good morning / Good afternoon / Good evening: Annyeong haseyo.

Good-bye: Annyeonghi kaseyo (said to the person leaving) / Annyeonghi kyeseyo (said to the person staying).

Yes: Neh

No: Aniyo

No, thank you: Aniyo, kamsa hamnida

Thank you very much: Kamsa gamsa

I don't understand: Ihaega an dwaeyo / Museun tteus-ieyo.

Could you repeat that?: Dasi han beon malhae juseyo?

What time is it?: Myot shi imnikka?

Excuse me: Mian hamnida (to get past or say sorry) / Sillye hamnida (to get attention).

Airport: Gonghang

Train station: Gichayeog

Taxi: Taegsi

Hotel: Hotel

Hospital: Byeong won

Bank: Eunhaeng

Telephone: Jeonhwa / Mobile phone

I'm (…): Cheoneun (…) Imnida

I'm looking for (…): (…) chatgo inneundeyo

How much is this?: Igo eol mayeyo?

Do you have (…)?: (…) isseoyo?

Where can I find (…)?: (…) eodie isseoyo?

Where can I buy (…)?: (…) eodiseo sal su isseoyo?

I'd like (…): (...) juseyo

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Good to know

00 82
+ phone number without 0
1 : 00
of time difference with
Hong Kong
There is no Daylight Savings in South Korea.

Banks

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Government offices

Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
110 - 220 V / 60 Hz

Tipping
Neither tipping nor service charges are customary in South Korea, but some top-end hotels have begun adding service charges to their bills. If you would like to leave a little extra, the amount is entirely up to you.

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