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Home> Destinations> Asia> Seoul> Overview


Updated: 2014-08-07 / (wtcf.traavel)





City Introduction

Seoul is the largest city of the Republic of Korea as well as an international metropolis. This city, which was formerly named “Hancheng” in Chinese language, has an official name of Seoul Special City. Located within the region of Hangang River in the northwest of Korea and in the middle of the Korean Peninsula, Seoul is the capital of ROK as well as its political, economic, technological and cultural center. Excluding the satellite urban areas, the population of the administrative district has reached over 10 million. Although Seoul accounts for only 0.6% of the nation's land area, it generates 21% of the country's GDP. Seoul is one the world’s top ten financial centers as well as an important economic center of the world. It is also one of the world’s design cities. It is a highly digitalized city ranking at the top on the list of Digital Opportunity Index of the world. Numerous multinational companies have established their headquarters here and many international banks have established their branches in Seoul. All the headquarters of famous Korean multinational companies have settled in Seoul.





History and Culture

In ancient times, Seoul was called “Hanyang” for its location on the north of Hangang River. At the end the 14th century after the Chosun Dynasty settled its capital here, the name "Hanyang" was changed into "Hancheng" in Chinese language. In modern times, "Hancheng" was changed into "Jingcheng" during the colonial period by Japan. The city of Seoul has a long history of over 2000 years. Since the establishment of Weili City, the capital of Paekche Kingdom, in 18 B.C., it has taken the place of capital city in Korean Peninsula. Thereafter, it becomes the place of strategic importance for Koguryo, Paekche and Silla. As the location of national capital of different kingdoms, Seoul has reserved as the palaces and temple constructions inherited from ancient Korea, including the Confucius’s Temple to sacrifice the Confucius.

In Seoul, there lie numerous cultural organizations. There are over 100 museums including The National Museum of Korea, The National Folk Museum of Korea, The Memorial Hall of King Sejong, The War Memorial of Korea, National Music Museum, The Folk Museum at Lotte World, Samsung Publication Museum, The Museum of Korean Embroidery, Kimchi Museum, etc. There also stand thousands of theatres and galleries, including Sejong Center, National Theatre, National Music Center of Korea, Jeongdong Theatre, LG Art Center, KBS Hall, The Art Hall (theatres and galleries), Seoul Museum of Art, National Museum of Art, Deoksugung (Palace), Comprehensive Gallery, Chosum Daily Gallery, Seoul Gallery, Lotte Gallery, etc. The famous cinemas include CGV and Megabox.





Natural Environment

Namsan Hill, with the altitude of 270 meters, stands in the downtown area of Seoul City. On it lies the 240-meter Seoul Tower. Situated at the downstream of the Hangang River, Seoul stays only 30 kilometers away from the west coast of the Korean Peninsula. The Hangang River, floating slowly from the east to the west, measures from 400 meters to 1000 meters in width. The city of Seoul spreads out along the flat river valley, which divides the city into the northern district and the southern district. Surrounding the city stand low mountains and hills with an altitude of around 500 meters. They share the same function of city walls to protect the city.






Located in the monsoon climate zone of medium latitudes, Seoul has four distinctive seasons. The annual average temperature is around 11.8 ℃. In spring and autumn, there are few rainfalls and the warm climate is suitable for tourism. In summer (from June to Mid-September), the monthly average temperature ranges from 20 ℃ to 27 ℃ with continuous high-temperature and rainy weather. In winter (from December to the following February), the temperature here is a little lower than that in other cities at the same latitude. (monthly average temperature ranges from -5 ℃ to 0 ℃)





Useful Information

1. Before you enter the country, please choose from the two channels, i.e. channel of non-declaration (green) and channel of declaration channel (red) for customs inspection. Tourists carrying no more than USD 10,000 (or its equivalent in foreign currencies) in cash, with goods worth up to a total value of no more than USD 600 (within the limit of one bottle of alcohol, ten cartons of cigarettes, and 2 ounces of perfume) and with no forbidden goods for entry and exit (including firearms, gunpowder, drugs, flora and fauna, goods that may endanger public security, counterfeit currency or securities, counterfeit products, wireless radio sets, meat products, etc.) are recommended to choose the green channel. Please fill out the "Declaration Form" if you have carried valuable articles when you leave the country.

2. Generally, customs declaration is to declare in written form. Regarding the carry-on baggage, tourist may declare verbally. Punishment will be aggravated for law breakers (smugglers) that go through verbal declaration. Korean antiques and important cultural relics leaving the country must be approved by Cultural Property Authentication Office. For more details, please contact Inchon Customhouse at 0082-32-452-3114

3. If you are entering the country with more than USD 10,000 in cash, this must be declared. When non-resident tourists leave Korea with a total sum of foreign currencies or South Korean Won equaling to more than USD 10,000 (including traveler’s check and bank check), they must ask for permission from Bank of Korea or the Customs. The sum of money declared at the entry needs not to be re-declared. Violators against this stipulation will be fined or punished in accordance with Law of Foreign Exchange Trading. 4. All imported flora and fauna as well as all related derivative products must be quarantined at the airport or port of entry.

Information of Embassy and Consulate

Embassy of The People's Republic of China in The Republic of Korea

Address: 54 Hyoja-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Tel: 82-2-738-1038

Address of Consular Office: 50-7 Namsan Dong 2-gil, Middle District, Seoul 82-2-756-7330;755-0453/0456





Visa Information

Visa application material for individual applicants:

1. Passport (with a validity of at least 6 months);

2. Visa application form (attached with one 2-inch colored photo);

3. Personal Resume;

4. Photocopy of Personal ID Card and passport (printed on the same paper);

5. One of the following documents (the original record issued within the last six months is required; any applicant who fails to provide the document may be required to pay the security deposit) should be provided: a. bank statement of the applicant’s credit card; b. individual income tax receipt; c. certificate of social insurance payment; (including endowment insurance, medical insurance, unemployment insurance, housing accumulation fund, comprehensive insurance for foreign employees, etc; at least one of these items should be provided); d. transaction record of the deposit card in which monthly salary has been deposited; ( displaying "name, date, accountant number, bank name" and underline the amount of the salary);

6. Optional documents ( not required, but will be helpful for visa issuance):

a. photocopy of vehicle ownership certificate;

b. photocopy of house property ownership certificate;

c. photocopy of the business license and employment certificate;

d. photocopy of temporary residence issued within the last three months for applicants excluded in the consultative area;

e. photocopy of academic certificate.

Simplified procedures: For normal tourists who have visited Korea for three or more times (group tour and visa-free entry from Cheju excluded) and tourists who have visited the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan (group tour excluded) and European countries, only the first four items of documents are required for visa application.

a. All visas and entry & exit records required for simplified procedures must be recorded on the valid passport and a photocopy is required (if recoded on the old passport, please submit the passport along with your application documents);

b. Excluding the citizens whose household have been registered in Shanghai, Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, all applicants from other areas are required to submit a photocopy of the temporary residency permit issued within the last three months before visa application submission or submit the transaction record of the account established by the bank in the place of residence within the last three months)


1. The above-mentioned stipulations for individual tourism visa applicants came into effect since September 1, 2011;

2. The normal processing period for individual tourism visa is 5 business days. If the Consulate needs to check the documents or for any other reason, the processing period will be extended and the visa application may be refused (visa application fee is non-refundable in case of refusal);

3. The individual tourism visa is valid for three months since the issuance date, and tourists can stay in Korea for 30 days (confirmed durations of stay will be determined by the Consulate);

4. The consular districts of the Consulate of ROK in Shanghai include: Shanghai, Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu;

5. Regarding item 6 about house property and vehicle ownership certificates, the family members stated below can share the documents. Additional documents to prove domestic relationship need to be provided (photocopy of marriage certificate, photocopy of residence booklet, photocopy of birth certificate): The retired seniors can submit the property certificate under the name of their children; students and infants can submit the property certificate under the name of their parents; couples can share the property certificate;

6. When the students submit such documents under the name of their parents, a photocopy of the student card is needed (or study permit issued by the school);

7. If security deposit is required, the amount depends on the documents submitted (generally RMB 50,000 to RMB 100,000);

8. Please keep a record for your passport information before submitting the visa application in case it is needed for air ticket booking, etc. during the visa processing; Since August 1, 2012, the stay days for individual tourist visa holders has been extended from 30 to 90. The initial validity of multi-trip tourist visa has been extended from one year to three years and the second validity has been extended from three years to five years.





Currency Exchange

The currency in Korea is South Korean Won. Please bring your personal ID card to the big banks, including Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, for foreign exchange transaction before departure. Notes: reservation is required for South Korean Won exchange.

Tourism Service Number

Police 112 Fire 119 Tour Guide (02) 1330 Emergency Medical Care: 1339 For street-side public telephones please press the red emergency button and dial 112 for free calls. (Tourists who cannot understand Korean language can also dial 112 and select the language service of Chinese and other foreign languages. The policemen will arrive on site within 3 to 10 minutes upon your call.






1. The Koreans do not like the number "4", which shares the same pronunciation of "die" in Korean language. Try not to use this number during your trip. Besides, they prefer the odd numbers rather than the even numbers. 2. Unlike the Chinese customers, people in Korea use spoons only for drinking the soup and use chopsticks only for picking up the dishes. By the way, the bowls can not be held up. 3. Please accept the goods or tea handed over to you by both hands to show your respect. 4. Do not lay the spoons or chopsticks on the containers on the table.

In Korea, the public security is quite good and people there are well-educated. Stealing or robbery is rarely seen and it is safe for tourists even in late night. Nevertheless, please take care of yourself when traveling outside and do not visit the sparsely populated areas in late night.





Festivals(Important/Historical/Folks Ones)

Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival

Time: Every April during the flower season of the cherry blossoms

A number of cherry trees have been planted around Yeouido Park. In particular, the street of Yunjung-ro is the most popular spot for watching the cherry blossoms. In April, tourists can enjoy the beautiful cherry blossoms and fresh air when walking slowly from Yeouido Metro Station along the paths leading to the National Assembly Building.

Jongmyodaeje (Royal Ancestral Memorial Rite of Joseon)

Time: On the first Sunday of May

It is a grand ritual to memorize Korea’s Royal ancestors. The ritual lasts for a whole day. In the morning, the Royal Procession starts from the Gyeongbokgung Palace and marches forward in a formidable array. They will arrive at the Jongmyo Shrine at noon. Tourists can enjoy the traditional Jongmyo Jeryeak (ritual music) and dances with striking local characteristics.

Buddha’s Birthday

Time: April 8 of the lunar calendar

Buddhism, one of the biggest and most active regions in Korea, has millions of followers. On that day, many places in downtown area will be decorated with lotus-shaped lanterns and the grand ceremony will be held at Jogyesa Temple, the pivot of Korea’s Buddhism. Tourists are also recommended to watch the bustling parade of lotus lantern festival before the Buddha’s Birthday.

Lotus Lantern Festival

Time: In mid and late May

With a long tradition of over 600 years’, the Lotus Lantern Festival has been held near Ujeongguk-ro. It is a representative traditional festival of Seoul. The Lotus Lantern Festival officially kicks off with the lighting of the Jangeumdang, a large lantern that symbolizes Buddhism and Buddha’s Birthday, at the Seoul Plaza. The lantern lighting activities continues at Culture Square, Harmony Square, Huihe Square and Daedong Square. During the celebration, all temples will have lantern lighting activities and the sky of Seoul will be decorated with beautiful and lit lanterns.

Seoul International Fireworks Festival

Time: On a certain day in October, generally between 19:30 to 20:45

Every autumn, the splendid fireworks performance will be held under the dark sky in Hangang Park, i.e. the Seoul International Fireworks Festival. The fireworks burst out with the wonderful background music, which makes a brilliant fireworks art show. Standing at the 63th of the mansion, tourists will enjoy the best firework performance. However, it is crowded since too many people gather here to enjoy the show. Tourists are recommended to watch the beautiful fireworks at Yeouido, around Noryangjin Parking Lot and Ichon areas on the north bank of Hangang River.

Seoul Performing Arts Festival

Time: It begins from the middle October and lasts for one month.

In October of the golden autumn, the annual Seoul Performing Arts Festival will be held. It displays the highest level of modern performing arts with body languages to represent the hyper-reality world. It aims to move and shock the world people with performances. During the festival, excellent domestic and international performances will be displayed. Art fans are highly recommended to have a look.


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