x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Whiz around Seoul on a short city break

Ask the Expert Take a walking tour around the South Korean capital to appreciate this interesting city.

We're going to Seoul for a weekend break next month. Can you recommend a couple of top hotels? Is it possible to explore the city over the course of a couple of days? We'd like to sign up for a walking tour, or even see the city by bus. What do you suggest?

One of the best luxury hotels in the South Korean capital is the W Seoul Walkerhill, perched on the slopes of Mt Acha and with views over the Han River and the city. Rooms are tastefully decorated and cost from 35,4000 South Korean won (Dh1,220) per night, including taxes.

The Grand Hyatt Seoul, set on Mt Namsan, is in the Yongsan district and located amid eight hectares of landscaped gardens, complete with cascading waterfalls. The hotel is a 10-minute drive to the Itaewon shopping district and has 601 well-appointed rooms and suites to choose from. There's also a spa and an ice-skating rink. Double rooms start from 30,8550 won (Dh1,060) per night, including taxes.

The best way to see the city is to go exploring independently. South Korea's tourism board offers nine walking tours, all free of charge, in seven areas of the city. Each tour lasts for two to three hours and, led by an experienced, knowledgeable guide, proceeds at an easy pace. One of the more popular routes includes important sites such as Gyeongbokgung Palace; the pretty neighbourhood of Samcheongdong; the presidential residence, Cheongwadae, popularly known as the Blue House (named for the colour of its roof); the National Palace Museum; and the National Ethnic Museum. This walk takes three hours; choose your tour and make reservations online at www.visitkorea.or.kr.

If you don't want to trudge around the city on foot, take a bus - Seoul City Bus provides comprehensive tours that are available for a nominal fee. The interestingly named "city circulation course" takes visitors through downtown Seoul, visiting small villages and markets along the way. Some of the 26 stops on this long, winding route include N Seoul Tower, the Korean War Memorial and the National Theatre of Korea. Tickets cost from 12,000 won (Dh41) for adults and 8,000 won (Dh27) for children, and can be purchased on board the bus. The two-hour tour starts at 9am. For more information and maps of the routes, visit en.seoulcitybus.com.