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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 holiday)

January/February: Seollal (Lunar New Year, national holiday)

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.

June – Fifth day of the fifth lunar month : Dano (celebrated nationwide)

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.

First Sunday in May : Jongmyo Daeje (local event)

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 holiday)

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 event)

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 event)

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 holiday)

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 event)

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 event)

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

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

  • One terminal
    • Terminal 1 (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 25 to 40 minutes from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., travel time is about 45 minutes and the fare is KRW 14,800 (KRW 8,000 until December 31, 2015).
  • 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 (numbered from 4D to 8C) are located outside the terminal building between exits 4 and 8. The fare from the airport to the city centre is about KRW 44,000.
  • Services : shops, bars and restaurants, 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 1,350.

Passes
A fare card specifically designed for international visitors, the T-Money Mpass, is valid for one month from date of purchase. There are versions offering up to 20 daily rides on subway and train lines for between one and seven consecutive days (KRW 10,000 to KRW 59,500, plus a rental fee of KRW 5,000), but you can also add money to the card to charge fares on buses and taxis.

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. Seoul's buses can also be distinguished by their colours. Within the city, blue buses cover long-distance routes, green buses cover short-distance routes and yellow buses run circular routes in central Seoul. A single ticket costs KRW 1,200.

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 3,000, 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 5,000, including the first 3 kilometres. As for the standard taxis, the total fare is based on distance, but there is no surcharge after midnight, and drivers do not practice hapseung.

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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 many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

  • Address : 40, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-180
  • Telephone : +82 (0)2 1330

Further information available online for visitors to South Korea

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 (₩).

1 € = 1.283 ₩

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

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Medical information

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to South Korea.

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

Precautionary measures

South Korea is among countries having experienced an outbreak of influenza A (H1N1). When planning a visit to the country, it is therefore recommended that you keep informed of the situation and the appropriate preventive measures.

Water

It is better to drink either bottled water provided in sealed, tamper-proof containers or to filter or boil tap 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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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 the 0 (calls from Seoul)
8 : 00
of time difference with
Hamburg

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

And what about 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.