South Korea's capital city of Seoul is an interesting fusion of modern culture, history and luxury, where old-fashioned tea shops stand alongside soaring skyscrapers, and where beautiful temples are just moments from some of the world's most luxurious 5-star hotels. You'll instantly be swept up by the contrast, the diversity, the hustle and bustle and the beautiful natural surroundings including rocky mountains and pretty landscaped parks. Your cruise ship will dock at Incheon, with the journey into Seoul taking approximately 1.5 hours. Once there, you can walk amongst streets lined with food vendors, browse the city's markets, make your way to an intricately extravagant palace or visit one of the city's bath houses for a calming soak.
Seoul is South Korea's largest city. There's so much on offer that you'll have to make multiple trips to fully appreciate your surroundings. Experienced cruisers will have no trouble listing their favourite attractions, but will undoubtedly admit that they've got more to see and do. Densely populated, Seoul isn't a city that can easily be explored on foot. Instead, consider finding a taxi or travelling by bus if you're moving away from the port. The city's subway system is faster and more reliable than any form of transport that you'll find above ground, and links to almost all parts of the city.
Read More Gyeongbok-gung
If you have time to visit only one palace during your visit, make it Gyeongbok-gung. This grand and brightly-coloured building dates back to the Joseon Dynasty era, complete with two museums on the site.
Seoul Comic World
Once a month, this huge comic convention is held at the SETEC convention centre. It's an incredible spectacle, even for tourists without an interest in Korean and Japanese anime. Thousands of comic enthusiasts dress up in costume, and will be happy to pose for photographs. For anime enthusiasts, this is a must-see event if it coincides with your shore excursion. For others, it's an interesting opportunity to learn about anime culture.
The Everland Resort is Seoul's Disneyland equivalent. Buses regularly depart for Everland from all over the city, taking thousands of tourists to the theme park. You can view day and night parades, enjoy family rides and thrill rides, watch state-of-the-art hologram shows and visit the on-site zoo where animals include giant tortoises, monkeys, fennec foxes, tropical birds and even ligers.
Shopping in Seoul
Seoul is home to the largest traditional street market in Korea. Stalls at Namdaemun sell cooked food, accessories, clothing, gifts, souvenirs and electronics. This market is not to be confused with Dongdaemun, where you'll find a large number of department stores and fashion outlets for an entirely different shopping experience. Both are popular with tourists, who also take time to visit Insa-dong where the focus is on vintage items, antiques, art and collectables. Seoul's shops sell everything, from novelties to luxury branded goods, with the Myeongdong area being the place to go for your favourite designer fashions.
Shops in Seoul are often more than retail outlets. They become an experience in their own right, and are often in clearly-defined sections so that you can keep to one area and find everything you need. This is particularly true of the COEX complex, which is a shopping and convention centre complete with an aquarium, a luxury cinema, a game arcade and shops selling everything you'd expect to find at the best British or American shopping centres.
Eating out in Seoul
As well as eateries serving local foods, you'll find world-cuisine restaurants and fast food places here too. Noodles are often served as a speedy option from street stalls, and you can dine on sushi served in restaurants and from vendors at the city's markets. Many of your favourite foods from around the globe can be found here, including Italian dishes that might taste a little sweeter than you're used to.
Try the barbecued pork or beef during your visit, both favourites with the locals – or you could seek out American restaurants serving burgers, fried chicken and bagels. Many of Seoul's restaurants are open 24 hours a day, so you can dine to your own schedule – fitting your meals around your sightseeing visits to make the most of your shore excursion.