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Heart and Seoul of adventure

By Belle Taylor ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-01-05 07:19:25

 Heart and Seoul of adventure

A view of Seoul from Bukhansan Mountain, where the air is fresh and the silence is calming after the hustle of the city. Photos by Belle Taylor / China Daily

 

The list of adjectives to describe this fascinating modern Asian city are endless, Belle Taylor discovers.

We were wandering down one of Seoul's tourist strips, packed with people and vendors flogging everything from traditional Korean fans to Psy socks, when we were stopped by three teenage girls. "We are doing a school assignment. Will you answer our questions?" they asked in halting English.

Sure!

"Use one word to describe Seoul."

Three curious faces looked up at us. We um-ed and ah-ed, eventually offering: "Modern?".

The hesitation came not from a lack of adjectives but from an abundance of choices. We could have said cosmopolitan, fun, young, creative, historical, green, traditional and quaint.

Seoul is a fascinating modern Asian city with a rich history and vibrant blend of East-meets-West due to a strong American influence - there has been a US army base in Seoul since 1957. A number of Mexican restaurants, American-style ribs eateries and even a cowboy boot shop have sprung up to serve the soldiers.

Seoul is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, but nestled in-between mountains that surround the metropolis, it feels green and spacious.

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IF YOU GO

Flights:Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines all have regular fl ights between Seoul and the Chinese mainland from about $350 return.

Accommodation: We found fantastic accommodation through Airbnb.com, a website that lets you rent apartments directly from the owners. Excursions: Climb Bukhansan Mountain, explore the streets of Hongdae, visit a Korean spa.

Travel Tips: If you wish to visit the demilitarized zone that separates the Republic of Korea from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, you must take an organized tour and book up to three days in advance. Holders of Chinese or ROK passports should book up to two months in advance.

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