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Panmunjon (aka the Joint Security Area) is the meeting place between North and South Korea. The building where the armistice was signed in 1953 still stands and this is where visitors will go if they join one of the most popular tours from Seoul - the tour to the Dimilitarized Zone (Camp Bonifas, Bridge of No Return, Freedom House) which incorporates the Panmunjon tour run by United Nations personnel.
Some tours may also include the 3rd tunnel (either visited on foot or by a monorail) and the Dora Observation point enroute from Seoul.
Please note that some tours DO NOT visit Panmunjon (usually a shorter and cheaper version) . Be sure to reserve the Panmunjon tour if you wish to see the North Korean border guards, who are close up from you at times. This is the only tour that goes to the MDL Demarcation Line.
You need a passport for any of these DMZ tours. Children 11 years and under are not permitted. There maybe a dress code.
The 3rd Tunnel is a major hike down and up. If you have a heart condition, don't attempt it. There is a mini train to take you up, but some groups can't use it. They stop at a few places for viewpoints, which are interesting. The tour guides speak great English and were well-informed. One tour also stopped at the last rail station in the south, which they hope will be the immigration point for trains going to the North one day. Maybe they are a bit optimistic, as it is a very big and beautiful station, already built, but only with a few trains going to the south.
If you are on a budget, you can take a public KORAIL train from Seoul Station to a station called IMJINGAK. It's the second to the last station on the line. From there, you can walk maybe ten minutes to the area where bus tours visit the area. Go to the INFORMATION building, located BELOW the main observation area, inside the parking lot. These are the public bus tours that everyone must take, so you end up getting exactly the same tour as others spend $50 on, for a lot less money. They charge 8,000 won for the bus tour. The area is crowded on weekends, so get there early, or you may have to wait a while for a reserved bus seat for the tour, which takes about 2 hours. There are restaurants there, souvenir shops, etc.
DAY TOURS IN SEOUL:
There are several day and night bus tours around Seoul. But it is quite easy to travel independently to the major sights by walking or using the efficient train system.
There is a circular Seoul City Bus Tour which is a hop on hop off activity which costs about 10,000 won per day, and takes in most major sights. There are several itineraries, including a night one so pick the one that's best for you.
Korean Folk Village is located in the city of Suwon which is a one-hour train ride from Seoul. You can get a glimpse of the Joseon era here as actors re-enact traditional Korean peasant life. This includes a traditional Korean wedding, folk dancing, equestrian, tight rope walking and so on. It's really an open air museum where visitors can observe reproductions of entire rural villages and participate in daily tasks such as making rice cakes or handicrafts. Arrive before 10:30am to avoid the crowds and to see all of the scheduled performances which are free upon entry.
There are two dining areas. Near the entrance are various restaurants but right towards the back of the village is a food market area. Here you will find a large signboard with all of the snacks listed (photos of the food and descriptions) and prices. Select your food, pay the price and take the provided ticket to the numbered food stall. The chicken skewers were 2000 won each. These were delicious.
Suwon Hwaseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was built in the late 18th century. So it's a relatively new structure in Korea's long history, but provides a good look at what Korean fortresses looked like prior to the modern era. King Jeongjo apparently built this fortress to prepare for a move of the capital from Seoul to Suwon. The best place (though STEEP) to start walking around the fortress is the South Gate. Look for the huge staircase on the ridge of Mt. Paldamun. (If you can't walk uphill, start from the West or Northern entries - note the Eastern side of the fortress is less interesting). To get there, take the #1 subway line southbound all the way from Seoul to Suwon Station and then catch a taxi for around 3000 Won.
The total train fare from downtown Seoul is about 1,800 won - one-way. There is a free shuttle from Suwon Station to the Korean Folk Village. However if you wish to squeeze in the Korean Folk Village and Suwon Fortress all in on a tight time schedule, a taxi from Suwon Station (the taxi rank is directly outside the station) will cost about 12,000 won to the Korean Folk Village. From the Korean Folk Village, another taxi direct to the South Gate of the Suwon Fortress will cost about 3000 won. Walk to the main road from the village to catch a taxi or ask the people inside the TIC office near the entrance of KPV to ring a taxi for you. Before proceeding for the day - ask your hotel concierge to right down all of the attraction names down for you in Korean.
Amusement Parks - Lotte World (inside Seoul), Everland, Caribbean Bay (located next to Everland)
Ski Resorts with shuttles from Seoul - Vivaldi Park, Phoenix Park, Jisan Forest, O2 Ski Resort, Oak Valley
Beaches - Sokcho Beach, Gangwha Island
Spas close to Seoul - In Spa World in Incheon, Caribbean Bay in Yongin, Termeden in Icheon, Spa Plus in Icheon
Free Seoul Tour Guide Services
The Free Seoul Tour Guide Service is offered by Hi Seoul Youth Hostel & Youth Volunteers. The youth volunteers are Korean college students and High School students who are willing to support your stay in Seoul with fluent English and other languages. Any foreign travelers visiting Seoul can ask for this service via email (email@example.com). If you want to know more about this service see the Seoul government website (http://english.seoul.go.kr/gtk/news/n...).
Another option is to apply for a Goodwill Guide. Most Goodwill Guides have full-time jobs, and some are students, work-at-home or retirees. These guides are suited to those visitors who are wishing for a cultural exchange with a Seoulite. For further information contact http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/G...
Another free service option is Seoul City Walking Tours