Chuseok is one of Korea’s largest holidays and is celebrated according to the lunar calendar (the same weekend as the Chinese Mid Autumn Festival). It is the Korean equivalent to what we know as Thanksgiving and is spread across three days. Korean’s traditionally travel back to their hometown to spend time with their families, eat plentifully and pay respect to their ancestors.
Have you found that you’ll be visiting Seoul during Chuseok? (25-28th September). You may be a little disappointed to find that many shops, restaurants and attractions may have put up their ‘closed’ signs. However never fear in a large city like Seoul there are still plenty of things you can do! Check out what we recommend instead of the places that will be closed!
Did you plan to visit the DMZ?
Unfortunately DMZ tours do not run on public holidays – but you can get a fantastic insight into the Korean War at the Korean War Memorial, which is open during public holidays. The museum takes you through the war between the south and the north and the events from the very beginning until today. Along the way jump on some interactive exhibitions that take you on a ride through the lives of people that experienced the war.
The Korean War Memorial:
Address: 29 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Did you plan to go on shopping spree for cosmetics?
Most department stores will be closed during Chuseok, which means you won’t be able to get your fix of Korean cosmetics, however don’t let your ears droop because of that! Save your time and your money by buying cosmetics on the Lotte Duty Free website (eng.lottedfs.com). Prices are generally cheaper than stores in the city and you can take advantage of a number of discount coupons. Even if there are sales on in the city many stores now restrict them to membership only customers. When it is time to leave, simply go to the Lotte Duty Free counter and pick up all your goodies.
Did you plan to travel to somewhere else in Korea?
As everyone leaves the city to visit their family, roads are clogged and train and plane tickets are snapped up well in advanced. Instead of tackling the crowds or sitting in snail-paced traffic plan a day trip around the Seoul area. We suggest a visit to Nami Island or a trip to one of the few theme parks around Seoul. Nami Island is a secluded island that showcases some of Korea’s natural beauty – think tree lined paths and perfect picnic spots. Alternatively you could head to Everland theme park (book via Klook and save a massive 35% on general admission tickets) just outside Seoul and hop on some gut wrenching and thrilling rides.
Directions to Nami Island: Take the Gyeongchun Line to Gapyeong Station then take a taxi to the island or walk (20 min)
Directions to Everland: Take the Bundang Line to Giheung then transfer to the Everland line travelling until the last stop.
Did you want to find out about the traditional celebrations?
Of course with any festivals comes festivities – a number of cultural sites in and around Seoul will hold traditional games and performances over the Chuseok period. You can check it out by visiting the Korean Folk Village and Namsangol Hanok Village. Also the ancient palaces (Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon (UNESCO World Heritage), Changgyeonggung Palace, and Deoksugung Palace) in Seoul will be open during the holiday period (Insider tip: Wear a Hanbok (traditional Korean dress in the the photo above) and get free entry to the palaces).
Did you want to eat Korean food?
Well of course you can! Even though it’s a holiday here people have still got to eat! Many restaurants will be closed during the holiday, however if you stroll around the tourist areas like Myeongdong and Insadong you’ll find restaurants that will be open (sorry intrepid travelers but you might have to give in to not going off the beaten track). If you find yourself in Myeongdong try out Andong Jjimdak, a sweet, sour and spicy dish of braised chicken and potatoes. You’ll find restaurants all over Myeongdong that serve it (so take a look at the picture below so you know what it looks like!)
Insider tips: When arriving in Seoul – check out our guide to get into the city from the airport!