Best Photo Locations in Seoul, South Korea

by | Dec 9, 2018 | Photo Locations, Photography, South Korea

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From its historic neighbourhoods, palaces and temples to the modern city which has exploded around them, there are a stunning variety of photo locations in Seoul. This sprawling city is photographers dream and Seoul is pull to the brim of iconic and quirky photo spots. We’ve put together this list of the best photo locations in Seoul: it’s our guide on where to take the best photos of Seoul. Enjoy!

Seoul best photo locations tip: if you want to follow our map of the best Seoul photo locations we’ve included an interactive map at the end of this article.

 

The Best Photo Locations in Seoul

After spending weeks exploring the city we’ve narrowed down hundreds of shots to our 20 best photo spots in Seoul!

 

Gyeongbokgung Palace

One of the 5 grand palaces of Seoul, Gyeongbokgung was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty and is located in the north of the city. The palace grounds are massive and it’s easy to spend hours exploring the different areas of the palace. For photography, it’s best to visit the palace early in the morning or late in the afternoon just before closing as the palace is relatively quiet during these times.

Seoul best photo locations tip: make sure to plan your days in Seoul as most palaces and attractions are closed on Mondays. The main exception is Gyeongbokgung Palace which is closed on Tuesdays.

After dark, the illuminated front gate is spectacular although you will need to bring your tripod

 

Changing of the guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace

Make sure to catch the changing of the guards ceremony which takes place at 10am and 2pm at Gwanghwamun, the main gate of Gyeongbokgung. The ceremony is one of the highlights of Seoul and is definitely not to be missed.

Changing of the guards ceremony

 

Seoul best photo locations tip: While watching the ceremony we noticed that the outside of the gate was relatively quiet and free from tourists so we returned to the gate at the next ceremony to get some shots.

Gwanghwamun Gate

The guards wear traditional costumes

 

 

|  Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

The DDP is one of the most iconic buildings in Seoul and one of our favourite photo locations. This stunning building was designed by architect Zaha Hadid and hosts creative exhibitions, conventions and concerts. The unique flowing design of the building and its minimalist architecture makes for great images. The best photo spots we found were the exterior of the main building around the museum section, the incredible floating stairway in the museum building and the DDP LED rose garden which lights up as the sun sets.

The rose garden at DDP

 

Seoul Photography Location Tip: Photographing the floating stairway is relatively difficult as there aren’t any really good vantage points. We found if you climb to the top and peer over the edge you can capture a nice perspective of the staircase with a wide angle lens.

The iconic DDP staircase

 

Where to Stay in Seoul

Seoul is an incredible city but it’s only downside is that it is massive and takes some time to explore! We researched extensively where to stay and opted for the Namdaemun area: this is a great choice as it is within walking distance of the historic area of the palaces and the Bukchon Hanok Village and close to the vibrant area of Myeondong with its abundance of food and shopping options.

Click here for the best Seoul hotel prices!

 

 

3 Bukak Palgakjeong

We visited Bukak Palgakjeong on our final day in Seoul and I wish we’d discovered it earlier in our trip! It is one of the best views of the city and a contender for the best photo location for sunset.

Bukak Palgakjeong is one of the highest points in Seoul that doesn’t involve hiking (there are many awesome viewpoints in the beautiful Bukhansan mountains. On searching for viewpoints closer to Seoul I discovered the Bukak Palgakjeong pavilion.

The pavilion is located on a hilltop just outside of Seoul and offers panoramic views of the city and some really beautiful views of N Seoul Tower. Unfortunately, we missed sunset when we visited, however, the location would be breathtaking in the golden hour. The pavilion also offers stunning views of the Bukhansan Mountains.

The stunning view of Seoul from the Bukak Palgakjeong pagoda

View of the Bukhansan Mountains from the Bukak Palgakjeong pagoda

 

4 |  Bukchon Hanok Village

The traditional Korean Bukchon Hanok Village is a short walk from the Gyeongbokgung Palace. The narrow and winding streets are filled with hanoks, traditional Korean houses scattered across the hilly village. It’s a great place for street photography and to capture shots in the traditional Korean dresses known as hanboks. These colourful dresses can be found everywhere and probably the most fun we had in Seoul was the day we rented traditional Korean clothes and walked around the Bukchon Hanok village.

Seoul best photo locations tip: You can save a lot of money booking your hanbok in advance and we used the Klook app to reserve ours and saved almost 50%. There are lots of shops offering hanbok rental but we highly recommend this one located in Gyeongbokgung. The location is perfect as it’s close to the Bukchon Hanok village and both palaces and the selection of clothes is extensive.

Click here to book your Hanbok now

 

We wandered around the village where there are lots of quaint side streets which are great photo spots. The area is great for street photography too as there are so many colourfully dressed people walking around in such a nice setting.

The quaint alleys make for great shots

Hanbok shots in the Bukchon Hanok Village

 

 Discover Seoul Pass

We highly recommend buying the Discover Seoul Pass when you visit Seoul. For a single price, you get free entrance to 55 locations around the city while the pass is active. There are three passes available which cover 24, 48 and 72 hours. We recommend getting the 72-hour option and activating it on a Tuesday. This is due to most locations in Seoul being closed on a Monday.

Buy your Discover Seoul Pass now

 

 

Changdeokgung Palace and Secret Garden

Probably the most impressive of the five grand palaces in Seoul, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Changdeokgung Palace is one of the best photo locations in Seoul.

Seoul best photo locations tip: The palace is very popular and tends to get very busy, especially during the weekends, so aim to visit here during the week on Tuesday to Friday, preferably in the late afternoon as the sunset approaches.

The palace grounds offer so many photo opportunities. We found that simply exploring the many quiet corners of the palace gave the opportunity to capture the best images. Some of our favourites were the wooden pillars that line the interior courtyards, the stunning temple entrances and the serene Secret Garden located at the back of the palace.

The red pillars at Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung Palace

 

Seoul best photo locations tip: Entrance to the Secret Garden requires a separate ticket which is not included in the Discover Seoul Pass. A limited number of tickets are availalbe to be reserved online in advance, or you can purchase tickets on the day subject to availability as we did.

If you’re planning to visit the Palace and the Secret Garden allow at least 3 hours for your visit. The Secret Garden will take at least one hour and operates on a guided tour basis with entrances at set times. However, our tour guide gave us the option to explore ourselves during the tour time which made it easier to capture great photos

Changdeokgung Palace Secret Garden

The beautiful pavilion in the Secret Garden

 

 

N Seoul Tower and Namsan Cable Car

The image of N Seoul Tower atop Namsam Mountain is one of the most iconic images of Seoul and the views from the tower and mountain are really worth the trip.

Hop on the Namsan Cable car which takes you to the top of the mountain and the base on the N Seoul Tower. From here you will have panoramic views of the north of the city and the ancient palaces. We visited Namsan at sunset and were not disappointed! The setting sun illuminated the north of the city and we enjoyed a stunning sunset.

Seoul best photo locations tip: If you plan to visit the N Seoul Tower itself, make sure to book you tickets in advance on Klook. We used the Klook app extensively in South Korea, where you get a decent discount on most entry tickets, including N Seoul Tower.

Book your N Seoul tickets now

The view from the top

The N Seoul Tower

Sunset views from the top of the cable car

 

 

 7 Ihwa Mural Village

The Ihwa Mural Village (or Moon Village as it’s known locally) is one of the most popular neighbourhoods on the Seoul tourist trail. Perched on a hilltop in the northeast of the city beside Naksan Park, Ihwa Mural village was a run down part of the city until in 2006 the city commissioned a number of street artists to paint this quaint part of the city which is now home to some incredible street art, sculptures and views across Seoul.

Due to its elevated location above the city getting to Ihwa Mural village involves a lot of steep uphill walking so we recommend getting a taxi up, exploring and then walking back down to the city afterward.

When to go: Initially we visited on a weekend afternoon and the village was really busy. We returned again on a weekday evening and the streets were much quieter and we had a much more enjoyable experience. 

Iwha Mural Village

 

Iwha Mural Village

Iwha Mural Village

 

 

Sungnyemun Gate

We stayed in the Courtyard Marriott hotel and our room overlooked the Sungnyemun Gate. Situated beside the Namdaemun Market, this was our favourite gate in Seoul and looks great after dark.

Seoul best photo locations tip: While the gate closes to visitors after 6 and on Mondays, you can get great night images from the central reservation of the junction located in front of the gate. Just be careful of traffic!

Sungnyemun Gate

 

| Starfield Library at the Starfield Coex Mall

A mall might seem like a strange place to recommend for photography, however, Starfield Coex mall is home to one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, the Starfield Library.

Starfield Coex Mall is a cavernous shopping mall located in the heart of Gangnam and is the largest underground shopping mall in Asia. The Starfield Library is located in the centre of the mall and, with its 13 metre high bookcases, was one of our favourite places in Seoul. 50,000 books line the shelves of this beautiful library and there are so many photo opportunities. The roof is glass so the library area is filled with natural light which really helps photos.

The towering bookshelves at the Starfield Library

I’ll have this one!

 

Seoul best photo locations tip: Make sure to visit the statue celebrating the music artist PSY who put South Korea on the map with his viral song Gangnam Style in 2012! The statue is located just outside the Coex Mall.

Gangham Style!

 

10 Bongeunsa Temple

Also located close to the Starfield Coex mall, the Bongeunsa Temple has a large, brilliant  Buddha which makes for some great shots.

Bongeunsa Temple

 

11 Cheonggyecheon Plaza and Stream

The Cheonggyecheon Stream runs through North Seoul and is an oasis of calm compared to the busy city streets. The stream runs for miles and passes under 22 bridges but our favourite spot was the umbrella covered plaza close to City Hall. Spring Tower and the Candlelight Fountain are also highlights.

Under my umbrella at the Cheonggyecheon Plaza!

 

 

12 Seoul City Wall Museum and Heunginjimun Gate

Located close to the DDP, the Heunginjimun Gate is a remaining piece of the ancient Seoul City wall. The view from the top of the wall beside the museum offers the best angles of the wall and the ancient gate below. Originally built in 1396, The ancient wall stretches for almost 20km and 6 of its 8 gates remain and a hike along the City Wall makes for great views and exercise!

Seoul City Wall and Heunginjimun Gate

 

 

13 Jogyesa Temple

The Jogyesa Temple is located in the heart of northern Seoul and was one of our favourite temples in South Korea. It is the centre of Korean Buddhism. Located in a busy business district, the temple is like a tranquil oasis and a great escape from the busy city that surrounds it. The temple is colourful and beautiful and the grounds contains ancient trees which are 500 years old as well as fun statutes which won’t fail to bring a smile to your face.

Seoul best photo spots tip: we visited during the annual flower festival in October and the grounds were incredible with scultped hedges representing Buddha’s, elepahants and dragons. During the Buddha’s birthday and the Lotus Lantern Festival temple courtyard is decorated with paper lanterns making for a spectacular photo opportunities.

The Jogyesa Temple

 

 

14 Namdaemun Market

The famous Namdaemun Market is located just around the corner from the Namdaemun Gate. Here you’ll find great street photography and food options. The food market is at its busiest in the day-time and early evening so aim to visit during the mid-afternoon. This way there will still be lots of street photography opportunities and lots of the food stalls will still be open.

The fantastic Namdaemun Market

One of everything! Street food at Namdaemun Market

 

Seoul best photo locations tip: it’s important to fuel up before a street photography session and the famous Hotteok stand at Gate 2 of the Namdaemun Market is unmissable! The donut type street food is stuffed with noodles, vegetables and mozerella and is a must eat in Seoul!

The famous Hotteok stand at Gate 2 of the Namdaemun Market

 

 

15 Jongmyo Shrine

Jongmyo is a Confucian shrine in memory of the kings and queens of the Korean Joseon Dynasty. The Shrine itself consists of a number of different buildings which are set against a serene woodland backdrop. We recommend visiting on a guided tour day as the tour gives a great explanation of the history and significance of the site. The most impressive of the buildings is the long Ancestral Hall which is the last stop on the tour.

Seoul Best Photo Locations Tip: Visits to the Jongmyo Shrine are by guided tour only except for Saturdays when visitors can explore themselves. The Shrine is closed on Tuesdays.

The Ancestral Hall at the Jongmyo Shrine

 

Exploring Jongmyo

 

16 Gwanghwamun Square

While it’s easy to walk past the Gwanghwamun Square en route to the Gyeongbukgung Palace it’s definitely worth taking some time in this area for photos. The two most famous statues are of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin and King Sejong. The area is definitely more photogenic at night when the King Sejong statue is illuminated. 

Gwanghwamun Square during the day

King Sejong

 

17 Lotte World Tower

For the one of the best views in Seoul pay a visit to Lotte World Tower, the tallest building in Seoul and the 5th tallest building in the world. The tower itself is 123 floors, 555m high and offers epic views across Seoul and the surrounding countryside. As well as the floor to ceiling windows and the endless skyline pics, the glass-bottomed observatory with its birds-eye perspective on the city streets will test your head for heights!

Seoul Photography Tip: As the Lotte World Tower is so high, try to visit the tower on a clear day. We changed our plans in order ot visit on a clear day and it was worth it for the views

The glass bottom observatory at the Seoul Tower

Epic views from the top of Lotte World Tower

 

Seoul best photo spots tip: when you’re finished with the Tower make sure to stop by the magnificent stairway in the Lotte World Mall. For the best angles of these stunning intertwined stairs head to the third or fourth floor to look down.

The stunning staircase in the Lotte World Mall

 

 

18 Seoul City Hall

The super modern Seoul City Hall is a glass and steel masterpiece often described as resembling a tidal wave. Inside, the vertical gardens are a treat together with the quirky exhibitions which often feature.

Seoul City Hall

 

19 War Memorial of Korea

The War Memorial in Seoul was built to commemorate the Korean war that led to the modern day Korea. The memorial contains lots of relics of the war and is definitely worth spending a few hours exploring. While the building itself is stunning make sure to stop by the incredible bronze statues in the outdoor exhibition area at the main entrance.

The giant bronze statues at the War Memorial

The giant bronze statues at the War Memorial

 

20 | Deoksugung Palace Stone Wall Road

This picturesque pedestrian path runs along Deoksugung Palace and the picturesque path is much loved by locals. 

The famous exterior wall to Deoksugung Palace Wall

 

Map of the best photo locations in Seoul

Seoul Photo Location Map

Map of Photo locations in Seoul, South Korea

Click here for an interactive Google map of Seoul photo locations

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