Awareness about fair and sustainable travel continues to grow around the globe, with travelers everywhere considering a destination’s eco-friendly options before visiting. As public consciousness for this important aspect of tourism strengthens, tourists also look beyond just ecotourism and delve deeper into types of travel that allow them to respect the local culture, interact with locals and distribute benefits fairly.
One of the world’s best destinations for fair and sustainable travel spots and activities, Seoul continues to preserve its culture and heritage and raise awareness for these important topics facing the travel industry. In summer 2022, Seoul Tourism Organization hosted the Global Fair & Sustainable Travel Contest, inviting participants worldwide to submit pictures, video and writing that shared their own perspective and experience with fair and sustainable travel.
To have your own sustainable travel experience in Seoul, consider these five activities and sites:
Whatever your fitness level, Bukhansan Mountain and its surrounds offer plenty of areas and attractions to envelop you in the outdoors.
Seek exercise while protecting the environment and partake in the new mountain plogging trend, which combines hiking with picking up litter. Started in Sweden, and derived from the Swedish phrases plocka upp (to pick up) and jogga (to jog), plogging grew in popularity across South Korea on social media. Around Bukhansan Mountain, find recyclable bags for plogging at Bukhansan National Park Ui Ranger Station or Bukhansanseong Park Information Center.
Find 20 walking trails, or dulle-gils, in the areas bordering Bukhansan Mountain. Along the way, discover the graves of 12 Korean Independence Movement Patriots, and cultural spots like the Museum of Modern Korea, Ui-dong Meeting Square, the April 19th Observatory and Pine Tree Shelter.
Cycling around Seoul proves a popular pastime, with Seoul Bike rental locations available all over the city. Here’s a closer look at four recommended biking routes across the capital.
At just a bit more than 10 miles, pedal through the heart of the city, along the Hangang River, on a smooth, easy path from Banpodaegyo Bridge to Mapodaegyo Bridge. Along the way, take in the panoramic views.
Bike through history on the approximately 6-mile route from Jungnangcheon Stream to Jamsilcheolgyo Railroad, with a break to bird watch in Seoul Forest Park. Pass other sites on the route and gaze up at the 123-floor Lotte World Tower in the distance.
A shorter route, about 2 miles, ranks highly recommended for travelers: Gyeongbokgung Palace to Gwanghwamun. On the circular path, indulge in the peaceful scenery and take a photo at the fountain in front of Cheong Wa Dae, known as Angel Fountain and beautifully lit at night.
Adventurous bikers will enjoy the approximately 8.5-mile route from Hongjecheon Stream to Bulgwangcheon Stream, with a nearly 300-foot elevation difference and four cliff slopes. It’s well worth the effort with the views at the top.
A Taste of Local Culture at Bukchon Hanok Village
Experience authentic Korean culture at Bukchon Hanok Village, originally inhabited by aristocrats 600 years ago and today boasting alleyways of hanok, a traditional Korean house, architecture. Important historical assets remain here, and visitors should make sure to take in spots like Changdeokgung Palace, Wonseo-dong Gongbang-gil, Gahoe-dong Alleyway, Samcheong-dong stone stairs and more.
Take part in cultural and arts workshops, like calligraphy, pansori (musical storytelling) and jogakbo (patchwork), at Bukchon Traditional Culture Center. The work of Han Sang Soo, a master artisan of embroidery, is on display at Bukchon Hanok Hall.
Another example of preserving the local culture and of urban regeneration can be found at Seongsu, where visitors can take a variety of tours, including the Handmade Shoes Tour, highlighting the stylish shoes of the area’s shoe alley; and the Café Tour, showcasing a trendy hot spot full of exhibition spaces and cafés now housed in converted warehouses and factories.
Don’t miss the chance to enjoy delicious plates of galbi, or Korean grilled ribs. Lining what is known as Seongsu-dong Galbi Alley, find a variety of restaurants specializing in the dish. Each prepares the ribs with different marinades, seasonings and methods, so all the different restaurants will serve their own unique version.
Cheong Wa Dae
Opened to the public with the inauguration of the Republic of Korea’s 20th president, Cheong Wa Dae sits at the heart of the Jongno neighborhood. The opening allowed for the revitalization of local commercial districts and the dispersal of tourists to neighboring areas. Also called the Blue House, Cheong Wa Dae, amid the backdrop of the Bugaksan Mountains, was the former executive office and official residence of South Korea’s president. Today, it’s open to the public, a move that launched a new hiking trail and made the whole of the mountain accessible to visitors. Find cultural events and performances here.
The opportunities to discover abound in Seoul. Find what delights you from the plentiful abundance of fair and sustainable options in the vibrant city.
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