10 BEST Museums in Seoul [September 2020]

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The beating heart and current capital of South Korea, Seoul is one of the most exciting cities in all of Asia!

If you are visiting Seoul, you’ll be excited to know that there is no shortage of things to do – which is exactly why we wrote this article of the 10 BEST Museums in Seoul.

With the help of this insider guide, you’ll be able to easily navigate through all of Seoul’s museums, and quickly find a museum that best suits your interests.

Whether you are interested in art, culture, history, kimchi, or wax celebrities – there’s something here for everyone!

Let’s go ahead and jump right into it…

 

#1 – The National Palace Museum

History Museum

The National Palace Museum

Photo Credit – koreatodo.com

  • See Korean history come to life!
  • Built in 1395
  • $3.00 entry for adults
  • Suggested duration: 2-3 hours

Home to the kings and governors of the Joseon Dynasty, the National Palace Museum is one of the most amazing historical buildings not just in Seoul – but in all of Asia!

Built in 1395, this historical palace survived a fire in the 1700s and the systematic destruction by the Japanese in the early-1900s. It has now been completely restored, and is one of the most important monuments for Korean culture and history.

The National Palace Museum is a perfect museum for anyone who is interested in culture, architecture, and (of course) – history! There are also spaces with beautiful trees and natural scenery, making this a great experience for nature lovers as well!

Admission (like most museums in Korea) is quite cheap, and is a great introduction to Korean history and culture. This was an easy pick for our favorite museum in Seoul!

Not yet booked? Take a look at our favorite hotels in Seoul!

#2 – The War Museum of Korea

History Museum

The War Museum of Korea

Photo Credit – military.wikia.org

  • Learn about the history of war in Korea
  • Features over 33,000 artifacts
  • Special exhibitions sometimes available
  • Admission is free! (Not including special exhibitions)
  • Suggested duration: 2-3 hours

A country that is no stranger to the atrocities of war, the War Museum of Korea brings you through the history of Korea’s struggles – but internal and against foreign forces.

While museum takes you back in time to some of Korea’s older battles, the majority of the museum is dedicated to their most recent (and infamous) war against North Korea from 1950-1953.

History-nerds will love the never-ending supply of war relics including ammunition, planes, tanks, and more.

The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, and tours are highly recommended and available in English, Japanese, Chinese and Korean.

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#3 – National Museum of Korea

Culture and History Museum

National Museum of Korea

Photo Credit – wikipedia.org

  • Become an expert on Korean culture!
  • Over 300,000 artifacts on display
  • Guided tours available in English
  • Admission is free, but you need a ticket for the Children’s Museum
  • Suggested duration: 2-4 hours

One of Korea’s most important attractions, this world-class museum features everything that is Korea – and it’s an experience you won’t want to miss!

Boasting 3 floors, 6 permanent exhibitions, and almost 300,000 historical artifacts, this is a museum that you will want to enjoy slowly and with the whole family.

Join a guided English tour, and learn about the history and culture of this fascinating country dating all the way back to the bronze age. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for any temporary exhibitions (although they might come at an additional cost).

And the best part? The museum is located in Yongsan (the heart of Seoul), which means this can be one stop on a full day of exploration.

Interested in Seoul? Read up on the history of Seoul!

#4 – Pulmone Kimchi Museum

Food museum

Pulmone Kimchi Museum

Photo Credit – kpopislandrocks.wordpress.com

  • Learn about Korea’s most important (and iconic) food
  • Kimchi making classes available (extra cost)
  • Admission is $2-$5 USD (depending on your age)
  • Suggested duration 1-2 hours

Kimchi (for those unfamiliar) is Korea’s classic take on fermented cabbage, and it has taken the food-world by storm. If you are a foodie, then this is a MUST DO while you are in South Korea!

The museum is well-reviewed and teaches you everything you could ever want to know about Kimchi. If you are a serious foodie, you can learn how to make Kimchi in your own private class! Be sure to contact the museum about the details and costs to take a private cooking course.

Pro-tip – the museum is located in the center of Insa-dong Cultural Street. This is one of Seoul’s most iconic food streets – so be sure to grab some Dragon’s Beard Candy or spicy Korean dumplings after your Kimchi tour!

 

#5 – Ewha Woman’s University Natural History Museum

Science Museum

Ewha Woman's University Natural History Museum

Photo Credit – architonic.com

  • Learn about plants, rocks, and animals from all over the world
  • 6 permanent exhibits
  • Free admission!
  • Suggested Duration: 2-3 hours

If you are the type of person who loves animals and mother nature, then going to this museum while you are in Seoul is a no-brainer!

Established in 1969 as Seoul’s first Natural History Museum, you can experience fascinating natural exhibits – each with its own theme. Some of our favorite exhibits are the Earth Science Section and the Vertebrates II Section.

Guests rave about exhibits, and how they are fun for the whole family. Also, if you are looking for something fun to do afterward, be sure to walk around the Ewha Women’s University – it’s lovely.

The museum is free and opens every day except for Sunday.

 

#6 – National Folk Museum of Seoul

History and Culture Museum

National Folk Museum of Seoul

Photo Credit – theseoulguide.com

  • See the daily life of Koreans in the past
  • Learn about Korea’s cultural beliefs
  • Free admission!
  • Suggested Duration: 1-3 hours

One of Seoul’s smaller, but most important museums is the National Folk Museum of Seoul.

While we know that history-buffs and culture-vultures will obviously love the exhibits, we think that anybody can enjoy learning about the past of Korea, so you can better understand the present of Korea!

The museum shows you the ways of the Korean people – back from the ancient agricultural times, to more recent times. The museum has an impressive amount of exhibits and there are 4,000+ artifacts on display!

If you find the museum interesting and you want to learn more about Korean culture and history, be sure to check out the on-site library where there is plenty of reading material for additional learning.

 

#7 – Grevin Museum

Specialty Museum

Grevin Museum

Photo Credit – viator.com

  • Over 80 wax figures of celebrities!
  • Flight simulator and casino roulette also available
  • Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

Imagine someone asking about your trip to Seoul, and you say ‘I met Tom Cruise, Michael Jordan, Angelina Jolie AND the Pope!’

Well, with the help of Grevin Wax Museum you can totally say that! You just might want to clarify that you met the wax versions of these celebs 😉

The wax sculptures are super real and some of the highest quality in the world – each takes about 6 months to sculpt! Guests also rave about the museum’s flight simulator and casino roulette.

Pro Tip – the wax museum is within walking distance to Deoksugung Palace, meaning you can visit both and make a day out of it!

 

#8 – Seodaemun Prison History Hall, Seoul

Historical Building

Seodaemun Prison History Hall, Seoul

Photo Credit – english.visitkorea.or.kr

  • An actual political prison from the 1900s!
  • Over 100 years old
  • Located in Seodaemun Independence Park
  • Admission is $1.00-$3.00 USD (depending on age)
  • Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

After some back-and-forth, Japan took control of South Korea in 1910 and ruled it as a colony until the end of World War Two in 1945. These were terrible times for Koreans, and this museum will show you why.

Built in 1907, the Japanese used the building to incarcerate (and often torture and murder) Korean liberation activists. In its nearly 40 years in operation, tens of thousands of Korean’s were imprisoned including Korean historical figures Kim Koo and Ryu Gwansun.

The prison is a must-visit for all history lovers and is one of many monuments and buildings that make up Saodaemun Independence Park.

 

#9 – Trickeye Museum Seoul

Specialty Museum

Trickeye Museum Seoul

Photo Credit – kpopmap.com

  • A unique experience!
  • Fun for the whole family
  • $8.00-$15.00 entrance fee
  • Suggested Duration: 1-2 hours

Easily one of the coolest experiences in Seoul, the Trickeye Museum is more of a futuristic photo gallery than it is a ‘museum’, and is one of the highest-rated things to do in all of Seoul!

The intersection of art and futurism, the museum features rooms with paintings that come to life. The 2D/3D effect of the paintings makes them perfect for photo shoots and video shoots.

And the best part? You can jump on in! These photos are cool, fun, and are truly an unforgettable experience.

A ticket to the Trickeye Museum also comes with free admission to the ice sculpture museum next door – but the reviews for the sculptures are fairly dismal. You have been warned!

 

#10 – Contemporary Art Museum

Contemporary Art Museum

Photo Credit – news.artnet.com

  • Features modern art and design
  • 6 galleries – all rotating exhibitions
  • Also home to the National Korean Ballet, Opera, and Symphony
  • Ticket prices vary depending on the exhibition
  • Suggested Duration: 1-3 hours

Welcome to the Seoul Arts Center, aka the center of the Seoul-arts universe, where you can witness the finest Korea has to offer in the arts and music!

Built in 1988, this building has become the epicenter of modern Korean culture and is where you can experience art exhibits, curated collections, musical performances, and everything in between.

The museum itself features amazing art from around the world, with exhibitions that are constantly revolving, making it very popular with the locals.

Also, be sure to check out the exhibition schedule where you can watch classical music performances, dance, and much more.

 

Final thoughts on Seoul’s Best Museums

Boom! There you have it, our 10 favorite museums in Seoul!

We know that with the help of this list you’ll be able to easily find a museum that aligns with your interests. In particular, we think that the National Palace Museum and the Kimchi Museum are a must-visit when you are in Seoul.

Which of the museums are you going to visit? The wax museum? One of the history museums? Let us know in the comments below – safe travels!

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About the Author Aaron Hovanesian

Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties.When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.