Encircled by mountains, containing a population of 10-million, and with more than a million registered motor vehicles inching through its congested streets, one would imagine the metropolis of Seoul, capital of South Korea, to be a polluted nightmare. In fact, it is a beautiful modern city with dozens of exhibition halls, different clubs, parks and gardens, cafes and restaurants and it is really worth visiting!
The easiest and quickest way to traverse the crowded city is on the subway, which has eight lines and serves all the main areas of interest. The official language is Korean. Station signs are written in English as well as Korean, and most lines have English announcements too. Subways are extremely crowded during the morning and evening rush hours. Tickets are bought from vending machines or at ticket windows. English is not widely spoken or understood. So if you are Seoul tourist and plan to use taxis or other local services it is wise to have instructions written down in Korean.
Taxis are readily available. Regular taxis are white or silver color and have a complex system of metering. Black luxury taxis are called Mobeom taxis. They are superior in both condition and service. Fares are also higher.
Visits to South Korea are trouble-free. The crime rate against foreigners is low, but still you should look after your passports, money and credit cards in crowded areas. Pickpockets are on duty.
Seoul has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons, but temperature differences between the hottest part of summer and the depths of winter are extreme. Sometimes even the flights to Seoul are postponed because of the weather. In summer, the weather is hot and humid, in winter, it is cold enough and strong west winds are blowing. The city experiences a heavy rainfall, but most of it falls occur in the summer monsoon period between June and September. The most pleasant seasons in the city are spring and autumn, when azure blue skies and comfortable temperatures are a sure bet.
Charter flights to Seoul are organized by the major tour operators and are used to transport their package holiday customers. Charter airlines are able to offer low prices by keeping their planes full and they will discount heavily to sell seats at the last minute. Charter airlines almost operate during peak seasons. Likewise, they may raise prices during peak season if the plane is full. Remember that the rules for charter flights to Seoul are very strict - it is not usually possible to change or cancel flights once booked and the luggage allowance is low.
Finding cheap flights is a complicated business. The best advice, if you have the time, is to shop around, as while most companies offer cheap flights to Seoul, none can guarantee the best deals to all destinations. As a rule, to get the cheapest airfares be flexible with flight times as midweek flights are often cheaper than those on weekends are. If you are flexible enough to fly indirect or leave at an anti-social hour, airfares are likely to be less.