Consistently ranked as one of the top 10 international conference destinations in the world and among the top 3 in Asia, Seoul's harmonious blend of ancient tradition and cutting edge technology makes it an obvious choice for meeting planners. The appeal begins with its accessibility, made easy thanks to two airports, Gimpo International and Incheon International. The primary gateway, Incheon consistently scores top accolades such as Best Airport Worldwide. Offering access to 165 cites via more than 270 routes, the airport welcomes over 70,000 passengers a day.
Contributing to its popularity is the city's immense COEX Convention & Exhibition Center, among the largest convention complexes in Asia. For events as small as 100 people to tradeshows of 7,000 attendees, the COEX facilities boast a wide range of versatile venues to meet any need, including a grand ballroom, multiple exhibition halls, large conference rooms and smaller boardrooms. The facility has hosted such prestigious events as the IAA World Congress, the third Asia-Europe Meeting ASEM Summit and 100 Years of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The COEX Convention & Exhibition Center is convenient to a wealth of alternative event venue options, thanks to its location within the massive 605,221-square-meter World Trade Center Seoul. The WTC is home to the COEX Mall, the largest underground shopping center in South Korea, which features hundreds of stores, a 16-screen multiplex theater and over 50 restaurants, many of which are well suited to group dining. Or, host an event amongst the bright lights and excitement of the World Trade Center's Seven Luck Casino, located in the Millennium Seoul Hilton, which boasts over 1,400 square meters of meeting space.
Though the World Trade Center packs a punch, several outstanding venues found throughout the city welcome group business as well. Truly out of the ordinary, Fradia Hall is a sophisticated setting for events. As Seoul's first floating convention hall, Fradia offers up-close views of the Han River as well as two floors of indoor event space and a spectacular roof deck.
Also on the Han River, the dock venue Usell Convention Hall can accommodate events as large as 1,000 people on its two floors. With a rooftop designed to represent the top of the Baek-Du Mountain, an interior roof covered with angled mirrors that reflect the river below, and a full suite of audio-visual equipment, Usell is both a beautiful and functional event venue.
Many of Seoul's most popular meeting venues can be found at one of the city's over 100 hotels. The 465-room Shilla Hotel's Yeong Bin Gwan, formerly a guest house for visiting heads of state, continues to welcome foreign and local groups of up to 1,400 guests in its traditionally-styled meeting rooms and expansive private gardens. At the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill, the Jade Garden can accommodate outdoor events of up to 700 guests. Also at the hotel is the Aston House mansion, where floor-to-ceiling windows in four spacious meeting rooms afford spectacular views of the city skyline.
Commonly referred to as the "Tech Capital of the World," Seoul is a hub of international business and the world's leader in information technology. The city is home to the headquarters of such notable companies as Samsung, LG, Hyundai and Kia. Additionally, most of South Korea's prestigious colleges and universities are located in Seoul, including the University of Seoul, Korea University and Seoul National University of Technology.
As the capital and largest city in South Korea, Seoul spans 605 square kilometers along the basin of the Han River. With a population that tops 10 million people, Seoul is one of the world's most populous cities. In fact, almost half of South Korea's population resides in what is known as the Seoul National Capitol Area, an area that includes the port city of Incheon and Gyeonggi-do. With the 2nd largest metropolitan area in the world, Seoul is a booming hub for both global and South Korean economics, politics, technology and culture.
Seoul's prominent role as a political and cultural center is nothing new. Over two thousand years ago, what is now southeast Seoul was designated as the capital of one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea; it later became capital city of Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. Though the city has seen its fair share of turmoil throughout its long history, it was greatly rebuilt and rejuvenated during the late 1960s and early 1970s and has since skyrocketed to become one of the world's top 10 financial and commercial cities.
A world leader of business, finance and technology, Seoul is home to one of the most technologically advanced infrastructures in the world. It is the only city in the world to feature digital mobile TV technology (DMB) and a wireless high-speed mobile Internet service known as WiBro. In addition, the Seoul Subway is the 3rd largest subway system in the world with approximately two million passengers daily.
Today, modern conveniences and historic traditions blend beautifully in Seoul. An astonishing patchwork of ancient palaces, tombs, temples and villages, Seoul's history waits around every corner. Experience the epicenter of Seoul tradition at the famous Gwangwhamun district, where palaces, shrines, temples and traditional markets line the streets. Here, visitors marvel at the extraordinary architecture and grandeur of the Gyeonghuigung or Gyeongbokgung palaces, visit the royal tombs of the Joseon period, or stroll through the mazes of houses, museums and art galleries of the charming Bukchon Hanok Village.
In recent years, Seoul has exploded into a new age of cutting edge technology and modern culture. Seoul's ever-growing art scene brims with vibrant theaters and sophisticated galleries, from the famous Nanta Theater to the architecturally-stunning Seoul Art Center. Visitors can take a stroll down the narrow streets of the colorful Insa-dong shopping district and pop in and out of art galleries and a number of traditional and modern tea houses. Those seeking eclectic shopping and dining should not miss a trip down Itaewon Street, a bustling thoroughfare full of funky boutiques, jazz bars and more.
Family travelers can keep young guests entertained in Seoul as well. In fact, the city is home to the world's largest indoor theme park known as Lotte World. Designed by prestigious amusement park designers, Lotte World features everything from exhilarating roller coasters and costumed characters to a sports center and folk museum. Or, take an undersea odyssey through the COEX Aquarium, the only theme-oriented aquarium in Korea. Teeming with more than 40,000 oceanic fish, the aquarium is bursting with marine marvels.
Guests can also experience the wonders of wildlife first-hand in Seoul, thanks to the golf courses, botanical gardens and sprawling parkland that populate the city. Hangang River Citizen's Park offers endless possibilities for outdoor adventures, from bird watching at the Bam Isle ecological preserve to ferry cruises along the Hangang River. Alternatively, visitors to Namsan Park can take a relaxing cable car ride up to the peak of Mount Namsan for panoramic views of the city. More adventurous spirits can climb the steps up the mountain and take in the aromatic blooms of the Namsan Botanical Garden along the way.
Sunset over Seoul's gorgeous landscape is the perfect time for guests to enjoy the extensive Seoul dining scene. Visitors can indulge in the delicious tastes of Korean cuisine such as sizzling meat dishes galbi and bulgogi, cooked over a charcoal flame, or the famed kimchi, the Korean spicy side dish du jour. For Western favorites, diners can visit restaurants such as Table 34, where sophisticated European dishes and a 3,000-bottle wine cellar make it a favorite among visiting guests. Whatever their tastes, guests will no doubt find something to love in glorious Seoul.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Seoul's temperate continental climate has four distinct seasons. Summers are typically hot and humid, while winters are frigid and see frequent snowfalls. Temperatures average 11.1°C annually, with summers averaging 25.4°C and winters averaging -3.4°C. Annual average precipitation is 1,370 mm with most rain falling in summer months, particularly June and July during the East Asian Monsoon season.
Not unlike many urban centers, Seoul is subject to pollution. However, the city has made significant strides in the development of its green initiatives to preserve clean air. Among them are the restoration of the Cheonggyecheon Stream, establishment of the Seoul Forest and the creation of what are known as "green belts."
Although Seoul is a year-round destination, fall is widely considered the best time to visit. From September to November, guests can enjoy the mild temperatures and majestic display of colorful foliage that adorns the landscape.
The premier convention facility in South Korea, COEX Convention & Exhibition Center consistently makes the list of the world's top 10 convention centers and is among the largest in South Korea. Located in the 605,221-square-meter World Trade Center Seoul in the heart of the city, this astonishing center is a city within itself. The WTC complex features the largest shopping mall in South Korea, a 17-theater Megabox Cinema, the COEX Aquarium, over 200 restaurants and more. Two InterContinental Hotels, the Grand Intercontinental Seoul and the COEX Intercontinental Seoul, are also located adjacent to the facility.
Built in 2000, the COEX Annex Building houses its grand ballroom, auditorium, and much of its convention and meeting space. The state-of-the-art facility features over 36,000 square meters of exhibition space spread across various specialty exhibition halls, the largest of which can accommodate up to 7,000 people. For conventions and other meetings, the conference center at COEX has 30 meeting rooms, including six large conference rooms. Overall, planners can find 18,400 square meters of convention space throughout the center, the largest space being the 1,820-square-meter grand ballroom.
When it comes to amenities, COEX has everything covered. Exclusive on-site caterer Westin Chosun Hotel prepares five-star dining experiences, from coffee breaks to banquets, for large groups numbering in the thousands. Wired and wireless Internet is available, as is a variety of audio-visual equipment. Parking is available on-site at COEX, which can also be reached via public transportation or via shuttle buses departing from the arrivals section at Incheon Airport.
Incheon International Airport (IIA)
Widely considered the world's finest airport, Incheon International serves the needs of over 70,000 passengers a day. Completed in 2001, Incheon provides unparalleled service throughout the Far East and around the globe. The airport has consistently been rated as the world's best since 2006 and ranks 2nd as the busiest airport in terms of international passengers. Travelers can reach 165 cities aboard 70 airlines operating out of Incheon.
Within the airport, travelers can find a sanctuary of serenity in one of the many gardens dispersed throughout Incheon. Additionally, the airport's indoor gardens feature themes ranging from fresh pines, flowering azaleas and pampas grass to cacti or bamboo and orchids. The gardens are host to a variety of events throughout the year.
In addition to its gorgeous setting, Incheon also features a host of shopping, dining and leisure services catering to travelers. Incheon is home to local and such global brands as Samsonite, Converse and Harley Davidson, and Korean favorites. In regards to dining, visitors with time should stop for a meal at Matina, which offers Western and Korean favorites in an elegant atmosphere. The airport's Korean Tradition restaurant serves up traditional food and culture for visiting passengers.
Travelers will also want to stop at the Korean Culture Museum, a joint initiative with the National Museum of Korea. The museum features artifacts and exhibits detailing the country's 5,000-year history. The Korean Culture Museum also contains an exhibit on the traditional music of Korea and features examples of the country's unique and rich musical tradition.
Other amenities include Incheon's Internet lounge, which offers computers for scanning, faxing services and beverage service. There are over 11,000 parking spaces at Incheon for passengers and visitors. The spaces are divided between long-term and short-term. A number of shuttles are available to take passengers to the concourse.
Airline carriers serving Incheon International Airport
Gimpo International Airport (GMP)
Prior to completion of Incheon International Airport, travelers to Seoul arrived via Gimpo International Airport. Today, Gimpo serves travelers throughout Korea, Japan and China. The airport sees over 13 million passengers a year and offers service to 10 destinations via eight different airlines.
Gimpo contains a domestic and international terminal that is home to a number of dining and shopping options. Hungry travelers can pick from a wide range of choices, be it traditional Korean fare or Western staples. Visitors can also pick up items from a number of shops including Samsung and Burberry.
Gimpo International Airport contains 4,000 parking spaces on-site. Fees are based on the lot utilized.
Airline carriers serving Gimpo International Airport
Operated by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the Seoul bus system features four primary bus lines that serve most of the city. Seoul has four different types of buses: Blue, Green, Red and Yellow. To make it simpler for passengers to navigate bus routes, a numbering system was introduced to facilitate recognition of route outlines.
The system uses cash or transportation cards. Fares vary by bus type. Regular buses are less expensive, but involve more stops and longer destination times. Express bus lines are more comfortable and cater to tourists with English-speaking drivers.
Regular bus fares from Incheon International Airport to downtown Seoul are approximately KRW 8,000. Limousine bus fares for the same route are KRW 14,000.
One of the largest subway systems in the world, the Seoul Metropolitan Subway system is a quick and economical way to hop around the city. Ferrying more than eight million passengers daily, this system operates 10 lines that serve Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi Province and northern Chungnam Province. It also connects with the Incheon Subway system and the Incheon International Airport Railroad. All signs are posted in both Korean and English, making it easy for Western visitors to navigate the system.
The subway runs daily every two to five minutes from 5:30 AM to midnight. Ticket prices start at KRW 1,000 for a trip up to 10 kilometers, with KRW 100 added for each additional five kilometers.
Two rental car companies operate out of Incheon International Airport: Kumho Rent-A-Car and Avis. Both operate out of the airport's first floor parking lot. However, driving in Seoul is not recommended as roads are congested and parking is limited and expensive.
Seoul features two types of taxis: "Regular" (Ilban) taxis, which are silver, and "Deluxe" (Mobeom) taxis, which are yellow. Regular taxis start at KRW 1,600 for the first two kilometers and are metered at KRW 100 for every additional 168 kilometers. If the taxi is going less than 15 kilometers per hour, an additional charge of KRW 100 is applied per 35 seconds. Additionally, a 20 percent surcharge applies between the hours of midnight and 4 AM.
Deluxe taxis start at KRW 4,000 for the first three kilometers and are metered at KRW 200 for every 205 meters. Deluxe taxis do not apply nightly surcharges.
Taxis at Incheon International Airport can be found on the first-floor tourist terminal between platforms 16 and 21. Average fare from the airport to downtown Seoul is KRW 1,900 for Regular taxis and KRW 4,500 for Deluxe. Visitors should keep in mind that most taxi drivers in Seoul do not speak English and a written destination is recommended. Deluxe taxi drivers cater frequently to tourists and are more likely to speak English than Regular taxi drivers.
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