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Seoul, South Korea is an amazing vacation destination that many international visitors don’t think of at first when they consider East Asia for their travel. Japan is sometimes a more common destination, and the Great Wall of China is, of course, very alluring. Still, visiting the Korean peninsula is well worth it. However, first-time visitors need to know certain things, including where they should stay.

The first thing that newcomers need to know about Seoul is that it’s in South Korea. It’s got nothing to do with North Korea. While the reclusive communist dictatorship isn’t that far north, South Korea is a democracy and a leading industrialized nation. In fact, South Korea is a vital part of the global economy. Seoul itself is a global city in its current state, even though it has more than 2,000 years of history.

That combination of contemporary status and ancient culture make the city such a fascinating place to stay. You can find affordable and comfortable accommodations that meet modern standards in plenty of parts of the city, so your decision on where to stay might be swayed by what you want to do there.

You can get around many parts of Seoul simply speaking English, although how common it is will vary by district. If you’re looking to explore Korean culture, then you should know that the city is home to multiple United Nations heritage sites. Many museums and houses of worship honor the long-running legacy of the nation and civilization.

Shopping is certainly a favorite activity in the national capital, whether you’re looking for modern clothes or Asian antiquities and aesthetics to send back home. Wherever you go, do not pass up sampling local cuisine. South Korean street cooking is some of the best in the world, and the restaurants around Seoul rival their culinary competition around the world.

It’s almost impossible to get away from the hustle and bustle of a city the size of Seoul. However, there are plenty of outdoor activities and hiking options that let you take in fresh air and sunshine. Many offer remarkable vistas of the city skylines. Even outdoor enthusiasts can make memories like no other when staying in this mega-city of millions of people.