South Korea: Seoul Part I

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Seoul is brimming with things to see, do and eat! We had a blast exploring this vast city. I loved every minute of my time in South Korea. The people are friendly, the prices are fair and the food is simply amazing. I’ve compiled a list of things you should see and do while visiting this tourist paradise.

Many other tourist sites revolve around the Gyeongbokgung Palace, therefore I suggest coming here first to save on time and walking feet as you make your way to the other attractions in the area. This massive palace is the largest of theFive Grand Palaces found in Seoul, it houses four outer and two inner gates, and more than ten beautifully constructed buildings each adding historical value. You will find the National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum within the palace grounds. The Korean Gardens in the southern part of the courtyard is beautiful. And don’t miss the Royal Changing of the Guards Ceremony which is held in front of the main gate at every hour from 10:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m.

This was the first tourist site we visited and it quickly gave us a good sense of what the rest of our South Korea trip would look like – busy with lots of ground to cover. Expect great crowds at nearly every major site especially this one.

Changdeokgung Palace

Another one of the Five Grand Palaces is Changdeokgung Palace. The highlight to this palace is the Secret Garden found behind the palace. The garden houses a lotus pond, pavilions, and lots of landscaped scenery. There is a separate entrance charge to this secret garden tour which includes choosing between an English, Japanese or Korean speaking guided tour. You’ll get a lot of information about the importance of the secret garden and palace during this tour. Our visit was during the early winter season and it was beautiful then, I can only imagine how beautiful this place must be during the spring bloom or the fall foliage. I suggest taking a taxi from Gyeongbokgung Palace as it is too far to walk from.

One more important note to remember while traveling in Seoul is that taxi rides are very fairly priced. They are especially worth it if traveling with a  companion or two like I was. The toughest aspect will definitely be finding a taxi cab driver that speaks enough English to communicate. It was hit and miss for us. The metro system is very intuitive to use and reasonably priced, but it’s always nice to have options.

Around Seoul

There is a lot of beauty and splendor found around this very well established metropolis. I always had my camera at the ready. The Cheonggyecheon Stream is 5.2 miles (8.4 kilometers) long which flows from the west side to the east side of Seoul.

Just across the way from the main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace you’ll find South Korea’s most iconic statue: the Statue of King Sejong. Gwanghwamun Plaza is a public space and one of Seoul’s major landmarks. Don’t forget to stop by if you are in the area.

Jogyesa Temple

Joygyesa Temple is a very attractive temple that is pivotal to Korean Buddhism, there is a lot of history involving this site. Located in downtown Seoul on the famous Insa-dong Street and in close proximity to Gyeongbokgung Palace. I really enjoyed stopping by at this temple as it is one of the most unique temples I’ve seen. It’s a very active temple that leads several major celebrations throughout the year.

We spent several days touring Seoul and covered a lot of Ground, each day offered a new adventure. Be sure to check out my South Korea Trip: Part II to see the rest of our time in this wonderful city . Happy Travels!