I think people sleep on Korea and its historical attractions…I know I did. When I think of ancient history, palaces, landscapes, and tourist sites in east Asia, my mind goes straight to China and Japan *Kanye shrug* However, unlike China, which is way larger than Korea, or Japan, which has more costly transportation, Korea is small, affordable and easy to navigate if you only know English, making it pretty easy to see sites in any part of the country.
You could visit Seoul only and still leave with a pretty satisfactory experience of Korea. When my mom visited, we spent a week in the capital city, and easily packed in multiple sites in one day. Specifically, we were able to visit Gyeongbukgung Palace, Gwanghwamun, get a view of the Blue House (the equivalent to the U.S. White House), Cheonggyecheon Stream, and the famous Han River. This post will focus on Gyeongbukgung, Gwanghwamun, and the Blue House.
How to Get There:
Take Line 5 (Purple Line) to Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 2; or
Take Line 3 (Orange Line) to Gyeongbukgung Station, Exit 5.
Entrance fee: 3,000 won or FREE if you’re wearing hanbok!
Gyeongbukgung is one of many palaces in Seoul, and is definitely the most famous and most grand. If you arrive via Gwanghwamun Station, you can also see a large statue of King Sejong, the ruler who invented Hangul (the Korean alphabet).
The entrance to the palace is a landmark on its own—Gwanghwamun Gate.
Inside the gate are the palace grounds. I highly suggest signing up for one of the free walking tours (the last one is around 3:30pm) and getting there in time to see the guard-changing ceremony (unfortunately, we missed it :[ ). The tour really gives meaning to beauty that you’ll see so you aren’t just aimlessly walking around, snapping palaces or walking by important buildings!
So many tourists come by to visit.
We were able to catch a glimpse of the Blue House from within the palace exit. There are tours to the house, but they are expensive and require booking far in advance. Just viewing it was good enough for us!
After the palace, we caught a cab near Jongno 3-ga Station for some barbecue, and I realized we were just a few blocks away from Cheonggyecheon Stream, so we trekked on over. Read more about CheongGyecheon Stream here!
Need more ideas for what to do in Seoul? I gotchu.