Exploring Seoul: Gyeongbukgung Palace, Gwanghwamun Gate, and the Blue House

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.

Seoul Gyeongbukgung Palace

Seoul, South Korea. Gyeongbukgung palace


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).

King Sejong, Seoul, South Korea, Gyeongbukgung Palace

Sejong Gyeongbukgung Seoul


The entrance to the palace is a landmark on its own—Gwanghwamun Gate.

Gwanghwamun gate, gyeongbukgung palace, seoul

Gyeongbukgung entrance- Gwanghwamun gate in Seoul South Korea

Gwanghwamun Art mural in Seoul

Cool mural of Gwanghwamun gate at Gwanghwamun Station.


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!

Tour guide at Gyeongbukgung Palace Seoul

Our tour guide was so sweet and cracked cute jokes hehe.


So many tourists come by to visit.

Gyeongbukgung tourists in hanbok. Seoul, South Korea

Nope, those aren’t Koreans in hanbok, those are other tourists! Wearing hanbok gets you discounted entry to the palace.

Thai tourists American tourists African tourists in Gyeongbukgung Palace Seoul

This Thai woman was in love with my mom and her dashiki ^__^


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!

The Blue House, the president's house, in Seoul, South Korea

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.

About Atembe

Atembe is a Cameroonian-American who is exactly 27 years old (because saying "20-something" is SO 2016) and currently teaching kiddos art and English in South Korea. In her free time she's dancing, drinking too much celebrity tea, living vicariously through characters in her favorite TV comedies, or [sometimes] letting her husband Eric beat her at Wii. Catch her on Twitter or Instagram via @sothisisfate, and for a faster response, tweet her a "TAR!..."

1 comment on “Exploring Seoul: Gyeongbukgung Palace, Gwanghwamun Gate, and the Blue House

  1. Pingback: Seoul Evening Activities: Han River Light Show at Banpo Bridge – So This Is F.A.T.E.

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