1. Gyeongbok Palace
Also known as Gyeongbokgung, this palace was built in late 14th century and served as the main palace for the Joseon Dynasty for centuries. It is a large complex with beautiful gardens, ponds, a folk museum and various gems of Korean architecture. The folk museum inside is a worthy visit to understand the local culture & it can be visited with the same ticket as the palace itself. Both museum and the palace itself are closed on Tuesdays.
The current presidential residence, known as “Blue House” is right to the north of the palace. Its blue roof looks beautiful with the backdrop of the mountain.
Changing of Guards Ceremony happens at 10am in the morning and it is a must see event. We have written a piece on this ceremony with a video and this will be published soon. Please visit again our blog.
There is also another palace in Seoul, known as Changdeokgung, which was the main palace prior to the construction of Gyeongbokgung. It has a similar architectural style with a beautiful garden. It is also worth visiting if you have time.
2. Hanok Village, Bukchon
This is a neighborhood with excellent examples of traiditional Korean houses known as “Hanok“. It is in walking distance from the North gate of the Gyeongbokgung, in Bukchon district. The streets in the area are also quite nice and offer good shopping & dining opportunities. One should remember that most of the hanoks are still used for residential purposes.
For many tourists and locals alike, Insadong is the top shopping, artistic, cultural and trendy district of Seoul. There are many art galleries, coffee shops/tea houses, pubs, street food options and souvenir shops in the area. The famous Ssamziegil shopping center is on the main street and definitely worth a visit. You can check out the below video for this lovely place.
4. Gwangjang Market
If you want to experience the sights, sounds and the taste of local culture in its authentic form, Gwangjang Market is a perfect example. You can shop for clothes, kimchi, dried fish or anything you want in this market. You can also have lunch in one of the food stalls, mostly packed in the centre of the market. Kimbap, pajeon, rice dumplings or hotteok are favourite options. Most of these stalls are run by the aunties known as “Ajummas”, who dedicate their lives to society and to their families after a certain age.
This famous shopping district of Seoul is full of big name stores, street food, cafe/restaurants and original shops. Famous cosmetic products of Korea like Missha, SK, Faceshop, LaNeige etc can be purchased in this area. Most of the street food is quite yummy and wholesome. If you are looking for a high quality Korean restaurant experience, you can go to one of the barbecue places in the area. We went to one of these on our last full day in Seoul and we still remember fondly the tasteful experience.
Another landmark of Myeongdong is its cathedral, built on the imposing hill at the end of the main street.
If you walk a little further after the cathedral, you will reach the famous Cheonggyecheon Stream. A stroll by the stream in the night is highly recommended.