This is the much awaited installment for my previous blog post (I’d like to think so anyway). In case you missed my previous post for the Top 6-10 places, here is the link: https://niceadventuress.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/where-to-go-when-in-seoul-part-1/
I will continue on with top 5 places that I recommend you visit when travelling to Seoul 😀
With it’s old world charm and great view of the city skyline, a walk going to Bukchon is a must. Hanok is the traditional Korean house. Nestled in a neighborhood in between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, this is a residential area wherein the hanoks are preserved and new structures are made to complement with the old. Unlike other traditional Hanok Villages, this area was not meant to be a tourist attraction since people are actually occupying these houses, but you can’t blame tourists from taking interest since the place is awe-inspiring. There are several Hanok guesthouses here in case you want to experience living in a traditional Korean house. Some hanoks were converted into museums and restaurants as well. I suggest that you take your trip early in the morning since the place can get pretty crowded with tourist.
Samcheong-dong is a neighborhood located east of Gyeongbokgung. This place is teeming with quaint shops and cafes. They even have a Hello Kitty Cafe here but I don’t really recommend buying anything from there unless you just like to drink coffee with Hello Kitty’s face in it. The street is lined with gingko trees, perfect for a stroll especially during autumn.
This is another neighborhood in Jongno (Samcheong-dong is also located in Jongno) which is located near Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung. During the Joseon dynasty, this area used to to be the residence for government official. Nowadays, the main street is lined with antique shops, souvenir stores, cafes, and restaurants. You will find that the shops’ signage are all in Hangul, even Starbucks! Also located here is Ssamzie-gil complex which houses handicraft stores in an open air 5-storey building. The shops and items that you will find here are very unique and the mall itself is a work of art. Here, you don’t have to walk through stairs take escalators or elevators in order to move to another floor. The levels of the floor is actually inclined for this purpose and you wouldn’t realize that you’re already on the top floor. Check out the alleyways along Insadong-gil for Korean restaurants.
Disclaimer: I had a hard time choosing the top 1 among the two. Both places are equally great and must be visited. But, I still have to choose one…
2. Changdeokgung and Biwon
This is one of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon dynasty. Changdeokgung, along with Changgyeonggung, are referred to as the “East Palace” since they are located east of Gyeongbokgung. The palace and it’s Biwon (Secret Garden) is a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are several Korean Natural Monuments here in the palace including a beautiful Chinese Juniper Tree which is believed to be around 750 years old! You can opt to tour the palace grounds only but I highly recommend taking the tour of the Secret Garden. You have to make reservations for the Secret Garden tour which you can do so online through the palace’s site.
This is the main and largest palace of the Joseon dynasty. Much of this huge complex was destroyed over the years by fire and the Japanese invasion. The restoration of Gyeongbokgung started in 2009 and is still on-going. It will take you at least 2 – 3 hours to get around the whole palace grounds. You can easily get lost inside so I suggest that you buy a guide book in the ticketing office for 500 won. The guide book has a map of the palace complex as well as background on the focal points inside. What I love most about this place and the reason why I chose this as number one is the view. You can see Inwangsan in the backdrop of the palace’s roof tiles. The trees that lines the man made lakes and the pavillions are also spectacular.
I hope my post helped you in planning your trip.
Til next time 🙂