1. Gwanghwamun Plaza, Gyeongbokgung, Bukchon, Samcheongdong, Insadong, Topgol Park, Jonggak, and Cheonggye Stream

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1.Gwanghwamun Plaza, Gyeongbokgung, Bukchon, Samcheongdong, Insadong, Topgol Park, Jonggak, and Cheonggye Stream

In this itinerary the places included are

  • Gwanghwamun Plaza: the statue of King Sejong and General Lee
  • Gyeongbok Palace: the primary and largest one among 5 old palaces
  • Bukchon Hanok Village: a beautiful view on the hill with traditional Korean houses around
  • Samcheongdong: tea houses and art galleries
  • Insadong: souvenirs, tea houses, cafes, Korean foods and art & crafts
  • Topgol Park: the 1st park built in downtown Seoul
  • Jonggak: the big peace bell at the pavilion at exit 4 of Jonggak Station and the oldest downtown area of Seoul
  • Cheonggye Stream: the stream flowing in the middle of Seoul from Gwanghwamun Plaza all the way to Dongdaemun

The route

Kimchiman says:

“You must visit the most Korean places FIRST. “

1. Gwanghwamun Plaza

Plaza in front of Gwanghwamun, the front and south gate of Gyeongbok Palace

gwanghwamun plaza
When you get out of exit no.9 of Gwanghwamun station you see Gwanghwamun Plaza

Subway: exit 2 or 9 of Gwanghwamun Station, line no.5, purple line

Things to do: Take a picture of King Sejong who created Hangeul and Admiral Lee who evicted Japanese navy with his turtle war-ships. Visit Sejong Are Centre, Walk along Hangeul Gaongil. Visit Gyeongbokgung or go directly Cheonggae Stream if you want to take your time.

Tip: Get out of exit no.9 to get the view above.

2. Gyeongbok Palace

The first & the largest royal palace where the history of Joseon Dynasty began

Gyeongbok Palace
Gyeongbok Palace

Subway: exit 5 of Gyeongbokgung Station, line no.3, orange line

Opening Hours:

  • Mar, Apr, May, Sept. & Oct.: 09:00-18:00
  • Jun, Jul & Aug: 09:00-18:30
  • Nov & Dec: 09:00-17:00
  • Closed on Tuesdays

Royal Guards Changing Ceremony

  • 10:00 & 14:00 twice a day all year round

Admission:

  • 3,000 Won
  • 1,500 Won age between 7 – 18
  • Free of Charge age between 1-6 and over age 65
  • Free for Korean under age 24

Free Language Guide Service:

  • English: 11:00, 13:30 & 15:30 (3 times a day)
  • Japanese:10:00, 12:30 & 14:30 (3 times a day)
  • Chinese:9:30, 11:00, 13:30, 15:00 & 16:30 (4 times a day)

Things to do: Take a tour of Gyeongbok Palace including National Palace Museum of Korea and National Folk Museum of Korea.

Tip: Start from National Palace museum of Korea on the left side in the palace → Gyeongbok Palace → National Folk Museum of Korea to walk easily to Bukchon Hanok Folk Village

3. Bukchon Hanok Folk Village

Traditional folk town with old style houses roughly with 900 houses in which people actually live

Bukchon Hanok Folk Village
Bukchon Hanok Village

Address: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (the very spot of the picture)

Subway: exit 2 of Anguk station, line no.3, the orange line and walk 10 minutes straight to the north

Attention: People actually live here so, keeping quiet is required.

Things to do: Get the map of Bukchon Hanok Village to find all the beautiful spots and to get picturesque photos.

4. Samcheongdong

Both traditional Korean and modern buildings exist next to one another.

Samcheongdong Night View
Samcheongdong Night View
Samcheongdong
Samcheongdong

Subway: either Gyeongbokgung or Anguk Station

Directions: To get here, after coming out of the National Folk Museum, get out of the palace through the east gate of Gyeongbok Palace, walk straight to the north.

Things to do: Try contemporary restaurants and wine bars established in traditional houses along with art galleries, design shops, specialty shops and themed museums.

After Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheongdong, you can choose to visit Changdeok Palace and or Changgyeong Palace – not included in this itinerary due to the main palace, Gyeogbok Palace – and then move on to Insadong. But, taking a look around 3 palaces will be very challenging, so I don’t recommend it.

5. Insadong

A street showcasing Korean traditional antiques and old books. Well-known for souvenirs, art galleries, and snacks 😀 .

street of Insadong
Street of Insadong
Insadong
Insadong (Blue line is the main insadong street)

Subway: exit 6 of Anguk station, subway line no.3 or the orange line

Opening hours:

  • Most shops open between 9am and 10am and close between 8pm and 10pm.
  • Galleries generally are open 9:00-18:00. Some are free to enter, but not all.

Info: No cars on the weekends, which is good. But more crowded 🙁

Things to do: Visit art galleries, do some souvenir shopping for your family and friends. Eat Korean food or drink tea at traditional restaurants or tea houses. Try some street food and do some cheap shopping too.

6. Topgol Park

The 1st park built in downtown Seoul. The first 33 representatives of the March 1st Movement in 1919 recited the Korean Declaration of Independence from Japan and shouted “All hail independence”

Topgol Park
Topgol Park

Subway: exit 1 and 5 of Jongro-3ga station, line no.1, navy blue, orange & purple line.

Attention: You will see thousands of grandmas and grandpas playing Korean chess or resting or talking.  😮

7. Joggak or Jongro3-ga

The old downtown where Korean people lived and fought against Japanese people during the Japanese Colonial in the early 1900s.

Jonggak Area
Jonggak Area from Boskingak bell’s view point

Subway: exit 4 of Jonggak Station, line no.1, navy blue line

Info: Jonggak has 2 meanings; one is the pavilion where the big bell is placed and the other is the area nearby. Jonggak is also called as Bosingak. The bell in side is hit 12 times on the New Year. Thousands of people gather here to celebrate the new year. You would get stepped on by the sheer number of people. This is also the best area for restaurants and pubs in north part of Seoul.

8. Cheonggyecheon

The artificial stream that cools off the heat of the city

cheonggye stream
Cheonggye Stream near Joggak Station

Subway: exit 4 of Jonggak Station, line no.1, navy blue line

Info: Grab some beer alongside the river. Both day and night time are good. Choen as in Cheonggyecheon means stream.

Things to do: Start from Gwanghwamun and finish your stroll in Jonggak along this stream, looking around, talking to your friends, and taking pictures. Get some beer on the bank. You can walk along bank towards Dongdaemun. This will be an amusing expedition.

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