Monday, 13 February 2012

Places to visit in Seoul

Seoul. Soul of Asia, the city slogan says.  Hi Seoul says the city brand. Bit of a guide what to visit once getting there.

I was recently asked for advice as to what to visit in Seoul if you are there for relatively short time.
This is indeed tough task to choose. So I will give a glympse on a few places that one may get to easily spending one day in Seoul.

If one had only one day it is better to start your day early.. Go to Gyeongbokgung station line 3 and take the palace exit. You will end up in front of the Palace Main gate. If you are there at 10 am you can experience a re-enactment of Korean military tradition - the Royal Guard Changing Ceremony - at the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. Palace gate guardsmen in traditional costumes end their sentry duty, present arms and parade.

My advice, don't buy the entrance ticket to the Palace, you will have better view standing somewhere in the courtyard. The show is not active on tuesdays.

Once you had seen the show you may proceed by walk towards the Kings statue that is not far away from the main gate.
Above is the King's Statue. He was one very smart person that invented one of the easiest ever written codes that can be for Asian language. Had troubles learning Chinese or Japanese? Korean is a piece of cake.

Since you already saw the King's Statue it would be nice to see some Temple and have a glympse of how they look inside and the feel of buddist calmness on your own.

For this you may pick any Temple that is situated in Seoul, the one situated near Insa Dong will do really great. When you enter the Temple remember to take off your shoes and remain totally silent. Switch your mobile sounds off just like you do in the church or a mosque. Inside you may do what others do, but it is better to just sit in the lotus position on the floor and simply take a reacess. A break from everything. Let your thoughts fly as they want, don't control anything. Meditate. 10' is enough and you will feel really great.

Buddha at Insa Dong. Normally it is not allowed to take a photo with DSLR but I broke a few rules. If I'd obeyed all the rules I would never have most of these photos anyway.

It's time for lunch. For lunch it is good to try some Korean Food. For a foreigner that is not accustomed to a lot of spices I recommend haemul pajeon for the beginning, which is a pancake with veggies and seafood. Good places for it are situated in the back alleys from Insa Dong main street. Also you may have a jamchi bibimpap which is a veggies mix with rice and tuna ( delicious).

To get to Insa Dong either go by subway to Anguk station line 3 or walk there on the left from Gyengbokgung main gate if you face the Gwanhammun.

As yoy see Insa Dong is also popular touristy stuff shopping mall. But in Korea it is very difficult to get something for genuine treasure hunters, and some things from there will be valuable souvenirs still.
Scroll paintings and celadon tea sets are those I would recommend the most. If you are rich you may try to get Korean traditional dress- hanbok - for yourself.

What to do with the rest of the time? Assume it is 2 pm and you have still some hours left.
You may visit Dongdaemun area for multicultural Seoul taste, this is where a lot of people from Central Asia and Russia live and run small restaurants or shops.

You may also go to Gangnam area to check whether the underground shopping mall is open. This is the place where you will enjoy traditional negotiations about the price of a product. However this does not apply for ladies shoes that are usually always discounted and available in all sorts of sizes and colors ( but sizes are mostly small).
Gangnam area.
Shops with shoes that are approximately everywhere.

For cheap shopping and street markets I recommend Nakseongdae/ Sadang area, there are a lot of shops in the neighborhood where a lot of different things can be purchased. These two are by the line 2. This is where you can buy ginseng roots and real seaweed ( not like the one at the airport). Seaweed is something I miss very much in poland and if someone brings me it I will be happy lol :P

Nakseongdae Street Market

You have probably realised I give guidelines how to originally spend your day. But if you prefer to go to the Museum you should visit the War Memorial by the Samgakji Station line 4 or 6. It is a short walk from exits 11 and 12, the cost 3000KRW per adult.

In the evening city looks nice from Namsan Tower which is visible from almost everywhere.
You can get there by a walk from exit 3 on Myeongdong station by line 4.
The link to a photo is here:
Seoul by night

Food varies from 3000 KRW snacks at street vendors to 30 000 KRW circa at more sophisticated places.
Subway card is 5000, and 15 000 KRW should be enough to go around the city for the whole day.
Tea pottery varies from pieces by 1000 KRW up till sets of 150 000 KRW.
Scroll paintings vary from 10 000 KRW to 60 - 100 000 KRW.

Getting there:

 If you are at the airport, you may get taxi. But you will pay a lot.
Buses are better and you only need to ask which one to take.

 Bear in mind your phone won't work there, so for a cheap stay use rental service available at the airport.
Welcome to Korea! Enjoy your stay ! :):):)


  1. It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.


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