My whole day was spent walking because my hotel was near Gwanghwamun square.
– Sejong Dae Wang Monument
– Sejong Dae Wang exhibition hall
– Cheong Hwa Dae (Blue House, Official Presidential Residence)
– DMZ & Joint Security Area Tour
– presidential Rresidence Tour
Sejong Dae Wang Monument (King Sejong’s Monument)
Above is King Sejong’s monument with his distinguishing achievements during this reign. Some of the changes he initiated during his reign was the 1.) Ban on lawsuits against public administrators; 2.) Maternity Leave on Bondwomen 3.) Opinion Survey on Farmland tax system 4.) Financial Aid to Poor Bachelors to Help with Matrimonial Prospects. (Isn’t that amazing?!) Underneath this monument is a museum where one can learn more about this great King.
He is best remembered as the inventor of Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. It is one of the most scientific language/system of writing. I remember the historical drama “Tree with deep roots.” A heart-warming story of how the King came up with the idea of creating Hangeul.
The screen which shows the sun, moon, 5 peaks and waves is generally placed behind the throne during the Joseon Dynasty period.
Gyeongbukgung is the main palace. It literally means “The new dynasty will be greatly blessed and prosperous.” It is a heaven for photographers. I’ve taken lots of pictures but it cannot fully tell the awesome feeling i had when I walked through the area. It was like walking through the same path the people in Joseon era did. I just love it!
I remember the drama “The Great Seer”, which retells the story of the great King Taejo (Lee Seong Gye), the first King of Joseon dynasty. If my recollection is correct, Gyeongbukgung is built based on geomancy. So, it is perfectly situated where it is. The beautiful view of the mountain and the sky was just splendid to my eyes. It was a feast!
It is the most unique of the palaces as it was built in harmony with the landscape. It is very spacious. It is used a secondary palace during the Joseon Era
This palace is built for the elders of the Royal Family to live. I remember that it has a beautiful garden and a pond inside. The Grand Greenhouse inside this palace is Korea’s first modern conservatory built in 1990.
Cheon Hwa Dae
Since I am around the area, I did not miss a chance to pass by the Cheon Hwa Dae. Known as the Blue House, it is the residence of the Korean President.
Tongin Market and Doshirak Cafe
Facing Gyeongbukgung, you can walk towards the left of the palace to the direction of Cheon Hwa Dae. I think it was around midway that I asked people around of Tongin Market. I had a lot of walking. There were many cafes and restaurants around the area because there were many public and private office there. However, I decided to look for Tongin Market to experience doshirak cafe. “Doshirak” literally means lunch box. You can exchange your 5000won to some brass coins to experience buying the traditional way. Well, there are lots of selection there but I only had what my stomach can handle.
I got lost in Seoul that evening. But, I ended up passing by the beautiful Cheongyecheon stream. I just wish I had better camera to capture it.
Another discovery when I got lost is the Boshingak Bell Pavilion.
1. Wear a comfortable shoes these places take a lot of walking. I basically visited almost every area of the 3 palaces. Sorry but you’ll see lots of houses because i love them. These are major palaces so I could not imagine how I managed to do it.
2. I paid for a combined palace tour so I didnt have to wait in line whenever i go to other palaces. It also saved me money.
3. There is Tongin Market on the (viewer’s) left of Gyeongbuk Palace. (just wall and ask people) There you could experience buying using the traditional brass coin, and eating at Doshirak (lunch box) cafe. There were many students during my visit. The food was very cheap. It’s my first time visiting a traditional market and eating there..
4. There is a tour at the Blue House. I even managed to book for my cousin and I on April 8. However, we were not able to attend it due to conflict of schedule. I tried booking again around 2 weeks before my flight to Sk but there is no slot anymore. If you plan to go there, better manage your schedule well.
5. April 13 was supposedly a DMZ & JSA tour. My tour agency has already confirmed and it is with Cosmojin (http://cosmojin.com/). Blame it to North Korea, the UN decided to ban all tours temporarily. I was so excited but maybe that was not the time for it. This gives me reason to go back.
6. I booked a tour inside the Presidential residence but was not able to make it there. If you are interested to visit, you can check http://english.president.go.kr/
7. My last place to visit was Changgyeonggung, from there I learned how to commute by bus. Bus No. 150 passes through Jongno 3(sam)ga and the Sejong Daero area.
8. If you are planning to visit Secret Garden you have to book early. They only sell 100 tickets.
9. Rent a Hanbok, if you really want to feel how it is living in the past
10. There is a locker inside Changdeukgung where you could leave your heavy luggage. You just need to insert 100W coin to lock it.