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Stop At: Gyeongbokgung Palace, 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul South Korea
Built in 1395, Gyeongbokgung Palace is also commonly referred to as the Northern Palace because its location is furthest north when compared to the neighboring palaces of Changdeokgung (Eastern Palace) and Gyeonghuigung (Western Palace) Palace. Gyeongbokgung Palace is arguably the most beautiful, and remains the largest of all five palaces.
The premises were once destroyed by fire during the Imjin War (Japanese Invasions, 1592-1598). However, all of the palace buildings were later restored under the leadership of Heungseondaewongun during the reign of King Gojong (1852-1919).
Remarkably, the most representative edifices of the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeonghoeru Pavilion and Hyangwonjeong Pond have remained relatively intact. Woldae and the sculptures of Geunjeongjeon (The Royal Audience Chamber) represent past sculptures of contemporary art.
The National Palace Museum of Korea is located south of Heungnyemun Gate, and the National Folk Museum is located on the eastern side within Hyangwonjeong.
Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Stop At: The National Folk Museum of Korea, 37 Samcheong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-820 South Korea
Located inside Gyeongbokgung Palace, the National Folk Museum of Korea presents historical artifacts that were used in the daily lives of Korean people in the past. Through the displays, visitors can learn about the domestic and agricultural lifestyles, as well as Korea’s cultural beliefs.
The National Folk Museum of Korea has three permanent exhibitions and two special exhibitions as well as a library, souvenir shop, and other subsidiary facilities.
Duration: 30 minutes
Stop At: Insadong, Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul South Korea
Insa-dong, located in the heart of the city, is an important place where old but precious and traditional goods are on display. There is one main road in Insa-dong with alleys on each side. Within these alleys are galleries and traditional restaurants, teahouses, and cafes.
The galleries are the heartbeat of Insa-dong. There are about 100 galleries in the area and you can see every example of traditional Korean fine art from paintings to sculptures. The most famous galleries are Hakgojae Gallery, which functions as the center of folk art, Gana Art Gallery, which promotes many promising artists, and Gana Art Center.
The teahouses and restaurants are the perfect complement to the galleries. At first they might be hard to find, but if you take the time to stroll around the twisting alleyways, the window shopping in itself can be very entertaining. The shops in Insa-dong are very popular among all age groups, because each one is unique.
Every Saturday from 14:00 to 22:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 22:00, the main street is blocked off from traffic and it becomes a cultural space. Stores set up booths outside and Korean candy merchants and fortune teller stalls can easily be found; there are traditional performances and exhibits as well. Insa-dong is especially popular among international tourists. This is where they can experience and see traditional Korean culture firsthand, and also purchase pieces of fine art. On the street you can eat Korean taffy and traditional pajeon (green onion pancake), and lose yourself in all the joyous festivities of the street.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: Jogyesa Temple, 45 Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-170 South Korea
As the main temple as well as the district head temple of Jogye order in Seoul, Jogyesa Temple is the center of Korean Buddhism. The temple was built in the late 14th century during the Goryeo period and was once turned into ashes due to fire and was rebuilt under the name of Gackhwangsa Temple in 1910 with the effort of many respectful monks, namely Han Yong-un and Lee Hee-gwang. The temple was given a role as the head temple of Korea’s Buddhism and renamed to Tegosa Temple in 1936. In 1954, a purification drive took place to eliminate Japanese influence and revive traditional Buddhism, which established the present day Jogyesa Temple as a result.
Jogyesa Temple plays an important role in Korean Buddhism as the head temple of Jogye order. Jogyesa Temple’s Dharma Hall serves as the main venue for several Buddhist events, holding rituals, lectures, ceremonies, and other events all year long. The annual lantern festival in celebration of Buddhist’s birthday also takes place at this temple.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: Bukchon Hanok Village, 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03059 South Korea
Surrounded by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine, Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of traditional houses, called hanok, that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. The name Bukchon, which literally translates to "northern village," came about as the neighborhood lies north of two significant Seoul landmarks, Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno. Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing visitors with an opportunity to experience, learn and immerse themselves in traditional Korean culture.
Duration: 40 minutes
Stop At: N Seoul Tower, 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Namsan Seoul Tower was the first tower-type tourism spot in Korea. The top of the tower is at almost 480m above sea level, including Namsan Mountain (243m) and the tower’s own height (236.7m), making it one of the tallest towers in the Orient. It is comprised of Seoul Tower Plaza, recently opened to public access after 40 years, and N Seoul Tower, operated by CJ Foodville since 2005. The tower was first established as a broadcast tower to send out TV and radio signals in 1969. As of now, it has become one of the representative landmarks and multi-cultural venues in Seoul.
Duration: 1 hour
Stop At: Namdaemun Market, 21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul 04529 South Korea
Opened in 1964, Namdaemun Market is the largest traditional market in Korea with shops selling various goods. All products are sold at affordable prices and the stores in this area also function as wholesale markets.
Most of the goods are made directly by the storeowners. Namdaemun Market is even open overnight, from 11:00pm to 4:00am, and is crowded with retailers from all over the country. When day breaks, the site of busy shoppers bustling around the market creates a unique scene that attracts tourists worldwide. Namdaemun Market sells a variety of clothes, glasses, kitchenware, toys, mountain gear, fishing equipment, stationery, fine arts, accessories, hats, carpets, flowers, ginseng, and imported goods.
Duration: 1 hour