Loving Seoul is very easy. Of course it’s always easy to fall for something new, but aside from the fact that I was visiting Seoul for the first time, I could also tell that there were aplenty things about Seoul that very unique and I was going to miss it somehow. The friendly people (that happen to be good-looking as well ;) ), the super tasty food, the weather, the Korean writings, how people dressed, listening how Koreans speak to each other, and most importantly for me is how traditional and modern buildings beautifully unified. And as I’m writing my journey back to South Korea and Seoul particularly, I’m missing its street food and the temples.
I visited South Korea on October 2013 with my friend from University. Just two girls explored South Korea in 7 days. On exploring Seoul, we chose to use hop-on hop-off bus which happened to passed historical buildings and places of interest we’d like to visit. We also opted to visit Bukhansan National Park and used a tour for a half day.
For the hop-on and hop-off bus, I used Seoul City Tour Bus during the day that passes 23 places. The ticket can only be bought in Gwanghwamun Bus Station. You can reserve it online, but shall collect the real ticket and make payment at the office. We chose the Downtown and Palace course at 12,000 WON (around IDR 144,000) with the earliest departure time from Gwanghwamun is at 09:00 am.
So these are places that we hopped-off that day.
Cheonggyecheon River (in the morning)
Not yet, this wasn’t our first stop, but I’d like to highlight this place. We passed this river from our Hostel to Gwanghwamun. It was about 7:30 am in the morning, it was so quiet and nobody was around but us. This river stream was special that the road on both side of the river has been revolutionized to a beautiful public space. Before it is restored alongside the river was slum houses with trashes thrown into the river. Looking at the condition now, you wouldn’t believe at what the place looked like back then. It was a significant changes the government had made to this place.
Namdaemun Market and Sungnyemun
Our first stop was actually the second stop from where we depart (Gwanghwamun Bus Station). We were dropped of by the one of Korean Traditional Market, Namdaemun Market. Just as traditional market, the long road was flanked by the small store selling clothes, vegetables, food, and many others. What interested us was mainly the street food. There were many street food stall selling Korean wraps and fried snacks. We strolled around and tasted two kinds of fried snack (which I forget what the name was) and it was so heavenly delicious. If you happen to read this post and know what's their name, please let me know! :) thanks in advance!
Just as we walked outside the market, we headed to the Namdaemun or in other words Sungnyemun (Gate of exalted ceremonies). After all, the market was named after this gate which only about 10 minutes away from it.
What’s most interesting about this area or this building particularly is that the gate was surrounded by high towering modern building like hotel, bank, and offices buildings. It such a beautiful contrast. Namdaemun was originally built as a gate to the Seoul. Namdaemun was built around 14th century and was the oldest wooden structure in Seoul before 2008 arson that burn most of the roof part of the building. Namdaemun that I saw was the result of restoration work finished in just 5 months before my visit. Beside the contrast that was outstanding, I admire the pattern that I found in almost every Korean buildings which happens to be my favorite.
National Museum of Korea
Our next destination was National Museum of Korea. That kind of building became one of the reason I visited Seoul. Korea architecture had been blooming and the Seoul was one of South Korea cities that witness those works. The distance of the main building to the entrance took about 5-10 minutes, because it’s not just a building. The building was located a bit far from the city center and surrounded by the neatly pampered parks.
The main building is actually a square that was half-carved on both side. We can see N Seoul Tower on one side and the surrounding residential apartment (I think) on the other side. The open area in the building are used as open stadium for some performers to sing and with the overall nuance, it was a lively place to visit. Inside the museum was largely a monument, history and artwork by Korean artists.
N Seoul Tower
N seoul or Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower is the highest point in Seoul. At our arrival, we directly go to a higher ground to see the love lock. There were many trees to hang locks. The view from the top was also stunning. I think it’s great place to get a beautiful view of Seoul during the night.
With so many beautiful palaces Seoul has, it was hard to choose which one to visit. So I chose the one that considered popular only. Gyeongbokgung is considered the largest palace among other palaces built in Joseon Dinasty around 14th century. It has 7700 rooms and the palace stands on a 40 hectares ground. Among so many buildings, the Geunjeongjeon (Throne Hall) and Gyeonghoeru (Royal banquet hall) were the ones I visited. There were also other buildings such library, Queen and King’s quarter, and other royal residence.
Cheonggyecheon River (during the night)
We ended that day by coming back to the Cheonggyecheon River. It had became a different attraction by night where all lights soon decorating both sideways of the river stream and there was also a musical performance on the street. It was very hype and full of energy. It was Seoul kind of day,
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