Seoul – Day 3 of a 4-Day Trip in South Korea
Day 3 in Seoul was a rainy day. We had a mix of indoor and outdoor activities planned, so we were hopeful that the weather would work out for us. Like the previous morning, we headed up to the rooftop of the Guesthouse for a small breakfast. It seemed like we woke up later than the other guests as the rooftop was empty, but the owner had put aside rice balls for us. How nice!
To start our late morning, we headed to meet my friend’s cousin for lunch. We decided on Yongsusan Taepyeongo Store, located in the basement of Seoul Finance Centre. Note: This location is now closed, but I believe they have a second location in Seoul. Yongsusan Taepyeongo specializes in traditional korean course meals. We ordered a set and were overwhelmed by the number of plates.
After lunch, we headed to the Tourist Information Centre (상호 관광안내센터) down the street to escape the rain. The Main Tourist Information Centre is located on the 2nd floor of the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) Seoul Office. There are multiple attractions at the centre – a K-pop zone where you can take virtual photos with Korean celebrities, an area where you can dress up in hanbok (traditional korean clothing normally worn for formal events), as well as a hallway with Korean artifacts and history.
After visiting the Tourist Centre, we headed to Deoksugung Palace. Luckily, the rain had stopped. On the way, we passed the signature sign ‘I SEOUL U’, the city’s official slogan, located at Seoul Plaza near City Hall. The slogan is intended to signify unity – our Seoul.
We arrived at Daehanmun, the main gate of Deoksugung Palace, right at 2pm and watched the changing of the guards as we waited in line to purchase our entrance ticket. The changing of the guards happens two other times in the day – 11am and 3:30pm.
Deoksugung Palace was home to Korea’s Royal Family during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897). It is one of the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul. It has a mix of traditional and western architecture – differentiating it to the other palaces in this area. The modern garden is beautifully kept with a central fountain.
Next, we headed to Gyeongbokgung Palace, a 30 minute walk from Deoksugung Palace. We walked through Gwanghwamun Plaza, home to the Statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Sin, the Statue of King Sejong, and Gwanghwamun Gate. Admiral Yi Sun-Sin (1545-1598) is considered a national Korean hero due to his achievements against the Japanese during the Joseon Dynasty. King Sejong was the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty. He played a large part in the creation of the Korean alphabet, Hangul, as well as contributed to Korea’s advancement in science, technology, and economy. Gwanghwamun Gate is the largest and main gate leading to Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Gyeongbokgung Palace served as the main palace for the Korean Royal Family during the Joseon Dynasty. It is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces. The palace grounds are immense.
My favourite spot was the Gyeonghoeru Pavillon – it looked so peaceful on the water. The original pavillon was burned down by the Japanese in 1592, the current pavillon was rebuilt in 1867.
We did not visit the other three Grand Palaces – Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Gyeonghuigung, but they are all within walkable distance and would be worth a stop if time permits. Another interesting spot to visit is Jongmyo Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the oldest preserved royal Confucian shrine. Note: The palaces’ and the shrine’s last entry is around 5pm, so make sure to be aware of time if you plan to visit all these spots.
For dinner, we headed to an Italian restaurant for dinner. I could not remember what the restaurant was called, but it was a small restaurant and only had space for 3-4 groups. The pasta was delicious!
Complete Day 3 Itinerary
*Travel times may vary and do not include walking distances to and from train stations. Check Kakao Map for most accurate travel details. Google Maps does not work very well in Korea.
9:00am: Have breakfast. Most Korean Guesthouses will offer a small breakfast for their guests.
10:00am: Visit the Main Tourist Information Centre located on the 2nd floor of the KTO Seoul Office (11 minute train from Hongik University to Euljiro il-ga)
11:00am: Have lunch nearby. Suggestion: Try out a traditional Korean course meal!
12:00pm: Visit Deoksugung Palace (16 minute walk from Korea Tourism Organization Seoul Office). Stop by City Hall Plaza to take pictures with the ‘I SEOUL U’ sign.
1:00pm: Visit Gyeonghuigung Palace (22 minute walk from Deoksugung Palace).
2:00pm: Visit Gwanghwamun Plaza (18 minute walk from Gyeonghuigung Palace). Stop to admire the Statue of Admiral Sun-Sin and the Statue of King Sejong. Continue to Gwanghwamun Gate and Gyeongbokgung Palace (7 minute walk from Gwanghwamun Plaza).
3:00pm: Visit Changdeok Palace (32 minute walk from Gyeongbokgung Palace).
4:00pm: Visit Changgyeonggung Palace (9 minute walk from Changdeok Palace).
5:00pm: Visit Jongmyo Shrine (28 minute walk from Changgyeonggung Palace).
6:00pm: Have dinner. Suggestion: Pick a pasta restaurant!
7:00pm: Evening Drinks!