City Orientation Walk I (Self Guided), Seoul

The capital of South Korea, Seoul is a bustling metropolis replete with modern skyscrapers, high-tech infrastructure and pop culture mixed up with Buddhist temples, ancient palaces and street markets. Some of these attractions, such as the Deoksu Palace, a piece of 15th century Chosun Dynasty royal architecture (nowadays housing the Royal Museum); Gyeonghuigung Palace, and Changdeokgung Palace, are particularly notable and make up, alongside other sights, this Seoul orientation walk.
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City Orientation Walk I Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk I
Guide Location: South Korea » Seoul (See other walking tours in Seoul)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.9 km
Author: vickyc
1
Seoul City Hall

1) Seoul City Hall

Seoul City Hall is a place for the government of Korea. It is set in beautiful Seoul Plazza. There is a fountain near the building. The design of this building was thoroughly chosen. It is modern but recalls the traditional style of Korea buildings.
2
Deoksugung Palace

2) Deoksugung Palace (must see)

Deoksugung is a walled compound of palaces in Seoul that was inhabited by members of Korea's royal family during the Joseon monarchy until the colonial period around the turn of the 20th century. It is one of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. The buildings are of varying styles, including some of natural cryptomeria wood, painted wood, and stucco. Some buildings were built of stone to replicate western palatial structures.

Deoksugung Palace is special among Korean palaces. It has a modern and western-style garden and fountain. The Changing of the Royal Guard (at 11am, 2pm, and 3:30pm), in front of Daehanmun (Gate), is a very popular event for many visitors. The royal guard was responsible for opening and closing the palace gate during the Joseon Dynasty. Outside of the palace is a picturesque road with a stone wall.

Why You Should Visit:
This is the only palace in Seoul where you can take photos with the Royal Guards after the changing ceremony. Unlike other palaces, you can also enter the grounds at night to enjoy a moonlit stroll.
Beyond the palace, you can explore the historic neighborhood and the famous Stonewall Walkway along the palace walls.

Tip:
Going inside the castle, you'll need to pay a fee, unless you're wearing a 'hanbik' – then it's free!
Make sure you check out the Jeongdong Observatory, located next door to the palace. From the observation deck (18th floor) you can capture panoramic views of the Deoksugung Palace grounds, CBD skyline, City Hall grounds and other landmarks – and its free! You'll get some amazing photos as a souvenir.

Opening Hours:
Tue-Sun: 9am-9pm (last admission: 8pm)
3
Royal Museum

3) Royal Museum

Royal Museum is housed in one of the halls of Deoksu Palace. It displays the objects of royal culture and life of the Joseon Dynasty. This palace contains the models of royal architecture of the Chosun Dynasty and beautiful throne room. It is protected by the government as a historical monument.
4
Gyeonghuigung Palace

4) Gyeonghuigung Palace

Gyeonghuigung Palace stands on the territory of Seoul Museum. It was built in 1616 and is the smallest of 5 palaces. Tourists enter the palace through Heunghwamun Gate that is designed in typical Korean style. There is a splendid throne room richly decorated and colored in bright colors with paintings of dragons on the walls.
5
Seoul Museum of History

5) Seoul Museum of History

Seoul Museum of History tells about the history and culture of Seoul. The most interesting exhibitions are on the 3rd floor. It displays the landscape of Seoul during Joseon Dynasty, the atmosphere of everyday life, and the model of the future Seoul. There are tours in English and Japanese.
6
Gyeongbokgung Palace

6) Gyeongbokgung Palace (must see)

The ancient Gyeongbok Palace (built in 1395) remains a favorite of tourists who travel to South Korea. As the grandest of the Five Grand Palaces, it served as the main base of the famous Joseon Dynasty. With gorgeous architecture that dates back to the 14th century, it is rich in history. Prior to it being demolished by the Japanese in 1911, the unique palace consisted of 330 buildings, more than 5,000 rooms and covered over 4,000,000 sq feet. Today the palace also houses Korea's National Palace Museum and National Folk Museum. A lake, stone bridge, and attractive greenery all contribute to a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. For visitors of Seoul, the "Palace of Shining Happiness" is an unmissable stop!

Tip:
Admission is free for ladies who enter the palace wearing 'hanbok' (they can rent one at any of the rental stores nearby).
Free admission is offered to everyone on the last Wednesday of every month as part of Korean Culture Day.

Opening Hours:
Wed-Mon: 9am-6:30pm (Jun-Aug); 9am-6pm (Mar-May, Sep-Oct); 9am-5pm (Nov-Feb); last admission an hour before closing time; closed on Tuesdays
English free guided tours:
11am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm; tour starts in front of the Information Center inside the Heungnyemun Gate and lasts for 60-90 mins
7
Gwanghwamun Gate

7) Gwanghwamun Gate (must see)

Gwanghwamun is the main and largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. It is located at a three-way intersection at the northern end of Sejongno. As a landmark and symbol of Seoul's long history as the capital city during the Joseon Dynasty, the gate has gone through multiple periods of destruction and disrepair. During the 1592 Japanese invasion, it was destroyed by fire and left in ruins for over 250 years. Reconstructed in 1867 along with the rest of Gyeongbokgung Palace on, it was again completely destroyed during the Korean War. Gwanghwamun underwent a major restoration project since December 2006 and was opened to the public on August 15, 2010. The aim of the latest renovation was to restore Gwanghwamun to its original wooden construction while paying meticulous attention to historical accuracy.

In a poll of nearly 2,000 foreign visitors conducted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government in November 2011, visitors stated that watching the changing of the guards at the main gate as their third favorite activity in Seoul. The royal changing of the guard ceremony is held in front of the main gate every hour from 10am to 3pm.

Tip:
If you have some spare time, make sure to enjoy the beauty of the Gyeongbokgung Palace following the guard-changing ceremony.
The square housing the gate contains fountains, statues and sculptures that are also definitely worth seeing, plus an underground museum dedicated to Sejong the Great.
Sight description based on wikipedia
8
National Folk Museum of Korea

8) National Folk Museum of Korea (must see)

Located within the grounds of the Gyeongbokgung Palace in Jongno-gu, Seoul, this museum uses replicas of historical objects to illustrate the history of traditional life of the Korean people.

There are three main exhibition halls, with over 98,000 artifacts: 'History of Korean People' features materials of everyday life in Korea from prehistoric times to the end of the Joseon Dynasty in 1910; 'Korean Way of Life', which illustrates Korean villagers in ancient times; and 'Life Cycle of the Koreans', which depicts the deep roots of Confucianism in Korean culture and how this ideology gave rise to most of the culture's customs.

The museum also features open-air exhibits, such as replicas of spirit posts where villagers used to pray, stone piles for worship, grinding mills, rice storage shelters and pits for kimchi pots.

Why You Should Visit:
Coherent, well designed and fun! There are also clean bathrooms and a place for ice-cream/beverages, as well as a nice resting lounge.
There are free guided tours in English or you could instead rent an audio player or just read the information which is generally available in English.

Tip:
Consider visiting this museum before you go to Gyeongbokgung Palace – it will make you appreciate more of what you will see there.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5pm (Nov-Feb); 9am-6pm (Mar-May, Sep-Oct); 9am-6:30pm (Jun-Aug)
Free admission; Last admission an hour before closing time
Sight description based on wikipedia
9
Seoul Education Museum

9) Seoul Education Museum

Seoul Education Museum was opened in 1995. Here visitor can see at a glance educational systems, methods, phases, content, institutes, the influence of the development technology of the 21st century on education. It displays the features of traditional education, for example the fine education of the Three Kingdoms period, modern period, period of Japanese invasion.
10
Changdeokgung Palace

10) Changdeokgung Palace (must see)

Set within a large park in Jongno-gu, the Changdeokgung Palace is one of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897). It was the most favored palace of many Joseon princes and retained many elements dating from the Three Kingdoms of Korea period that were not incorporated in the more contemporary Gyeongbokgung. One such element is the fact that the buildings of Changdeokgung blend with the natural topography of the site instead of imposing themselves upon it. The result is an excellent and exceptional example of Far Eastern palace architecture & design, as recognized by UNESCO in 1997 when it was inscribed as a World Heritage Site.

Why You Should Visit:
Although touted as a 'backup' palace to Gyeongbokgung, the interior is actually more complete. As such, you will be able to have a better understanding of how life in a palace is like. Of course, having a 'Secret Garden' tour adds to the mystique of the place.

Tip:
You may pre-book a tour through the Changdeokgung website; check hours and admission fees at http://www.cdg.go.kr/eng/cms_for_cdg/contents/c2_3.jsp
Those wearing 'hanbok' can enter the palace free. You can also avail of the Royal Palace Pass that gives you free entrance to 5 palaces (including the 'Secret Garden', which is the highlight of this palace visit).
Sight description based on wikipedia

Walking Tours in Seoul, South Korea

Create Your Own Walk in Seoul

Create Your Own Walk in Seoul

Creating your own self-guided walk in Seoul is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Seoul Museums Walking Tour

Seoul Museums Walking Tour

Seoul is an old city with rich history. There are many museums about Asian traditions, food, technological development, wars. Some of the museums are located in beautiful palaces, that are national historical monuments and national heritage protected by UNESCO. This self-guided tour will lead you to the most important museums of Seoul:

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.2 km
City Orientation Walk II

City Orientation Walk II

The capital of South Korea, Seoul is a bustling metropolis replete with modern skyscrapers, high-tech infrastructure and pop culture mixed up with Buddhist temples, ancient palaces and street markets. Among the local attractions not to be missed are the high-rising Jongno Tower with a rooftop restaurant and bar offering visitors a remarkable view of the city; Namsangol Hanok Village - a time...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.6 km

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