City Orientation Walk II, 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. 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; Gyeongbokgung Palace, once comprising more than 7,000 rooms; and Jogyesa Temple, the site of ancient locust and pine trees. These and other attractions make up this orientation walk of Seoul.
You can follow this self-guided walking tour to explore the attractions listed below. How it works: download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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City Orientation Walk II Map

Guide Name: City Orientation Walk II
Guide Location: South Korea » Seoul (See other walking tours in Seoul)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 km
Author: vickyc
1
Myeongdong Cathedral

1) Myeongdong Cathedral (must see)

Also known as the Cathedral Church of Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception, the Myeongdong Cathedral clearly represents South Korea's Catholicism. Styled in Gothic Revival architecture, its red and gray brick facade is actually atypical of its kind but more like a fusion with Korean-style finish. The structure itself is quite outstanding (but not imposing), being built on a much higher ground than the rest of its adjoining structures. The grounds are well maintained and kept spotlessly "immaculate" despite the throngs of tourists that flock the area. The interior is equally magnificent with its high vaulted ceilings, pointed arches, and stained glass windows.

The street where Myeongdong is located comes alive especially during weekends so one can visit the shops and try the various street food that plies the alleyways.

Tip:
It might look like it's closed, but the doors either side of the main door are quite possibly open.
Read a bit of the history (free guides in many languages) as it makes it more relevant.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 6am-10pm
2
Bosin-gak Bell

2) Bosin-gak Bell

Bosin-gak Bell tells about the history. It is set in the center of Seoul. It rang each hour in old times and as an alarm of fire, now it rings only at midnight on the New Year night and gathers a lot of people around it. It was first built in 1396, but destroyed by war and fire and rebuilt.
3
Jongno Tower

3) Jongno Tower

Jongno Tower is a modern skyscraper with 33 floors. There is a restaurant and a bar at the top offering wonderful and impressive views of the city. The tower is set near Jonggak Metro Station and famous and ancient Bosin-gak bell. A big book shop is housed in this building.
4
Insadong Shopping Street

4) Insadong Shopping Street (must see)

Insadong is a narrow pedestrian shopping street with antique shops and secondhand bookstores along it. At one time it was the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea. One can buy authentic things of Choson Dynasty chests, calligraphy, old paintings, and other things that will remind Korea's past. There are also many art galleries and traditional teahouses scattered throughout, plus some interesting restaurants and cozy alcohol joints in the back streets. Cool area to explore and mostly everyone speaks at least functional English.

Tip:
Do try the mango ice-creams from street vendors. It's not really ice cream but sweet fresh mangoes that were frozen... refreshing indeed.
Try the tea form the teahouses and also don't be afraid to approach the kids with hanboks for a picture – they love the attention.
5
Jogyesa Temple

5) Jogyesa Temple (must see)

Located in one of the most popular cultural streets in Seoul, Insa-dong, and very close to the palace of Gyeongbokgung, Jogyesa is the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, becoming so in 1936. It thus plays a leading role in the current state of Seon Buddhism in South Korea. The temple was first established in 1395, at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty; the modern temple was founded in 1910 and initially called "Gakhwangsa". Natural monument No. 9, an ancient white pine tree, is located within the temple grounds.

Why You Should Visit:
What the complex lacks in size, it makes up for with the impressive and opulent interior of the temple.
You can come by to hear the monks chanting prayers – it's really quite moving, even for non-Buddhists.

Tip:
Visit at night to see the gardens lit up and lanterns on display – a magical wonderland!
When services are going on, do not enter the main temple without removing your shoes and avoid snapping photos during this time out of respect.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 5am-9pm
Free admission
Sight description based on wikipedia
6
Gwanghwamun Gate

6) 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
7
Gyeongbokgung Palace

7) 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

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 Top Attractions, part I

Seoul Top Attractions, part I

Seoul is the capital and the largest city of South Korea with a two thousand year history. Also known by the name "tech capital of the world", Seoul is the second largest mega city in the world. It attracts thousands of tourists due to the unique combination of World Heritage Sites and modernistic atmosphere. Below are listed the most popular attractions in Seoul.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.2 km
City Orientation Walk I

City Orientation Walk I

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 Namdaemun Market, are particularly notable and make up, alongside other sights, this Seoul orientation walk.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.7 km
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: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.0 km
Seoul Top Attractions, part II

Seoul Top Attractions, part II

Seoul is the capital and the largest city of South Korea with a two thousand year history. Also known by the name "tech capital of the world", Seoul is the second largest mega city in the world. It attracts thousands of tourists due to the unique combination of World Heritage Sites and modernistic atmosphere. Below are listed the most popular attractions in Seoul.

Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 km
Landmarks of Seoul Walking Tour

Landmarks of Seoul Walking Tour

Seoul is a city of ancient historical monuments built in BC era and a modern metropolis of glass and steel skyscrapers. Some of its historical sightseeings are ancient wall around the Old town, gates to the town. Among modern landmarks there are the tallest skyscrapers in the world. This self-guided tour will lead you through this historical and contemporary places:

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.2 km

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Seoul for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Seoul has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Taking Care of Your Feet


To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Seoul, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device


Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.