3 days in Seoul was definitely not enough to cover all that we wanted to do in the city. I actually had this excel file of things that we wanted to do or see, and we only got to doing about half of the things there. 😦 Of course, being the culture geeks that we are, we had to do the typical touristy things in Seoul.
Seoul City Tour Bus, KRW 12,000 (www.seoulcitybus.com)
We used this to go around the city on our first day. It works just like any hop on hop off bus, but waaay better than the one I got to try in in Kuala Lumpur. These buses were on time, the bus stops were clearly indicated on the street, and actually had working headsets with recordings about each of the stops in various languages.
My only problem with this is that they close at 6pm, which is very early. We really weren’t able to get our money’s worth. 😦 They have a night tour though, but that’s for another fee.
Palaces, KRW 1,000 – 3,000
Seoul has 5 palaces from the Joseon Dynasty that are conveniently situated close to each other, but because of time constraints, we only went to two palaces, the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Changgyeonggung Palace.
I really enjoyed going to the Changgyeonggung Palace. We went there on a Friday afternoon, so there weren’t a lot of people around. It was a very peaceful place; you can almost see how it looked like before the original structure was destroyed by the Japanese occupation.
Our experience with the Gyeongbukgung Palace was the opposite — it was a Sunday when we went so there were tourists all around. One thing I liked though, was that there were middle school students offering free tours around the palace. Ours was a 13 year old girl named Frances, whose mom forced her to join the volunteer thing. Hahaha.
All the palaces close at 6pm, so better get there early. We made that mistake on the 2nd day — we tried going to Gyeongbokgung, only to find it closed. 😦
I particularly liked Insadong, a network of streets close to the Gyeongbokgung Palace, which had quaint little stores. Think Cubao Expo, only much bigger. There were artists painting or selling their works, street musicians, and other crafts being sold on the street. There’s just literally so much to see and smell!
Inasmuch as it is nice to look at in the daytime, the Dongdaemun area becomes more alive at night, with night markets along its streets selling everything from street food to sunglasses, bags and clothes.