We woke at 9AM on our second day in Seoul. Sun rises at 5:30AM in Korea at that time. We woke up too late for a guided tour, if we were to follow one. That said, I loved it this way. I love to travel in a relaxing pace without rushing to wake up at 6AM and sleep before 12 midnight. We were on holiday anyway. Our first night in Myeongdong was a good start. Where were we going to do on our second day in Seoul? Let’s explore Seoul city!
We had our simple breakfast in hotel which was included in our room rate (Another great point of staying in Goodstay Nana Residence), before hitting the road. We decided to walk. It was our second day in Korea so we thought it would be great to wander around the city while we were still physically fit. Seoul is a huge city. The central of Seoul, where most tourist attractions are located, covers no less than 100km². It is impossible to explore the city by foot. We concentrated our day to Jungno district, where most palaces are located.
From Myeongdong, where we stayed in downtown Jung-gu or central district of Seoul, we walked towards North to Jungno district. For travelers who have limited time in Seoul, Jung-gu and Jungno districts are the only 2 districts that must not be missed. Most of the popular tourist attractions of Seoul are within this 36km² area.
We walked for 20 minutes, passing by Cheonggyecheon, the creek turned recreational park, to come to our first destination, the Jogyesa Temple. Jogyesa is the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, established since 1395, according to wikipedia. Many local people were there to have their devotion whe we were there. The most attractive part of the temple is the colourful lantern shade above us.
Another attraction of Jogyesa temple being a tourist would be the beautiful architecture of the main temple, with some colourful carved wooden doors and roofing designs.
Jogyesa Temple is not far away from Insadong as well as Gyeongbokgung. Insadong is another shopping and eating paradise in Jungno district which I will share in my next coming post. Before we pit stopped at Insadong, we went to visit the main and the largest ancient palace in Seoul, the Gyeongbokgung (경복궁 or 景福宮).
This is the Heungnyemun (The Second Inner Gate). We entered from the east side entrance so we missed the main Gwanghwamun (The Main and South Gate) or 光化門. Entrance fee is KW3,000 (USD3) for adult and KW1,500 (USD1.50) for children, which is cheap if compared with other countries.
A close look at the Heungnyemun gate. It reminds me of the Imperial Palace of Beijing, China. If you have been to Forbidden City of Beijing, both ancient palaces have the similarities of having several front gates before anyone could reach to the main throne hall of the emperor.
Site map of Gyeongbokgung palace. The layout has some similarity with the forbidden city, with administrative halls at the centre, residences at both sides and royal garden at the back. Its overall size of 691,921m² is also comparable to 720,000 m2 of the Forbidden city of China.
Looking back to the South at Geunjeongmun (The Third Inner Gate), we can see the downtown Seoul as its backdrop.
Geunjeongjeon Hall (근정전 or 勤政殿), the throne hall where the king formally granted audiences to his officials, gave declarations of national importance, and greeted foreign envoys and ambassadors during the Joseon Dynasty. Gyeongbokgung was built in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty, 10 years earlier than the Forbidden City!
The beautiful architecture of Gyeongbokgung palace.
The Phoenix throne, equivalent to the Dragon throne of Chinese emperors.
Sajeongjeon Hall ( 사정전 or 思政殿), a building used as the main executive office by the king during the Joseon Dynasty. There are some 500 building within the palaces while forbidden City has more than 900. I beg your pardon if I keep comparing Gyeongbokgung with the Forbidden city of China.
Another Phoenix throne found in Sajeongjeon Hall.
The corridor. Again, let me show you the corridor of forbidden City below…
Are they looking alike?
Gyeonghoeru Pavilion (경회루 or 慶會樓), a hall used to hold important and special state banquets during the Joseon Dynasty. I love this structure most, and you can’t find this in Forbidden City! Enough is enough. I’m going to stop mentioning “you know what” starting from now. Haha…
The beautiful surrounding of the pavilion.
There is a lot of greenery found in the palace. As we kept walking towards the back of the palace, we came to the royal garden.
Hyangwonjeong Pavilion (香遠亭), Hyangwonji (香遠池) lake and Chwihyanggyo (醉香橋) bridge are the 3 main structures found in the garden. Next to them is the new sturctures of the National Folk Museum.
National Folk Museum comprises three interconnected buildings. The centre piece is a 5-storey-pagoda.
Beside the pagoda is the museum hall. We went in to learn the history of ancient Korean lives as well as the country. Entrance is free.
Astrological features and the 12 Chinese zodiac animal statues.
There are various traditional Korean folk homes on display.
Gyeongbokgung is the only palace any visitor visiting Korea must go and see in person. To go to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the nearest sub-station is Gyeongbokgung in Line 3. After we left the palace, we walked towards the Anguk station in the East and came to our next stop, Insadong, the famous shopping street with many souvenir shops and palace cooking restaurants.
Coming up next is our stories and photos of the Insadong. Stay tuned! – Travel Feeder
The author is an avid traveler and photography hobbyist who loves to share with others his travel and photo-taking experience in many popular tourist destinations around Europe, Asia and Australasia. Read the exciting stories with many photos captured on his travels.