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Gyeongbokgung Palace is a royal palace located in north part of downtown Seoul. The palace was first constructed in 1394 and reconstructed in 1867. It was the largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty. The name of the palace means ‘Palace of Shining Happiness’.
Today the palace is open to the public, and houses the National Folk Museum of Korea and the National Palace Museum of Korea. The palace is located at Jongnogu Sajingno 34 and you can go there by subway to Gyeongbokgung Station, exit number 5.
The Palace is open six days a week. It’s only closed on Tuesdays. The opening hours on weekdays are from 9 am to 6 pm. On weekends and public holidays it closes at 7 pm. The entrance fee is 3000 kw. There is a free English tour at 11 am, 1:30 p and 3:30 pm, or you can buy a guidebook at the ticket office for 500 won. In winter one or two hours walking around is enough, in summer you can spend some more time in the lovely gardens.
Travelling around the city is very easy by Seoul Metro. You can get close to any tourist attraction and everything is mentioned in English. Use a map or an app to travel around. We suggest you use the Metro app to find your way.
It's easy to buy a ticket from the machine. They have an English menu. There is a deposit of 500 Kw. Next to each exit is a machine where you can get your refund. Just insert your ticket and that's it.
Deoksugung palace (1hr)
Deoksugung is a walled compound of palaces that was inhabited by various Korean royalties until the 20th century. This palace is a ‘light version’ of Gyeongbokung. It is a way smaller complex, less crowded and younger.
But if you just want to see a palace and combine it with shopping at Namdaemun market, or you can't walk much but still like to visit a palace, go to this one.
The palace is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm. Ticket office closes at 8 pm. The entrance fee is 1000 kw. It is located next to the City Hall. Go there by metro, station City Hall, exit 2.
Seoul Tower (2-3 hrs)
Day or night, it is always great to go to Nam San Tower or Seoul Tower as they call it as well. You can go to the tower by cable car, which you can board at Namsan no. 3 tunnel (from Myeong-dong metro station).
Once up you can make a nice walk in Nam San Park. But you will get the best view on the Seoul area if you go up on the tower. At 479 metres above sea level you get a 360-degree view on the city.
The cable car is free. For the observatory the entrance fee is 9000 kw. It opens every day at 10 am and closes every day at 11 pm, except on Saturday when it closes at midnight. More information can be found at their website. http://www.nseoultower.co.kr/
Cheonggyecheon stream (1-2 hrs)
Cheonggyecheon is a nearly 6 km long, modern public recreation space in downtown Seoul. The stream is located in the middle of downtown Seoul.
In the old days it was a drainage system. After the Korean War they covered it with concrete and made it a highway. In July 2003 the mayor of Seoul initiated a project to remove the elevated highway and restore the stream. The stream was opened to the public in September 2005 and was lauded as a major success in urban renewal and beautification.
Nowadays it’s a popular hang out spot for city residents and tourists. It’s wonderful to walk along the river at night as the stream is beautifully illuminated. A lot of cute young Korean couples in love spend their time on the riverbanks. You can find the start of the stream at Cheonggye Plaza, metro station Gwanghwamun exit 5.
Insadong old neighbourhood (1-3 hrs)
If you like it really, really Korean, you have to go to Insadong. This is a lovely old neighbourhood where you can buy your Korean souvenirs and it is also the place to eat real Korean food (see more about this in our Shopping, Entertainment & Restaurant section).
Everything in this area is Korean. Even Starbucks is written in Korean. Special detail is that the whole street is no smoking.
It is located in downtown Seoul in between Anguk station and Jonggak metro station. Anguk station is really at the beginning of the main street of Insadong. From metro station Jonggak you have to take exit 11 (via Jonggak Underground Arcade) and walk to the street in two minutes.
It’s perfect to go to Insadong in the evening and the Cheonggyecheon stream is in walking distance, so that could be a good combination.
D.M.Z. Border tour (½-1 day)
A very special place in South Korea is the demilitarized zone, shortly called DMZ. It is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. As one of the last relics of the Cold War, the DMZ attracts a great deal of public interest, and is a popular destination for travellers visiting Korea. These days the DMZ is a safe destination that we would thoroughly recommend to any traveller. The DMZ and its surroundings contain many interesting historical sights and pristine untouched natural surroundings.
Various organizations offer DMZ guided tours. Itineraries differ, but most tours will take visitors to an observatory, one of North Korea’s infiltration tunnels, a military base, and right into Panmunjeon, the Joint Security Area in the middle of the DMZ where negotiations between the two sides are held.
Tours can be done in a half-day or full day from Seoul. You can book your tour at various locations and agencies from Seoul or you can go to Panmunjeon yourself by train and arrange your tour there from the Lotte Hotel.
There’s even a daily bus service that leaves every morning at 8 am from Incheon airport. This DMZ Transit Tour covers the 3rd Infiltration Tunnel, Dora Observation Platform, the Bridge of Freedom, and Imjingak, and takes about two hours. The price of the package is 21,000 Won, which includes all admissions and transportation. The tour starts at 8 am from the B2 Gate on the first floor of Incheon International Airport and ends at 12:30 pm on the 3rd floor of the airport.
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Language of the world
Of course you like to speak a few words of the local language onboard the plane or at your destination. Here you find some simple basics of the main language spoken in Seoul.