5 Must-see on Your First Seoul Trip

Seoul, the capital of Korea is undeniably one of the most lively, cultural and magnificent cities in Asia. Packed with numerous sights to see and places to visit, such as ancient palaces, traditional markets, and shopping districts. Arguably the most popular tourist destination in all of Korea. But with so much to offer, you might not know where to start. And with a little time, you surely won’t see all those on the list. 20161124_140254-011Here’s my top 5 places you shouldn’t miss on your itinerary excluding shopping districts on the list since there are a lot in Seoul. I’ll be talking more about it separately. 🙂


1.) Gyeongbokgung Palace20161124_140134-01120161124_1402170-01120161124_134135-01120161124_134545-02120161124_134545-011
Also called “Northern Palace” and translates in English as “Palace of Shining Happiness” perhaps the most beautiful and remains the grandest of all five palaces in Seoul. You don’t have to visit all the palaces on your visit, 1 or 2 will be enough to give you a taste of their rich culture and history. 20161124_132207-01120161124_133017-01120161124_131146-01120161124_132628-011What a glorious palace with a beautiful scenery inside. 20161124_132840-01120161124_133122-01120161124_132255-01120161124_133200-011Wander around the huge grounds. Yes, pretty huge that we didn’t even covered everything. 20161124_133045-01120161124_132651-011 Look out for the guard-changing ceremony. It would be a waste not to witness it on your visit so plan your timing accordingly. Do take note that the Palace is CLOSED ON TUESDAYS.20161124_131217-01120161124_135933-01120161124_135937-011

 

Performance Times:
Sumunjang (Royal Guard) Changing Ceremony
10:00, 14:00 / 20 minutes per ceremony
Gwanghwamun Gate Guard-on-Duty Performance
11:00, 13:00 / 10 minutes per ceremony
Sumungun (Gatekeeper) Military Training (outside Hyeopsaengmun Gate)
09:30, 13:30 / 15 minutes per ceremony

20161124_135658-01120161124_135632-01120161124_135623-011Get your camera ready to take lots of photos as The Royal Guard-Changing Ceremony is a great opportunity to experience a rare traditional scene in Korea. The guards’ splendid costumes, with their brilliant primary colors, are undeniably a real pleasure to see. 20161124_131030-01120161124_135307-011

***How to get there:
Exit 5 – Gyeongbokgung Station Line 3 and walk for about 5-10mins and you’ll find the palace or Get off at Gwanghwamun station (line 5), exit 2 – Walk straight for about 5 mins., the palace will be at the end of the road.20161124_140226-011

2.) Gwanghwamun Square20161124_141011-01120161124_140753-011A public area located in the heart of central Seoul and it stretches all the way down from the gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. At the center stands a golden statue of King Sejong the Great, the fourth and most respected king of the Joseon Dynasty and creator of Hangeul, Korea’s alphabet and Admiral Yi Sunshin, naval commander noted for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592-1598), a hero among Koreans.20161124_141334-01120161124_141351-011The view of the Mountain behind the Gyeongbokgung Palace from the square is magnificent.20161124_140709-011Originally the area was a 16-lane roadway but in 2009, Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to create a landmark national square by transforming 10 lanes of the roadway into a public space where Seoulites could rest and socialize.20161124_140320-01120161124_140339-011

***How to get there:
Just walk your way down south from the gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace.
or Get off at Anguk station (line 3).
20161124_140208-011

3. Bukchon Hanok Village20161122_165442-01120161122_164334-011
Meet an Old Seoul. Visit Bukchon hanok Village. Situated between by two palaces, Gyeongbokgung to the west and Changdeokgung to the east, home to hundreds of traditional houses called hanoks that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. This village has the largest cluster of privately owned traditional Korean wooden homes.20161122_164025-01120161122_163751-01120161122_164931-011Once a community for noble families and high-ranking officials, it still functions as a residential neighborhood today, though many of the hanoks now operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants, and tea houses.20161122_164309-01120161122_164746-011Considering how neoteric Seoul can be, it was really nice to visit such a place. It felt like you were back in the old times. Quiet and more deliberate in pace. Visiting the Bukchon area will definitely give you a glimpse of what Seoul used to be 600 years ago. 20161122_164159-01120161122_164607-011 My experience was more fun and memorable as I get to wear Hanbok while roaming around the Village. Yaaay! I thought I was filming K-drama. HAHA! Yes, if you watch Korean dramas often, you’ll recognize that they use those houses and streets a lot as the setting of their scenes. 20161122_165804-011For a more surreal vibe, do get yourself a beautiful hanbok while you wander around the village.20161122_162412-01120161122_165749-011

***How to get there:
Get off at Anguk station (line 3), exit 2. Walk straight for about 500m to arrive at Bukchon Hanok Village. Bukchon is a residential neighborhood so there’s no main gate or demarcation lines. Feel free to turn into any alley soon as you start seeing the hanoks.20161122_171157-011

4.) Changdeokgung Palace20161122_155118-01120161122_152146-01120161122_151917-011The Palace is recognized as a World Cultural Heritage site by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee. 20161122_152920-01120161122_152950-011It was the second Royal Villa built following the construction of Gyeongbukgung Palace in 1405 and was the principal palace for many Kings of the Joseon Dynasty which is most well-preserved among the five remaining Royal Joseon Palaces.20161122_152605-01120161122_151842-01120161122_152653-01120161122_152801-011As I’ve previously mentioned, you don’t actually need to visit so many palaces in Korea. 2 will be enough, Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung Palace will be a must.20161122_152432-01120161122_154052-01120161122_154202-01120161122_153654-011

***How to get there:
Exit 3 – Anguk Station Line 3. Walk straight until you see the palace on your left.20161122_150329-01[1].jpeg

5.) N Seoul Tower20161122_175556-01120161122_1813470-011Located on Mt. Namsan offers great panoramic views of the city, and has been a symbol of Seoul since it first opened to the public in 1980. Commonly known as the Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower. 20161122_175406-011At 236m, it marks the highest point in Seoul where you can have a wonderful 360° view of the City. 20161122_175951-01120161122_180108-01-011Not only the tower had recently undergone a major remodeling, but also a new name following a complete makeover. It is now a true cultural space with various performances, movies, exhibitions as well as upscale restaurants and snack bars.20161122_180527-021Thousands of locks, gleaming into the night. Reminds me of those romantic hearts.20161122_180852_001-02120161122_181503-01120161122_181113-01-01120161122_180933-011

***How to get there: By Subway & Cable Car
Exit 3 – Myeongdong Station Line 4. Take the wide road next to 7 Eleven convenience store, then walk straight to the left of Pacific Hotel & keep walking up in the direction of Mt. Namsan where the cable car platform is situated.20161122_175357-011Fare: Round-trip – 6,300 won / One-way – 4,800 won
Cable Car Opening Hours: 10:00~22:30
On foot or by cable car you can get to the tower.

Love,

Stylishwanderer.com
20161122_150650-011

Gangchon Rail Park: A FUN-tastic Rail Bike Experience

20161123_134209-01120161123_133938-011Do you want to experience what it feels like to cycle along old railroad tracks? Wouldn’t it be nice to give your legs a good workout while enjoying Korea’s scenic views? 20161123_135103-011myxj_20161207012432_save1Need look no further! Gangchon Rail Bike Park will give you an overall enjoyable experience you never could imagine. This activity indeed is as authentic as it gets. Trust me! Such a wonderful way to see the beautiful countryside of Korea. Don’t miss this!20161123_133355-01120161123_133452-01-01120161123_133452-01-02-011This has become one of my fave activity during my entire Seoul trip and I certainly would love to do it again on other Season specially Winter or Spring. I can’t barely imagine how extraordinary it would be. But not Summer please. As I’m too used to warm days and the greenery! Let me skip it. lol!20161123_135207-01120161123_135641-01120161123_142429-011Gangchon rail park features an old railroad tracks turned into a bike park. This old railway has been there for 70 years and was no longer needed when the Gyeongchun Line, a double-tracked railway line connecting Seoul and Chuncheon opened in December 20, 2010. Ergo became a popular tourist attraction allowing visitors to pedal along old railroad tracks while taking in the lovely Countryside, Bukhangang River and Old tunnels in the area.20161123_141148-01120161123_141037-01120161123_143905-01-01120161123_143905-01-02120161123_143005-011The whole trail needs you to pedal a bike for about 1 hour but with a partner (comes in 2 or 4 seater bike cart so need not to worry of balancing. lol!) Surely It does leave you with an unforgettable experience! You get to enjoy scenic views while giving your legs a good workout. Doesn’t that sound FUN-tastic?20161123_142920-01-01[1].jpeg

20161123_141639-011In exchange of your leg workout, you get to see lovely mountain and river side scenery. You might think it’s tiring but as to my experience, I never felt tired at all. I didn’t even notice that it was already over. I was too busy relishing the views and wallowing the cold breeze.20161123_143603-011Ola! One of my favorite part is passing through old tunnels where they had some gimmicks plotted inside. You have to go through tunnels with different themes. Whoopee! Bubble game (pop those bubbles inside!), led lights flashing with romantic music and my fave of all is the rave style light show with music blasting in the tune of Gangnam style. Really so amusing!20161123_141812-01120161123_142841-01120161123_142906-01120161123_143245-01120161123_141433-011After 50 minutes of enjoying the scenery with your legs working out, it’s already time to let them rest. lol! About 5 km of pedaling till you reach the rest stop, then… Voila! You can now grab some drinks & snacks or use the toilet (but hold your breath if you do so) Oops!20161123_145500-01120161123_144507-01-01120161123_144507-01-02-01[1].jpegTadaah! A beautiful waterfall sight while you wait for your next ride at the rest stop. 20161123_144711-01120161123_144754-011

20161123_144840-01-02120161123_144840-01-011I never thought I would be that Damn thirsty! lol

It’s no longer a bike for your next ride so just relax. haha! This time is already an open train where you still can leisurely savour the amazing landscape. My tip, make sure to take the right side window seat! The views are just sooo lovely!20161123_150429-011As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I highly recommend joining a group tour package as it will allow you to have a fuss free trip if you wish to visit Nami Island, Rail Park and Petite France in one day. Doing it yourself might just frustrate you. Yes, true. There will be a couple of transfers and timing for the transport which is really time consuming. Plus taking in the fact that Koreans don’t speak English, who you speak for help? Oh! Such a headache.20161123_151324-011Didn’t expect it to be this much fun! Till I see you again!

20161123_133229-011

Here’s a brief guide if you wish to go there by yourself:

From Yongsan Station (Line 1 or Jungang Line)
Take ITX to Gangchon Station or Namchuncheon Station and transfer to subway, one stop to Gimyoujeong Station. Please leave ample time for transfer.
The total trip from Yongsan Station to Gimyoujeong Station will take minimum 100 minutes. ITX (77 – 79 mins) + Subway (6 mins)

From Cheongnyangni Station (Line 1 or Jungang)
Take ITX to Gangchon Station or Namchuncheon Station and tranfer to subway, one stop to Gimyoujeong. Please leave ample time for transfer.
The total trip from Cheongnyangni Station to Gimyoujeong Station will take minimum 75 minutes. ITX (51 – 53 mins) + Subway (6 mins)

It would also be best if you book your tickets ahead but just give an ample time for your transport as the Rail Bike runs in specific timing.  Click here for more details: Direction and Booking

 

20161123_133520-011

Love,

Stylishwanderer

 

I left my Heart in Nami Island

Nami Island is an enchanting destination which should be on top the list of must places to visit when you are in Seoul.20161123_101656-01120161123_101944-01-011Located more than 60 km away from Seoul. This half moon-shaped tranquil isle has beauty and charm left unspoken. It combines Korea’s heritage with modernity, and really has a dozen to offer to every visitor. 20161123_120617-01120161123_120631-01120161123_120652-011It became even popular when it was used as the film site of the very famous Korean drama “Winter Sonata”. For those K-drama fanatics, I bet you guys have seen it! 20161123_114420-01120161123_114455-011

Welcome to Nami Island!20161123_114516-01-011

20161123_102640-01-011myxj_20161126000306_save-01-011myxj_20161126000306_save-01-02120161123_103043-011Perfect for a good walk along the picturesque tree lined roads and grass fields.20161123_113913-01-01120161123_113431-01-01120161123_113415-01120161123_103425-01120161123_103459-011 Isn’t it such a beauty!?20161123_102328-01[1].jpeg20161123_102334-01120161123_102413-01120161123_102440-02-01120161123_102450-01120161123_114230-01[1].jpegI came a bit late for the fall foliage though. Left a few red & orange leaves on some trees but damn is still majestic! I couldn’t imagine how stunning it would be like when the shades of red and orange paints the island in intense bright hues. Wow! What a magical and unique experience it would be.20161123_103926-01120161123_104446-01120161123_104824-01120161123_104047-02120161123_104054-01-011Oh Dear, it’s just too hard not to fall in love with Nami Island. I wonder how gorgeous it would also be in other seasons. The surreal snow globe scenery on winter and the Cherry Tree Lane transforms into ravishing pink on spring. I wanna go back please.. Oops! did I not mention summer? Oh well, I purposely!haha As I have lived all my life in a tropical Country, forgive me cause I’m not so fond of the greenery & the hot weather. lol!20161123_113753-01-02120161123_113753-01-01-01120161123_113818-01-011From any corner of this lovely Island, you’ll definitely have a romantic walk with your lovers or even with yourself alone.myxj_20161126000803_save-01-01-01120161123_104000-01120161123_113604-01120161123_113529-01-011For my fave spot, I’ll let the pictures do the talking!20161123_105634-01-01120161123_105634-01-02120161123_105713-01120161123_105931-01-01-02120161123_105931-01-01-01120161123_110351-01-011What an exquisite feeling to be walking here, relishing the views with cold cold breeze. But can you just imagine when these are filled with the shades of yellow, red and orange leaves painting the surrounding in intense bright hues? How amazing! 20161123_105825-01120161123_105832-01-01120161123_110238-01120161123_110104-01120161123_105726-01120161123_110714-01120161123_110045-01-01-01[1].jpeg

Let’s have some Nami Sausage! Yaay!20161123_112539-011

20161123_120201-01120161123_115017-011Time to bid farewell. I shall see you again Nami Island! My memories with you are awesome!

So here’s my Guide for you guys:

Admission fee to Nami Island is ₩8,000 for foreigners.  But it’s really best to book for a tour package. Trust me!
Here’s a few options you can book at Trazy.com for Nami Island Special20161123_1052490-011

To enter Nami Island you have to choose to ride either Ferry or the Zip Wire for a more Adventurous Seoul.20161123_101146-01120161123_101039-01120161123_101425-011Ferry: You can board the ferry that comes every 30 minutes. The ferry service is complimentary with the admission fee. The ferry provides a scenic experience and is the most common transportation for Nami Island’s visitors.20161123_100809-01120161123_100809-021Zip Wire: For adrenaline junkies, you can ride the 3,083 foot Zip Wire to reach Nami Island. The Zip Wire begins at the Zip Wire Tower. For ‎₩38,000, this Zip Wire brings you to Nami Island in less than two minutes. This attraction fee additionally includes the admission and a return ferry ride back from Nami Island.

How to get there?

There are three main ways to reach Nami Island if you take Public Transport — subway, train, and shuttle bus.

Subway: The closest station to Nami Island is Gapyeong Station.  To reach the station through the Seoul Metro System, get on the Gyeongchun line, which starts at Sangbong and ends at Chuncheon Station. You can pay for the subway ride using the T-Money Card or cash and it costs around ₩2,000. Usually, the subway trip duration is just over one and a half hour.

Train: A more comfortable method is to take the ITX  Train. Board the train at Yongsan station and exit at Gapyeong Station. You can book a seat online for ₩4,800. Compared to the subway, ITX train brings you to Gapyeong faster, only about 55 minutes.

Shuttle Bus: The shuttle bus reaches Nami Island directly from Seoul’s city center. Reserve a seat online and get on the bus at Insa-dong or Namdaemun Gate. The shuttle bus only comes once a day and the ride is about one and a half hours long. The shuttle bus costs ₩15,000 for a round trip ticket.

20161123_121418-01120161123_120819-011After more than an hour of travel from Seoul, you might be hungry. There’s an entire stretch of restaurants in front of Nami Island parking lot so you can have some brunch first before you take the Ferry or the Zip Wire to Nami Island or you can also opt to eat once you get back.

20161123_125525-01120161123_124544-011For you guys who want to maximize your day, I recommend taking a Tour Package since it will eat up all your time figuring out your way to reach your destination. There will be a couple of transfers and timing for those transport which is really time consuming and considering the fact that most Koreans don’t speak English, Mmm. I wish you Luck! lol.

The usual Tour Package includes a very convenient Transport and entrance fees. Also, the time they give you to visit each place is just nice to explore and feel the scenery. Trust me, it won’t be a rush Tour Journey. So for a Fuss Free day I suggest taking a Tour Package to visit Nami Island, Petite France and Rail Park or you can even include The Garden of the Morning Calm which in my case I didn’t since I was too late for the fall foliage and I was advised to skip it but if you’ll be there during Winter then it should be a must to visit to see the Night Illumination.

I guess this post is already too long! haha So I’ll be separating my superb experience of the 1 day Tour Package visiting Nami Island, Petite France and Rail Park! Click the link to book your one of a kind experience!

20161123_111033-011

Love,

Stylishwanderer