Take On Seoul in 24 Hours (Part 1 of 2)

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Some say that the most intense travel experiences make the best ones. It’s your first time visiting Korea and you are ready to make the most of the next 24 hours in Seoul, one of the most vibrant cities in the world. With so much to do, and so little time, taking on the big city can be tricky.

#1: Itaewon
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Image Source: http://www.visitseoul.net/en/seoul-shopping/itaewon.jhtml

Buzzing with activity, Itaewon is full of bars, clubs, restaurants and shops selling everything from clothing to furniture. Or if you want to grab a bite, take your pick of the hundreds of restaurants featuring cuisine from all the around the world, including exotic ones like Bulgarian, Serbian, Greek and Moroccan.

Getting there: Take line 6 (the ochre line) to Itaewon station and take Exit 1

#2: Gyeongbokgung Palace
tym-article-french-month1-travel2Image Source: http://malaag.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/gyeongbokgung-palace-in-winter/

As one of the great relics of the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeongbokgung palace offers visitors a vivid view of how royalty lived in the past. First built in 1395, it has been destroyed and reconstructed several times. However, it is still a testament to some of the most beautiful stunning and traditional architecture in Seoul and is often touted as the most magnificent palace in the city. Catch the changing of the guard ritual performed hourly between 10 am and 3 pm or stroll around the pavilions and halls within the palace’s spacious walled grounds. The W3,000 entrance fee to the palace will also allow you entry to the nearby National Folk Museum and the National Palace Museum.

Getting There: Take line 3 (the orange line) to Gyeongbokgung station and take exit 5.

#3: Bukchon Hanok Village
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Image Source: http://malaag.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/the-smell-and-the-feel-of-hanoks-a-visit-to-bukchon-hanok-village/

Take a step back in history by visiting what is probably Seoul’s last neighborhood with a high concentration of traditional homes, called hanok, which are historical-style homes characterized by intricate wooden frames and slated rooftops. Wander through the narrow streets, and you’ll find plenty of hidden gems in the form of shops, restaurants, teahouses and cultural centers.

Getting There: Turn left as you exit Gyeongbokgung Palace and walk for about 10 minutes to Anguk station. After leaving by exit 2, walk straight for approximately 5 minutes and you will come upon an information booth that offers visitors a map of the area.

#4: Insadong
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Image Source: http://travelingwithjc.blogspot.sg/2011/08/insadong-jongno-aug11.html

Rounding out the traditional leg of the whirlwind tour, Insadong is a must-visit for art lovers and also makes a great place to shop for souvenirs and refuel. Here one can find wooden tea houses, small art galleries and traditional ceramic shops. Among the more common things for sale are parchment and calligraphy materials, hanji (한지, traditional paper), hanbok (한지, traditional clothing), tea, and accessories. Make sure to duck into the side alleys as they are filled with some of the most unique shops in the area. If you are lucky to be here on a Sunday, do enjoy one of the many free street performances on offer.

Getting There: Insadong is a short walk from Bukcheon Hanok Village. Use your map to find your way back to Anguk Station and take exit 6. Walk straight until you reach a tourism information booth where you can get a map of the area. From here turn left to get to the main road of Insadong.

#5 Namdaemun Market
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Image Source: http://cosmocrazewoman.com/2011/06/namdaemun-market-in-seoul-korea/

Located in the centre of Seoul, Namdaemun market is one place to go if you intend to shop. With over 1,000 shops selling a variety of goods, including clothes, shoes, fabrics, toys, souvenir trinkets, imported and local street food, one will certainly be spoilt for choice. The shops generally operate in a 24-hour cycle with retailers and small shops open from 7 am to 5 pm and wholesalers operating from midnight to 6 am.

Getting There: Take subway line 4 (light blue line) to Hoehyeon Station and take exit 5. You’ll find yourself at Gate 6, the entrance to the main market street.

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