3D2N in Seoul – Exploring the vibrant city from dawn to dusk
August 27, 2017
Seoul, the city that never sleeps, provides entertainment options and activities to keep you occupied at any time of the day or night. This city might be very advanced in technology and fashion-forward, but its traditional roots are still retained with palaces and hanoks (traditional Korean houses) visible in significant areas of the city. Seoul is also a heaven for foodies. Whether you are snacking on street food, or indulging in fresh seafood at Noryangjin Fish Market, we’re pretty sure your stomachs are grateful. Here’s how I spent 3 days 2 nights in Seoul.
Day 1 – Gwangjang Market, Gyeongbokgung, and Bukchon Hanok Village
Open for over a century, Gwangjang Market is the place to go for food, hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), textiles, newlywed home furnishings and items needed for traditional wedding ceremonies and more. You can basically skip all sections, and just focus on gorging yourselves silly along the narrow food lanes! The two must-try items here are the fried pancakes and the bibimbap.
Gwangjang Market Details
Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Nearest Train Station: Jongno 5(o)-ga Station (Line 1) Exits 1, 7 and 8
Opening Hours: 9am to 10pm daily but hours vary by stalls
Gyeongbokgung Palace was the first palace built by the Joseon Dynasty and from its halls the Joseon Kings ruled Korea. The palatial complex is divided into facilities for managing state affairs by the King and his administrators, the living quarters for the royal family, and recreational gardens. Visitors may take a glimpse into the refined and dignified elegance of the royal family here. Besides exploring the palace compound, catching the Changing of the Royal Guards (Sumunjang) Ceremony is also an interesting sight.
Gyeongbokgung Palace Details
Address: 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Nearest Train Station: Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3) Exit 5
Jan-Feb & Nov-Dec 9am to 5pm
Mar-May & Sep-Oct 9am to 6pm
Jun-Aug 9am to 6.30pm
Last admission an hour before closing and the Palace is closed on Tuesdays.
Age 19-64 years old 3,000krw per pax or 2,400krw per pax for group of 10 or more
Age 7-18 years old 1,500krw per pax or 1,200krw per pax for group of 10 or more
Free entry for children 6 years old and below, as well as, senior citizens 65 years old and above
Do note that complimentary guided tours are available in English, Japanese and Chinese. Each tour lasts for an hour to an hour and thirty minutes. You can check their website for updated tour timings and availability.
Hanok, or traditional Korean houses, are well-preserved at traditional Korean villages throughout the country. Located between Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and Jongmyo Shrine, Bukchon was the neighbourhood of choice for yangban, upper-class aristocrats of the Joseon Dynasty. It has been called “Bukchon” because it is in Northern Cheonggyecheon and Jongno (“Buk” means North in Korean). Albeit its location is right in the middle of the modernized metropolitan city of Seoul, Bukchon is like a village frozen in time for ages.
Bukchon Hanok Village Details
Address: 37 Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Nearest Train Station: Anguk Station (Line 3) Exits 2 and 3
Day 2 – Ewha Womans University, Sinchon, and Myeongdong
Ewha Womans University was founded in 1886 as Korea’s first woman’s college and today, it is Korea’s largest university for women. The high-tech Ewha Campus Complex, designed by world-renowned architect, Dominique Perrault, is famous for its unique and sophisticated façade. Around Ewha Womans University, there is a popular shopping area for young women, selling clothes, shoes, accessories, and houses beauty parlours, and more. Take a break at Issac Toast, or have a hearty meal of army stew!
Ewha Womans University Details
Address: Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
Nearest Train Station: Ewha Womans University Station (Line 2) Exits 2 and 3
Located just a stone’s throw away from Ewha Womans University, the area of Sinchon has many famous restaurants and attractions popular among students. This place also boasts a vibrant atmosphere during Christmas period, with its street lined up with pop-up stalls selling delicately crafted goods and delicious eats.
Address: Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
Nearest Train Station: Sinchon Station (Line 2) Exits 2 and 3
Myeongdong is home to Korea’s Lotte and Shinsegae flagship department stores. This touristy area is also a battlefield for international brands such as Zara and Uniqlo. Over 100 cosmetics and clothing stores can be found densely packed in each alley, selling imported clothing and the latest trends at quite a reasonable price. If you’re hungry, there’s a stretch of street food stalls to fill your tummies, but they don’t come as cheap as you expect.
Address: Jung-gu, Seoul
Nearest Train Station: Myeong-dong Station (Line 4) Exit 6 or Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station (Line 2) Exits 6 and 7
Day 3 – Namdaemun Market, N. Seoul Tower, and Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market
Namdaemun Market, the nation’s oldest continuous market, which shares Seoul’s 600-year history, is one of the most popular traditional markets in Korea. A universal provider of clothing, fruits and vegetables, food, and general merchandise, Namdaemun also houses an imported goods market that carries items that are hard to find elsewhere. Being a glutton, what I enjoyed most at Namdaemun Market is Galchi Jorim (braised cutlass fish or also known as cutlass fish stew) – a famous dish in Jeju Island. There’s a specific alley, lined with many eateries offering this piping hot dish.
Namdaemun Market Details
Address: 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Nearest Train Station: Hoehyeon Station (Line 4) Exits 5 and 6
Opening Hours: 10am to 7pm but some stores might have different hours, and many are closed on Sundays
This place is a major tourist attraction, and ‘cause we decided to ascend the tower on Christmas Day itself, the queue for ticketing, all the way to being onboard the cable car, took more than an hour. Renamed as N. Seoul Tower, the 236.7 meters structure sits atop Namsan Mountain, which is already 243 meters above sea level. Imagine the panoramic views you get as the cable car brings you higher and higher up the mountain.
N. Seoul Tower Details
Address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Opening Hours: The Cable Car operates from 10am to 11pm daily. As for the restaurants atop N. Seoul Tower, and the observatory, check their website for more details.
Ticket Pricing for Cable Car:
8,500 won per adult and 5,500 won per child (return ticket)
6,000 won per adult and 3,500 won per child (one-way ticket)
Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market is the largest and most popular seafood market in Korea. Open 24 hours daily, there is a mix of wholesalers and retailers. The early birds (as early as 3am in the mornings) will be able to experience the rowdy and lively atmosphere during fish auctions. There are two areas at Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market – the old area and the new area. Both areas house many stalls, and almost every vendor will try to sell you their freshest catch of the day. Remember to survey the prices before approaching the vendor you’re comfortable dealing with to start bargaining and making your purchases.
Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market Details
Address: 674 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin 1(il)-dong, Dongjak-gu, 서울특별시 South Korea
Nearest Train Station: Noryangjin Station (Line 1) Exit 1
Opening Hours: 24 hours daily
You can accomplish many things in 3 days, but I recommend limiting yourselves to a maximum of 3 places a day in order to get the best out of these places without having to rush. This itinerary is tailored for those who do not have a lot of time in Seoul, yet want to experience the culture, savour the local food, and go on a shopping spree. Hope you’ll find my itinerary useful!
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