To say that I’m excited to share this post with you would be an understatement. Ecstatic, over-the-moon, thrilled beyond reason would be more accurate.
Seoul, South Korea is among my most favorite places in the world.
I travel to Asia regularly with my job (hence why you will see a disproportionate amount of posts documenting my travels to the region), but Korea is the only place in Asia where I’ve spent extended amounts of time.
Korea has a special place in my heart because 1) I’m learning the language (there is nothing that connects you more to another group of people than relating to them in their own language), 2) I have incredible friends living in and from Korea, and 3) God has given me a real heart for improving the human rights of the North Korean people.
This is a part of a series of three posts that will provide you with an insider’s guide to eating, shopping and sight-seeing your way around Seoul. If you only have a weekend in Seoul, here are the three must-see things you can’t miss while you’re there.
1. Gyeongbokung (경복궁) and Changdokung (창독궁) palaces. If you are visiting Seoul, you literally cannot miss Gyeongbokung. Located at the heart of the city, it is truly representative of the sort of old-meets-new vibe that the entire city exemplifies. With mountains behind it and the towering sky-scraper buildings just outside its gates, it has an old-world charm in the middle of modernity.
Changdokung, in contrast, is a little more off-the-beaten path and often overlooked by tourists. I went on my last visit to Korea, but regrettably missed what my Korean friends tell me is the main attraction, the gardens. So don’t be me and miss them. Go see the secret garden that Changdokung is famous for.
Pro tip: If you rent a hanbok (한복), or the traditional Korean dress for men and women, you will be admitted to both palaces for free.
One other little known tip is that in the summer months you can actually visit the palaces at night if you can secure the much-coveted tickets.
2. Insadong (인사동). If you are looking for authentic souvenirs, Insadong is the place for you. Filled with traditional Korean architecture, food, and goods, Insadong has something for everyone. You can purchase traditional art work, Korean pottery, beautiful in-laid wood boxes, as well as traditional Korean clothes. There are also the occasional surprises that break with the more traditional feel, like cat cafes and coffee shops.
3. Namsan Tower (남산서울 타워). Want to see panoramic views of Seoul? Than this is the place for you. I have been to Namsan Tower at least three times. My most favorite time by far was the time I went with my husband. We went up to Namsan Tower by cable car (I recommend this option if you are not in shape; the walk up to the tower can be taxing for those of us who skip our cardio), and the views are breath-taking.
I love the traditions associated with Namsan Tower. Serious couples journey to Namsan, locks and mushy love notes in hand. Once at the top, they latch the lock to the tower and throw off the key to symbolize the permanence of their relationship. If you visit, see if you can find mine and my husband’s lock.
I recommend going at night and going all the way to the top of the tower. The extra expense is worth it for the striking views of Seoul lit up all around you. Oh, and don’t forget to write a postcard to send to loved ones back home.
Photo credit: Allen in Seoul at Flytographer. I used Flytographer because I saw a Facebook Ad right before I left for South Korea. Boy was I glad that I decided to take the plunge. With Zach at home in the U.S. and me launching the blog, I didn’t want to miss the chance to document my travels in my favorite city in the world. Pretty grateful to Allen who made my first experience with Flytographer great! I highly recommend it.
Shop the Look:
Red dress from Lotte Department Store (will update with link soon), this Michael Kors purse, similar Marc Jacobs watch
Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow. ~ Isaiah 1:17