Tag Archives: Sightseeing

Extreme Sightseeing in Seoul

11 May

Padlocks smothering the fence along the observation deck at Namsan Tower, Seoul

At the end of March I took another trip up to Seoul to meet my second and third visitors to Korea. My cousin Nic came over from Oz and my friend Arlene from home came on her way back from New Zealand…  I was so excited to see these guys!  And lucky for me, they arrived within a day of each other so I didn’t have to do all the tourist stuff twice.

On the Saturday we went to North Korea (yep really, see last post), so Sunday was dedicated to Seoul, but after too many soju’s and makgeolli’s the night before, Sunday did not get off to the best start. Not one to be defeated by a hangover, I downed my Paris Baguette ice-drink , gulped down the painkillers and appointed myself chief tourism coordinator for the day… with the help of  my friend Ellen – a gal who knows her way around Seoul.

Namsan Tower

Namsan Tower
First on the list was Namsan Tower (or N Tower/ Seoul Tower).  At 237 metres tall, it is a communication and observation tower located on Namsan Mountain, where you can see the city stretch out for miles and miles. You can take the scenic cable car up or the steps, but being hungover as we were, we took a taxi. There’s a rotating observation deck and restaurant at the top of the tower, which you can go up for a small fee. But the non-moving observation deck at the foot of the tower was quite enough for us hungover lot.

The view over Seoul from Namsan Tower

My pilgrimage to H&M
Next stop was Meong-dong. It’s one of the main shopping districts in Seoul, and more importantly, where the only two H&M’s in Korea can be found! After a power shop around the 4 floors of H&M I came out 70,000 won lighter and a bag full of new clothes!

Hanging with the guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace

The Royal Palace (Gyeongbokgung)

After a quick dukboki refuel we headed to the Gyeongbokgung Palace. This is the royal palace, which is really just a big temple, and it’s in the middle of modern Seoul surrounded by skyscrapers and the likes. First constructed in 1394, it was the main and largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty (Wikipedia). Gyeongbokgung translates as ‘Palace of Shining Happiness’, but as far as temples go, it’s not the prettiest/ most interesting I’ve been to (the Doi Saket in Chang Mai in Thailand is still top of my list), but it is still worth the 3,000 won (£1.80) admission fee even if just to appreciate the sheer size of the place. And the guards are good for a photo too!

Inside Gyeongbokgung Palace

Playing dress up


Wilting and getting hungry, we headed over to Insadong for lunch. Insadong is a popular area for us tourists as it claims to have 40 percent of the nation’s antique shops and art galleries as well as 90 percent of the traditional stationery shops (Wikipedia again). Not to mention the oldest bookstore in Seoul and the oldest tea house! (Haud me back!) Even without all the mind-blowing stats, it’s a quirky wee area where you can buy traditional Korean souvenirs and see some street performers do their thing. I bought my wee Aunt Anne’s birthday card here.

Lunch time in Insadong

Two for a pound!

The final stop of the day was DongDaemun market – the biggest market in Seoul. It’s MASSIVE. But by this point we were done in, and the endless streets of markets and underground shopping centres where just far to big to even make a dent on that late in the day. You’d need a whole day there just to look around it! After half an hour we gave in, defeated.

Absolutely shattered, I said goodbye to the girls and headed to Seoul Station to catch the KTX back to Daegu, scared to check my bank balance, but chuffed with what we managed to accomplish. See you again soon Seoul!