Guilt. Whenever I fly solo, I feel guilty for not be able to tag along my sister and Ichie (we used to travel together, most of the time), so this is the make up trip!
We reached Busan early morning, as planned, we will be heading to Seoul for the first three days before going back to Busan. Exiting the arrival gate, we rushed to the information counter, we were supposed to take Busan-Gimhae LRT (Light Rail Transit) from Gimhae to Gupo, but the receptionist convinced us it was easier to take Bus No.11, No.13 or No.1009 to Gupo. So, we follow as instructed to the platform 3, outside of the Gimhae Airport.
I have an anxiety, I asked every bus that stop/passing by us if they were going to Gupo until we hopped on to the bus no.13, I didn’t want missed the first KTX train from Busan to Seoul, I wanted to reach Seoul as early as possible.
It was 15 minutes ride from Gimhae Airport before we arrived at Gupo KTX, and thank god the train was yet to arrive so we have a few minutes gap to buy our ticket and hurrah, hello Seoul! Tips: Please buy your ticket in advance (online), it is much cheaper.
We reached Seoul 2.5hours later, and snow was nowhere to be found, but it was so freaking cold, we went to the toilet, layered more clothes, bought T-Money at a convenience store, and began our Palace Hopping. Our first stop was Deoksugung Palace, few meters away from City Hall Station. Walking wasn’t a big deal for us, but I was shivering, I can barely feel my feet and I was wearing brogues, with a thin layer of socks, hah!
Lee Jong Suk, I’m not a k-pop fans, but I did watch his dramas (not Pinocchio, I try my best not to get addicted with any Korean Movie anymore) and saranghae~
Deoksugung Palace (City Hall Station, Exit 2)
It was close when we reached Daehanmun Gate, around 1pm, and will be open for visitors at 2pm for the Changing of the Guards Ceremony, the ceremony will take charge every day (except Monday) at 11am, 2pm and 3.30pm. There’s an admission fee for it so we passed it and headed to the next palace.
Cheonggyecheon Stream is right behind this Giant Spiral Snail Statue! At first, it looks like an ice-cream, before the unicorn horn idea hit me! A few weeks after my visit to Seoul, I was watching The Return of Superman (or, maybe The Invisible, or any Korean Reality Show) when I saw this exact statue on tv, screaming, ‘I saw this when I was in Seoul!!!!’
It took us around 15minutes (or more) from Deoksugung Palace to the main, biggest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. It can be seen from far and located at a three-way intersection at the northern end of Sejongno.
Built in 1395, it was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. The National Palace Museum of Korea is located inside this compound, free admission, there’s a cafe and souvenir shops as well. However, we didn’t get into the Palace, you need to pay 3000won per person.
As planned, we will be checking in at our hostel at 2pm before continuing with our Palace hopping, but as we studied the map, the next palace was nearby and we could save on transportation.
This palace was originally used as Summer Palace for Goryeo King, when later during the Joseon Dynasty, it became one of the Five Grand Palaces together with Deoksugung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Gyeonghuigung Palace.
Changdeokgung Palace & Jinseonmun Gate
Changdeokgung Palace means Prospering Virtue Palace was recognised as a World Cultural Heritage site by the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Committee in December of 1997 during the committee meeting in Napoli, Italy. This palace is set within a large park in Jongno-gu, Seoul and also known as East Palace, as it is situated at the east of Gyeongbok Palace.
Both palaces, Changdeokgung Palace and Changgyeonggung Palace are next to each other. We just wandered outside of the palace, took some photos and enjoyed the architecture. There are admission fees for every palace, it will be around 1000 won for each palace. From these palaces, cross the street and follow the sign to Jongmyo Shrine.
Jongmyo Shrine is the oldest royal Confucian shrine, according to UNESCO, and it was added to UNESCO World Heritage list in 1995! (Do you know that I am addicted to the UNESCO World Heritage?) This shrine is located few meters away from both Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung Palace, they used to be connected during the Joseon period but were separated by a road built by Japanese colonialists.
Buckchon Hanok Village is nearby, you can see the directional signage from Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung Palace, but it was pretty late, we haven’t performed our Salah yet, and we decided to get there on our last day in Seoul (as planned earlier),
Palace Hopping Tips
Most Palace closed on Mondays, while Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine will be closed on Tuesday.
Our hostel, 24 Namsan Guest House is a 4-minute walking distance from Myeongdeong Station (Exit 3). We booked a private room with separate toilet, but as told, almost every room has their own toilet, the outside toilet is belongs to us fully. They prepared our room with heater, together with the bed heather and we couldn’t be happier!
We were about to go to N Seoul Tower when we met another Malaysian (one of them happen to be staying near to my apartment) and they guided us to the shortcut to the cable car, it is within walking distance. We had a little chit chat, and they shared some tips before we said goodbye.
We didn’t have to wait for a long queue to board into the cable car. I did mention on my previous post, I hate cable car, we never get along together (cable car in Langkawi was my first experience and it was freaking me out)
N Seoul Tower
I, at first wanted to skip this tower from our itinerary, but my sister insisted. She watched a couple films that were filmed here. It was so mainstream to be here, as this is a symbolic landmark of Seoul. Thank god, I listened to her. N Seoul Tower comes alive at night, with a breathtaking view of Seoul from the peak of Namsan Mountain. Too bad our camera (iPad camera) is having an issue capturing our beautiful moments at night, noised, and blame it to the low light!
Hiking is possible, if you have more time and wanted to save some won from riding the cable car, why not?
After spending few hours enjoying Seoul from up and above (and a little bit shopping, hah we bought heat pad, to keep us warm and it was too cute to not get it, plus, it’s in fish shape, Bungeoppang, owhh~ so Korean *will update the photos of the heat pad later*) we went down and it was too early to go bed yet so we went to the famous shopping district in Seoul!
Korean known for its beauty (they really are), porcelain skins and of course their beauty products. Aside from those beauty shops, there are food stalls all along the road, and some fashion stuff. We went crazy, but we came up with a plan, survey first, buy later. So we marked a fewshops that stole our heart away and started to calculate our budget. Yes, we were serious when it comes to beauty products eventho I wear less makeup, and I sometimes don’t even bother to do the 3-cleaning routines. (Can I just wash my face and be pretty?)
According to our planned itinerary, we were supposed to go to Dongdaemun Market after N Seoul Tower as it opens until the next morning but, Myeongdeong is hard to resist. We went back to our hostels and have a good sleep for our next adventure!
It feels so close but yet so far. Did you feel the same way I do?