South Korea - Seoul for FREE!
You have decided to venture to South Korea's Capital City Seoul - What now?
Below we have listed the ultimate FREE guide to get the most out of one day in this amazing City!
We have included a list of all of the optional extra activities and prices, along with some fantastic places to stop for some delicious South Korean food!
We hit the pavement early and started walking around Gyeiongbokgunk, start at the main entrance and watch the changing of the guards, there are some cool photo opportunities and if your lucky, you may even get the chance to dress up in traditional Korean Costumes at no extra charge. If you don’t want to pay then entrance fee of ₩10,000 to explore the grounds, head east from the front gate, and follow the wall around the corner until the next entrance. You can walk through this entrance for free, wander through the gardens and and admire the The National Folk Museum of Korea.
We then walked east down the streets directly opposite the exit near the The National Folk Museum of Korea (Bukchon-ro 5 gil/Changdeokgung 1-gil) to the Changdoekgung Palace where you can also enter for ₩10,000. Along the Way you can take a pit stop at Bukchon Cultural Centre and see some traditional style Korean architecture. Whilst walking we also stopped for a snack of the best Kimchi Dumplings that I have ever had at Cafe Niugini Bird, which cost 4,000 for set of 6 dumplings.
After Changdoekgung Palace, we walked down to Unhyeongung, which is another traditional style royal residence, and also free to explore and take photos. From here its, a 5 minute walk to the bustling streets of the Insadong District, walk down Insadong-gil, Chatjip Teahouse is along along the same road if you want a traditional experience, or if you are up for something a bit crazy, stop at the funky multi storey shopping complex of Insadong Ssamjigil and walk to the top, there is a ‘Poop’ Novelty Restaurant, which serves dished in toilet bowls, has poop shaped biscuits and toys throughout - quite weird! Head to the Alive Museum at the end of the road for a laugh and some unique photo opportunities with its creative art and illusions, entrance is ₩12,000 per person.
Cheonnggyecheon-ro is next up on the list, it is a nice oasis in the middle of the skyscrapers of Seoul with a windy stream flowing down the middle of the street. From here walk down to Myeong-dong, which is the electronics district where you can window shop or pick up some of the latest electronics, before heading down to the Numdaemun Markets. You can find everything at these market, including a famous Korean street food called Hatteok, which is a sweet fried pancake which will set you back about ₩1,000.
Once you have had a look around the market, it will nearly be time for a well deserved Coffee, so we recommend heading over to Blind Alley, which is a 'Racoon Cafe'. Although it is a little out of the way (about a 25-30 minute walk), it was actually really cool to see the animals up close! There were three Racoons (one of which was Albino) along with 2 baby pigs and a cute dog. The entrance fee was ₩6,000 to play with the animals, or you could just oder from the menu and watch through a window, but overall it was a really fun experience.
Now its nearly dinner time, which is one of the best times of day in Seoul because the food is so good! Italewon-Dong district feels like young and gentrified area and ate the best Beef I have had in my life at a Korean BBQ. Marvelin cost between ₩28,000-55,000 for the set menu plus Soju and Beer for aorund ₩4,000 each. Honestly, one of the best meals of my life - such good quality food, plus the flavour was unreal!
After the sun has set and the city is illuminate with lights, head to the Seoul Tower for a one of the best view of Seoul. You can hike up to the complex for free, along a wooden path which takes around 1 hour to get up and then 15 minutes to get back down, and there was also thousands of love heart locks along the path, so dont forget to take one if you have a partner and want to get in their good books! Alternatively you can skip the hike and just catch the #5 our #402 bus for ₩1,200 each to get to the top. You can enter the complex for free and there are a number or restaurants located in the complex which have nice views of Seoul. There is an additional fee of ₩10,000 per person to take the lift to the observation deck located at the top of the tower. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and overcast when we were there but there is still a really nice view at the base of the complex.
We went to the Han River (Hangan) to see the city lights and walk off some of our Korean BBQ Dinner. We strolled along the river and drank a beer, taking in the all of the glimmering reflections of the city to the south. To finish off our fun filled day, we heading for the shinning lights of Gangnam, the district that made Korean singer 'Spy' world famous from his song Gangam Style! There are so many bars, pubs and clubs in this area its crazy! Every night of the week you can find a party here, whether its on the street, basement level or 7 floors up, the place doesn't sleep!
By the time you head hits the pillow in the evening you will be out like a light!
We hope that this guide helps you get the best value out of your visit to this amazing city!
If you have some spare cash and are not on a shoestring, you can alternatively purchase a Discover Seoul Pass for 24 hours: ₩39,900 / 48 hours: ₩55,000. Overall it is great value, and this pass will allow you access to a number of the sites covered in this article along with the use of Seoul Public Transport System. Places of interest include; Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung Palaces, the Seoul Tower Observatory, Trick Eye Museum and other various cultural museums.
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