One of the most iconic sites in Seoul, we got to the gate just as they were doing a changing of the guard procession. We waited outside the gates until it was finished and once inside we saw hundreds of people who were watching from the other side. This was definitely the most crowded tourist attraction we came across, but it was still no trouble to get in. The site is also huge, so it never felt overwhelmingly filled with people.
Accessible after exiting the palace grounds, the museum is free and air conditioned! They have interesting exhibits of what life used to be like in Korea and how various traditions developed. One of there special exhibits while we were there was about building a city from scratch. To prevent overcrowding in metropolitan areas the government had to develop rural parts of the country to create new cities. In doing so many people were displaces from their homes and farms they had lived on for generations. Some went back to live in apartments in the new city once it was completed, but many had settled down elsewhere.
After leaving the Museum we made our way to Samcheongdong-gil road to find some patbingsoo (shaved ice with ALL the toppings ever). It's hot and humid in September and we had been walking around for a couple hours already. This road is one of the top rated on Tripadvisor for the area and it was easy to see why when we got there. Super trendy and lined with restaurants, clothing stores, some art galleries, and cafes. It's a great place to rest in between site seeing. It's Near the Hanok village, you can begin to see changes in the architecture.
One of my favorite spots, and clearly a popular place for photographers. This is essentially a neighborhood in Seoul. Initially I expected it to be outside further outside the city but it's super accessible. We walked here and had a difficult time finding the right road to turn down because it's very tucked away. There are signs everywhere asking visitors to please be quiet and respectful, as the Hanok are still peoples houses. It's quiet there, and everyone walking along is snapping pictures of the architecture.
Another one of the more crowded tourist attractions we found while in Seoul. There is a garden tour, that we sadly missed. It costs a little extra and starts at various times. There are english tours available as well. The only way to get into the garden is with a tour, so be sure to check start times before you get there. Even though we missed the garden it was still a great place to look around and take a walk. The area is huge so give yourself some time and take some breaks.
Just south of Changdeokgung palace you'll find jongmyo shrine. If you're doing this after the palaces than you'll probably be exhausted and tired of taking nice walks so I wouldn't recommend doing all of this in one day. There are several buildings to see, and a movie. Smaller than the palace grounds it takes much less time to get through and see everything. There is an admission fee and only one entrance, but its only 1000 krw it get in. Afterwards head to the Gwangjang market which is just across the street.
At first I struggled to decide whether I should put this in this post or a separate one for just food. But this market is truly a site, whether or not you eat here. Crowded and filled with all the food I ever wanted to try while in Korea. This is the kind of market I would go to if someone was filming me for the food network. Be fearless and try something. My boyfriend was not fearless and dragged me out of here before we could try anything, something I'll continue to bring up until I get over it. They have traditional food here, lots of vegetables, and some fish. But for Fish I'd recommend the Noryangjin Fish Market, where you can buy it live and have it cooked for you there.
Make the journey to Seoul Tower by cable car. We went during the day, but night is supposed to be even better. It can get very crowded on the cable cars when it's busy, so if the height is already not sitting well with you try heading up earlier in the day. There's an additional fee to go up the tower and multiple experience to choose from. There's even a hello kitty island on one of the floors!
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
I'd seen pictures of the design plaza before and figured we'd stumble upon it eventually. It ended up being a little out of our way, but there's a lot to do around it as well. The design plaza is this huge structure! You've probably seen pictures before. There's a lot to explore inside, including shops and a museum. Nearby there's also shopping, and what is called the fashion complex. It's a lot like the other covered markets in Seoul, but only clothing and things people use to make clothing. The complex is inside it's on building a little ways from the design plaza, and massive.
This is where you go to pick out a giant crab, squid, fish, or shrimp. Another site that was a little bit out of the way for us, but luckily right on a subway line. They have every sea creature here. The smell was fishy, to say the least. Because of that try getting their earlier in the day and it might be better. You can buy the fish you want from various vendors on the ground floor. Up the stairs leads to small restaurants where you take the fish you bought to be prepared.