Do you know what’s the beauty of traveling alone? Being able to wake up when you want lol. I didn’t wake up super later but then again I didn’t wake up super early either.
Left the hotel at about 10 am and made my way on foot to my first destination – Cheonggyecheon Stream. Sure I could of take the subway but it was only a 20 min plus walk and I got to see more of the shops in the underground mall as well as the city.
Picked up some breakfast on the way (the hotel stops serving the breakfast buffet at 10 am), and ate as I walked. Before I knew it, I was at Cheonggyecheon stream.
Imagine a stream in the middle of the city and one level down from the street. I didn’t walk the full length though as it’s pretty long. I think I walked like a third of the way and used one of the many bridges to cross over to walk back. What amazed was that the street above was really busy with traffic but you couldn’t really hear it from below. There’s even a wishing well at one end. I have it a go but my coin bounced out completely. Not sure if my wish will come true but at least I know the money I threw in is going to charity lol.
From there, I headed over to Gwanghwamun Square which is actually just diagonally across at the cross junction. I would say this is more of a rectangle than a square lol. At one end is a statute of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin, in the middle a statute of King Sejong with the Sejong Center of Performing Arts on the side and down at the end is Gwanghwamun Gate. It’s nice to stand at one end and look down as there are mountains behind Gwanghwamun Gate.
Gwanghwamun Gate is the entrance way to Gyeongbokgung Palace. If you’re only going to visit one palace in Seoul (there are 5 grand palaces in Seoul), then this is the one to go to. It’s the first palace to be built during the Joseon era and is also considered as the main palace. Entry to Gyeongbokgung Palace is 3,000 won for adults, but I got myself a combination ticket which granted me entry to all 5 palaces and Jongmo Shrine. The combo ticket was 10,000 won and was valid for one month. Definitely worth it.
The palace grounds covered quite an area and there were a couple of “ponds” with pavilions. I loved how well the buildings have been preserved and restored. It was quite calming walking around even if it was a little chilly though sunny out (about 7C / 44F).
After walking around the grounds, I took a side exit by the Children’s Museum and made my way to Bukchon Hanok Village. Not exactly your typical route to the area but I didn’t want to walk up a hill only to turn round and walk down so I took an alternate route.
I may have made a slight miscalculation though because I ended up going up some stairs on a gentle slop followed by a super steep set of stairs but after that slight
torture aerobic exercise, I was pretty much near the top of the point that I was going to turn round from so it was all downhill from there – woohoo!
After walking down the hill, I walked another 5 – 10 mins and reached my second palace of the day – Changdeokgung Palace. This palace had a secret garden in the back area which is only viewable if you follow a tour. There are tours in 4 different languages (Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese) and last about 90 mins. There is an entry fee for the palace and an additional charge for the tour – 8,000 won for the two. The combo ticket I bought earlier covered both the entry and tour.
It was just before 3 pm when I got round to the entry way for the secret garden and the next English tour wasn’t till 3.30 pm so I decided to join the Korean tour at 3 pm. I figured I didn’t really need to know the history as I had the little free guide book and really only wanted to go for photos lol. It was definitely worth seeing though.
Once the tour was done, I made my way to the nearest subway to make my way back to the hotel. It had been a long day spent mainly on my feet so I grabbed a quick dinner from the hotel and just chilled in the room for the rest of the evening. The next day will be another adventure.