I started off the day with a walk down the street to head to Shinsagae Department Store for a bit of shopping and to grab lunch at their food court.
From there I walked round to Namdaemun Market which was about 10 – 15 mins away. I made the mistake of coming on a Saturday because it was packed with locals. The market is exactly like one physical location in a single building but more of a general area with sections divided up into categories like children’s wear, shoes, household goods etc. After walking through the area (but not into any specific stores) I walked over to check out Sungnyemun Gate. It’s undergoing some restoration work so you can’t go up close to it but not blocked that you can’t take a pic.
I then headed to the nearest subway station and made my way to Hongdae. The best time day to go to Hongdae is on a Saturday because that’s when they have the Free Market over in the children’s playground park. The Free Market is basically a place where artists can show and sell their creations such as handmade books, toys, jewelry, etc. There are also a few who will draw portraits. A majority of the artists are students.
There are a lot of little stores and restaurants in this area. You’ll find that the stores tend to be marketed towards the youths and young adults mainly because of the nearby university – Hongik University. As you walk around the area you’ll also come across a few student buskers.
After l was done walking the area, I hopped back on the subway and headed over to Deoksugung Palace. Talk about timing, I got there just as they started having the changing of the guard. More of a performance than an actual security issue, they had people dressed in outfits from the Josen period and they reenacted how the changing of the guard was done then. The uniforms of that era were really colorful.
Thanks to my combo ticket bought they day before, I bypassed the queue at the ticket booth and walked into the palace grounds. The grounds of this palace are smaller than the other two I went to and there was even a building that was a combination of Korean and western architecture. Even the large fountain area was of a western style.
It was close to 5 by the time I was done walking around the palace and I was really starting to feel the cold. The temperature was about 2C/35F and overcast with a breeze which of course meant that it felt even colder. I decided to walk back to the hotel using the link from the subway station to the underground mall that way I could stay out of the cold and it seemed kind of lazy to just take the subway one stop when the walk back would only take about 15-20 mins and I’d have things to see. It was starting to drizzle by the time I got to the hotel so seeing as I was only wearing a tee and my padded jacket and starting to feel really cold, I decided to pop up to the room to get another layer, a hooded sweater. Now feeling warmer, I headed out to Myeong-dong to look for this restaurant I had seen on my first day. I wanted to have something hot and soupy for dinner because of the cold and this restaurant had just what I wanted – Bulgogi stew/soup with a bowl of rice. It was really yummy and cheap too – 6,500 won. It really did the trick, I felt all warm inside hehehe.
After dinner, I walked around Myeong-dong but a lot of the little street stalls that are usually open at night were closed thanks to the light rain so I headed back to the hotel but not before stopping at the Coffee Bean to pick up a hot chocolate.