Monday, June 4, 2012

Gwanghwamun Square and Gyeongbokgung Palace

I did the touristy thing and visited Gwanghwamun 광화문 Square and Gyeongbokgung Palace 경복궁 in downtown Seoul. We started by walking from Cheonggyecheon 청계천 stream. This is a very popular spot so you may have seen it in Korean dramas (such as Iris!).

At the center of Gwanghwamun Square is King Sejong's statue. King Sejong is the inventor of the Korean alphabet, Hangeul. Thanks, King Sejong, for inventing an alphabet that was so easy for me to learn!

By the way, I bought this pink, suede (I think) coat in Dongdaemun 동애면 on my second day in Seoul. The weather was very cold and chilly when I first got there, about 40-45 degrees Fahrenheit during the day! (By California standards, we consider that to be a very cold winter day, har har, and while I was bundling up, I could see all of my friends back home at the beach and enjoying 80 degrees weather.) The saleslady told me the fur was 토끼 or rabbit. Sorry rabbit, I usually don't wear animal fur but thank you for keeping me warm. The coat is lined on the inside with cute doggie print. Oh Korean fashion, you make me smile (sometimes).

We made a brief visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace, the "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven," which was constructed in 1395 during the Joseon Dynasty and apparently the main palace and favorite of the Five Grand Palaces. It's also known as the Northern Palace.

Here's Gwanghwamun 광화문 and how it looks when crossing the street to Gyeongbokgung Palace.

What do you think of visiting palaces? I have a confession to make...Korean palaces aren't really my thing. However, I felt as a tourist I was obligated to see a cultural and historic site.

Let me in, please! It's only 3,000 won to enter and there are free guided tours, but I'd missed the time, I think. Maybe I would have found it a little more time! This is Heungnyemun (The Second Inner Gate).

Of course, there were a lot of people there. The palace grounds are large and widespread. Visiting a Korean palace just makes me think of historic Korean dramas (don't judge me).

You can see Mount Bugaksan 북악산 in the background. This is Geunjeongmun (The Third Inner Gate) and Yeongjegyo Bridge.

Inside Gangnyeongjeon 강녕전. I believe this is the King's throne and where kings are crowned and official business and politics take place.

The uber detailed ceiling. Pretty impressive how they'd managed to restore all of this, considering that most of the palace had been destroyed by Japanese invasions in the late 1500s.

This was my personal favorite part of the palace. This is Gyeonghoeru 경회루, a hall for special state banquets and also Korea's National Treasure No. 224 (thank you, Wikipedia). I found it really serene with all of the water and green forest in the background (I found most of the palace grounds to be rather dry and barren, but then again Korea was just coming out of winter). It has the kind of atmosphere where I wouldn't mind staying around for a while.


I live here...welcome to my home! jk This was one of the other quarters but I'm actually not sure may have been the Queen's quarters.

More pretty tiled ceiling.

Selca! I am Queen, baby! ;)

One of the side quarters...

We didn't stay too long since my friend had been there a million times already. We went back to Gwanghwamun Square and to some bookstores and music stores so that I could shop for kpop CDs and paraphernalia, keke. Here's Cheonggyecheon stream again at night.

For dinner, we headed to Myeongdong 명동 for some naengmyun 냉면 Korean cold noodles and galbi 갈비 (Korean short ribs). I've had it once before here in Cali and wasn't a fan, but the one I had in Seoul was so much better! I would definitely eat this again and again.

You mix it well with the gochujang 고추장 (red chili paste) and sesame oil. Yes, it is a bit spicy but oh so good! I would love it in the summertime, hehe.

Next post, Myeongdong!!


  1. lovely pictures!! reminds me of those memories..I went to these places as well during my visit last year! I guess these are the staple places to visit in Seoul ^_~  Inside the palace, they let you try on hanbok's for free and my friend even waited 2 hrs just to try on the hanbok!Not for me, I said you can waste 2 hrs waiting while I head to Myeongdong for shopping! haha~

    Can't wait for your post on Myeongdong!~the place is just a shopping paradise! ~

  2. One day I will definitely go with my best friend to Seoul. It's so beautiful there. The food in the photos looks so spicy. I think I couldn't eat the food without crying. :'D XDD

  3. LOL!! A rabbit jacket with doggy prints inside. XD

    Ooooh I went to that place with the bridge thingy too! It was freezing (literally there were piles of snow heaped up on the side...

    Ahahahah when I went to korea I didn't see a single historical palace thing. Thanks for showing me! XD Tbh I am not fussed about them either...I am more interested to get my stomach filled with yummy food! I really want to try authetnic naengmyun! 

  4. I'm super envious of your trip as S. Korea is currently my dream travel destination.  The food in your posts look absolutely fantastic. I'm so obsessed with Korean food I've learned to cook many of my fave dishes :)  Your coat is gorgeous! I love the furry collar and the doggie print lining must be very cute.

  5. imagine the cute rabbit sniffing nose wahaha..ooh sounds cute with doggie prints inside <33
    lol actually i dont really like going to museum / historical sites but since its overseas i would still go visit them haha..but if there is a onsite guide it makes the tour nicer and more interesting rather than just looking at old buildings =P
    love the korean chili paste! 

    haha yeah i would always postpone getting things i can easily get as i feel that it will always be there XD

  6. AHHH I'm so jelly of your trip! Especially of all of that good food. I'm not a huge fan of palaces/cathedrals, etc. places either, prefer eating and shopping XD

  7.  Ah...I'm jelly of other people's trips too, lol, even though I was just there! Yes! I am all about eating and shopping! It seemed like people thought, "Oohh, you're in foreign country, you must visit historical sites because you never know when you'll be back again!" but...I like exploring how people actually live nowadays...not back in the days. :P

  8. I feel silly now for not taking more pics of the coat, hehe, I will take a pic of the doggie print next time!

    I love going to museums and parks, and aquariums too, but it seemed that I should go to palaces since that's more culturally unique (next time, I will go to museums, parks, and aquariums!). Agreed though, onsite guide is nicer. Otherwise for me, it was like walk and look...take a picture...but really no idea what all the fuss is about... XD I had to Google when I got back home and saw way better pictures than mine, lol. Live and learn!

    I keep postponing getting things at Sephora and drugstores here, but it doesn't help seeing everyone rave about some of the products, keke.

  9.  You must go!! I want to go again, actually, hehe. I was very clueless about a lot of stuff since I didn't give myself a whole lot of time to plan, and people gave me conflicting advice so I just had to experience it for myself (next time, I will know better). I love Korean food too, that's great you've learned to cook it!

  10.  Ohh you went when there was still snow? You're a brave girl! lol I want to see your Korea pics! Are they on your blog? The naengmyun I had here was at a kbbq place and it was totally plain, just noodles and sesame oil. I hope we can both find authentic naengmyum to eat too!

  11.  Lol some of it looks spicy but it's not really, like the grilled chicken skewers. The naengmyun had some kick to it and made my nose run a bit. Going with your best friend sounds great! I hope next time I can go with someone who shares the same tastes as me. :)

  12.  Hehe I know, right? Like how people go see the Hollywood sign and Golden Gate Bridge here in Cali (two places I've never been to, lol). I did not know that about the hanboks inside the place! That must make for nice pictures, but wow, 2 hours wait!

    I love Myeongdong, went there so many times, lol. I have to split my post into at least two, so many pics from there, and hauls too!

    I want to see your pictures from your trip last year! Can I find them on your blog?

  13. Oh how I miss Korea when I see pictures!... hehe~ It's been way too long I cannot remember my trip. I need to go back someday!!!

    Thank you for the Caudalie moisturizer! I love it. :)

  14. thanks for bringing us along your korea trip. it has been more than 10 years since i last visited korean. time to plan for a trip there ^_^ 

  15. I love that coat, the pink is so pretty and the fur collar is gorgeous (and looks so warm) :) I'm not that into visiting palaces either in general, I guess I'm a pretty unenthusiastic tourist when it comes to visiting the usual tourist landmarks lol

  16. Aww when was the last time you were there? Yes, you really do need to take another trip! =)

    So glad you're loving the Caudalie moisturizer too!

  17.  Oh wow, 10 years. That's sort of like me and Vietnam, I've heard a lot has changed since I'd last been there so I'm way overdue for another trip too! And thank you for letting me share about my trip with you. Another trip to Korea would be great, for both of us!

  18.  Aw thank you. It took me quite a while to find a warm coat, but I'm glad I did! Hmm I think I like modern sites, or more picturesque, like maybe when the palace has more flowers in bloom and/or nighttime view, hehe. I've seen really beautiful pictures that mine just don't compare to! But I guess at least I can now say I've been there (especially if someone wants me to go again, lol).

  19. It looks really beautiful there! Love these kind of traditional places!! I think it was a good idea that you bought a coat there too!


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