Wednesday 1 January 2014

Korea - Seoul : Gyeongbokgung Palace + Shopping areas you must not missed!

Korea trip Oct 2013

Gyeongbokgung Palace visiting!

To understand more about Korea, you got to immerse yourself in their culture. So here we are paying a visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Gyeongbokgung was the main and largest palace of the five grand palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty. Gyeongbokgung literately means "Palace of Shining Happiness".

I love visiting places that are different from Singapore. Singapore is too modernized and filled with high rise buildings. Sometimes it is good to step out of your daily pace/comfort zone and experience different thing. You may have new inspiration after that.

Cheongwadae Fountain

The building at the back is Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House). Cheong Wa Dae is the official office of the President of the Republic of Korea and the Presidential Secretariat, hence entrance into the buildings is prohibited but there is free tour to tour around the premises. The building is covered with korean style blue tiles, hence the name Blue House.

Free tour on every Tuesday - Saturday (Saturdays are only for individuals or families under 10 people) 
Tour timing: 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm 
Apply online through (at least 3 weeks in advance)

Are both of them sleeping? lol the horse looks quite tamed.

We started the tour from northern gate to the southern gate.

Look at the map first before we lose ourselves in this big compound.

Sinmumun Gate is the northern gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Nice shot of bf wondering around.

Hyangwonji Pond

This hexagonal pavilion that sits in the middle of the pond is named as Hyangwonjeong Pavilion which means pavilion of far-reaching fragrance. 

Chwihyanggyo, the bridge that leading to the Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, means intoxicated with fragrance.


The National Folk Museum of Korea

This national museum located in Gyeongbokgung Palace showcases thousands of historical artifacts to illustrate the traditional daily lives of Korean people in the olden days.  

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, the living quarters, where the king threw feasts for foreign envoys or his court officials. This is where all royal banquets and entertainment were held.

Gyotaejeon Hall - The Queen's living quarter

Tourists with pretty koreans shot

Throne Hall Compound - Geunjeongjeon Hall where important state functions were held.
These stones indicates rankings. Court officials lined up in order from the lowest rank (9th) to the top rank (1st).

This is the throne in the Geunjeongjeon Hall.

Heungnyemun Gate Compound

Gwanghwamun Gate is the main gate to the main palace. It is located at the south of the palace. That's the end of our palace visiting.

While we were walking back towards city hall, we saw this professional lady wearing tube dress for her performance. Mind you, the temperature was around 10 degrees celsius. 

A status of King Sejong the Great. He was the fourth king of Joseon.

He also on the money note lol. *taken from wikipedia*

Address: 161. Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 110-820, Republic of Korea
Nearest train station: Gyeongbokgung train station line 3, exit 5

Admission Fee: 
Age 19~: 3,000 won / 2.400 won ( group, 10 or more ) 
Age 7-18: 1,500 won / 1,200 won ( group, 10 or more ) 
* Free: Children(ages 6 and under),Permanent Residency(F-5) Status Holder(Age 65 and Older) * 

With the purchase of a book of Combination Tickets (adults 10,000won, Youth 5,000won), one admission for each of the five different palaces is available within one month. (Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung - the Secret Garden included, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung and Jongmyo Shrine).

Opening hours:
09:00~18:00(Final admission at 17:00) 
June through August 09:00~18:30(Final admission at 17:30) 
November through February 09:00~17:00(Final admission at 16:00) 
Closed on Tuesdays

Tour in foreign languages 
English : 11:00, 13:30, 15:30 
Japanese : 10:00, 12:30, 14:30 
Chinese : 10:30, 13:00, 15:00 
Tour starts in front of Gyeongbokgung Information Center inside the Heungnyemun Gate. Tour lasts for an hour to an hour and thirty minutes



I came up with a list of shopping districts that you must not missed in Korea. I bet best time for shopping is summer or spring but the period now was autumn and all shops were preparing for winter season... all thick thick clothings... how to wear in Singapore.... *fingers point to each other*

Anyway, can stock up cosmetics or beauty products if you are super fan for their local brands!

1) Myeongdong

Memorize this map if you want to shop fast. 

Christmas lighting already set up nicely outside Lotte Mall

Cupid and heart on Young Plaza.

Krispy Kreme at Lotte Mall basement near the train station. First time trying and its good - it melted in my mouth! Much cheaper than in Singapore. 

Welcome to Myeongdong. It is similar to Taiwan's night market where alot of stalls set up on the road/outside the shopping mall. 

Lol saw plastic surgery clinic in Myeongdong. Random youngsters filming skating video on the street. To my surprise was that there were still so crowded even on a weekday afternoon. How can that be?

Looks like Taiwan's night market hor? I wanted to try the cuttlefish (top left hand corner) but totally forgotten about it. =(

The egg muffin is DA BOMB! VERY DELICIOUS! I think only 1,000 won only! The white colour part is I think is the egg white foam and the below part is muffin. With a little burnt taste, Woohoo!
The sausages also nice! Different flavours in one stick. I think also 1,000 won only. Why other countries street food so cheap and nice one?

Miss Lee cafe and A Twosome Place cafe locate in Myeongdong. Check them out HERE.

Nearest train station: Myeongdong station line 4

2) Dongdaemun

Doota! is a slightly more atas (high class) shopping mall that sells mostly Korean designers' brands. 

Just beside Doota!, Migliore shopping mall and Hello APM shopping mall consist of wholesale shops. Hence, the clothings are of more reasonable pricing relatively. The second time we went back to Dongdaemun was on a Monday and the shopping malls are closed on Monday. ~.~ Who would have thought that shopping malls close on Monday or any other day? Wouldn't they be 24/7?

Roadside food! yum yum~

Nearest train station: Dongdaemun station line 1,4 exit 8
Dongdaemun History & Culture Park line 2, 4, 5 exit 14

3) Namdaemun

Nandaemun is one of the largest outdoor wholesale market in Korea. They practically sell everything and at 50% discount rate??!! I ownself interpret one.

The whole places are filled with street vendor stalls and buildings. It sells from clothings to food to flowers to electronic appliances to toys. The market opens for 24 hours daily but most stalls close on Sunday.

I was there on a Monday noon and it was soooo crowded! I wonder how the crowd will be like on Friday or Saturday. If it rains, sweat not, you can go to their new Messa Shopping centre that has 32 floors with 9 of them underground. You can have a fantastic view of Namsam mountain and N Seoul Tower at a restaurant on 16th floor. Opening hours: 10am to 5am daily except 8pm on Sunday, closes on 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month.

I am very surprised to see that Korea is a VERY safe country. How do I define VERY safe? Just look at the structure of a money changer. Open concept stall with a middle aged lady under a big umbrella. *good job Korea*

Namdaemun Market
Nearest train station: Hoehyeon station line 4, exit 5, 6 or 7

4) Ewah Womans University

Areas around university are all shopping paradises. Apparently students money very easy to earn. I guess so too, korean so into fashion and so willingly to spend on clothings and makeup. That is why you can see so many beauty shops everywhere, some even have many outlets in one area.


Then I saw something very intriguing! Kopitiam - Singapore Toast Cafe located near Ewah University!
*three cheers to Singaporeans*


Ewah Womans University
Nearest train station: Ewah Womans University line 2

5) Hongdae

Other than it is near Hongik University and known as a shopping paradise, it is also famous for its urban arts and indie music culture, clubs and entertainments. It is probably because Hongik University is one of the top fine arts colleges in South Korea.

Many underground band musicians and street artists can be seen there performing and hence bringing up the art atmosphere.

People keep telling me shoppings around university premises are relatively reasonably priced but I seriously doubt so. Ok, probably because they sell all autumn/winter clothings when I was there. I bought a pair of boots at around SGD50 after much bargaining...

You can find Trickeye Museum there too! Worthy to go! I will talk about it in next post.

OH YES! Thanks Nature Cafe - Sheep Cafe is there too! Experience a little farm feel in modern place~

Nearest train station: Hongik University line 2

Saw this while in the train station. I guess not illegal because the lady was trying to cover to prevent me from taking photo. But they are soooo cute! I would wanna buy if I can bring back home.

Anyway, had a not good experience while taking their public transport.. their inter-train station (like from circle line to NEL) has to walk up walk down turn right turn left and no escalator ~.~ actually their train stations are quite near to each other. Sometimes take cab is faster/cheaper than take train...


  1. I was so surprised as well at how open at some of money changers are in Korea. I saw some of those open stalls in Myeong-dong.