Seoul on a budget: 8 Hour Tour
A reader sent me an itinerary for an 8-hour tour of Seoul. The cost is more than 10,000 pesos for 3 persons. The places included are:
BLUE HOUSE – where Korean President resides
GYEONGBOK PALACE – main palace of Joseon Dynasty
NATIONAL FOLK MUSEUM – ancient culture of rural Korea
JOGAESA TEMPLE – Korean Buddhism
AMETHYST SHOP – shopping
UNESCO WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE SITE
JONGMYO ROYAL SHRINE
If you were a tourist in Korea, can you do this on your own? Sure. You’ll need a really good pair of walking shoes, comfy clothes and a bottle of water!
The Blue House or Cheongwadae is where the President resides and holds office. To get inside the Blue House, you’ll need to make a reservation online or by e-mail at least 2 weeks in advance. To read more and apply for the tour, visit the Cheongwadae Tours page.
To take this tour, you’ll need to go to Gyeongbok Palace’s east parking lot. There, a bus will take you to the Blue House. To get to Gyeongbok Palace, take subway line 3 (orange) and get off at Gyeongbok Palace Station or Angguk Station.
Gyeongbokgung (gung is the Korean word for palace) is one of the five palaces in Seoul. The others are Changdokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung and Gyeonghuigung. The Blue House bus will drop you off at this place after the tour. You can find more information about this Royal Palace on their official site. Free guided tours in English are conducted at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3PM. The tour takes about an hour.
Cost: 3,000 won entrance fee
The pond in Gyeongbokgung in the fall.
National Folk Museum is located at the eastern part of Gyeongbokgung. You’ll find historical artifacts of how ordinary Koreans lived in the past. Honestly, I’ve never been inside this museum.
Map of Gyeongbokgung and Jogyesa
Jogyesa Temple is one of the few Buddhist temples in Seoul. This is located about 800 meters from Gyeongbok Palace’s main gate. You can take the taxi for 1,900 won or just walk if you still can 🙂 Here’s the website of Jogyesa to learn more about the place.
Amethyst Shop – I’ve never been to this shop but I see it whenever we drive around the area.
Jogyesa, Changdeokgung and Jongmyo
Changdeokgung is a Unesco World Heritage site. The Secret Garden is located inside Changdeokgung. Tours to this palace is scheduled, except on Thursdays when guests can freely roam around the palace for 5x the price of the usual entrance fee. I’ve been here more than five times. I just love this place especially in the fall when leaves turn crimson. Guided tours in English are scheduled at 1130, 130 and 330. It takes about one-and-a-half hours to complete. Be prepared for the long walk!
Cost: 3,000 won admission fee
Changeokgung’s famous pond in the summer.
Jongmyo Royal Shrine is where the royal ancestral tablets are kept. A royal ancestral rite is held here every year in May. This place is populated by old people everyday, but I still like this place because of the “forest” near the bridge to Changgyeonggung. From Changdeokgung, you can take the taxi for a minimum fare or you can walk!
Cost: 1,000 won
Jongmyo Shrine on one rainy spring day.
Namdaemun Market is the best place to go to buy souvenirs from Korean household stuff to Korean Wave items. You can get anything here from ginseng to the Bae Yong Joon socks! You can take a taxi, bus or subway from Jongmyo to this market.
Total entrance fees paid for this tour: 7,000 won (about 350 pesos?)
– subway to the Blue House – 1,000 won per person
– taxi from Gyeongbokgung to Jogyesa – 1,900 won per cab (max: 4 persons in a car)
– taxi from Jogyesa to Changdeokgung – 1,900 won per cab
– taxi from Changdeokgung to Jongmyo – 1,900 won per cab
– taxi from Jongmyo to Namdaemun – approximately 3,000 won
– max transportation cost – 9,700 won (about 500 pesos?)