Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung Palace was established in 1405 as the secondary palace to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Located in the east of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace is recognized as the most elegant, exquisite and beautiful one among the "Five Grand Palaces". It had been the residence of the royal family of the Joseon dynasty until 1989 when Yi Bangja, Crown Princess Uimin of Korea, died at the Nakseon Hall.

Changdeokgung has several worth-seeing buildings, including the spectacular Donhwamun Gate, Injeongjeon Hall, the elegantly simple Nakseon Hall and others. But you are most recommended to visit its rear garden – Huwon. It is a spacious and quiet garden behind the palace and forest. The garden consists of a square lotus pond, pavilions, several halls and a two-storey library. The wonderful environment of the garden explains why it had been the place where the Kings relaxed, wrote poems and studied.

You are required to join a guided tour to explore the palace thoroughly. Korean guided tour is on a one-hour interval. The English guided tour is, however, less frequent.

N Seoul Tower

The N Seoul Tower is a Seoul landmark located on the Namsan Mountain. Built in 1971 at KRW 1.5 billion, the Hanseong Tower was only a radio wave tower at the beginning. It has become a popular tourist attraction since its opening to the public in ten years later.

As the city’s official name changed from Hanseong to Seoul, the tower also underwent redesign and renovation. Meanwhile, it has been renamed to N-Seoul Tower, with N standing for both “New” and “Namsan” (where the tower is located). 

The N Seoul Tower is known for its night view and lighting. Every night, the tower puts on a show themed “Flowers of Seoul” with more than 70 sets of “reed lights”. You are also highly recommended to take Namsan cable car to the tower and the observation deck which overlooks the Han River and Seoul. 

Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Since its opening in 2014, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza has quickly become a landmark and icon of Seoul, a recently emerged international fashion hub. 

The plaza was designed by famous Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid. It features a smooth and amorphous design which is made up of 45,000 aluminium panels. It looks like a huge spaceship when seen from a distance. 

There is not a single pillar inside the plaza, which houses a number of galleries, exhibition halls, design studios and creative markets. The plaza, therefore, can be regarded as Seoul’s creativity centre.

Dongdaemun History & Culture Park nearby is also a must-visit place in the area. The park includes Seoul Fortress Wall and the Yigansumun Watergate. There also lays the Dongdaemun History Museum, which displays over 1000 artifacts from the period of Japanese occupation, including Joseon white porcelain and Buncheong celadon wares. 

Cheonggyecheon Stream

Similar to all metropolises, Seoul is also struggling to strike a balance between development and environmental conservation. The Cheonggyecheon Stream luckily is a successful example of the balance. 

Cheonggyecheon Stream was constructed during the Joseon Dynasty as a drainage system in the rainy season. It covered the city centre of Seoul. In the 1960s, however, Cheonggyecheon Stream was covered to make space for an elevated highway in the course of the city’s rapid development. It then became Seoul’s most humid place where sunlight is blocked.

Fortunately, the Seoul Metropolitan Government decided to begin restoration and beautification work on Cheonggyecheon Stream in 2003. The elevated highway was then removed, and water was pumped in from the Han River to maintain unlimited flow. The water quality of the stream was subsequently improved. With the streamside park and walkway, Cheonggyecheon Stream has become an ideal resting place for people to stay away from busy daily lives.

Every November, the three-week Seoul Lantern Festival will take place along Cheonggyecheon Stream. There will be elaborate decorations of paper lanterns with drawings. A variety of celebrations will also be held in the Cheonggye plaza. You are highly recommended to join! 

Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market opened as early as 1905. Today, it is one of Korea’s oldest and largest markets, housing more than 5,000 shops. The market is known not only for its second-hand clothing, textiles, tailor-made hanboks, and bedding, but also its cuisine. 

According to statistics, over 60,000 people visit the market each day. Locals and tourists are all attracted by the famous food available in the market: stewed pig trotters, gimbaps and bindaetteok (mung bean pancake), all going with makgeolli (Korean rice wine) and soju as well.