For about a decade, I had the opportunity to go to Korea once or twice a year. And then 14 years passed … However, a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet a girlfriend there for a quick girls weekend. Frankly, I was less interested in seeing Seoul than I was in catching up with her. But Seoul was a wonderful backdrop to walk around, spend some time, eat and get caught up. Here is how we chose to spend our two days:
Evening Day 1:
Dinner and shopping in Itaewon (Yongsan metro)
War Memorial and museum: I would recommend about 2 hours here. It is immediately across the street from the Samgakjji subway stop. The museum is free and they have a 1000 and 1400 90 minute English tour daily. The displays are in both Korean and English but recommend the tour to help fill in the story with more than just facts and figures. The museum is across the street from US and UN bases so likely to have a lot of military in your tour. This little known war had 2.5 million causalities in S. Korea and 4 million on both sides. The war and the continued hope for reconciliation is a defining piece of S. Korean culture and important to understand. The country and the museum are very respectful of UN nation sacrifices.
Gyeongbokgung Palace – This is a beautiful palace and maybe one of the best places I have ever been to people watch. For a fee, you can rent a traditional costume and then take photos throughout the palace. Locals and tourists took full advantage of this opportunity and it was fun and fascinating to watch teenage girls, entire families, and couples! There is also a changing of the guards on the hour.
Bukchon Hanok Village. This is a traditional village that survived the war and is in the heart of the city, and easy walk from the Palace. The culture is a bit interesting as the walking tour is well marked and advertised but it is clear many of the residents don’t not appreciate being a tourist destination.
Changdeokgung Palace – There are 4 palaces in downtown Seoul. We enjoyed Changdeokgung as it was easier to get a feel for palace life and see how the court lived.
Seoul Tower – Great place for a meal and to see the city. There was lots to do there and it appeared families go for the entire day.
Bukhansa National Park is just outside the city and has beautiful hiking. Take the subway to Gireum and then the 110B bus. You can circle back to the Academy Information Center and take the 1 bus to the Suyu metro.
On our list for next year:
Dragon Hill Spa