Gyeongbokgong Palace was our first stop on the second day of #seoulstylo. To get there, take the subway (details on subway map and card here) and alight at Gyeongbokgung Station. You'll find the palace at Exit 5.
The palace is an architectural feat really. I enjoyed just walking around aimlessly though I would really appreciate a guide or at least an English brochure handed to us at the ticketing booth. We attempted to follow behind Chinese tour groups but it seemed like their guides are used to tourists like us and have a strategy to make sure that we can't follow. They seemed to have gone deep into the palace's grounds and then start the tour from the inside, so whatever they explained didn't make much sense because we didn't get the full story. Otherwise, I just marvelled at the scale of the palace and how well restored it is. We didn't get to tour the entire palace because we didn't have a map and just kept ending up at the same areas, haha. So if you are visiting Gyeongbokgong, find a map or follow a tour group that is just about to enter and don't lose sight of them! Also note that the palace is closed on Tuesdays.
After Gyeongbokgong Palace, we took the same subway line down to Anguk Station and easily found Insadong, a cultural district known for its traditional markets, artisans and teahouses. I went there hoping to find some wooden carved spoons haha, but they were too pricey. Insadong is still a really pretty place. It's crowded but we moved at a slow pace and enjoyed a traditional lunch there.
You will also find Saamziegil within Insadong. It's a vibrant area with lots of stalls selling handcrafted goods and art works. We didn't know that the staircase works as a spiral and made the decision to go up to the highest level and walk our way down. That didn't work for us of course, as we found ourselves walking up again and again if we follow the direction of the crowd. Haha!
Close to Insadong is the Bukchon Hanok Village. I think Bukchon Hanok Village gave us a really hard time but a wonderful surprise at the end. We had trouble finding it. Supposedly, it's near Anguk Station Exit 2, but even after asking around, we saw no village. We managed to find the tourist centre and grabbed a map, but later realised that it was so hard to find the village because it wasn't really one! It's just a residential district where you can find traditional houses called 'hanok' interspersed among some modern houses. When you are in the area, the hanok is really distinguishing though. It will be easy to identify them. There's this one stretch of hanok which we found really pretty. It's almost impossible to take a nice picture though, because tourists fill up that stretch of road.
Samcheong-dong is like a better version of Haji Lane. A very hippie place where you can find lots of cafés as well as fashion and accessory stores. After walking around, I happened to spot Cafe D_55, which is in the cafe list that I had compiled. Service wasn't cool, coffee was ok, but the interior was done up really well. Loved all the kitchenware on display, as well as the art pieces that decorated the space. On level 2, there's also this glasshouse that's just amazing. There was this 'No Photography' sign in the café so I took pictures cautiously. Haha, but seriously if you open a café, the last thing you should prohibit is photography! It's the pictures, then Instagram, that first keeps people coming.
Going back to a subway station was another headache. We chanced upon Samcheong-dong so we were clueless on where we actually were, haha. But kind Koreans brought us to the stop for shuttle buses, and we got back to Gwanghwamun Station in a short while.
I shall end the post with a summary of sorts. I will also include other places in my itinerary that I did not manage to cover but still worth a visit as they were suggested by the lovely people I met on Instagram!
*Subway Station | Venue
Gyeongbokgung | Gyeongbokgung Palace
Exit 5. Closed on Tuesdays.
Gyeongbokgung | Cafe Mk2
Exit 3, walk straight and make a right turn down one of the side streets, the cafe should be on your left.
Anguk | Insadong
The famous Tosokchon Samgaetang can also be found in Insadong.
Anguk | Bukchon Hanok Village
Anguk | Samcheong-dong
Anguk | Changdeokgung Palace
Exit 3. Closed on Mondays.
Anguk | Cafe D-55
Samcheong-dong, Seoul, Korea, 110-220.
Anguk | Anguk 153 (bakery cafe)
Samcheong-dong, Seoul, Korea, 110-240.
Anguk/Jongno-gu | Slow Steady Club (cafe, boutique)
130-1 Palpan, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea, 110-220. Open 12.30pm to 9.00pm. Closed on Wednesdays.