When my family came to visit this summer, we got the chance to head to some big tourist destinations in Seoul that we hadn’t been to. We even took the Seoul City Tour Bus – a hop-on, hop-off route to all the big tourist spots in Seoul- making us officially tourist material. The bus was a good way for us to get around to a few of the sites without too much walking for my jet-lagged family.
Namsangol Hanok Village
The Hanok Village was surprisingly interesting, mostly because of our volunteer tour guide, Reggie, a high school student practicing his English and nervously sharing historical anecdotes about the different houses. Reggie showed us how to play an ancient game of toss the stick into the bucket, and assured us that he had never made it in, either. We all failed.
I highly suggest accepting one of these free tours. They were wearing green shirts and sitting outside the entrance to the village, and they told us they also have volunteers at a few other sites in Seoul. It made the walk around the village a lot more informative and it’s nice to talk to Koreans while in Korea, duh.
Ryan and I have been to Namsan a few times (not all of them have been our favorite – the horde of people on spring nights is pretty unbearable). However, the tour bus made Namsan a nice, short, accessible trip. Unfortunately it was a hazy day, so the view wasn’t spectacular. My brother and I walked further up the mountain near N. Seoul Tower, but didn’t go up because the price is horrendous.
We looked at the “locks of love”, a tradition where couples secure a lock to the fence and throw the key over. Signs everywhere asked not to throw them over though, instead asking them to put them in a cute little postal box.
Our last stop was Changdeokgung for a tour of the Secret Garden. Reservations had to be made in advance, so we reserved an English tour. The group was huge and it was really hard to hear our tour guide, but the tour was refreshingly different from other Korean palaces, with ponds, trees, and random buildings popping up on our little wander through the wilderness. It started pouring at the end of our tour, so we ran to buy umbrellas (how terribly unprepared we were!) and headed to Insadong for some souvenir shopping and dinner.