Half Day Exploring Seoul

Actually, this was itinerary of my first day in Seoul and because of I travelled from Indonesia and went to Hotel to check in first, so we (me and my friend) just had a half day for exploring Seoul. We arrived at Incheon International Airport at 8am, did our immigration checking, breakfast at airport, and finally arrived safely in our hotel in Myeongdong area at 13:00. So, we started exploring Seoul at 14:00. Our first location to be visited was Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral. We just need to walk 10 min. to go there from our hotel.

1. Myeongdong Cathedral

Myeongdong Cathedral, situated in Myeongdong, is both the Catholic Church for the Archdiocese of Seoul and a symbol of the Catholic religion in Korea. It has drawn a huge number of visitors because of its grand exterior.  Spending 1 to 1.5 hour is more than enough to stroll inside and outside this site. Everyone can entrance this site free, but do not make a noise when you get inside, because this is church, many people come to here to pray.

Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral
Myeongdong Cathedral is a symbol Catholic in Korea. This church is the famoust church in Korea.
Inside Myeongdong Cathedral
Gothic style inside Myeongdong Cathedral. When I saw it outside, I did not really get the gotic style, but when I went inside, wow! love it!
Inside Myeongdong Cathedral
Because many people come to here for praying, so do not make a noise, please. I only took some photos in here with my mobile phone to minimize the “click” sound if I was using my mirorless camera.
Myeongdong Cathedral
Because of many visitors come to here, they put some brochure about Myeongdong Cathedral’s history and schedule of services which translated in some languages. You can see it inside the church beside the door.

Let’s talk about the architecture and its history. On the basement floor there is a small sanctuary where the remains of the martyrs are enshrined, and where visitors to the cathedral can pay their respects. The construction of the cathedral started in 1892 and was completed in 1898 (I read from their brochure). Unlike most Gothic buildings, Myeongdong Cathedral was built with bricks instead of stones. It gives the cathedral a characteristic atmosphere. The splendid high ceilings inside the church and the arches in between the magnificent inner pillars show the beautiful Gothic style well. The basement contains the remains of nine saints and martyrs, who devoted their lives to the propagation of Catholicism in Korea. Behind the cathedral, Seongmo Dongsan (St. Mary’s garden) is situated. During lunch hour, pipe organs are playing here. The garden offers a peaceful resting space after visiting the cathedral.

Myeongdong Cathedral
Outdoor spot where St. Mary’s Garden is located.
Myeongdong Cathedral
Like other cathedrals, they also have a confession room. I like the design of this building, very unique. For example, this confession room’s door/aisle.

The church buildings were built with bricks, but the colour and shapes are all different. If you pass the figure of Christ standing in front of the church and go inside, you can see the magnificent inner pillars, the stained-glass windows and the luxurious altar. If you turn around you will see the choir seats and the pipe organ on the 2nd floor. On the basement floor there is a small sanctuary and at the basement graveyard the remains of the martyrs are enshrined. On Christmas Eve, a solemn midnight mass is held at the Myeongdong Cathedral.

Myeongdong Cathedral
Myeongdong Cathedral with their massive bricks.

As further described in the Official Visit Korea Website

Here is the location of Myeongdong Cathedral (map)

2. Namsan Park and Tower (N Seoul Tower)

Well, most of you might be familiar with this site, right? Many Korean dramas were shooting in this site. So, here I am. I try to catch the reason why visitors should visit this site. First, I will talk about its facts. N Seoul Tower was opened to the public in 1980 and become the symbol of Seoul. After that, N Seoul Tower was built 777 feet (237 metres) above the summit of Mount Namsan, a beautiful mountain in the centre of the city, with height of 480 metres above sea level. The Tower is the most conspicuous of Seoul’s landmarks. It also serves as an integrated telecom tower from which TV and FM radio signals are transmitted for the metropolitan area. This tower also has Observation Platform.

N Seoul Tower
It was hard to take a photo of this tower because it’s so high and stand on the top of mountain. But you can go to observation platform to get an experience for seeing Seoul from the highest place.

Going to observation platform you should pay 10.000 KRW or if you want try the cable car round trip in here, you should pay 8.000 KRW or if you want to go to Ssentoy Museum & Showroom, you should pay 8.000 KRW, or if you want to go to Hello Kitty Island, you should pay 8.000 KRW. For us? We did not take it. Based on our experience in Twin Tower Petronas in Kuala Lumpur, which was we only did sightseeing and there was no interesting experience of it and only wasted our money (for our perspective), so we did not go to observatory deck. And because of we did not interest to go inside the Ssentoy Museum & Showroom and Hello Kitty Island, so we did not take it.

N Seoul Tower
N Seoul Tower entrance ticket for observation platform, Ssentoy Museum & Showroom, Hello Kitty Island, and cable car. If you do not want to go there and just do like me (sightseeing in here, Namsan Park), you can do it with free.

So, what we do in here? We saw a lot of interesting things! First, there are some performances. I do not know the exact time of those performance. In my memory, we arrived at N Seoul Tower around 4pm, and there is a traditional performance. Unfortunately, we joined at the end of the performance. Second, we enjoyed our sightseeing in this Namsan Park, we can take some photos with adorable trees, see the lock loves, visit Namsan plaza market, which have 3D mini clips (free trying), photobooth with your favourite star (5.000 KRW per photo, you can take two times picture, but only choose 1 to be printed), bought some souvenirs, eat and drink while looking Seoul from the high place.

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Attraction in Namsan Park. A lot of people can enjoy this performance with free.
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Unfortunately, I joined at the end of permormance, hiks..
Namsan Park
There is an upper ground in Namsan Park, if you do not go to observatory platform, you can go to here to see Seoul from the bird-eyes level. This ground is surrounded by love-locks. What is love-lock?
Love-locks in Namsan Park
Love-lock is a padlock which sweethearts lock to a public fixture to symbolize their love. Typically the sweethearts’ names or initials, and perhaps the date, are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away (often into the nearby river) to symbolize unbreakable love.
Love-locks Korea
I did not write my name or my sweetheart’s name in here, lol. But here I show a sample of love-lock in Namsan Park.
Namsan Tower
Seeing Seoul from bird-eyes level in Namsan Tower free! (Not observation platform)
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3 dimension display in Namsan Tower.
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There are some 3D eyeglasses in front of the screen. You can use it freely.
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Star Photo Booth in Namsan Tower
Star Photo Booth in Namsan Tower
You can take a photo like you take a photo with your idol like a real.

Anyway, how to get here? I recommend you to use bus, not train (subway). If you go with subway, you should walk very far, up to the mountain or going by cable car. But if you go with bus, you can go directly to the top of mount which is the main entrance of N Soul Tower. Bus No. 2, with yellow colour on the body of the bus can bring you directly to N Seoul Tower directly. (map)

For your information, N Soul Tower operates from 11:00 to 23:00. For more information: N Seoul Tower Official Website

3. Cheonggyecheon Stream

Cheonggyecheon Stream
Wrong spot 😦 It was beautiful when it newly in preservation project in 2005. But now, in this spot, it did not get good maintanance.

Unfortunately, when we want to go to this site, we got a wrong spot. We went and followed google map’s direction, but unluckily the spot did not have good maintenance. Actually, we spent 1 hr 20 min to get this spot. After searched more in google, we went to another spot (back to our first direction, so we spent another 1hr 20 min,  lol). Finally, we got it! The name of this location is Cheonggye Plaza. It is located on the west part of Cheonggyecheon Stream, meanwhile before it I went to the east part. So, please take a note guys, if you want see the beautiful spot of Cheonggyecheon Stream, you must be looking for Cheonggye Plaza.

Cheonggye Plaza
Finally, the true spot, yeeeeaahh.. Cheonggye Plaza

Cheonggye Plaza roughly covers an area of 2,500 square meters and is located at the starting point of Cheonggyecheon Stream. The plaza also includes a model of Cheonggyecheon that provides visitors with a bird’s-eye view of the formerly restored Cheonggyecheon Stream. At the plaza, there are plaques that provide detailed commentaries on the 22 bridges that span the stream, as well as a number of graceful fountains that add to the ambience of the area. The area commemorates the Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration Project, and also symbolizes gathering, harmony, peace, and unity.

Cheonggyecheon Stream
This spot get a good maintanance and surrounded by attractive activities and interesting building. But unluckily, I arrived in here when it was rain, so i could not explore much.

After the completion of Cheonggye Plaza, the waterfront areas of Cheonggyecheon Stream and the surrounding streets have become popular places for those seeking refreshment and a variety of cultural experiences.

4. Kwangjang Market

Kwangjang Market
The nearest market from Cheonggye Plaza. Most of the vendors sell the similar food, lol.

After visited those three location, we went to the market near this plaza. We want to eat, but because it was raining, we only go to the nearest market over there. In Kwangjang Market, there are a lot of street food which sell similar food from all of the vendors. We confused to choose the vendors. Randomly, we chose a vendor who put the price in their menus and has some tourist eating too. We followed some local’s recommendation menu which was Bibimbap. And… o ow.. I did not like it, but I should make a poker face to say it was good, hufth. Bibimbap is a rice with vegetables but they pour special sauce over there. I just blamed myself, why I did not order noodle soup. I saw the Ajumma (Korean word for saying old woman) making homemade noodle with herself.  Alright, take a breath Ria… at least we got a fixed price and she gave me a free rice wine, yuhuuuu~

Kwangjang Market
Handmade noodle may be a common thing in Korea, because I saw a lot of vendors made noodle by themself.

5. Myeongdong Street

Myeongdong Street
Street food in Myeongdong Street. Many street vendors stand on Myeongdong Street when the night come.
FNC Wow
Actually, we also visited FNC WOW Cafe in Myeongdong. What is FNC WOW? I will explain it in another blog post!

After that we went back to Myeongdong area. Trying some street foods over there (I will write about the street food in another blog post) and going back to our hotel, because we need to sleep after a long travel time from Indonesia.

Well, that’s all my story for my first day in Seoul. How about the next day? Stay tune!

Cheers,

Ria

 

 

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youtube channel: Ria Sitompul

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