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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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
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~
5. Myeongdong Street
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!
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