This week I got to travel to Seoul to see some very famous sites in South Korea. South Korea is home to five major palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. The biggest and main palace is known as Gyeongbokgung, or Gyeongbok Palace. This palace is a very popular tourist attraction in South Korea, and offers free admission to anyone dressed in a Hanbok, traditional wear for Koreans. Luckily, there are many places to rent a Hanbok, and feel like a princess, right outside of the palace. Because of the number of tourists, clerks in every store speaks English, Mandarin, Korean, and possibly Japanese.
Gyeongbok Palace was amazing and gigantic. I cannot imagine how people managed to get around it during the Joseon Period. We walked around the palace for an hour, taking picture in different locations and with a lot of the newly bloomed Cherry Blossom trees. In that hour, we did not even cover half of the palace, which has many entrances, exits, and paths. However, the hanbok rental only lasts two hours and there was quite a bit of people, so we chose to move on.
Connected to Gyeongbok Palace, and with free admission for all, is the National Korean Folk Museum. As someone who deeply loves history, I thought this museum was enlightening and delightful. It shared the history and artifacts of Korea, especially those of the Joseon Dynasty. The museum shared traditions of Korea and the history of how people lived.
After a quick lunch outside of Gyeongbok Palace, we made our way to another of the 5 major Korean palaces, Changdeok Palace (Changdeokgung). Changdeok Palace is the second palace built during the Joseon Dynasty but also the best preserved. It now holds some of the oldest artifacts and history of Korea and was named a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO. Changdeok Palace is a short 30 minute straight walk from Gyeongbok Palace and usually has less people visiting it at a time. It is known for its Secret Garden, which you need to buy tickets to a tour to see. The tour only occurs at certain times in a day and sell out very quickly. If you can, I would purchase the tickets in advance. Especially during cherry blossom season, Changdeok Palace is a place to see!
I would recommend all of these sights to see if you ever travel to Seoul. South Korea also has an amazing public transportation system set up and there is a subway line that will take you directly outside of Gyeongbok Palace. Though city buses and subways (especially in Seoul) can be quite crowded, so I would plan accordingly and be willingly to walk some distances if you do not want to deal with crowded transportation. Kakao Maps is a great resource to use for directions, but you will have to continuously refresh your search in order to verify you are on track to your desired location.