It was a great chance and opportunity when I was chosen as one of the winners of the One Day Seoul History Tour with the Seoul Museum of History. In this article, I will share my experience of joining the said event and the things I have learned.
How did I join?
If you are a reader of my blog, you will notice that I wrote some about Hangul, Seoul City Walls, and the War Memorial of Korea which is really interesting to visit. While browsing my Facebook newsfeed, I crossed an event poster of the Seoul Museum of History which invite foreigners to join and visit the said museum.
I tried sending an application to the posted link and waited till October 10 for the announcement of the winners. I wasn’t expecting much because I know a lot of foreigners are traveling to Korea every day and wanna join this kind of event which offers a free tour.
October 10, I received a text message and an email that I was one of the winners of the said event. I was really happy honestly. Do you know why? Because this tour includes wearing a hanbok which is free, free lunch, and on top of that I’ll learn more about the history of Seoul.
Itinerary (One Day Seoul History Tour)
The event is a one-day tour so we have our itinerary for the whole day. We met at Anguk Station, Exit 6 and we went to a coffee shop while waiting for the other participants. When we were completed we went to 우리옷 한류 (closed as of 2022), a hanbok rental shop at Insadong. After we took a taxi to go to the Seoul Museum of History.
Seoul Museum of History
The Seoul Museum of History is a place for visitors to enhance their understanding of the historic events and places of the city. For over 600 years, the museum preserved the most significant relics of the city. Visitors can join the interactive exhibitions with various hands-on programs. The museum also offers an automatic translator (various languages are available) which is called U-Exhibit Guidance System for visitors. This is to let the visitors more interested and understand the information well and it’s more convenient.
The museum offers free admission and operates from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm on weekdays (Tuesday to Friday). During weekends and holidays, it is open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. During winter, from November to February the museum is open from 9:00 am up to 6:00 pm. For more details, you can visit the Seoul Museum of History‘s website.
Address: 03177 55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
How to get here: Seodaemun Station (Line 5), exit 4, walk about 300m
Located on the west side of Seoul, Gyeonghui Palace or Gyeonghuigung was the secondary palace for the king. It was also called “Seogwol” which means “Palace of the West” where the King relocates in times of emergency. From the Joseon Dynasty, about 10 kings (In-Jo to Cheol-Jong) stayed in this palace.
In the past, this palace has an arched bridge connecting to Deoksugung but currently, you need to cross Jeondong street and walk to Desoksugung. Seoul History Museum, the street of Jongno, and Jeongdong street are the main landmark of Gyeonghuing Palace.
The palace is closed on Mondays and January 1, which opens from 9:00 am up to 6:00 pm. Admission is FREE but if visitors are coming in a car, the parking fee is 3,000 won for the first two hours. You can check the website here (Korean Only).
Gyeonghuigung was also featured in the Netflix Series Kingdom.
Address: 55, Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 새문안로 55 (신문로)
How to get here: Seodaemun Station (Line 5), Exit 4
Lunch at 나무가 있는집
After the tour at the Seoul Museum of History and Gyeonghui Palace, we had our lunch at 나무가 있는집 which is not too far from the museum. It’s a few meters away from the right side of the museum. A restaurant where you can taste various bean dishes like soft tofu stew (순두부), Jeon (Korean pancake), and Japchae are delicious too.
Address: 10-2 Gyeonghuigunggil, Jongno-ro, Seoul
서울 종로구 경희궁길 10-2
An old restaurant from 1990 to 2000, the Donuimun Museum was constructed to preserve the history of the old neighborhood of Saemunan. Visiting this museum will show how big the Gyeonghui Palace but currently, 10% of the palace has been restored. The neighborhood has been reconstructed with apartments and restaurants.
In addition, by visiting the museum I learned that Seoul has four great gates which include the Dongdaemun, Namdaemun, Bukdaemun, and Donuimun (Seodaemun Gate) gates. Donuimun Gate was the largest gate in Seoul and has been destroyed in 1951 during the Japanese colonial period. There are a lot of interesting things that you can see here, for more details you may visit Donuimun Museum Village‘s website.
Address: 35-54 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
How to get here: Seodaemun (Line 5), Exit 4
Gongpyeong Historic Site Museum
This is the last stop itinerary of the One Day Seoul History Tour, Gongpyeong Historic Site Museum was first opened to the public on September 12, 2018. The city government aimed to preserve the city’s relics and memories of the past where they stand today. At the museum, you will find the historical remains of the city from the Joseon Dynasty which have been found during the excavation conducted in 2014-2015. Admission is free from Tuesday to Sunday, from 09:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Address: 26, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Centropolis, 1BF)
How to get here: Jonggak Station (Line 1), Exit 3-1
Thoughts and Recommendations
By joining this tour, I have learned more about Seoul’s history and made new friends with other foreigners living and visiting Korea. I realized too that there are still many places that I am not familiar with and have never visited. Once you get opportunities like this, you should not hesitate to join, it might be tiring but it’s a great experience to share with your friends and family.
Through this tour, I am getting more interested in the country’s history. Museums in Korea are very interactive which allows visitors to participate in various programs. Plus, this tour offered a free hanbok which is the best price that you can have since renting a hanbok is expensive.
On the other hand, joining the free tour events is not just about you receiving the opportunity but returning the favor by promoting the places that have been included in the tour. So if you guys planning to visit Korea, don’t forget to visit the places mentioned above. Why? It’s actually a free and very interesting place.
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Don’t forget to include this in your itinerary once you visit Seoul!