What to expect on our Seoul Sightseeing tour
Our Seoul palace tour is the ideal journey for anyone who wants to gain a deep cultural understanding of Korea and its royal dynasties and heritage. Our tour is a mix of tradition and reflection on what Seoul has to offer today and how it has evolved.
No trip to Seoul would be complete without visiting at least 1 of Seoul’s main palaces. Therefore this full day tour ensures plenty of time to discover these iconic structures. Both Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung palaces have played important roles in Korean history and offer something unique.
Gyeongbokgung is also known as Seoul’s “Northern Palace”. It was the first palace in the whole of Asia to use electricity and install light bulbs. First being installed in 1887, just 8 years after Edison invented them in 1879. Hyangwonjeong pond located at the rear of the palace was used to build the water generator that produced the electricity and powered the bulbs throughout the palace.
Changdeokgung is a registered UNESCO world heritage site. Known as Seoul’s “Eastern Palace”, it was added to the UNESCO list in 1997. At the time, the committee stated that Changdeokgung was an “outstanding example of Far Eastern palace architecture and garden design”. While also commenting that it stood out because its structures are “integrated into and harmonized with the natural setting” and altered “to the topography and retaining indigenous tree cover”.
So don’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime to discover the vibrant Korean capital with our Seoul Sightseeing tour!
Seoul Palace Tour + Theatre Performance – Course Overview
Our Seoul sightseeing tour itinerary is designed around the 2 main palaces in Seoul, some must-see landmarks and traditional local markets. If you only have 1 day in Seoul, then this tour provides a good overview, while if you have more time here, it provides a great starting point to get familiar with the capital.
We will begin by picking you up at your hotel in Seoul. Our first stop will be the Changing of the Guard Ceremony which is one of the most beloved traditions in Korea.
Our Seoul palace tour will then visit the two main palaces that are must-see’s in Seoul – Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. We will take a break to have a Korean style lunch which will let you rest and enjoy a fantastic local meal! After lunch, we will then have time to shop at 2 famous traditional markets – Insadong Market and Namdaemun Market.
To wrap up the day, we will watch an award winning, entertaining and light-hearted show called “Nanta” at a theatre in Myeongdong. The day will leave you impressed and with stories to tell your friends! You will be in the hands of our licensed, knowledgeable tour guide all day. After the show, you will be free to return on your own, perhaps after wondering the surrounding streets of Myeongdong at your leisure. Experience the best of the dynamic city with our tour in Seoul!
Jogyesa Temple – Dive into the World of Buddhism at its most important sight
Jogyesa Temple is one of the most important sights for Korean Buddhism, constructed during the Joseon Dynasty. It was established all the way back in 1936 and today is the principal sight of Seon Buddhism in Korea. Located right in the heart of downtown Seoul, the temple is quite beautiful with its red roof and lattice designs that can be found on the doors and windows.
You will have the chance to see the magnificent, golden Buddha statues. Jogyesa Temple features the Hill of Supreme Bliss, also known as “Geuknakjeon.” This is the holy location where the Amitabha Buddha was enshrined. Today, you can enjoy the sweet sounds of the bell that sits on the hill and rings to enlighten visitors.
Changing of the Guard Ceremony – Witness an Iconic Cultural Event
The next stop of our Seoul Palace Tour is the Changing of the Guard Ceremony which takes place at Gyeongbokgung Palace. You will see the colorful blue robes of the soldiers and their commanders. During the Joseon Dynasty, the soldiers who patrolled the palace and ensured its safety were known as “Wanggung Sumunjang” and had shifts both during the day and night.
The ceremony has persisted as a cultural experience since 1996 when it was brought back for re-enactment. You will see the soldiers executing the same exact ritual they did back in history, including playing instruments and marching in formations.
Gyeongbokgung Palace (Except Tuesdays) – Explore the Kings’ Residence
Our Seoul sightseeing tour takes you to all the major historical sights in the city, of which Gyeongbokgung Palace is a key feature. The palace is truly fascinating because it has stood the test of time, having been built in 1395, then destroyed during the Imjin War and rebuilt again! Gyeongbokgung was favored by the Joseon Kings, using it as the main home and is the largest of the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul.
Located in the northern part of Seoul, you will enjoy the beautiful backdrop of the mountain right behind Gyeongbokgung Palace, making it the perfect place to take photos! There are numerous buildings to see here, such as Gangnyeongjeon (the King’s main residence), Geunjeongjeon (reception hall), Gyeonghoeru (banquet hall located right on the water), and more, as well as scenic bridges to cross!
Please note that Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed on Tuesdays, so we will visit the beautiful Deoksu Palace instead.
Deoksugung Palace (Tuesdays Only) – Marvel at the Architectural Mix and Splendor
Another one of the Five Grand Palaces, Deoksugung Palace, is a compound of palaces where the Joseon Dynasty resided in the past. The fascinating aspect here is the difference in materials used to create truly unique structures. You will see a combination of stucco, cryptomeria wood, and painted wood. An element that makes the palace extra special is the forested garden through which you can take a stroll.
Here, on our Seoul palace tour, you will have the chance to see the modern fountain and garden created in Western-style, designed by G.R. Harding who is a British architect. Don’t miss the opportunity to snap a photo or two!
Please note this tour will only stop at Deoksugung Palace on days when Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed or unavailable.
Blue House – Visit the President’s Home
Our Seoul palace tour continues with a visit to the Blue House which is the executive office and official residence of the President of South Korea. The Blue House has beautiful, polished gardens which you will have a chance to see. The interesting fact about this structure is that it is considered to be at an auspicious location that would bring prosperity to its occupants.
There is an inscription on the wall that reads “The Most Blessed Place on Earth.” This is one of the most beautiful spots on our Seoul palace tour to take photos because you see Bukhansan Mountain to the north, as well as Naksan Park on the left, and Inwangsan mountain on the right.
Cheongwadae Sarangchae (Closed on Mondays) – the Best Place to Learn about Korean Politics
Cheongwadae Sarangchae is the absolute best place to learn about Korean politics and presidents. The historical museum is conveniently located right in front of the Blue House so that you get a chance to learn the history and stories behind the buildings you have seen so far and the people who occupy them.
On the first floor of the building, you will find important Korean heritage such as clothing, music, and food. This exhibition is open all year round. On the second floor, you will discover the complete history of Korean presidents and their legacies, as well as a geographical map showing you the most prominent locations to visit in the country.
There is a souvenir shop in the building as well, so you will have the opportunity to buy gifts for the special people in your life who love history and politics.
Please note that Cheongwadae Sarangchae is closed every Monday.
Korean Lunch in Seoul – Relax and Indulge in a Local Meal
Now that you’ve visited quite a few important places on your Seoul palace tour, it’s time to take a breath, relax, and refuel. We will treat you to a fresh and delicious Korean lunch. This is an excellent opportunity to talk with each other, share your favorite highlights of the tour so far, and rest your feet.
There will be local dishes as well as a vegetarian option for those who prefer not to eat meat. Your tour guide will always make sure to take you to the coziest, most authentic restaurant around!
Changdeokgung Palace (Except Mondays) – a Royal Structure Nestled Within a Gorgeous Natural Park
Changdeokgung Palace is one of the most scenic palaces you will see on our Seoul palace tour! This is because the structure is set within a gorgeous natural park in the Jongno-gu area of Seoul. Also known as the “East Palace”, this location was beloved by Korean royalty due to its effortless way of blending in with nature, standing between Peak Maebong and River Geumcheon.
You will really be able to feel serenity and peace while being at this location. The entire space was designed according to a Feng Shui theory aimed to bring tranquility and flow to the area.
Please note that Changdeokgung Palace closes every Monday, so we will visit the iconic Namsan Tower instead.
Namsan Tower (Mondays Only) – See Beautiful Seoul from Above
Next up on our Seoul sightseeing tour, we will visit Namsan Tower. Here, you will have the opportunity to enjoy fantastic views of the city. At 236 meters high, the tower is one of the most iconic and recognizable elements of the Seoul skyline. Today, it serves as a communication tower broadcasting stations such as KBS, MBC, and SBS.
Heading up to the tower fence on the second floor, you will see the padlocks of love. Those are small locks left by couples who have visited Namsan Tower to celebrate their love. You are welcome to leave your very own lock with your initials here if you’re visiting with your spouse!
Please note we will only stop at Namsan Tower on days when Changdeokgung Palace is closed or unavailable.
Insadong Market – the Best Place in Seoul to Buy Unique, Handmade Gifts
After we’ve seen all the royal sights on our Seoul palace tour, it’s time to enjoy a change of scenery and some shopping! Located in the very heart of Seoul, Insadong Market is the best place to feel a genuine Seoul atmosphere. Here you will find narrow alleys that are home to small shops, tea houses, and art galleries.
In the period of 1392–1897, most of the buildings here were property of the Joseon Dynasty and the government. Today, the stores are independent and offer a wide variety of beautiful products.
At Insadong Market you can find hanbok (traditional clothing) and hanji (traditional paper), as well as calligraphy materials, handcrafted goods, souvenirs, and ceramics. There is something for every budget, so you will be able to find amazing gifts for your loved ones and for yourself!
Namdaemun Market – Browse Through the Oldest and Largest Traditional Market
The next market we will stop by on our Seoul palace tour is Namdaemun. Located next to the “Great South Gate”, this is the oldest and largest market in the city. Here you can expect to find clothing and shoes at wholesale prices, so if you’ve been thinking about updating your wardrobe, this is a great time to do that!
Namdaemun Market dates back to 1414. Its design features narrow streets and since there is no room for cars, you can expect to walk around undisturbed by traffic, speaking to the vendors and browsing through the goods on display.
Nanta Show – Be Dazzled by the Skilled Acrobatic Chefs
Our tour concludes with the famous and award winning show – Nanta. You will witness an incredible performance by a talented group of chefs who are trained in acrobatics and do a whole variety of exciting tricks with knives, fire, music, and even wooden swords! It is safe to say that you will never see cooking simply as a way to prepare food after having witnessed this light-hearted popular show!
The show is the perfect blend for those who love food and spectacles. It will make you hold your breath, then laugh a whole lot, and is great for kids too! This tour includes your show ticket (offering the best deal). At the end of the day, your tour guide will escort you to the theater, give you the ticket and then leave you to enjoy the rest of your evening!
Experience the best of Seoul on our Seoul sightseeing tour! You will visit the main royal palaces, learn about culture and politics, have the chance to take amazing photos and end the day watching a fantastic show at the theatre! Ready to collect some beautiful moments with us in Seoul? Then lets go!