Spring in Seoul, South Korea: Gwanghwamun Square and Seoul City Night Tour

After a half day tour in Gyeongbokgung Palace, we went to Myeongdong for souvenir and cosmetics shopping. Myeongdong is said to be Seoul’s shopping mecca and is a must-see for tourists. It has a huge range of beauty shops (The Face Shop, Nature Republic, Etude House, Missha, Innisfree, TonyMoly, etc.), global brand stores (Forever 21, ZARA, GAP, etc.), and street stalls (serving traditional Korea delicacies such as oden, tteokbokki, and soondae) in one place. In addition, several major department stores surrounds the are, these include Lotte Department Store, Shinsegae Department Store, Myeong-dong Migliore, Noon Square, and M Plaza. To go here, take Seoul Subway Line 4 to Myeongdong Station and get out from Exit 5, 6, 7, or 8. Or you can also take Seoul Subway Line 2 to Euljiro Il-ga Station and get out from Exit 5.

Before we start shopping we had our late lunch and filled our hungry tummies with samgyupsal and galbi as per Sam’s request since it will her last meal in Korea before she head back to Manila.
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Beauty products and cosmetic shopping galore in Myeongdong! It’s heaven for all ladies that loves pampering their bodies and painting their faces with make-up. There’s multiple Nature Republic, The Face Shop, Innisfree, Etude House, TonyMoly, etc. Name any Korean cosmetic brand, it’s there. Or should I say there’s a lot of that store there? It doesn’t make sense why put up multiple stores of the same brand in one alley, it’s my first time to see that kind of set-up, it’s an only in Myeondong kind of thing, I guess. Sam was even able to take home this Lee Min Ho poster from Innisfree.
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After we were done with our shopping, Sam went back to the guesthouse to pack her bags and go to the airport while I headed to Gwanghwamun Square to continue my Seoul adventures. I still have the night and two more days left to enjoy in this awesome city, fighting!

Before going for the Seoul City Night Tour which starts at 7:30 PM, I had a chance to look around Gwanghwamun Square. It is located at the center of Sejong-ro which connects Gwanghwamun Gate and Cheonggye Plaza. It is historical significant as it was the location of royal administrative buildings, known as Yukjo Geori (Street of Six Ministries). Now, it is transformed into a pedestrian-friendly space that harmonizes with the beautiful scenery of Gyeongbokgung Palace and Bukaksan Mountain. And functions as a connecting walking path between the said palace and Cheonggyecheon Stream. Statues of Admiral Yi Sun-Shin and King Sejong the Great, who are great and influential people in Korean history, are situated at the square.

There are multiple of ways to get here via subway, you can take Seoul Subway Line 1 or 2 to City Hall Station and get out from Exit 3, or take Seoul Subway Line 3 to Gyeongbokgung Station and get out from Exit 6 or 7, and lastly, you can take Seoul Subway Line 5 to Gwanghwamun Station and get out from Exit 1, 2 or 8.
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Statue of Admiral Yi Sunshin, a naval commander noted for his victories against the Japanese navy during the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592-1598) and a hero among Koreans. An additional feature in front of his statue is a water fountain with water jets that shots up to about 18 feet in height, which was made in honor of his achievements. It is named the 12.23 Fountain, which commemorates the 23 battles he fought with 12 warships when he led Koreans to victory during the Japanese invasions. Unfortunately, the fountain was off the time that I was there.
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At the square’s center stands a 6.2 meter high and 20 ton bronze statue of King Sejong the Great, the fourth and most respected king of the Joseon Dynasty and creator of Hangul (Korean alphabet). The main inventions from King Sejong’s reign are on display as well, including the Hangul alphabet and scientific instruments such as a sundial, rain gauge and celestial globe.
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Seoul City Night Tour lets you enjoy the beautifully lit scenery of the Han River at night. There are two courses, both of which are non-stop. First is a single-deck bus  (5,000 KRW) and double-decker bus (10,000 KRW). The main difference on the route of these buses is that the single-deck bus will have a 10 minutes stop near N Seoul Tower where you can see the view of the city and of N Seoul Tower and take photos. While the double-deck bus offers a more thorough tour of the river at night and passes by Banpo Bridge, known for its Moonlight Rainbow Fountain which is the world’s longest bridge fountain.

You may purchase the ticket at the ticket booth at Gwanghwamun, next to Koreana Hotel (Seoul Subway Line 5, Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 6). Both buses departs from here at 7:30 PM. The buses do not run on Mondays.

The buses are equipped with multilingual audio guide installed on each seat (available in English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese) so you may learn about the attractions while getting there. A foreign language interpreter (English, Japanese, Chinese) is also present on the bus to answer any questions you may have. And they also give you a pamphlet detailing Seoul City Bus Tours and destinations.

I took the single-deck bus which takes visitors to the bridges of the Hangang River and N Seoul Tower. The tour takes about 1.5 hours. The bus makes its stop at Cheonggye Plaza in Jongno, right in the heart of Seoul. Single-deck Bus Course: Gwanghwamun → Yeouido and Hangang River Bridges → N Seoul Tower → Namdaemun Market → Cheonggye Plaza. It was hard to take photos while the bus was moving, good thing I was still able to get some decent shots. Here are some:

Yeouido (Yeoui Island) is a large island in the Han River in Seoul and it’s the city’s main business and investment banking district.
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Wonhyo and Hangang Bridge. Wonhyo Bridge crosses the Han River and connects the districts of Yongsan and Yeongdeungpo. While Hangang Bridge connects Yongsan and Dongjak districts.
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Banpo and Seongsu Bridge. Banpo Bridge is a major bridge in downtown Seoul, over the Han River it connects the Seocho and Yongsan districts. The bridge is on top of Jamsu Bridge, forming the upper half of a double-deck bridge; it is the first double deck bridge built in South Korea. The bridge is also known for its Moonlight Rainbow Fountain which is the world’s longest bridge fountain that set a Guinness World Record with nearly 10,000 LED nozzles that run along both sides that is 1,140 meters long, shooting out 190 tons of water per minute. It is eco-friendly as the water is pumped directly from the river itself and continuously recycled. On the other hand, Seongsu Bridge links the Seongdong and Gangnam districts. It’s a cantilever bridge that became infamous when it collapsed on October 1994. Afterwards, the bridge was completely redesigned and rebuilt. The new design was finished on August 1997, and is similar to the original design.
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Dongho Bridge is also a cantilever bridge over the Han River that connects from Seongdong and Gangnam districts. Aside from carrying road traffic, Seoul Subway Station Line 3 lies at the center of the bridge under its cantilever truss.
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Seoul City Skyline and N Seoul Tower.
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10 minutes stop somewhere at Mt. Namsan with a great view of Seoul and N Seoul Tower.
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The bus also had a brief stop at Namdaemun Market but since I don’t have anything in mind to by and the weather was so cold, I didn’t bother to have a look anymore. The last stop and drop-off point was Cheonggye Plaza and since it was chilly, I didn’t get to look around anymore and decided to call it a night and head back to the guesthouse.

That’s it for our 8th day in The Land of the Morning Calm. I still have two days left which I will be spending all by myself. Lets see where this itchy feet and wanderlust-filled heart of mine had brought me in the succeeding posts.


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