And Then She Went to Seoul

Hyangwonjeong Pavilion in Gyeongbokgung, Seoul, South Korea

I went to Seoul for the first time this past Saturday. It was bitterly cold, but I enjoyed the city so much that I just had to return on Sunday. My first stop was Gyeongbokgung, of course. The Palace of Shining Happiness left me dreaming of centuries past and looking to the future; with apricot trees and cherry blossoms, these grounds can be nothing short of beautiful in the spring time – and that’s just a few weeks away!

I spent close to three hours simply strolling the complex and admiring the architecture and intricate paintwork – and Gyeongbokgung is only one of five grand palaces! That’s reason enough to keep me coming back.

Black and white photo of Gyeongbokgung, Seoul

Seeing other foreigners in the city was also a welcomed treat. Yes, I’m here to embrace Korean culture and get to know the locals (and I assure you, I am), but it was also nice to bump into other English speakers who were just as disoriented and eager to explore Seoul as I was. Whether I stopped for a brief chat or simply smiled their way, it was good to exchange pleasantries.

And when I wasn’t covering all the touristy spots, I was wandering down back alleys because they are just as fascinating.

So there you have it: my first weekend in Seoul. I will certainly be back for another visit soon.

Any recommendations for places I should check out in the city?


  • Tee says:

    Visit Samcheongdong when you get a chance- it’s a nice blend between old and new, and there’s a lot of cute cafes in the area.

  • Ashley says:

    i thought we talked about back alleys? hm?

    I like it. I would looooove to see cherry blossoms in the spring. Maybe I’ll plant one, they’re so pretty!!

  • Zhu says:

    Minus the writing, it looks like Northern China!

    But Gyeongbokgung… how on earth do you pronounce that?! 😆 Are you learning some Korean by the way?

    • thatbackpacker says:

      I know what you mean! When I first read some of these names I couldn’t pronounce them 😀 but it’s all starting to make a bit more sense now. I’m teaching myself to read Hangul, and I’m trying to pick up enough Korean to get by.

  • Fidel says:

    I’ve been out to sea and thus behind on my reading. I had no idea you were in S. Korea until today. I am also here for another week. How much longer will you be in Seoul and where to next?

    • thatbackpacker says:

      Hey, I just moved here a few weeks ago! It’s been really good. I took a teaching job so I’m going to be here for a while.

      • Fidel says:

        That answers the questions I tweeted. Do you plan on coming over to Japan while you’re in this area?
        I’ll be in Busan next weekend, back to Korea in August.

        • thatbackpacker says:

          You know, I thought about checking out Tokyo on my way here but the prices kind of scared me off, so I went with the short layover. I do still have my eye on it but it may require some more saving… Let me know how Busan goes, I’m planning on heading there at some point in the summer.

  • Gaby says:

    I love this! I love that you did your pics in this post in black and white…each shot is like a painting! Truly beautiful 🙂

  • Claire says:

    Great photos and I agree with Gaby in loving the black and white theme of your pictures. I really like the back alley one. I hope to see Seoul for myself someday soon!

  • zurisullivan says:

    beautiful photos! I have a 5 hour layover in Seoul this summer but I’m afraid exploring won’t happen in that timespan. Also, I love your blog!

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