We had one day to tour the city on our own, without our guide, and we had grand plans! We got around on public transport and visited the Blue House (Cheong Wa Dae), and went to see the historical palaces in Seoul. So much history of Seoul awaited us.
cheong wa dae (Blue house)
Well the Blue House, also known as the Cheong Wa Dae (青瓦台), is like the White House in America. It was so cool to be able to visit! We were brought around for the tour by the staff and also followed by two policemen. Security was pretty tight: We had to have our bags and cameras checked, and also surrendered our passports to the police officers who were following us for the tour.
The whole tour was done in Korean though so foreigners who don’t speak Korean were given an audio guide that played in English and Chinese. It was really uncomfortable underneath my hat haha but really helpful. We walk through the whole place, and only the top two locations were photo spots. The first building is the official Blue House, and the second is the official guest house where the important people will be when they visit.
how to visit:
You have to apply to visit the Cheong Wa Dae I think a few weeks prior to the tour date. It takes a while because they have to scan your passports again and again for security clearance. Foreigners can sign up via the website!
We were able to walk down to the other palace, Gyeongbokgung, where the famous Gwanghwamun is situated. It was very big and majestic. Unfortunately it was already closing, so we couldn’t get admission to walk around inside 🙁 I would have really wanted to take a look inside the largest palace in Korea. There were also palace guards outside which many people took pictures of/with.
The Gwanghwamun Square is the massive space in front of the Gyeongbokgung, surrounded by all the office buildings at the side and running traffic on both sides. There was a statue of King Sejong as well. He is remembered as the inventor of the Korean alphabet. He was probably celebrated for a lot of other things, but the descriptions were all in Korean and I can’t read it…lol.
Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House)
1, Cheongwadae-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Duration of tour: 90 min
Admission fees: Free
161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Sejongno)
Opening hours: 0900 – 1700 (Closed on Tuesdays)
Admission fees: 3,000 won (Adults), 1,500 won (Aged 7-18)