How to spend five days in Seoul - a recommended itinerary

South Korea has long been under the radar of Filipino travelers since the emergence of the Korean dramas in the country. Well, it’s totally not a surprise since Korea is charming, contemporary, hip and, not to mention, the food is oh-so-good! 

Seoul, the trendy but still historic capital of South Korea, is the epicenter of it all. A five-day trip to Seoul is probably not enough given the many things to see and do in this city but would still be a good amount of time to scratch the very surface of Korean life. Here's a recommended 5-day itinerary to the Land of Morning Calm.

Day 1

Start your Seoul sojourn at the historic Gyeongbokgung Palace. Truly a national treasure having been built in the 1300s, the palace is considered as the most impressive display of Korean heritage and architecture. Allow a good two hours to explore the palace grounds and take tons of photos as needed.

  • Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM, closed on Tuesdays

  • Location: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

  • Tickets: KRW3,000 for adults, KRW1,500 for children aged 7-18 years old

  • Nearest subway station: Gyeongbokgung Station

Continue the trip back in time to the Bukchon Hanok Village and walk along streets lined with well-preserved traditional Korean houses. You may also chance upon shops that rent out Korean costumes for a more Instagrammable experience. The neighborhood is packed with quaint restaurants and cafés, as well, where you may take lunch.

  • Operating hours: Open all-day

  • Location: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

  • Nearest subway station: Anguk Station

Hit Myeong-dong for your first wave of Korean shopping. One can easily spend the entire afternoon hopping from one shop to another, from one shopping mall to another. This is where you’ll find designer brands and major department stores. It’s easy to break the bank in this area, but relax, it’s only the first day!

  • Operating hours: Store hours may vary

  • Location: Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

  • Nearest subway station: Myeong-dong Station

At night, catch the popular Korean show, Nanta at the Myeong-dong Nanta Theater. It is a nonverbal comedy cooking show that’s regarded as the longest-running show in Korean history.

  • Show hours: 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 8:00 PM for the Myeong-dong Theater

  • Location: Myeng-dong Nanta Theater, Unesco Building 3F, 50-14, Myeong Dong 2 Ga, Jung Gu, Seoul

  • Tickets: From KRW40,000-70,000

  • Nearest subway station: Myeong-dong Station

Day 2

Hop on a ferry and head to Nami Island, a half moon-shaped forest-island near Seoul. Open all year round, the island is known to be the scenic location spots of some of the most popular Korean dramas. The easiest way to explore the island is to rent a bicycle. Any season you visit, the island will not disappoint from the lush colors of spring to the dreamy foliage of autumn. Enjoy the entire morning at Nami and have lunch at one of the restaurants at the parking lot in front of the ticketing office.

  • Operating hours: Open all-day but ferry rides operate from 7:30 AM to 9:40 PM

  • Location: 1, Namisum-gil, Namsan-myeon, Chuncheon-si, Gangwon-do

  • Tickets: KRW8,000 for foreign passport holders

  • Nearest subway station: Gapyeong Station, then take shuttle bus to the parking lot near the ticketing office

Just a bus ride from Nami, the Petite France is a French village-like attraction inspired by the classic novel ‘Le Petite Prince’. This well-crafted park is frequented by tourists and locals, alike, for the colorful architecture and cool breeze. Spend the afternoon with a cup of coffee at one of its cafés, after touring the place and taking memorable photos.

  • Operating hours: Opens at 9:00 AM and closes 6:00 PM (Sun-Thu) or 8:00 PM (Fri-Sat)

  • Location: 1063, Hoban-ro, Cheongpyeong-myeon, Gapyeong-gun, Gyeonggi-do

  • Tickets: KRW8,000 for adults, KRW5,000-6,000 for children and senior citizens

  • Nearest subway station: Gapyeong Station, then take shuttle bus

At night, you may have a good Korean barbeque for dinner paired with a bucket of cold Soju, no less.

Day 3

Get your cameras ready for an hour or two at the Trick Eye Museum. This interactive gallery is filled with illusion paintings appearing to be in 3D. Your acting chops and creativity will certainly be tested with the ton of artworks to interact with. I'm warning you, this could be very tiring.

  • Operating hours: 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM

  • Location: 20, Hongik-ro 3-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

  • Tickets: KRW15,000 for adults, KRW12,000 for children

  • Nearest subway station: Hongik University Station

Don’t leave Seoul without a traditional memento of the trip and you’ll surely find one at Insadong. You can take home traditional costumes, fancy Korean figurines, or intricate handicrafts. You might also chance upon some street performers along the way.

  • Operating hours: Store hours may vary

  • Location: 62, Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

  • Nearest subway station: Anguk Station

Work your way up the N Seoul Tower to get an excellent view of the Seoul cityscape. Ride the Namsan cable car to get to the foot of the tower. The lines could get very long so be there by mid-afternoon. The observatory will give you a panoramic view of Seoul from sunset until the city light ups at night. The N Plaza houses a number of food options for dinner.

  • Operating hours: Cable cars operate from 10:00 AM to 11:00 PM

  • Location: 105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul

  • Tickets: Tickets to observatory costs KRW10,000 for adults, KRW8,000 for children; N Plaza is free to see

  • Nearest subway station: Myeong-dong Station – a 15-minute walk will take you to the cable car boarding place

Day 4

Spend your fourth day in Seoul at Everland, South Korea’s largest theme park. Among its zones is ZooTopia where you can ride the safari bus for a tour to see lions, tigers, and other wild animals. If you are feeling more adventurous, give the T-Express a try. This is the steepest wooden roller coast in the world. Cap the night watching the Moonlight Parade and fireworks.

  • Operating hours: 10:00AM to 8:00PM

  • Location: 199, Everland-ro, Pogok-eup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do

  • Tickets: KRW54,000 for adults, KRW38,000 for teens, KRW35,000 for children

  • Nearest subway station: Jeondae-Everland Station

Day 5

Ewha Women’s University Shopping Street is your go-to place for affordable buys – clothes, shoes, accessories and, of course, Korean cosmetics. Undoubtedly, this is the place for the ladies, but while going through the small alleys, gents will also find something for them.

  • Operating hours: Store hours may vary

  • Location: 52, Ewhayeodae-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul

  • Nearest subway station: Ewha Woman’s University Station

Mainly known for its textile shops, the Gwangjang Market is also a must-visit to try various Korean street food – from spicy rice cakes and fish cakes to Korean pancakes. For a more sumptuous meal, there are also various restaurants offering authentic Korean cuisine – truly a perfect way to end your Seoul trip.

  • Operating hours: 8:30 AM to 11:00 PM

  • Location: 88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

  • Nearest subway station: Jongno 5-ga Station

As you head to the airport, you will realize that 5 days is just too short of a trip to Seoul and will certainly want to come back. Seoul is an eclectic and vibrant metropolis – a perfect juxtaposition of the old and the new.

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