We bought the Seoul City Bus Tour – City & Palaces Course (single deck) with VisitKorea discount voucher :) There’s also Discover Seoul Pass card which functions like a Touch-n-Go (same like T-Money in KR) + discounts similar to VisitKorea vouchers.
Downtown/Palace Course (single-level bus)
Gwanghwamun Gate → Deoksugung Palace → Namdaemun Market → Seoul Station → The War Memorial of Korea → Yongsan Station → The National Museum of Korea → Itaewon → Myeong-dong → Namsangol Hanok Village → Ambassador Hotel → The Shilla Hotel, Jangchungdan Park → N Seoul Tower → Grand Hyatt Seoul → Dongdaemun Design Plaza → Daehangno Street (University Street) → Changgyeonggung Palace → Changdeokgung Palace → Insa-dong → Cheong Wa Dae (Blue House) → Gyeongbokgung Palace, National Folk Museum of Korea, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul → Sejong Center → Gwanghwamun Gate
Operating hours: Tuesday-Sunday 09:00-20:00 (Last departure from Gwanghwamun Bus Stop at 18:00)
Intervals / Duration of the tour: Weekdays every 30 min, weekends & national holidays every 25 min / Approx. 2 hours
Departure point: Gwanghwamun Gate, next to Koreana Hotel (Gwanghwamun Station, Seoul Subway Line 5, Exit 6)
– info from VisitKorea – City Tours
Our schedule for the day was quite packed so we had to decide:
- to finish the full cycle in bus tour. While on the tour, see if we would like to walk the area. After we finish 1 cycle, take 2nd round and then stop at the places we want on the 2nd round OR
- select places to stop on the 1st cycle.
It would take 2hrs for 1 round. So we decided to go for #1 option, which was safer because the last bus ride’s driver ended his shift and told another customer who wanted to go to 1st stop (we were at last stop) “NO MORE”. So perhaps we could only ride one round instead hop-on/off as we like – do confirm with the tour bus company if you plan as such.
The ticket can be purchased at Exit 6 of Gwanghwamun Station (Seoul Subway Line 5). When we went on a Saturday, there was exhibition about the countries and agreement to help Korea from Korean War. Not sure if it’s permanent display.
Being so gungho in buying the bus tour, we didn’t go to Gwanghwamun’s palace and surrounding area! We didn’t even realise this till next day LOL.
The first palace was Deoksugung (also known as Gyeongun-gung). It’s less than 3min drive from Gwanghamun! Nearest train station to Deoksugung is City Hall, if you want to go to this palace without taking tour bus.
Being the 1st palace we went to, we ooo wah, nice deco, nice paint, went to find cherry blossom (!) and finished the 1st place in 45min with dilly dally. We could have finished it within 30min if not for too-much-selfie-wefie-ahem (not me ahem) and taking pic of almost every tree (me).
There’s Guard changing ceremony – check the timing in Deoksugung’s website.
As we visited more palaces, we realized most of the colours and designs are similar.
I didn’t go to every souvenir/cafe shop in all of the palaces that we went to. I guess they sell stuff like magnets, cards, snacks, handicrafts, tea and coffee. You see the SMART CLEANER?!
Don’t remember which palace this is from but he is very funny and cute. All the gigi (teeth):
There’s also Integrated Ticket of Palaces at 10K Won which you can use within a month for these palaces:
Gyeongbokgung (3,000 won)
Deoksugung (1,000 won)
Changdeokgung (3,000 won) including Huwon Secret Garden (5,000 won)
Changgyeonggung (1,000 won)
Jongmyo Shrine (1,000 won)
If you visit all the site listed above individually, it would cost you 14,000 won. Purchasing the pass will save you 4,000 won. Info from Integrated Ticket of Palaces.
The headphones provided in the bus tour that we took only listed the stop name and the sound was too unclear to make any sense so I didn’t listen to it. Bus driver or a recording would announce each stop. If your ticket is lost, you’ll have to buy new ticket. Keep your ticket so that you can hop in. The ones we took were quite punctual, give or take 5min delay in some stops due to more customers or traffic.