We started the day early and went straight to Myeondong, Seoul’s shopping street. We didn’t come there to shop yet though. We went there to attend the English mass at Myeondeong Cathedral. It was a solemn experience and very different from how we celebrate the holy mass in the Philippines.
Right after the mass, we rode a bus to Jongmyo Shrine. Jongmyo is the place of worship and venue or royal memorial ceremonies during the Joseon dynasty. Today, ceremonies are only held once a year, the first Sunday of May.
Coincidentally, that’s also yesterday, the time we visited the shrine. Though we enjoyed free entrance, We didn’t get too see much, as some buildings were closed for the event. We watched the live feed of one ceremony on a screen but decided to move on to the neighboring palace.
Located beside Jongmyo Shrine is the Changdeokgung Palace. It’s the secondary palace after Gyeonbukgung. Personally, I think this palace is more beautiful, definitely a must see.
The Changdeokgung Palace compound is divided into two. The front part houses the throne, the king, queen, and crown prince’s residences, as well as the government offices. The back part is where the Secret Garden is.
The Secret Garden is a shared garden between the Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces. It’s said that it’s one of the most attractive places in Korea. They’ve preserved the ponds and pavilions built in this place during Joseon. Access to this place is different, you’ll have to buy a different ticket or have a royal pass which includes an access pass here.
I have to be honest. Visiting the Secret Garden is no walk in the park. I wasn’t expecting to have an impromptu trek. If you don’t like trekking, I recommend not to push through. It’s beautiful to see but tiring to experience.
Connected to the Changdeokgung Palace is the Changgyeonggung Palace. This place was originally built as a residence for three dowager queens. In later years, it also served as residences for concubines and princesses.
Changgyeonggung is the simplest palace I’ve seen. The layout is practical as convenience of the residents were considered when this was being built.
After visiting palaces, we went to K- Style Hub. This is a new place that only opened last year (by Song Joong Ki, no less). It’s a tourist center that lets you experience Korea in a nutshell. There’s a free hanbok experience and post card painting at scheduled times. There are also cooking classes (which are not free) that you can take to learn how to make Korean food.
I enjoyed the K-Star photo booth where you can virtually take studio pics with Psy, Big Bang, and 2NE1. I also liked the food exhibit where you can learn about korean food in general, harvesting, and food preserving practices. There’s also WiFi and resting areas in the hub where you can take a break from all the touring.
After roaming K- Style Hub, we went down the Cheonggyecheon Stream to see the lantern festival. I found out about this on the internet. We’re lucky to be able to book our visit on dates with a lot of festivals happening. We waited for about an hour to see the lanterns light up. It was cold but it was worth it.
Finally, our last stop of the day was Dongdaemun Design Plaza. This was a stop I forced my sister to go to, as I wanted to see the shooting place of She Was Pretty.
It’s a night attraction, since it’s best to see the building with lights. Within the vicinity is an outdoor exhibit of hundreds of LED roses. I enjoyed taking photos of this place. Would det come back with a better camera and lighting equipment. Haha
That’s it for day 2. Annyeong!