Start your palaces and markets tour of Seoul with hotel pickup by coach. Listen to your guide’s interesting commentary as you drive past the stately Blue House — the executive office and official residence of the South Korean head of state and the President of the Republic of Korea.
Your first stop is Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest of the Five Grand Palaces and the first royal palace, built in 1395 by the Joseon Dynasty. Admire the original or restored gates, pavilions and royal halls as you meander the grounds on a guided tour. At the on-site National Folklore Museum, browse extensive artifacts and learn about Korean life from ancient times to the 20th century via exhibitions and illustrative replicas.
Re-board the coach for Jogyesa Buddhist Temple, the chief temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Gaze at the statue of an enlightened Buddha inside its main hall, which dates back five centuries.
After seeing the famous Buddhist temple, you will stop by a Ginseng Center around midday before sitting down for a Korean lunch at a local restaurant before driving to the World Heritage–listed Changdeokgung Palace. Explore the beautifully preserved grand pavilions, massive gate and several halls. Walk around the landscaped grounds featuring Geumcheongyo Bridge along with lotus ponds, lawns, trees and flowers at the Huwon (Rear Garden).
After you’ve been steeped in Korean heritage, you’l head to two famous markets in Seoul: Insadong and Namdaemun Market. Stroll the craft galleries and quaint teahouses along the Antique Alley of Insadong before finishing up at the Duty Free Shops then Namdaemun — Korea’s largest traditional market. Browse a multitude of goods for bargains and search for the perfect souvenir to take home.
Your full-day tour concludes with drop-off at your hotel in Seoul.
Please note: Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed on Tuesdays, in which case you’ll visit Deoksugung Palace; this walled palace compound is home to the Seoul Museum of History, which you’ll also tour with your guide. Changdeokgung Palace is closed on Mondays, in which case you’ll visit Changgyeonggung Palace — another one of the Five Grand Palaces of the Joseon Dynasty, featuring incredible ancient structures.