Half-Day Seoul Sightseeing Tour:
Start your full-day tour of Seoul with pickup from your hotel in the morning. You’re driven by comfortable, air-conditioned coach to the first sightseeing stop at Jogyesa Temple, considered the center of Zen Buddhism in Korea.
From the busy streets of Jongno, the first things you’ll notice at Jogyesa Temple are the lovely locust and baeksong trees standing in front of the Daeungjeon, the 500-year-old main temple building. As you tour the site with your guide, learn about the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism and its religious traditions since the Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1910).
Back in your vehicle, make a photo stop in front of Cheongwadae Sarangchae. Known as the Blue House, the governmental center houses the executive offices of the South Korean head of state and the president of the Republic of Korea.
Continue to Gyeongbokgung Palace, commonly referred to as the Northern Palace. Built in 1395, beautiful Gyeongbokgung was the primary residence of the royal family during the Joseon Dynasty and arguably remains the most magnificent of the Five Grand Palaces.
Although the premises were destroyed by fire in the Imjinwaeran War during the Japanese Invasion of 1592 – 1598, all of the palace's 7,700 rooms were later restored during the reign of King Gojong in the late 19th century. Remarkably, Gyeonghoe-ru Pavilion and Hyangwonjeong Pond — the most representative edifices of the Joseon Dynasty — are still relatively intact.
With your guide, explore the palace’s traditional architectural elements and art, including the sculptures of Geunjeongjeon (The Royal Audience Chamber). Visit the National Palace Museum of Korea, located south of Heungnyemun Gate, and gain insight into Korean customs from ancient times to present day at the National Folk Museum inside the compound.
Before leaving Gyeongbokgung, watch a reenactment of the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, and discover how the royal guards of the Joseon Dynasty were in charge of protecting the gates of the capital city and the royal palace.
(Note: Visit Deoksu Palace on Tuesdays when Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed.)
Following a stop at a ginseng outlet, enjoy a Korean lunch at a local restaurant.
Hanbok-Wearing and Kimchi-Making:
After lunch, the second portion of your tour begins when you arrive at a cultural center where you get to wear traditional clothing, learn folk games and make kimchi.
First, try on hanbok, an outfit commonly worn during festivals and celebrations. A traditional woman’s ensemble usually includes a jacket with a full, wraparound skirt, while a man’s hanbok consists of a blouse and pants.
After practicing formal greeting etiquette, learn to play traditional board games like yut nori, played with wooden yut sticks used like dice.
Kimchi, served with rice or noodles at every meal, is used in everything from soups to pancakes. During your 30-minute kimchi-making lesson with a local instructor, learn to prepare and season this cabbage dish. Afterward, you can keep what you’ve made.
Finally, hop back aboard your coach and head to a short stop at an amethyst factory before returning to your hotel.