While Seoul has been hailed as a modern city with much high tech advancements in recent years, it should not be forgotten that Seoul too is a country steeped in rich history and tradition. If one has the free time or desire to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, you would do well to spend some time roaming the grounds at Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Gyeongbokgung Palace is opened to the public every day except for Tuesdays. As there are free English guided tours that start at 13.30 hours, it would be strongly recommended to first have lunch at a nearby famous ginseng chicken soup restaurant called Tosokchon. Tosokchon and Gyeongbokgung Palace are located in close proximity to each other and within walking distance from the nearest subway station. To get to either of these two places, you can simply take the local train and alight at the aptly named Gyeongbokgung station.
To get to Tosokchon, get out from the station at Exit 2 and turn left at Jahamun-ro 5-gil road. As it is a famous tourist spot, there are bound to be queues so it is advisable to factor in a half hour waiting time. (A/N: While queuing you can occasionally leech onto a very weak but free wifi signal called iptime. It's not enough to surf the net, but enough to send out a few text messages which will help lessen the boredom of queueing. Of course there's always the time honored tradition of talking to your companions to ease the pain of waiting.)
Once in, you be directed to your tables. As it is a traditional Korean restaurant, this means you be sitting on the floor to dine and have to take off your shoes before stepping into the room. Wearing shoes that are easily removed would definitely be more hassle free. While they serve a lot of dishes, their signature dish is the samgyetang, also known as gingseng chicken soup. Going for 15,000 won, it is believed by Koreans to be best eaten in summer as the dish replaces nutrients lost by excess perspiration. After your meal, just ask for the bill and make your payment at the front.
Getting to Gyeongbokgung palace follows the same principle, take the subway exit from exit 5. Tickets can be purchased from their counter office on the spot. For ages between 19 and 64, it costs 3000 won per ticket. Children below 6 and adults above 65 get free entry. Youth tickets from 7 to 18 years cost 1,500 won each. The free English guided tour starts in front of the information centre and is expected to last from an hour to an hour and a half.
The tour should end nicely before 1500 hours which is the Royal Guard changing ceremony at 1500 hours. As the ceremony is only 20 minutes long, you would have more then enough time to walk over to the Gwanghwamun Gate to witness another performance at 1600 hours. At the end of it all, you may choose to further explore the grounds or leave to go somewhere else.
I visited this Palace a couple of years ago, and was there for a special event - something special to see as it had not been done for a long time. It is an amazing place and I highly recommend going there. So many wonderful places to visit in South Korea.