Seoul on a budget: 8 Hour Tour

A reader sent me an itinerary for an 8-hour tour of Seoul. The cost is more than 10,000 pesos for 3 persons. The places included are:

BLUE HOUSE – where Korean President resides
GYEONGBOK PALACE – main palace of Joseon Dynasty
NATIONAL FOLK MUSEUM – ancient culture of rural Korea
JOGAESA TEMPLE – Korean Buddhism
AMETHYST SHOP – shopping

If you were a tourist in Korea, can you do this on your own? Sure. You’ll need a really good pair of walking shoes, comfy clothes and a bottle of water!
The Blue House or Cheongwadae is where the President resides and holds office. To get inside the Blue House, you’ll need to make a reservation online or by e-mail at least 2 weeks in advance. To read more and apply for the tour, visit the Cheongwadae Tours page.
To take this tour, you’ll need to go to Gyeongbok Palace’s east parking lot. There, a bus will take you to the Blue House. To get to Gyeongbok Palace, take subway line 3 (orange) and get off at Gyeongbok Palace Station or Angguk Station.
Cost: Free
Gyeongbokgung (gung is the Korean word for palace) is one of the five palaces in Seoul. The others are Changdokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung and Gyeonghuigung. The Blue House bus will drop you off at this place after the tour. You can find more information about this Royal Palace on their official site. Free guided tours in English are conducted at 11 AM, 1 PM and 3PM. The tour takes about an hour.
Cost: 3,000 won entrance fee
The pond in Gyeongbokgung in the fall.
National Folk Museum is located at the eastern part of Gyeongbokgung. You’ll find historical artifacts of how ordinary Koreans lived in the past. Honestly, I’ve never been inside this museum.
Cost: Free
Map of Gyeongbokgung and Jogyesa
Jogyesa Temple is one of the few Buddhist temples in Seoul. This is located about 800 meters from Gyeongbok Palace’s main gate. You can take the taxi for 1,900 won or just walk if you still can 🙂 Here’s the website of Jogyesa to learn more about the place.
Cost: Free
Amethyst Shop – I’ve never been to this shop but I see it whenever we drive around the area.
Jogyesa, Changdeokgung and Jongmyo
Changdeokgung is a Unesco World Heritage site. The Secret Garden is located inside Changdeokgung. Tours to this palace is scheduled, except on Thursdays when guests can freely roam around the palace for 5x the price of the usual entrance fee. I’ve been here more than five times. I just love this place especially in the fall when leaves turn crimson. Guided tours in English are scheduled at 1130, 130 and 330. It takes about one-and-a-half hours to complete. Be prepared for the long walk!
Cost: 3,000 won admission fee
Changeokgung’s famous pond in the summer.
Jongmyo Royal Shrine is where the royal ancestral tablets are kept. A royal ancestral rite is held here every year in May. This place is populated by old people everyday, but I still like this place because of the “forest” near the bridge to Changgyeonggung. From Changdeokgung, you can take the taxi for a minimum fare or you can walk!
Cost: 1,000 won
Jongmyo Shrine on one rainy spring day.
Namdaemun Market is the best place to go to buy souvenirs from Korean household stuff to Korean Wave items. You can get anything here from ginseng to the Bae Yong Joon socks! You can take a taxi, bus or subway from Jongmyo to this market.
Total entrance fees paid for this tour: 7,000 won (about 350 pesos?)
Transportation costs:
– subway to the Blue House – 1,000 won per person
– taxi from Gyeongbokgung to Jogyesa – 1,900 won per cab (max: 4 persons in a car)
– taxi from Jogyesa to Changdeokgung – 1,900 won per cab
– taxi from Changdeokgung to Jongmyo – 1,900 won per cab
– taxi from Jongmyo to Namdaemun – approximately 3,000 won
– max transportation cost – 9,700 won (about 500 pesos?)


  1. This is great ate betchay. thanks! aside from these places, what other goodplaces do you recommend for sightseeing, shopping or partying?

  2. thanks for the idea. any other places nice to visit? i’ll be staying for 1 week and i need to maximize my stay there. what is the weather like on October?

  3. Hi! May I also recommend the Seoul City Tour bus. I experienced this when my tita visited last may. They have a day pass of 10,000 won and it takes you to almost all the tourist destinations within Seoul. They have 3 different courses Palace tour, City tour or Day tour. you can get off anywhere within the route and just hop on the next bus to the next location. but honestly, kulang ang isang araw if you really want explore every stop!
    their site-
    .-= april´s last blog ..Anthem of the Mixed =-.

  4. I think the Seoul City Tour bus is included with the Seoul City Pass. I intend to buy the 3 day pass (35,000 won) but the website is not telling me where I’m supposed to buy them. Am I buying it before going to Korea or I can just buy it when I get to Incheon?
    I know that the KR Pass (10 day pass) I have to get it before going to Korea and that I can exchange it for the ticket when I get to Korea. I can also buy it online but the Seoul City Pass is the one that I’m having difficulty with. Any help would be greatly appreciated 🙂

  5. thanks for this. im an avid reader of your blog, since i started working here in seoul two months ago. the post is very helpful, specially my family will be visiting korea this coming september. 🙂
    .-= cantilangnon´s last blog ..Mingaw =-.

  6. I enjoyed reading this post and had a virtual tour of the places mentioned here (websites are good). I’m starting na kase to do my itinerary even if October pa ang travel ko and wala pa ako visa (still too early to apply – am i too excited? I am just really hoping na I will be given a tourist visa. Thank you Ms. Betchay and i wish there are more to come.

  7. hi ms betchay, sayang hindi ko alam na may ganito..I hope to meet you when I get back to KOrea. I still got a lot of things to explore about SK. South Korea inspired me alot to be a better citizen, I just wish more Pinoys especially the young ones be more nationalistic.
    I just wish I’ll get a job there, i can do offfice works too.
    To adreuan: excited ka nga, hehe, i’m happy for you.Goodluck for your visa.=)

  8. Thanks for this information. Actually, we’re going to Seoul this last week of August and we will be staying at Yim’s House. We’re only staying from August 28 to 31 August. Yung free time lang namin to make ikot (na complete day) is 29 (Sat) and 30 (Sunday). If we are going to follow this tour, would it better on what day, Sat or Sun?

  9. hi betchay,
    we will be arriving in the 24th of sept. its my 3rd time in seoul, but first time that we dont have a guide, what limousine bus are we going to take to reach our hotel lees in jongno-gu. thnks.

  10. Thanks for the information! Your site is very helpful.
    I still haven’t completed my itinerary for my short trip to South Korea. Since I only have 4 days to explore it, Which Palace would you recommend most, I want to watch changing of the guard, try a hanbok, and see autumn foliage. Gyeongbokgung or Changdeokgung?
    .-= haydom´s last blog .."They Call It Autumn-Winter" =-.

  11. Hi Ms. Betchay! Thanks for the very useful information that you are providing on this blog. It helps a lot in our preparations and our confidence in taking that trip to Seoul on March.
    As my friends and I will be going to Seoul on the first week of March, we’re wondering on what kind of clothes we should bring. Should we be wearing winter coats and boots? I would greatly appreciate your advice on this. 🙂

  12. 1.5 days to go around Seoul, enough na ba? Necessary ba ang translator if u go there? I finally convinced my sis and mom to do 2 days stop over sa korea pag uwi ng pinas this May. I love watching korean soap’s hehe. I actually have d book “tour Korea”, so may nakita na akong places sa seoul na gusto kong puntahan. Question ko lang kung mahirap bang mag bus? or train? how far ba ang incheon to seoul? where is d best or okay na place to stay for a night?

  13. you are a super! galing! thanks for posting this napakalaking tulong…btw, ill be there by mar 2…hope to see you..naks!

  14. hi, Ms Betchay!!! my 3 friends & I are Gong Yoo fanatics & have booked our Seoul visit to coincide w/ his birthday on July 10th. We’ll be in Seoul for 2weeks ,from July 2-16,2010. we plan to backpack around Seoul & have been preparing our itinerary mostly from info we get fr. your blog & travel guide to Korea book.
    We’d be so thrilled to go on a fan meet of Gong Yoo or at least watch 1 of his shoots man lang!! We’ve tried getting in touch w/ his NOA talent Agency in case he has a fan meet on his birthday,but to no avail!!! Ms Betchay,are there broadcast station tours available, that you know of?
    We don’t have a guide nor know anybody fr. Seoul…hope we can meet you & other Filipinas when we go there!!!
    Kamsamnida for your great blog…i read it everyday!!!

  15. Hi Betchay,
    My return flight form Mnl to Seattle have about 13 hours layover in Seoul. Considering that number of hours, I’m curious if you can recommend a tour I can take to go around the city. I hope they have an 8 hours tour that I can take while waiting for my flight. Salamat in advance!

  16. Hi Betchay!
    I’ll be going to Korea this November and your blog has been very helpful in preparing my itineray. Just a question, you said that the 8 hour tour around Seoul costs 10,000 pesos. But when I computed the figures, it was just 16700KRW or roughly 700 pesos on current exchange rates for the entire tour. Can you clarify? Thanks!!!

  17. Hello ate:
    My husband and I are going to seoul my march 15-20. Would it be cold still? what will we pack? di naman ung mga bubblues na coat? would there still be skiing?

    1. Hi Mae! It would still be cold. I’m not sure how cold it would be though. Sometimes we would experience a 3-day cold spell even in early spring. The best thing is to check from time to time so you could gauge how cold it would be. Ski resorts are still open that time.

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