Jongno (종로) is in Seoul, and constitutes the northern half of the historic core of Seoul, along with Jung, the southern half. As the soul of Seoul (to coin a phrase), Jongno is home to a plethora of beautiful Joseon Dynasty palaces, shrines, temples, parks, historic neighborhoods, and other traditional sights. Jongno holds four out of the five Grand Palaces of Seoul: Gyeongbok-gung, Changdeok-gung,Changgyeong-gung, and Gyeonghui-gung. It also has Jongmyo Shrine, the headquarters of the Korean 'Seon' Buddhist Order Jogyesa Temple, the Bukchon Hanok village, Insadong antiques through-way, the Presidential Palace Cheongwadae, the National Folk Museum of Korea (formerly the National Museum of Korea), and Hyehwa, a district filled with small, independent theaters.
The main metro stations serving Jongno are Gyeongbukgong (line 3), Anguk (line 3), Jongno-3ga (line 1, 3, 5) and Gwanghwamun (line 5). From Jung, walk along Sejong-daero, a busy road that passes Gwanghwamun Plaza. The plaza itself has statues and monuments honoring Sejong the Great and Admiral Yi Sun-sin of the Joseon dynasty.
- Tapgol ("Pagoda") Park (탑골공원), 99, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu. A small park frequented by the elderly and the footsore traveler, just to the east of Jongmyo Shrine. Contains 500 year old namesake pagoda under protective glass, and a nice large gazebo to get out of the sun. This is where the Korean constitution was first read aloud by the public during the 20th century. Acts as a navigation landmark when moving between Myeong-dong, Jong-no and Insa-dong neighborhoods.
An Integrated Ticket of Palaces that covers the five Great Palaces of Seoul and Jongmyo Shrine costs ₩10,000 and lasts for a month from the time of first entry.
- Gyeongbokgung (경복궁, 景福宮), 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu (Gyeongbokgung or Gwanghwamun stn), ☎ +82 2-3700-3900. 09:00-18:00 (19:00 on holidays), closed Tuesdays. This is Seoul's grandest Joseon Dynasty-era palace and the seat of power for centuries before it was razed in 1592 by a Japanese invasion (and again by the Japanese in 1910). This was the first palace used by the Joseon Dynasty. Large parts have now been restored and the vast grounds also house the Joseon Palace Museum and the Korean Folk Museum. There's a small corner where you get the chance to try on traditional Korean dress for free after registering. Changing of the royal guard at Gwanghwamun (광화문, 光化門), the elegantly restored main gate to the palace, occurs three times a day at 10:00, 13:00 and 15:00, as reenactors march with weapons to the tune of drumbeats. ₩3,000.
- Changdeokgung (창덕궁, 昌德宮), 99 Yulgong-ro, Jongno-gu (Metro Line 3, Anguk station 5 min walk or Line 1, 3, 5 Jongno-3ga Station). 09:00-17:00, closed Mondays. Second only to Gyeongbok-gung in historical importance, it was built in 1405 and was the seat of power between 1618 and 1896. The buildings have been restored to create a dazzling but still elegant effect that got the palace listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Buildings of particular note include the blue-roofed Seonjeongjeon, which was the King's office, and the Daejojeon ("Great Making Hall"), his bedchamber, but perhaps most famous of all is the Huwon ("Secret Garden") in the back. Access to the garden is by guided tour only except on Thursdays when only self-guided tours are available in summer from April to August. English tours are only offered at 10:30 and 14:30, and last around 60 minutes with a walking distance of about 2.5 km, including some steps and inclines for the Huwon portion (the grounds are wheelchair-accessible for most parts but may have to enter certain areas in a reverse direction from the group). Mainline bus (blue): 109, 151, 162, 171, 172, 272. Branch line (green): no.7025. ₩3,000.
- Changgyeonggung (창경궁, 昌慶宮) (Subway line 4, Hyehwa Station 10 minute walk or 20 min walk from Changdeok-gung). M-Sa 09:00-17:30. Originally built in 1104 as a summer palace for the Kings of the Koryo Dynasty, it became one of the main palaces during the Joseon Dynasty. The palace was used as a temporary home for the King during the time Gyeongbuk Palace was being built. Unlike other palaces that has a North-South orientation, Changgyeong Palace faces East-West. Also, what is famous about this palace is the fact it connects to Jongmyo Shrine, a holy place for the Joseon Dynasty, where sacrificial rites are practiced for previous kings and queens. ₩1,000.
- Unhyeongung (운현궁, 雲峴宮) (Subway line 3, Anguk Station 5 minute walk), ☎ +82 2-766-9090. A museum in the former palace of a Joseon Dynasty archduke Heungseon, who was father of second last king of the Joseon, it has several mannequins depicting the costumes of the yangban or noble class during the Joseon Dynasty. The palace buildings themselves represent the style of Joseonian noble class' mansion well. Free.
Shrines and Temples
- Jongmyo Shrine (종묘, 宗廟), 157, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, ☎ +82 2-765-0195. Closed Tuesdays. Certainly the most famous shrine devoted to the royal family members of Korean dynasties. The grounds are a bit more walker-friendly than some of the palaces, admission is cheaper and they also have some interactive equipment available to learn about the rituals and ceremonies used to treat deceased royal family members. The Jongmyo Shrine is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. ₩1,000.
- Jogyesa Temple (조계사, 曹溪寺), 45, Gyeonji-dong, Jongno-gu, ☎ +82 2-768-8600. The chief temple of the Jogye order of Buddhism, the dominant branch of Buddhism in Korea. As such, it is one of the most important modern Buddhist temples in the country. That being said, Jogyesa Temple is rather small, and if time permits, Bongeun Temple in Gangnam is a larger and more interesting Buddhist temple.
Seoul has four historic city gates, three of which can be found in Jongno and the other, Namdaemun, can be found in neighboring Jung.
- Dongdaemun Gate (동대문,東大門), 69, Jongno6-ga, Jongno-gu. More formally known as Heunginjimun (흥인지문,興仁之門), the old eastern gate of the city still stands. Though not as impressive architecturally as Namdaemun, the Dongdaemun market is infinitely more interesting than the its counterpart.
- Sukjeongmun Gate (숙정문,肅靖門), San 25-22, Samcheong-dong, Jongno 서울 성북구 성북동 산 25-22.
- Changuimun Gate (창의문,彰義門), Buam-dong, Jongno-gu 서울 종로구 부암동.
- Gyeonghui-gung (경희궁,慶熙宮 Seoul History Museum) (Subway line 5, Seodaemun Station, exit 4). Originally built in the 17th century, it was burnt down twice in the 19th century. It was largely destroyed by the Japanese during the colonial rule to build a school for Japanese children. It was finally restored in 1985 and opened to the public. Free admission.
- Bukchon Hanok Village (North Village), 84-1, Pildong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu. The collective name of the few tiny suburbs ("dong") wedged between Gyeongbuk Palace and the Secret Garden, just north of Insadong and Anguk Station. This area was where relatives of the royal family, high public officials, and other important families lived for over 500 years as they serviced the nearby palaces. Today, some 900 of their traditional Korean "hanok" houses remain, making this area one of Seoul's most picturesque centres for arts, culture, food and fashion.
- Inwangsan Mountain (인왕산), San 3-1, Muak-dong, Jongno-gu 종로구 무악동 산 3-1. This 336 m hill is home not only to the eponymous Inwang Temple (Inwangsa), but also Seoul's most famous shamanist shrine Guksadang (국사당). To get there, take Exit 2 and start climbing uphill following the "Inwang Temple" signs, through the huge construction site and up through the temple gate. You'll see a map board and several paths, take the left staircase upward, past the bronze bell of Bongwonsa and you'll reach Guksadang. Behind it are several creeks with shamanist offerings and the bizarre rock formation known as the Zen Rocks; there are plenty of trails if you want to poke around, and the Seoul fortress wall can be seen running near the top of the hill. Be careful not to photograph or disturb any rituals you see being performed.
- Hyehwa (혜화 – colloquially known as Daehangno (대학로)) (To the north of Jongno). Performing arts center. Many small theaters with live dramatic and comedic performances lining every street. This district is filled with life and street commerce past midnight.
- Sejong Center for Performing Arts (세종문화회관), 81-3 Sejongno, Jongno-gu (line 5 Gwanghwamun Stn). Oldest and one of the largest multi-purpose theatres in downtown Seoul and home of Seoul Philharmonic. The biggest pipe organ in East Asia is in its Great Auditorium, and several video art pieces from Nam June Paik are in the entrance of the auditorium.
- Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine (궁중음식연구원), 34, Wonseo-dong, Jongno-gu (Anguk Station, exit 2. 20 minutes walk), ☎ +82 2 3673 1122, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. For class times, inquire in advance. As the name implies, you learn how to prepare royal cuisine, as well as rice cakes and hangwa (Korean cookies). Lessons cost between ₩50,000 to ₩100,000.
- O'ngo Food Communications, Jongno-gu Nakwon-dong 55-1 3rd Floor (Exit Anguk Station (Orange, Line 3) exit 4, walk 5 min and make a left at the sign for the road Samil-daero 30-gil), ☎ +82 2 3446 1607. For class times, inquire in advance. Learn to make authentic Korean dishes in English or Japanese from Korean chefs. O'ngo Food Communications offers classes to make bulgogi and kimchi, Korean barbecue, and Vegan Temple Cuisine. You get a tour of a traditional Korean Market after the classes to see Korean ingredients and people. Lessons cost between ₩65,000-120,000.
- Dongdaemun Market, 266, Jongno-6 ga, Jongno-gu, 특별시 종로구 종로 266 (종로6가) (Seoul Subway Line 2 Dongdaemun Stadium Station, or Line 1 or 4 Dongdaemun Station). Though not as impressive architecturally as Namdaemun, the Dongdaemun market is infinitely more interesting than the its counterpart.
- Insadong. Insadong is an area known for its art galleries and shops, and is possibly the most touristy place in South Korea. It is a great place to buy cultural souvenirs. There are also a few stores that offer interesting vintage toys and various kitsch. Insadong also contains many traditional tea and coffee shops. It is one of the few places where vegetarian restaurants can be found.
- Ssamziegil, ☎ +82 2-736-0088. 10:00 to 20:30. Ssamziegil is a shopping complex located at the beginning of Insadong-gil that opened in 2004. It has the form of a rectangular spiral on three floors, and includes about a hundred craft shops (clothing, jewelry, leather, etc..), Restaurants, cafes (one of them, the Sky Garden is the terrace on the third floor). Very good place to shop green, costume jewelry, or just a drink. For certain activities (Candle making, pottery decoration, etc..), You have the option of making your own objects in the basement..
- The store from Tong-In, ☎ +82 2-732-4867. Occupying four floors, this store offers high quality items, including pottery, inlaid, lacquered objects, as well as jewelry, postcards, etc.. Not necessarily cheap, but the quality is good. It is located a little further than Ssamziegil on the same side of Insadong-gil.
- Kyobo Book Store (Kyobomungo, 교보문고/敎保文庫), Jongno1-ga, Jongno-gu (Gwanghwamun Station, Line 5, Exit 3), ☎ +82 2-397-3500. 09:30 to 22:00. Kyobo is the largest chain of bookstores in South Korea, and this store is located in the center of Seoul. It is completely invisible from the outside, because it is underground. It is accessed directly from the Gwanghwamun subway station, or at the intersection of Sejongno / Jongno. There is a huge selection of books / CD / DVD, as well as stationery items / cardmaking and a bunch of other accessories (there are even handbags). Also has books in foreign languages.
- Sadongmyenok (사동면옥), 29-21 Jongno Gwanhun (Insadong 8-gil, down the alley). Justly famous for its manduguk, a soup of gargantuan homemade dumplings stuffed with meat and veggies and served with side dishes for ₩5,000. English menu available.
- Gung (Take insa-dong 10-gil from the main street insa-dong gil and then it is about fifteen meters on the left.), ☎ +82 2-733-9240. Specialty restaurant for mandu (Korean dumplings) from the nearby Kaesong region in North Korea. The chickpea patties are also very good, although a pity about the use of MSG. This restaurant has been passed down from mother to daughter for three generations.
- Everest (에베레스트레스토랑), 148-1, Changsin-dong, Jongno-gu (Dongdaemun stn, exit 3. Walk straight for 100 m. Turn left at the pharmacy and walk 50 m), ☎ +82 2-766-8850. 11:00-11:00. Nepali restaurant featuring dozens of delectable dishes ranging from mutton curry to butter naan. Bollywood music videos are free. ₩8,000-15,000.
- Samcheong Sujaebi (삼청동 수제비). Canteen style ambiance, renown for serving good Sujaebi - a mild soup where the noodles are flattened and torn into sheets. Always packed so be prepared for a queue. ₩8000-13,000.
- Tosokchon, 5, Jahamun-ro 5-gil, Jongno-gu. Reverently referenced in most local guides as THE place for Ginseng chicken soup and variations on that theme. ₩15000-25000.
- Bar MOU (모우), Jongno 1(il).2(i).3(sam).4(sa), Jongno-gu, ☎ +82 70-8946-6448. 7:00 pm – 4:00 am.
- Miller Time (밀러타임 종로점), 11-13, Gwancheol-dong, Jongno-gu, ☎ +82 2-737-4466.
- Urban Camp - Dongdaemun, 1054 Sungin-dong, Jongno-gu (2 min from Line 1 Sinseoldong Station, exit 11), ☎ +82 2 715-6277. Friendly cool English speaking staffs, Free breakfast (toast, jam, peanut butter, eggs, coffee and tea). Free Wi-Fi, free international phone calls, free laundry, air-con, hot water, rooftop terrace. Dorms from ₩15,000, private bath from ₩35,000.
- Banana Backpackers, 30-1 Iksun-Dong, Jongno-Gu (5 min from Line 3 Anguk Station), ☎ +82 2 3672-1973. English speaking staff, free Wi-Fi, free laundry, kitchen. Dorms from ₩20,000, private bath from ₩40,000.
- Bong House, 117-2 MyeongRyun3Ga MyeongRyunDong JongroGu, ☎ +82 2 6080-3346. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Laid back friendly guesthouse with Internet, Wi-Fi, purifier, washing machine, air-con, refrigerator, cable TV, gas oven, microwave oven, hair dryer, iron with ironing board and dryer for a fee of ₩5,000. The Bong bar which is right next to the Bong house. With each night stay you can claim 1 free beer from the bar. ₩12,000-105,000.
- Hostel Korea, 178-65 Sungin-dong, Jongno-gu (4 min from Line 1 Sinseoldong stn exit 11), ☎ +82 2 762-7406, +82 2 766-7406. Friendly English/Chinese-speaking staff. Free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, free laundry, air-con, hot water. ₩25,000, en suite bath from ₩30,000.
- Seoul Backpackers, 205-125, Namchang-Dong, Jung-Gu (Metro Line 4, Hoehyeon Station, use exit No 4 and walk down the road; turn left into the next road and you will find the hostel on that road after about 100 m), ☎ +82 2 3672-1972. Backpacker hangout with English-speaking staff. Free Internet. Laundry ₩5,000. Single/double ₩40,000/₩50,000 with own tiny bathroom.
- Seoul Guest House, 135-1 Gyedong, Jongno-gu (Metro Line 3, Anguk Station), ☎ +82 2 745-0057. Basic rooms with air-con in a traditional Korean-style house. Shared bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, and TV. For a higher price you can purchase a room with a private bath, television and computer with Internet. Some find it spartan, other like its homey feel, friendly owner and big, fluffy guard dog. ₩35,000+.
- Songwontel Hostel, ☎ +82 2-765-7224. (as of 02.2012), 102-62 Doneui-dong, Jongro-gu, (Metro Line 5, ChongRo Sam Ga, exit 2 in a small backstreet). Free wifi. Clean, comfy yet small rooms with private bathroom, ac and tv. The receptionist speaks some English. Double rooms ₩38000/night on week days, ₩45000/night on weekends.
- Wind Road & Flower Guesthouse, 1F 85-5, Myeongryun-dong 3-ga, Jongno-gu, ~3. 1F 85-5, Myeongryun-dong 3-ga, Jongno-gu, ~3, ☎ +82 2 6407-2012, e-mail: email@example.com. Free internet, laundry also available (but not free). The friendly staff speaks good English. Dorm: ₩17,000-19,000.
- Yim's House, 33 Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu (Metro Line 3, Anguk Station), ☎ +82 2 747-3332. This excellent value hotel is unsure whether it caters to businessmen or backpackers. Rooms are clean and spacious, and Mr. Yim speaks fluent English. En suite singles ₩30,000, doubles ₩38,000.
- Bangrang Hostel, 397-12 Chungnim-Dong, Chung ku (Metro Line 2, Chungjeongro Station, exit 5), ☎ +82 2 6614-2246. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:30. New hotel. Distinguished interior. 1 min from subway station, 2 min from airport bus stop. ₩18,000+.
- Golden Pond Guesthouse, 188-16, Myeongryun1ga-dong (Metro Line 4, Hyehwa Station, exit #4, 5 minutes walk. Airport bus, Sung Kyun Kwan Univ. stop, 3 min walk), ☎ +82 2 741-5621, +82 10 9921-5621 (cell). New, comfortable, young atmosphere, with decent bathrooms and a friendly owner and staff. Two computers available for free Internet use, Wi-Fi throughout. This place is near a lot of pubs and restaurants, but very quiet when you sleep. No curfew. All staff is ready to hang out with guests every night. Sometimes they serve Korean meals for free. Kitchen, free laundry. Dorm: ₩20,000, Single: ₩60,000, Double: ₩75,000.
- JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul, 279, Cheonggyecheon-ro Jongno-gu Jongno 6(yuk)-ga (On top of Dongdaemun metro station), ☎ +82 2-2276-3000.
- Chiwoonjung (취운정), 41 Bookchon-ro, 11ga-gil, Jongno-gu, ☎ +82 2-765-7400. Luxury traditional Korean style guest house
As with anywhere else in Seoul, there are plenty of PC Rooms ('PC Bang') available to go online for a few hour on a good machine for only a few thousand won.