Gwanghwamun & Jongno-gu

Security is so tight around the Blue House (so called because of its blue tiled roof) at the base of Bukaksan that even innocently walking past the presidential residence is likely to get you stopped and questioned by mirror-glassed special agents. However, it is possible to see inside if you join a free 40-minute tour, which must be pre-booked online at least 20 days prior, but is not really worth the hassle involved.

Bring your passport and join the tour at the ticket booth in Gyeongbokgung’s car park. A tour bus then takes you the short distance from the car park to Cheongwadae’s public entrance. On arrival you'll be shown a five-minute film then whisked around the palatial grounds, which are nice enough.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Gwanghwamun & Jongno-gu attractions

1. Cheongwadae Sarangchae

0.18 MILES

Much more interesting than the tour of Cheongwadae itself is this exhibition hall opposite the exit from the presidential compound. Inside are displays…

2. National Folk Museum of Korea

0.37 MILES

Give yourself at least an hour to do justice to this excellent museum. It has three main exhibition halls, covering the history of the Korean people, the…

3. National Children’s Museum

0.38 MILES

Advance reservations are recommended for this interactive and guided museum for kids, as walk-in visitors are limited in number daily.

4. Open Air Exhibition

0.42 MILES

On the approach to the National Folk Museum is an open-air exhibition of historical buildings and structures including a street of buildings styled as…

5. Another Way of Seeing

0.46 MILES

Running a program to support art education and activities for the blind, Another Way of Seeing is a gallery where the thought-provoking exhibitions…

6. Ryugaheon

0.46 MILES

Based in a restored hanok, Ryugaheon specialises in photography exhibitions, but you may also see other types of art here such as canvases of embroidered…

7. Kukje

0.48 MILES

Kukje's two main gallery spaces are found off the main road, behind its restaurant building, which has the running woman sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky on…

8. Gyeongbokgung

0.49 MILES

Like a phoenix, Seoul’s premier palace has risen several times from the ashes of destruction. Hordes of tourists have replaced the thousands of government…