Seoul City Walking Tours Part 1: Traditional Market Course

Posted by on Mar 9, 2017 in Destinations, Korea, Travel Photo Thursday | 12 comments

Seoul City Walking Tours

If you’re in Seoul and you want to see the sights,  don’t look any further than Seoul City Walking Tours. The tours are 100% free, and you have a total of 21 tours to choose. Welcome to week 320 (09/03/2017) of  Travel Photo Thursday. Come along as I immerse myself in the museums and traditional markets of the Traditional Market Course Walking Tour.

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On a nip-in-the-air Saturday afternoon, I met our Seoul City Walking Tours guide Hojoung Kang outside of Seoul’s Jegi-Dong Station, Exit 1. One of the nice things about these tours is that there is no minimum number of participants; perfect for solo travelers. However, on this day there would be three of us plus the guide. Our first stop was Seonnongdan Museum, a short walk from the station. We were treated to traditional tea before entering the museum. Our tea master spoke a bit of English and welcomed us warmly. The hot tea, which was from China, helped us to forget, momentarily, the cold nip in the air outside.


Seoul City Walking Tours


Seoul City Walking Tours


Seoul City Walking Tours


Then, it was down the hall to the small museum. The first thing I noticed is that all of the signage was in Korean. Quite often these days, museums will post in both English and Korean, but not this one. I was pleased that we had a guide to translate for us. The hallway area contained royal emblems from Joesan area, and each was a different color. Also, there was one wall entirely taken up with a sketch of the King’s Parade. Our guide explained that it was an annual ceremony where the king celebrated the harvest. Everything here was made of or covered in plexiglass so impossible to take glare-free photos.

Upon entering the main museum, we were greeted with a closet of traditional hanboks. We were invited to try them at no charge. I wasn’t a spoil sport, but I have done the hanbok before and once was great fun. A repeat performance was not in the cards. However, the young German woman in our group enjoyed wearing the traditional garb for a few minutes. I must admit I love the vibrant colors!


Seoul City Walking Tours


Then we moved into the main part of the museum, which is one large room. On the left, we have this exhibit of farm implements from the Joesan Dynasty. I have to tell you, by this point, I was wondering why anyone would build a museum to house a few hanbok and replicas of farm tools.


Seoul City Walking Tours


On the opposite wall,  we have old harvest photographs and a religious ceremony. I’m still not “getting” this museum.

Seoul City Walking Tours

There were also a few interactive stations where kids could color and draw. We exited, and we found ourselves moving to the back of the building and walking up a few stairs to be greeted by this large square field. This isn’t a field. It’s an altar, Seonnongdan Altar, and there are four gate posts (north, south, east, west).  According to our lovely guide, the space inside of the gate posts is sacred, and once a year they reenact an annual ceremony, which if I understood her correctly is related to agriculture and the harvest. The ceremony dates are based on the lunar calendar, but usually in April. I guess that’s the reason for all of the farm tools on exhibit in the museum. (I did research Seonnogdan Altar on-line and almost nothing, except that it is no longer listed in Lonely Planet!)


Seoul City Walking Tours


I was glad to be moving on to the Seoul Yangnyeongsi Herb Medicine Museum, a short 10-minute walk.  Located in Dongdaemun, across the street from the  Yangnyeongsi Herbal Market, the museum opened in 2006 with the intent to preserve and develop Korea’s traditional medicine culture. The museum is very English friendly, and you can browse hundreds of pieces of equipment and artifacts related to oriental/herbal medicine, plus an extensive collection of antique herbal remedy books. Located across the street from the Yangnyeongsi Herbal Market.


Seoul City Walking Tours


We got to sample some medicinal tea; fruity and sweet. I like the fruity flavor but could have done without the sweet.


Seoul City Walking Tours


The displays are very well done, a little mind boggling to see so many traditional herbs and medicines in one room.


Seoul City Walking Tours


I need to research the uses for seahorses in traditional medicine 🙂


Seoul City Walking Tours


Aren’t these mortars awesome? I would love to have in my kitchen. Maybe I’ll find one in the market!


Seoul City Walking Tours


Seoul City Walking Tours


We’ll be back next week with Part 2 of our Seoul City Walking Tour. Stay tuned!

I was very satisfied with Seoul City Walking Tours. Our guide was knowledgeable and friendly, and the tour is 100% free (no tipping). Have you ever taken a free walking tour in Seoul, or elsewhere in your travels? Let us know in the comments.


Please welcome our co-hosts this week: Jan from Budget Travel Talk Ruth from Tanama Tales Rachel from Rachel’s Ruminations


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  1. So very helpful, as always, for my future trip to Korea! Thanks!

  2. Definitely my kind of tour!

  3. The first Museum looks fun, not so sure about the herb medicine one….ick!

  4. I’ve been out of the loop for a bit – but I always love these peaks into other worlds when I visit. Happy travels!

  5. The herb medicine museum looks like it would be interesting. I grew up in Asia so herbal medicine isn’t new to me, but so much of it is still a mystery to me!

  6. I am a fan of free tours like this. I took like 5 during my last visit to New York. The food tours are the best. I like those wood mortars. In Puerto Rico, we use wood mortars too (they are not that pretty though).

  7. What an interesting tour! I love that it’s completely free. I have a friend going to Seoul in Oct. and will share this with him. We’ve done a Munich tour and loved it. Looking forward to the second part of your tour.

  8. A bit late in linking this week as we were getting ‘apostilled’ on Thursday! Love this and am sending a link to our friends who plan a stop next year in Korea!

  9. Yes this is something that I would definitely do in a new city. I did one in Sydney during a weekend visit with my girlfriends a few years ago and we learnt much more in half a day than I would ever have learnt had we been sightseeing on our own.

  10. I’m a big fan of free walking tours. With 21 to choose from, I might want to do more than one. I think the Herb Medicine Museum is the more interesting of the two you talk about here.

  11. These are some walking tours, especially because they are free. Thanks a bunch for the amazing post, Nancie!

  12. I love walking tours where you can absorb everything at a much slower pace. It’s funny how some museums leave you fascinated and excited to learn from the exhibits and others (like the Seonnongdan Museum) can leave you with a “meh” feeling. We once visited a seahorse farm on the Big Island of Hawaii and learned that their existence is threatened by the traditional medicine practiced in many Asian countries. If practioners of traditional medicine omitted them from their pharmacies, I doubt their absence would be noticed with all the other choices!🙂

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