South Korea · Travel Tales

Half a Day in Gangnam

Day 2 Itinerary Notes

  • Train from Anguk Sta. (Line 3), transfer at Seoul Natl Univ. of Education (Line 2) to Seolleung Sta., exit 8
  • walk for some five minutes along Seolleung-ro to the entrance to Seonjeongneung, the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty
  • see the burial mounds of the Joseon kings and queen
  • take a long walk along Bongeunsa-ro to Bongeunsa Temple
  • rest for a bit inside one of the
  • cross the street and go into COEX Mall
  • lunch at COEX
  • go to Samseong Sta. using the connecting passageway
  • take the train from Samseong Sta. (Line 2) to Ewha Womans University Sta., exit 2
  • take pictures of the autumn colors at Ewha Womans University
  • eat street food and buy clothes as you go back to Ewha Womans University Sta.
  • take the train from Ewha Womans University Sta., transfer at Hapjeong Sta. (Line 6) to World Cup Stadium Sta., exit 1
  • walk around the stadium and cross the street to Haneul (Sky) Park
  • take the roundtrip shuttle to the park
  • take the train from World Cup Stadium Sta. (Line 6), transfer at Bulgwang Sta. (Line 3) to Anguk Sta.
The plan was to go to DMZ via DMZ train, but getting lost and backtracking a few times was not part of the plan. At exactly 9:22 AM and after much fretting on my part, the train left. 😦
A couple of lessons learned:
  1. If you’re anyone like me, you’re probably going to get lost, so it’s always best to leave early if you have something scheduled.
  2. Reserve early. I decided to reserve again a DMZ train a day before our last full day in Seoul, but seats were all already taken. And the DMZ train was the most affordable way to get to DMZ, so we just decided to put off a trip there till our next visit. 😉
We weren’t going let the day go to waste, so from Seoul Station, we (meaning, I) decided to go to the Gangnam area instead. By Gangnam, I mean literally the “south of the river” and not the particularly trendy areas it’s known for. I just wanted to see Seonjeongneung, the Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty — it’s a UNESCO world heritage site, a mini-forest in the middle of all the buildings in the district.
Since we got to Seoul late in the evening the previous day, we did not get to appreciate what the daylight would bring us till that day. We both breathed a sigh of disbelief and not a little envy when the subway train went aboveground to cross the Hangang (Han River).
Some time later, we exited Seolleung Sta. and walked along the ginkgo-lined Seolleung-ro.
Seolleung-ro
Seolleung-ro
Less than five minutes away was Seonjeongneung. A guard ushered us in; the grounds was free of entrance that day. The better part of the morning was spent strolling around, past kissy couples and jogging ajummas clad in enviable sports gear. Seeing the royal mounds themselves meant climbing up a hill — thankfully, it was autumn, and we barely broke a sweat.
Seolleung Royal Tomb
Seolleung Royal Tomb, a burial mound on top of a hill
 Deeper into the heart of the forest, you’ll find that sounds of cars have been drowned out, and you can’t see surrounding buildings any longer. I just love that there was a place like it in Gangnam.
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Our next destination was Bongeunsa Temple, a Buddhist temple complex. It was a long walk to Bongeunsa — I happened to (wrongly) choose the longer route. We rested in a GS25 (a convenience store) along the way, scarfing down on biscuits and wafer in the cool autumn air laced with cigarette smoke.
A few hundred meters more and we finally reached Bongeunsa.
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Going up to the Bongeunsa temple complex
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The hall of golden Buddhas
After a quick rest in a hall with thousands of golden Buddha statuettes, we went to see the Maitreya Buddha, which, at 23 meters, is the tallest statue of the Buddha in South Korea
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The Buddha in Bongeunsa Temple
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COEX Mall, flanked by Hotel InterCOntinental and ASEM Tower, along Bongeunsa-ro
Only a street separates the Buddhist temple and COEX Mall, itself a shrine to the human desire for material things. With this in mind, we decided to look for the most affordable meal in COEX Mall, which I thought we’d find in the food court. Again, I was wrong. You need a credit card to be able to order in their food court, and it involved a ticketing machine — so we just said to heck with it and ate in a fast food chain.
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Lesson learned: not all food courts are cheap.
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2 thoughts on “Half a Day in Gangnam

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