Having a trip to Seoul? Visit the 5 best palaces in Seoul, my chingudeul. It’s one of the best experiences you’ll ever forget when you get to Seoul.
Seoul (Hanyang) is the home of the five palaces from the Joseon dynasty. The palaces consist of different buildings like the throne hall and royal council throne, sleeping quarters of the king, pavilions, and gardens.
The 5 Best Palaces in Seoul
Gyeongbok Palace or Gyeongbokgung is the main palace of the city capital which was originally constructed by King Taejo ( the first king of the Joseon Dynasty) in 1394 and the palaces were expanded during the reign of King Taejong and King Sejong the Great (The founder of Hangul). It is located in the north of Gwanghwamun Square and a few meters away from the other palaces.
The palaces have been burned into ashes during the Japanese invasion in 1592-1598 and reconstruction started in 1867. But during the Korean War (1950-1953) the other buildings were destroyed and began to be restored in 1989. In 2014, less than half of the buildings are restored and the palace is open for public viewing. Royal guard changing ceremony can watch every hour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in front of the main gate.
Admission is 3,000 won and visitors wearing hanbok are free of charge. Closed every Tuesday. For more guides, please check the website here.
Changdeok Palace or Changdeokgung is the second royal palace during the Joseon Dynasty. It is located in the east of Gyeongbukgung. Among the palaces, this palace still preserves its original features. This is the principal palace for many kings and the government of Joseon. The palace began its popularity at the time of Sejongjong, the 9th King of Joseon. In 1592, angry citizens burned the palace when the royal family fled the residence during the Japanese invasion.
Changdeokgung’s Secret Garden (Biwon) is known for its natural beauty. Admission to the garden has a separate fee.
The palace is closed on Mondays and served different hours depending on the season. Admission is 3,000 won for adults and 1,500 won for children. Free of charge when wearing a hanbok. For more information please visit the Changdeokgung website here. Admission to Secret Garden is 5,000 won (+ the general admission of 3,000 won), for discounts bring a VALID ID like a passport.
King Sejong, the 4th ruler of the Joseon Dynasty built the Suganggung (renamed as Changgyeonggung during the reign of King Seongjong) for his father, King Taejong. During the Japanese time, the palace became a park with a zoo and a botanical garden until 1983.
The palace opens from 09:00 am to 9:00 pm (The last admission is 8:00) and is usually closed on Mondays. The admission fee is 1,000 won for adults, ages 18 and below 500 won, for 6 years old and below are free same for seniors 65 years and above.
Entering the palace while wearing a hanbok is free of charge. Group admission (a group of 10+) is available to cost 800 won each. For more information, check the palace’s main website here.
Located on the west side of Seoul, Gyeonghui Palace or Gyeonghuigung was the secondary palace for the king. It was also called “Seogwol” which means “Palace of the West” where the King relocates in times of emergency. From the Joseon Dynasty, about 10 kings (In-Jo to Cheol-Jong) stayed in this palace.
In the past, this palace has an arched bridge connecting to Deoksugung but currently, you need to cross Jeondong Street and walk to Desoksugung. Seoul History Museum, the street of Jongno, and Jeongdong Street are the main landmark of Gyeonghuing Palace.
The palace is closed on Mondays and January 1, which opens from 9:00 am up to 6:00 pm with free admission. You can check the website here (Korean Only).
Deoksugung, meaning “the palace of virtuous longevity”, is the only palace that has Western-style of buildings inside aside from being famous for its elegant stone walls. In 1575-164, when Gwanghaegun ascended to the throne, Deoksugung became a proper palace. Over the following decades, the palace became an official palace and a temporary residence. Deoksugung’s wall stone is one of the most elegant roads in Seoul (it was featured in the drama Goblin).
The palace visiting hours is 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and closed on Mondays. The admission fee is 1,000 won or free of charge when wearing a hanbok upon entrance. Free admission too for children under 6 years old, seniors (65 years and above), and every Culture Day usually held every last Wednesday of the month. For more details, check the Deoksugung website here.
- If you are planning to visit all the palaces, you can get a combination ticket worth 10,000 won for adults and 5,000 won for youth. The admission includes the 4 palaces and even the Secret Garden (Changdeokgung) and the last is the Jongmyo Shrine.
- If you don’t prefer a guide you can rent an AUDIO GUIDE in your preferred language.
- Do not run or speak loudly with the premises of the Palace.
- Pets are not allowed.
- Food and mats are not allowed.
- Games and sports equipment are not allowed.
- Smoking is prohibited anywhere in the Palace including parking lots.
- Drone flying is strictly prohibited.
- If anyone flies drones in Seoul without written approval by law authorities, the fine is up to 2 million won by civil aeronautics law.
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