Korean Palaces – Top Five Grand Palace You Must Visit In Seoul!

Palace of Seoul

While Seoul is known for it’s beautiful cafes, fashion shop as well as beauty shop, this capital city is actually a home for five great Korean palaces from Joseon eras.

In this article, I will share to you the best Korean Palaces in Seoul you can visit during your trip to Korea. Let’s dive right to it.

Table of Contents

Korean Palaces

Eventho most people know Seoul as futuristic city, Korean government has made this city a combination whereby you can still find historic site in the midst of it’s modern hi-tech vibes.

These Korean palaces history are mostly date back to the 1300s – 1500s. 

Majority of the buildings standing today are the most recent reconstructions, since the real original structures were destroyed during Japanese invasion on 16th century. 

The second reconstructions then destroyed by Japanese occupation again on 20th Century by fire. 

The East Palace (Changdeokgung & Changgyeonggung) are the only one with a decent number of surviving pre-20th Century structures (around a third), but the reconstructions have been done very well to keep the history alive.

Here are the top Korean palaces you can visit in Seoul as you shopping and hopping around Seoul areas.

1. Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)

gyeongbokgung palace of seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the must-visit Royal Grand Palace in Seoul

I believe you won’t miss this one because Gyeongbokgung is always in anyone itinerary.

This royal areas is the most favourite palace for tourist to come when they visit Seoul, because Gyeongbokgung Palace is the icon of Seoul as well as South Korea.

This palace is located near Cheonggyecheon and Gwanghwamun areas, another must visit destinations at Seoul. 

You will easily spot this palace as you will see many guard doing their ceremonies with unique uniform at the main entrance Gwanghwamun entrance.

King Taejo build this palace during Joseon eras. If you don’t get enough of this palace, you can also go to National Folk Museum of Korea inside of Gyeongbokgung Palace to learn more of historical stuff. 

Useful Informations:
Opening Hours: 09.00-17.00 (last admission 16:00), closed on Tuesday.
Admission Fee: 3,000 won.

How to get here:
Gyeongbokgung Station (Seoul subway line 3) and exit 5.
Anguk Station (Seoul subway line 3) and exit 1.

Take Bus no. 1020, 7025, 109, 171, 172, 601 or 606 and get off at Gyeongbokgung Palace Bus stop.

2. Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁)

Palace of Seoul

Credit to Tripadvisor

Changdeokgung Palace was the second royal villa built following the construction of Gyeongbokgung Palace. 

It is ocated within a large park in Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. 

You can just walk east from Gyeongbokgung through the beautiful Bukchon Hanok Village. 

Afterwards, you’ll arrive at Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul’s second most important palace.

This royal palace was constructed as a secondary royal residence by King Taejong. 

Anyway, this palace is the only palace that was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The biggest attractive factor to Changdeokgung Palace is it’s magical secret garden, known as Huwon. 

Secret Gardens strictly regulate visits with tours to keep it remains peaceful eventho being right in the middle of one of the most hustle and bustle downtown.

Tour Course Information:
1. General Tour:
Donhwanmun Gate – Palace Chambers – Geomcheongyo Bridge – Injeongjeon Hall – Seonjeongjeon Hall – Huijeongdang House = Daejojeon Hall – Nakseonjae.

2. Huwon (secret garden) tour:
Huwon Entrance – Buyongji pond – Bullomun gate & Aeryeonji pond – Jondeokjeong – Pavilion & Pyeomusa house – Ongyucheon Stream – Yeonggyeongdang House.

Useful Informations:
Opening Hours:
[Palace Tour] : 09.00-18.00 (Last admission 1 hour before closing)
[Huwon Tour]: 10.00-18.00 (Last tour 2 hour before closing)
Huwon tour has limited space and must travel with a guide.

Admission fee:
[Changdeokgung Palace]: 3,000 won
[Huwon tour / Secret garden]: 8,000 won

How to get here:
Anguk Station (Seoul subway line 3), exit 3

Take any of the following bus and get off at Changgyeonggung Palace Bus stop.
Blue bus no.100, 102, 104, 106, 107, 108, 140, 143, 150, 151, 160, 162, 301.
Airport Bus no. 6011

3. Changgyeonggung Palace (창경궁)

Changgyeonggung Palace of Seoul

The next Korean palaces you must visit in Seoul is Changgyeonggung Palace. 

I guess you must’ve already seen this on many pictures since many of photographers usually take a picture of this palace from higher point of view to make it looks even more beautiful.

Changgyeonggung Palace share grounds with Changdeokgung. So It’s a quick detour away from Seoul’s second most important palace.

This Korean palaces storied past paints an interesting picture for travellers enthralled by Korean history. 

In 1483, King Sejong renovated the palace as a gift to his father, King Taejong, who was stepping down from the throne. 

It was often used for secondary royal residences while Changdeokgung was the main royal residences. Many concubines, princesses, etc stayed here before.

The palace was destroyed multiple times over the centuries by the Japanese, and the most recent was under occupation in the 1900s. 

It was changed from a palace to a garden, and the Japanese also added a zoo and botanical garden around this place makes it even more beautiful.

Useful Informations:
Opening Hours: 09.00-21.00 (Last admission 1 hour before close)
Admission Fee: 1,000 won.

How to get here:
Anguk Station (Seoul subway line 3), exit 3. Walk straight along Yulgok-ro for 1km and turn left unto Changgyeonggung-ro and walk 300m to find the entrance on the left.

Changgyeonggung Palace, Seoul University Hospital Bus stop.
– Blue bus no. 100, 102, 104, 151, 171, 272, 301, 601.
– Airport Bus no. 6011

4. Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁)

The other Korean palaces you can find in Seoul is Deoksugung. 

Deoksugung is the smallest palace in Seoul.

This Palace is famous for its elegants stone wall road that sits alongside a series of western style buildings that just make it stands out around surrounding scenery.

If you compared Deoksugung Palace to other Seoul grand palaces, Deoksugung was less important among Korean rulers. 

During Japanese occupation, the palace escaped much of the fiery fate of others. 

Along with the reconstructions at Deoksugung, a handful of pre-20th-century buildings remain. They’ll give you a rare authentic glimpse of Seoul’s past.

This Palace is located right across the street from Seoul City Hall. It was originally built as a temporary palace for Prince Wolsan but it became the main place after the 1592 Japanese invasion. 

All the other palaces like Gyeongbokgung and Gyeonghuigung had burned down, so King Seonjo used it as his main residence.

The other reasons why this palace is significant eventhough it’s small is because the last king and second to last emperor of Korea named Gojong, lived here until His death in 1919.

Rumors tells us that he was poisoned. Other than that, Deoksugung is the only palace in Seoul that looks outside of traditional Asian design at that time.

Useful Informations:
Opening Hours: 09.00-21.00 (Last admission 1 hour before close)
Admission Fee: 1,000 won.

How to get here:
City Hall Station (Seoul subway line 1, 2), exit 1, 2 or 3.

Get off in front of city hall, Deoksugung palace bus stop.
– Green bus: 1711,7016,7022.
– Blue bus: 103, 150, 401, 402, 406, 604, N16

5. Gyeonghuigung Palace

gyeonghuigung palace of seoul

Gyeonghuigung Palace is the least popular of the five Royal Korean Palaces in Seoul. Like Deoksugung, Gyeonghuigung’s history began as a secondary royal residence. 

This Korean Palace was originally built in the 1600s under King Gwanghaegun. 

It was used as a detached palace during a time when Changdeokgung was the main one.

It starts get it’s fortune after the japanese devastated the main Joseon Palaces in 1623. 

For about two centuries, Joseon royalty used the palace. In the 19th-century, a fire ripped through spoiling its heyday and gave them no place to recover again.

However, Gyeonghuigung Palace used to be home to over 100 halls and even had a bridge that connected to Deoksugung, but much of it was destroyed. 

Even after restoration, only about a third of the palace grounds have been restored.

Gyeonghuigung is located in the same areas as Seoul Museum of History and heunghwamun Gate, which makes it easy to visit while you pass by Seoul Museum of History or Heunghwamun gate.

Useful Informations:
Opening Hours: 09.00-18.00 (Last admission 1 hour before close)
Admission Fee: FREE

How to get here:
– Seodaemun Station (subway line 5), exit 4. Walk for 500m
– Gwanghwamun Station. Exit 1, 8 and 7. If you use exit 7, look for Seoul Museum of History first.

Bonus: Unhyeongung Palace (운현궁)

unhyeongung palace of seoul

I called it bonus because Unhyeongung Palace wasn’t one of the “grand” palace of Seoul. 

However, Unhyeongung Palace occupies an important place in the history both of Seoul and of South Korea because it still has ties with the royal family.

This small palace was the former home of Heungseon Daewongun. His son, Gojong, was the last Joseon king and the first Korean emperor. 

He was born at Unhyeongung and lived here until ascending to the throne at the age of 12.

Other than that, Unhyeongung is located right near Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung, so it makes you can easily and conveniently visit as you pass by this place. 

Just like any other Korean palaces, Unhyeongung is also one of the shadow of its former history. 

Most, if not all of the buildings were damaged or destroyed over the years. 

The most destructions is caused by the 20th-century Japanese occupation and Korean War.

These days, Unhyeongung Palace is a hotspot for cultural activities with the most famous activities is the yearly reenactment of the marriage of Emperor Gojong and his bride Empress Myeongseong.

Useful Informations:
Opening Hours: 09.00-18.00 (Last admission 1 hour before close)
Admission Fee: FREE

How to get here:
– Anguk Station (Subway line 3). Exits 4

Reasons To Visit Palaces in Korea

Here are the top three reasons you must visit Palaces in Korea.

1. Appreciate Korean Culture and History

The best way we can learn anything is by immersing ourselves with the country we want to learn.

While visiting Museum and reading Korean History Books can help us learn about Korean history, get into the Royal Palaces in Korea will help us feel how is it feels like to live inside the history that we are learning. 

In addition, if you are renting Hanbok together with your loved ones, you can get free entry, so there’s no reasons not to visit this wonderful palaces.

I know that most youth don’t like to visit Palaces or historical sites, yet they lose the unique culture every country have. 

By visiting Palaces in Korea, I believe you will have more appreciation and be able to discern the different between Korea and other Asian culture.

2. Picturesque

The second reason you need to visit palaces in Korea is because they’re simply beautiful. 

We live in a world where everything is the same, apartment looks the same, building looks the same.

We work in a box, sleep in a box, bath in a box, and everything is almost identical in shape and pattern. 

When we visit palaces in Korea with it’s traditional architecture, we can refresh our mind and get outside our box. 

We can appreciate those people who live during Joseon eras and can relate better when we watch historical korean dramas.

3. Close to Main Attractions

The last reasons to visit Palaces in Korea is because all of these Korean palaces is located near the main attractions you will definitely visit in Seoul.

Whether you want to shopping in myeongdong, take a pictures and cafe hopping near Bukchon Hanok Village areas, it all locate close to one another.

You won’t waste your time by spare a little bit of your hours to visit these palaces in Korea, so why not. 

Tips To Visit Korean Palaces

Here are a few tips if you plan to visit the Korean palaces as you travel Seoul.

1. Rent Hanbok to get Free Entry

korean palaces

There are several ways you can get free entry to visit the five palaces in Seoul in which one of them are to rent Hanbok, Korean traditional clothing.

If you plan to take a good picture in Hanbok as you travel around Bukchon Hanok village, then why don’t you also wear it as you go to Gyeongbokgung.

You can rent hanbok from various stores nearby the palaces for only 10,000 KRW per hour.

If you visit Korea with your couple, it’s perfect to wear Hanbok together and take a good picture inside the palaces, feel as if you are the King and the Queen, or Prince and Princess

In case you’re married and have babies, you can also rent hanbok for your kids.

Anyway, if you don’t plan to rent Hanbok but still want to get free entry, then I suggest you to visit during major public holiday in Korea, like Chuseok and Seollal.

The palaces usually free for everyone during these major holiday in Korea.

Pro Tips: Other than two methods I mentioned above, you can still get a free entry if you visit on the last Wednesday of the month. However, it’s not official so it might change anytime.

2. Visit In The Morning

korean palaces

If you are an introvert who hate crowds, then make sure you visit in the morning.

Be the first visitor as they open the gate and you’ll have a lot of time to take good picture with less people around you.

In addition, you want to make sure you visit at the right time, when the ceremony played out.

Anyway, you can only enter the secret garden with tours, so if you plan to visit then you need to know when they operates. 

Sum Up

If you are a true korean lovers who love to watch Korean dramas, I believe these Korean palaces is not new for you.

I just wish you can visit at least one of them if you plan to visit Seoul in the future.

Alright, these are all the Korean palaces in Seoul I can share with all of you guys. 

Which of these Korean Palaces you love the most? Have you ever visit them? Let me know in the comment below!

Check out our another article:

Palace of Seoul

Every share and every ounce of your support brings my passion for Korea to life – Thank you for visit.

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