About Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main royal palace and one of Five Grand Palaces built by Joseon Dynasty, truly is a spectacular display of grandeur, royal architecture, and cultural symbolism. Built in 1395, you’d be wondering how it withstood the test of time when you see it in the present era. Not known to many, the now well-preserved Korean Palace had to endure a lot of damages as it’s witnessed both the brilliant and eerie pasts of South Korea.
Also known as the Northern Palace, Gyeongbokgung was destroyed by fire during the Imjin War (1592-1598) when the Japanese empire tried to invade Korea. But it was later restored under the leadership of Heungseon Daewongun during the reign of King Go Jong.
Today, the Gyeongbokgung Palace remains to exude its majestic aura against a mountainous backdrop. It also stands firm reminding everyone of South Korea’s rich cultural heritage and history alongside other destinations in the country.
The moment you enter Gwanghwamun Gate, instantly you’ll feel like entering a totally different era, an ancient one that is. The enormity of the palace complex could be overwhelming and you could almost imagine how the Korean Royalties walked on its grounds alongside royal guards and other noble men and women. You could even witness the Gwanghwamun Guard-on-duty Performance, a historic tradition that is being relived to this date in the Royal Palace’s main gate every 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM.
If you still find it difficult to imagine how royalties once roamed in the Palace, then do a quick glance around you. You’d see tourists wearing hanboks (traditional Korean attire) while walking around Gyeongbokgung Palace’s halls. You could actually wear one, too! Hanbok rental shops surround the Palace. Wearing one could help you feel like a Korean, if not a royalty.
Like other palaces, Gyeongbokgung Palace has an inner gate which is called Heungnyemun Gate that showcases Korean’s intricacy in every small detail and patch of art that colours it.
The Palace also has several halls, the grandest of all is Geunjeongjeon Hall which serves as the main throne hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace. Tourists aren’t allowed to enter the Geunjeongjeon Hall, but everyone could get a glimpse of the royal throne from its entrance. Do not forget to also look up its ceiling and you’d see that Korean’s attention to detail knows no bounds.
There are also man-made ponds inside the Palace which are located near pavilions that served as a resting place or entertainment hall for the king and his visitors. The biggest pavilion of Gyeongbokgung is the Gyeonghoeru that sits right in front of a pond that’s served as a boating spot for royalties during summer months.
If you would want to explore and know more about South Korea’s history and even see artefacts, do not forget to pay a visit to National Folk Museum of Korea or National Palace Museum of Korea. Both museums are conveniently located inside the Palace grounds.
How to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace
The Gyeongbokgung Palace is located at 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 사직로 161 (세종로)). You can get to the Palace by taking the Seoul Metropolitan Subway that’s heading to Gyeongbokgung Station or Anguk Station. If you’re coming from Myeongdong or Hongdae, see detailed instructions below.
You can get there by taking the subway at Myeongdong Station heading to Chungmuro Station. From there, switch to 3-Orange line heading to Gyeongbokgung Station. You will need to walk approximately 9 – 15 minutes to get to the Palace from the Station.
Take the subway from Hongik University Station to Gongdeok Station. Then switch to 5-Purple line heading to Gwanghwamun Station. From there, you will need to walk approximately 12 – 15 minutes to reach the Palace.
Hours of operation, tickets, and other expenses
Gyeongbokgung Palace’s hours of operation
The Palace’s hours of operation vary depending on the season. From November to February which is winter season, it is open between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM. For the months of March to May and September to October, the Palace is open from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. During summer season which is from June to August, the Palace is open between 9:00 AM and 6:30 PM. Note though that it is closed on Tuesdays all throughout.
The admission fee costs KRW 3,300 for adults (aged 19 – 64), and KRW 1,500 for those aged 7 – 18. Kids below 7 could enter free-of-charge.
Renting a hanbok normally costs KRW 13,000 to KRW 15,000, depending on the style that you’ll choose. The more royal-looking the hanbok is, the more expensive it would cost. You can rent hanboks for four hours from rental shops near the entrance of Gyeongbokgung Palace.
Here are some of the tips for travelers visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace:
1. Planning on wearing a hanbok? Know that wearing one grants you a free access to the Palace which means there’s no need to pay the admission fee.
2. Hanbok‘s cloth is quite thin and may not be advisable to wear during the winter season.
3. If you plan on visiting Gyeongbokgung, Deoksugung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, plus the Jongmyo Shrine, get an Integrated Ticket. When purchased separately, you would have to pay a total of KRW 14,000 for all of the destinations. However, if you get an Integrated Ticket, you’ll automatically save KRW 4,000.
4. Gyeongbokgung Palace, like other palaces in Seoul, has a charm that changes depending on the season. The best time to visit could be during the spring season.
5. Visiting with a big group (10 and above)? You are required to get a reservation through www.rekor.or.kr.
6. Aside from Gwanghwamun Royal Guard Changing Ceremony, there are two more ceremonial activities that you could witness: Sumunjang (Royal Guard) Changing Ceremony (9:35 AM and 1:35 PM) and Sumungun (Gatekeeper) Military Training (9:35 AM and 1:35 PM).