Gyeongbokgung Palace is a magnificent attraction set in Seoul that you shouldn’t fail to see. Explore the elegant site that served as the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty.
I visited the palace with my wife, and it was definitely a great experience. In this guide, I will share the 12 things every tourist must do and see in the palace. These include all the best spots for photography.
You will also know how to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace by subway and other transportation services for your convenience. These methods can assist you to reach the palace easily.
So, when planning your trip, don’t forget to add this amazing palace in your Seoul holiday itinerary and for sure you won’t regret it! Without further delay, let’s start through the detailed guide below. 🙂
1. Catch the Changing of the Guard
The Changing of the Guard is one of the most anticipated events in the palace. Watch this customary rite that has been performed since the 14th century during the Joseon dynasty.
As the guards walk toward the main palace grounds, you can hear the traditional gong, cymbal, and horn sounds. Don’t miss this unique experience that is highly regarded by the locals and tourists.
Be sure to arrive earlier than the scheduled time for a better viewing spot. You may refer to the below information for the time and duration of the changing ceremony.
Changing of the Palace Guard Ceremony:
– 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM
– How long? Around 20 minutes
Gate Guard Duty Performance:
– 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM
– How long? Around 10 minutes
2. Rent a Hanbok
There’s no better way to explore the grand palace than in a hanbok. As the traditional clothing of the Koreans, wearing this at least once in your life is definitely unforgettable.
If you want to wear the hanbok, check out this shop, which is located near Gyeongbokgung Palace. A lot of people rent from them because they offer great services and have very friendly staff.
Aside from that, they provide a lot of choices for men and women. These include hair styling for women and other things. Try to see the price here so you can budget your money in advance.
3. Capture the grandeur of the Gwanghwamun Gate
Gwanghwamun Gate serves as the main entrance to the royal palace and other attractions inside. Before you enter, don’t forget to take a photo of the iconic gate.
From afar, you can see the guards on duty, wearing different colors of hanbok. And as you line up, this leads you to the three arches of the 2-storey pavilion.
4. Stop by the Heungnyemun Gate
Heungnyemun Gate is the second gate that is pretty similar to the main gate. Take a picture of the breathtaking scenery and marvel at the architectural designs around.
And if you peek closely at the roof section, you’ll see several unique ornaments. And just like the first gate, there may also be some palace guards assigned here.
5. Wander around the Geunjeongjeon Hall
As the main hall of the palace, Geunjeongjeon Hall was a significant area during the Joseon dynasty. So, take your time exploring the place and know more about its history. It was originally built during the 15th century but was replaced after the 1592 Japanese invasion.
Upon entering the building, you will see several stone platforms and animal ornaments. In the past, the center room served as the venue for state affairs, national ceremonies, and cabinet meetings.
6. See the beauty of Hyangwonjeong Pavilion
The Hyangwonjeong Pavilion is another famous attraction within the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Surrounded by a scenic garden and pond, the pavilion is very captivating. Sightsee around the beautiful section and simply enjoy the nature views.
You’ll also be impressed with the structure’s architectural design that was built during the 18th century. The building acted as the residence of former King Gojong. Unfortunately, it was damaged during the Japanese invasion and was later converted into an art gallery.
7. Enter the Gangnyeongjeon Hall
Gangnyeongjeon Hall is one of the relevant sites in the palace. Journey through the past as you navigate the living quarters of the hall.
The place was once used by the kings for cabinet meetings and other leisure activities. Since the original building was burnt down because of the Japanese attacks, it was restored years after.
8. Admire the charms of the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion
Another national treasure within the Gyeongbokgung Palace is the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion. This beautiful structure is also considered one of the biggest elevated pavilions in the country. So, be sure to capture the breathtaking location that is encircled by the scenic views.
As you inspect the building construction, you’ll see the intricate designs carved along the railings. These include sculpted stone animals and other traditional ornaments.
9. Head to the Geoncheonggung Palace
Swing by the Geoncheonggung Palace and know more about its history. Constructed back in 1873, the place held several diplomatic activities. It was also the location where the royals relax after meetings.
The building follows the typical design of a scholar’s residence. However, it has several decorative designs that make it more attractive. And just like most sites in the palace complex, this one was restored after the Japanese attacks.
10. Discover the relevance of Donggung
In the past, Donggung was the official residence of the crown princes. Because of its importance, this site is truly a must-visit. Explore the surroundings that were once resided by the noble leaders in the country.
Navigate around the different quarters and learn more about the place. The building was named “donggung”, which implies “the palace on the east side”. This was used to represent the crown prince as the new sun that rises from the east.
11. Take a peek at the Gyotaejeon Hall
Check out the Gyotaejeon Hall and get to see the main residence of the Joseon queen consorts. The main area was used to cater to all the royal household affairs of the queen.
During your exploration, don’t miss the gorgeous little garden located behind the hall. Known as Amisan, this elegant garden is circled by flowerbeds and decorative chimneys. There are also plenty of patterned plants and animals around.
12. Pay a visit to Jagyeongjeon Hall
One of the prominent features of the Jagyeongjeon Hall is the square chimney. Look closely at the chimney and discover all its lavish ornaments. These include the sipjangsaeng, which symbolizes longevity and protection from bad spirits.
The structure itself was constructed in the 18th century. And it was given to the queen as a special gift to serve as her living and sleeping quarters.
Gyeongbokgung Palace’s Guide Map
Here’s a map of Gyeongbokgung Palace that you can use during your trip. This is very useful when getting around the palace and learning more about the attractions inside.
You can download a clearer version of the map from this link.
Things You Need to Know Before Getting to the Palace
– January to February: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
– March to May: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
– June to August: 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM
– September to October: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM
– November to December: 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM
*Last entry time: 1 hour before closing
*Closed on every Tuesday
– Adult (Aged 19 to 64): 3,000 won
– Child (Aged 7 to 18): 1,500 won
– Child (Below 6): Free
– Elderly (Aged 65 and above): Free
161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
What Other Places You Should Go After Visiting the Palace
After your tour to Gyeongbokgung Palace, drop by Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong Street for a more memorable trip. These two attractions are close to the palace and are highly recommended for tourists.
Another great site to be added to your itinerary is Lotte World. This beautiful amusement park offers plenty of rides for everyone.
If you plan to see the place, go to check out my detailed guide to the best Lotte World Seoul rides and plan your visit ahead. This article also covers a detailed guideline on how to go there.
How to Go to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul
1. By Subway
Take the Seoul Subway Line 3 to Gyeongbokgung Station. Afterward, head to Exit 5, which is connected to the palace. It is also the nearest subway station to the Gyeongbokgung Palace.
The other station close to the palace is Gwanghwamun Station (Exit 2). However, it takes about 8 minutes to reach the palace, so it’s not recommended.
Myeongdong to Gyeongbokgung Palace:
- Take the Subway Line 4 from Myeongdong Station to Chungmuro Station.
- At Chungmuro Station, switch to Subway Line 3 and go to Gyeongbokgung Station.
- It will take about 10 minutes and costs 1,250 won.
Seoul Station to Gyeongbokgung Palace:
- Take the Subway Line 4 from Seoul Station to Chungmuro Station.
- From Chungmuro Station, you change to Subway Line 3 to Gyeongbokgung Station.
- The trip takes about 15 minutes and costs 1,250 won.
Hongdae to Gyeongbokgung Palace:
- Take the Subway Line 2 from Hongik University Station to Euljiro 3(sam)-ga Station.
- From there, you transfer to Subway Line 3 and go to the Gyeongbokgung Station.
- The total travel time is about 20 minutes and costs 1,250 won.
2. Join a Seoul City Tour Bus
Another way to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace is through the Seoul City Tour Bus. This allows you to tour around Seoul at your own pace and see different attractions aside from the palace. The tour bus covers 15 spots, including Insadong, Myeongdong, N Seoul Tower, and Dongdaemun.
Aside from that, it offers unlimited rides for your convenience. To get more information about the city tour bus, check out the bus tour ticket prices here.
3. By Taxi
The last option is via taxi. If you plan to ride a taxi to go to the Gyeongbokgung Palace, you may refer here for the updated taxi information and fare.
Do take note that most of the taxi drivers in Seoul are not familiar with English. So, try to show this name 경복궁 (Gyeongbokgung Palace), along with the palace picture, so they will know your destination.
4. Take a Private Car Charter
If you are looking for the most convenient method to reach Gyeongbokgung Palace, choose the private car charter. This is suggested for small groups of travellers as well as families with senior parents.
And since the private car charter offers hotel pick-up and drop-off services, there’s no need to travel via public transport. For more details, visit this website and have an idea of the current private car service prices.