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The Royal Korean Palaces In Seoul

On any trip to Seoul one of the royal palaces has to be on your “must-see” list. There are 5 palaces in Seoul for you to choose from on your visit and all have unique features making their  case. This blog is always honest with you so here it is, you probably don’t need to see more than one palace. Now obviously if you have plenty of time and need a good activity then you could see more but they are all pretty similar and there are so many other things to see. So I am going to do my best to show the pros and cons of each so that you can choose which palace you want to see the most in order to maximize your time exploring Seoul!

The 5 Royal Palaces In Seoul:

Gyeongbokgung Palace

Changdeokgung Palace

Deoksugung Palace

Changgyeonggung Palace

Gyeonghuigung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace


This palace was the first one built out of the 5 back in 1392. The palace was burnt down and rebuilt during one of the invasions of Korea. Geyongbokgung is now one of the best examples of a traditional Korean refined palace.

Gyeongbokgung Palace Seoul South Korea Winter-min

PROS:

-The largest of the 5 palaces

-The most extensive and beautiful gardens

-Hyangweonjeong Pavilion is stunning in every season

-Expansive grounds with a lot of shady areas to sit and rest

CONS:

-Busy as it is incredibly popular

-Literally nothing else I can think of because this is my favorite palace by far

Admission: 3,000 won per person                                       -Closed Every Tuesday

Location: Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 5

Changdeokgung Palace


The second palace built in Seoul and a UNESCO world heritage site, Changdeokgung is said to be built according to nature. This palace was originally built as a back-up to Gyeongbokgung in case something were to happen to the primary palace.

Changdeokgung Palace Seoul South Korea-min

PROS:

– One of the most historically relevant sites in Korea (UNESCO)

-The secret garden tour (Huwon) is stunning. If pagodas set against immaculate gardens are your thing then this is the tour for you. English secret garden tours are only run 3-4 times per day for 8,000 won per person

-Second largest palace in Seoul

-Rear garden has a 300+ year old giant tree

CONS:

-The secret garden is fantastic but the regular gardens don’t compare to Gyeongbok

-The secret garden tour is great but you have to go in a group and it can become a little tedious

Admission: 3,000 won per person                                       -Closed Every Monday

Location: Anguk Station Exit 3, walk straight 5 mins

Deoksugung Palace


The only palace located on flat ground, this palace used to have the city wall built around it in order to protect it from the threats of its time.

Deoksogung palace seoul south korea changing of the guards ceremony-min

PROS:

-This palace has the changing of the guards ceremony 3 times per day, a major tourist attraction

-To the left of the palace entrance is the famous stone wall road and a great noodle restaurant

-located at one of the busiest and most lively intersections in town

CONS:

-Very few structures are actually intact within the grounds

-The gardens are lacking compared to Gyeongbok and Changdeok

-The changing of the guards ceremony is a little bit silly and runs long in my opinion. Designed specifically for tourists, it lacks authenticity

Admission: 1,000 won per person                                       -Closed Every Monday

Location: City Hall Station Exit 1, 2 or 3

 Interested in learning more about South Korea?  Check out my other South Korea Travel Tips & Tricks

Changgyeonggung Palace


Built in 1418 this is the only one of Seoul’s palaces that faces East. This change was implemented to emphasize independence at the time of building.

Royal Palaces of Seoul South Korea-min

PROS:

-Much less busy than the larger palaces

-The greenhouse is beautiful

-Fairly large gardens

CONS:

– Difficult to get to, not near a subway station

– Lacking color and adornment of other palaces

– Due to construction, the greenhouse has been closed for years

Admission: 1,000 won per person                                       -Closed Every Monday

Location: Anguk Station Exit 3 walk along Yulgok-ro for 1km, make a left on Changgyeonggung-ro for 300m, entrance on your left. 

Gyeonghuigung Palace


Just opened to the public in 2002, Gyeonghuigung Palace is the least well-known palace in Seoul. It lacks the vibrancy and extravagance of the other locations since it is not fully refurbished.

The royal palaces of south korea seoul -min

PROS:

-You can walk to Deoksugung Palace from here and see both in one day

-Definitely the least well-known palace and will be the least busy

CONS:

-The palace is not 100% intact. The Shilla Hotel is currently using the front gate as their own

-Gardens are nearly non-existent

-It is free for a reason guys…I would not recommend this palace

Admission: Free                                      -Closed Every Monday

Location: Seodaemun Station Exit 4, walk straight 400m entrance on left

 

So what would I recommend? Gyeongbokgung Palace hands down, it is the best combination of traditional Korean architecture and incredibly manicured gardens. Second best is Changdeokgung Palace with the Huwon tour. If you choose this option be sure to wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking a TON. Have fun and let me know what you think of my list in the comments 🙂

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