Gyeongbokgung rings many bells especially tourists’ and visitors’, and I can’t deny the beauty of it. However, today I’m going to write about Changdeokgung Palace instead. Maybe more towards the Huwon.
So, why Changdeokgung?
It is true that Gyeongbokgung have stunning scenery surrounding the inner part of the palace, with refurbished architectures. However, Changdeokgung has a more Korean looking ambience preserved, so one could see the historical side of the palace.
Changdeokgung is the second palace to be built after Gyeongbokgung under the reign of King Taejong in the year 1405. King Taejong, who settled at Changedeokgung avoided going to Gyeongbokgung because he had killed his half brothers there just to be enthroned as a King of Joseon. Later on, King Seonjo expanded the palace grounds by about 500,000 square meters, including Huwon (후원) (Rear or Secret Garden) and was listed in 1997 as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site.
CLOSE on Mondays, the main palace is accessible by anyone after purchasing an entrance ticket (3,000 won for adults, 1,500 won for kids). However, the ONE AND ONLY Huwon,will require a guided tour from the palace staff (additional 5,000 won to Huwon + tour for adults & 2,500 won for kids).
We booked the Huwon tour through this website, what’s even better is that the fees were paid only when we collected the ticket on the day itself. Since there are only a LIMITED number of visitors allowed on each session, I strongly advise you to book them in advance.
Claim your tickets 1 hour before the tour or it will be forfeited.
The 78-acre Huwon which was originally constructed for the use of the royal family and palace women. The garden incorporates a lotus pond, pavilions, and landscaped lawns, trees, and flowers which are over 300 years old.
Which is the best season to visit? There’s no definite answer. It depends on you actually, as every season has it’s own natural beauty.
In Spring, flood your eyes with the view of blossom flowers that bloom all over the palace. In Summer, expect green bushy trees, you can also take a rest under one of these huge trees. While in Autumn, leaves starts turning yellowish red and fall, which in return creates a calming view. Last but not least during Winter, where layers of thick white snow makes everything so romantic and reminds you of those sa-geuk (historical dramas) romance drama. As for us, we went during the fall.
The Huwon tour usually takes 1 hour and you may explore it freely as you like, as long as you don’t go anywhere prohibited. Don’t try to sneak in!
We went our own way since we couldn’t catch up with the group. Tee-hee~ we were busy taking pictures while exploring the garden. It’s not only huge, it also have lots of different roads & paths, so don’t get lost! Follow the crowd if you’re lost!
This peaceful building is known as Juhamnu Pavillion, a 2 storey building built in year 1776 under the reign of King Jeongjo. Lower level served as a Gyujanggak (Royal Library), while the upper level served as a King’s reading room. Those gates leading up to the pavilion are known as Eosumun, built in a unique structure, where the bigger gate was used by the King while the smaller ones used by his subjects.
Uiduhap Pavillion was constructed by Crown Prince Hyo Myung for studying and meditating. Unlike those rich-looking buildings with fancy designs, it is rather small and simple like those houses of the citizens.
Overall, it was a great experience during this palace visit. Being able to see how the royal chamber looks like, a real-life garden where the Queens used to walked around, and imagining the Kings of Joseon fishing at the pond… Though it would be more enticing if there were some traditional royal games which the Kings & Queens used to play duringJoseon Dynasty..
Anguk Station (Subway Line 3), Exit 3. Go straight for 5min.
Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Subway Line 1, 3 or 5), Exit 7. Go straight along Donhwamun-ro Street for 10min.