Make sure you visit the Gyeonghoeru Pavillion, located within the grounds of the Gyeongbokgung Palace to the East. Most people spend all day inside the palace, but make sure you venture east of the Palace. Best time to visit, just before sunset as the warm sunlight will make the palace look amazing.
The large palace of Gyeongbokgung is the pride of Seoul's tourist literature and its elegantly painted front gate, Gwanghwamun Gate, effectively functions as a symbol of the city of Seoul. Located directly across from Gwanghwamun Square in the heart of Seoul and City Hall area, it is within easy reach for both travelers and locals. Both gate and palace were initially built in 1395, the same year that Seoul became the capital of the Joseon Dynasty, which ruled Korea with Seoul as a capital city. Although fire, war and Japanese occupation have wiped out pretty much all of the original structure, renovations have been conducted with care and there is no mistaking the gentle majesty of the palace.
Seoul's biggets tourist draw, is also home to one of the biggest travel secrets, the front courtyard stays open until 11pm, enabling those in the know to catch a stunning sunset over the Bukhansan Mountains - adding fiery colours into the calm silhouettes of the palace walls. Unbelievable!
Operating Hours: March through October: 9am--6pm. November through February: 9am - 5pm. Open until 7pm Saturdays and Sundays and National Holidays in May, June, July and August.
Admission: Adults: (age: 19-64) 3,000 KRW. Minors (age 7-18): 1,500 KRW. The ticket booth closes one hour before closing of palace.
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Where: Gyeongbokgung Palace, 1 Sejong-ro, Jogno-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Event type: Performance.
Time(s: 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. (3 times per day, 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.) Winter Season (Dec - Feb): On days when the temperature is -10℃ or lower, the changing of the royal guard ceremony maintains full scale presentation, however the number of guards on watchguard duty may be reduced. Summer Season (July - Aug): On days when the temperature is 30℃ or higher, the changing of the royal guard ceremony maintains full scale presentation, however the number of guards on watchguard duty may be reduced. Bad Weather (Heavy Rain or Snow): The changing of the royal guard ceremony may be cancelled while the duty of guarding the palace gates will continue to be carried out at Heungnyemun (Gate). Closed on Tuesdays. During the Joseon Dynasty, the royal guards were responsible for guarding and patrolling the gates of the capital city and the royal palaces. The royal palace guards, who were known as the "Wanggung Sumunjang", had the very important duty of protecting the king by guarding the entrance gates of the primary royal palace where the king resided. They were in charge of opening and closing the palace gates, inspecting all visitors, and maintaining a close surveillance of the palace. They were divided into day and night shifts, and the Changing of the Guard ceremony took place whenever the shifts changed over. After some extensive historical research, this splendid and elegant traditional Korean royal court cultural ceremony was first re-enacted in 1996 and has been a must-see among Seoul's tourist attractions ever since. This ceremony is a great opportunity to experience a rare traditional scene in Korea, as the ceremony is reenacted exactly as it used to be held, with guards wearing royal uniforms, carrying traditional weapons and playing traditional instruments. A tradition comparable to the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, this ceremony takes place three times a day in front of Gwanghwamun, the main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace!
How to get there:
Gyengbokgung Palace is located a 5 min walk from exit 5, Gyengbokgung station, line 3 and a 10 min walk from exit 2 of Gwanghwamun station, line 5. You cannot miss it as it it huge!
"I haven't been everywhere, but it’s on my list" - Susan Sontag