Peeking Inside Changdeokgung Palace: The Kings' Royal Villa
1. Changdeokgung Injeongmun Gate
Injeongmun Gate is a large wooden and stone gate as a main gate to the Injeongjeon Hall. It also serves as the most important part of the castle since some royal coronations, royal ceremonies, and other national affairs were taking place there. The original gate which was built in 1405 was destroyed by fire during Japanese invasion that sparked Imjin War in 1592. It was later restored along with other parts of Changdeokgung Palace, though you might noticed that the gate's design resembles more to typical buildings built in late 19th centuries.
2. Nakseonjae Hall
Nakseonjae Hall is a one-storey ikgong-style building, it was originally a part of Changgyeonggung Palace. However it is later acknowledged to be a part of Changdeokgung Palace instead since its located near the latter palace than with the former. Built in 1846, Nakseonjae Hall is also connected with two other royal halls, Seokbokheon Hall and Sugangjae Hall. The entire spacious hall is decorated with intricate and unique mozaic tiles and patterns. An outdoor garden consist of stacks of large stones and colorful flowers located outside the hall is also a unique point from Nakseonjae Hall you ought to see.
3. Hyangnamu Tree
One interesting part inside Changdeokgung Palace's complex is a 700 years old Chinese Juniper tree, called Hyangnamu Tree. Grown far before the palace complex itself even existed, the ancient tree is considered as a National Natural Monument and has since become one of main attractions in Changdeokgung Palace. The juniper's refreshing and soothing scent is often used as incense during religious rituals held in nearby Seonweonjeon Shrine.
4. Huwon Secret Garden
Head to the rear part of Changdeokgung Palace and step inside of what seems like a piece of Eden Garden on Earth. Huwon Secret Garden is a beautiful rear garden constructed during the reign of King Taejong, and used as a resting place for royal family during their leisure time. The garden's serene atmosphere often helped to inspire the royals to write poems and relaxing their mind during their contemplation. Huwon Secret Garden was also used as a venue for royal banquets. Most pavillions and buildings on the garden was destroyed during Japanese invasion to Korea in 1592, though they were later restored by Kings reigning the country later on.
Gwolnaegaksa is a small governmental office complex inside Changdeokgung Palace. Most administration jobs are done in several main pavillions, some of them are Gyujanggak, Geomseocheong, Hongmungwan, Naeuiwon, and Yemungwan. Visitors will also find other prominent buildings such as a library, pharmacy, regal decrees office, and royal counsel committee bureau. The original buildings of Gwolnaegaksa were destroyed during Japanese invasion in Imjin War, though fortunately the entire section was rebuilt in 2005 using the original designs.
6. Huijeongdang Hall
Huijeongdang Hall was initially built as a residence for royal females, although later it was used as the King's office and meeting venue between the King and his officials and discuss political and royal affairs. The original building was destroyed during Japanese invasion though later the Japanese government decided to rebuilt the hall using materials from Gyeongbokgung Palace. The renovated hall was built in different fashion from the original, as the newer one added Western influences in it.
How to Get Tickets?
Tickets to Changdeokgung Palace can be bought on-site or online. Visitation to Huwon Garden require separated ticket admission and advanced reservation that can be done through online. We suggest you to purchase a Combination Ticket for multi-entry to the Four Palaces (Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and Jongmyo Shrine. It costs you 10,000 won per-person and valid for 3 months after the date of purchase.
How To Get Around?
Getting around Changdeokgung Palace is easy. Almost all attractions in the palace complex can be reached on foot. Other palaces are also located within walking range.
What Should I Wear?
Although there's no strict dressing code rules for entering Changdeokgung Palace, we advice you to wear shoulder-covering tops and knee-length pants to respect the cultural place. Don't forget to wear your most comfortable walking shoes since you'll walk a lot. Or you can rent a hanbok. Exploring the palace while wearing hanbok wil allows you to immerse more with the surrounding. Plus you'll also get a free entrance!
Best Time to Visit
From October to November is the best time to visit Changdeokgung. The weather is nice and scenery at Huwon Secret Garden is simply breathtaking.
Will I Need a Guide?
For the best of your experience, we highly recommend you to join a guided tour. They will guide you to the best photogenic spots and you can also learn more about the castle's history. Though you'll do absolutely fine without a guide, especially after you read our guide in this website.
How To Get There?
There are two ways to reach Changdeokgung Palace. The first one is by subway by taking Seoul Subway Line 3. Alight at Anguk Station and take Exit 3. It only take 5 minutes walking from the station to the East until you reach the palace's entrance. Alternatively you can also take blue bus with these numbers: 100, 102, 104, 106, 107, 108, 140, 143, 150, 151, 160, 162, 301, 710 and get off at Changgyeonggung Palace Bus Stop. You can take Airport Bus No. 6011 from airport.