Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace)

#7 in Best Things To Do in Seoul
Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace) picture
Vincent_St_Thomas/Getty Images

Key Info

161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu

Details

Castles/Palaces Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
4.3

scorecard

  • 4.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

The ornate Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbokgung Palace) was originally built in A.D. 1395 and served as the focal point and governmental seat of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). In Korean, its name translates to "Palace Greatly Blessed by Heaven," but its history seems to paint it as anything but blessed. Gyeongbokgung was destroyed in 1590s during a Japanese invasion, after which Korea's rulers abandoned the palace and set up camp about a mile east in Changdeokgung (Changdeok Palace). That is, until King Gojong began Gyeongbok Palace's restoration during his reign (1852-1919). The site once housed some 500 buildings. But the king's efforts were for naught: Another Japanese invasion resulted in the demolition of the majority of the complex. Restoration of the twice-destroyed palace began afresh in 1990, and visitors today can once again marvel at its magnificent architecture, lustrous grounds and historical significance. 

Recent visitors said the Gyeongbokgung palace is a must-see for anyone interested in Seoul's Joseon Dynasty. Travelers loved learning about the history of the palace and how it played into the larger story of both Seoul and South Korea. Visitors also admired the beautiful yet extensive grounds, saying you'll need at least a couple of hours to see everything the palace has to offer. Reviewers also recommended bringing walking shoes and if you have flexibility with your schedule, to visit when the changing of the guard ceremony commences (the ceremony is held at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day the attraction is open). The only thing that put off some visitors was the touristy nature of the site, noting that crowds, especially on the weekends, can hamper a visit. Try to stop by during a weekday or plan a morning visit to avoid sharing the attraction with loads of other sightseers. 

Gyeongbokgung welcomes visitors every day except Tuesday. Hours vary by season, but generally, you can expect the attraction to be open from 9 a.m. to 5 or 6:30 p.m. Admission costs 3,000 won (around $2.69) for adults and 1,500 won (about $1.35) for visitors age 7 to 18. Also consider purchasing an integrated ticket for 10,000 won (about $9), which grants access to Seoul's other Joseon palaces as well as the Jongmyo Shrine. Or take advantage of the free guided tours offered by the palace. There are three English tours offered daily, with one at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Located in northern Seoul, Gyeongbokgung is easily accessible by the Gyeongbokgung subway station. For more information, visit the Korea Tourism Organization's official website.

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Time to Spend
#1 Namsan Park and N Seoul Tower

Home to five warning beacons and a protective city wall during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Mount Namsan now hosts a park and a smattering of tourism sites like an aquarium, a library and a bevy of beautiful walking trails.

But most people visit Namsan Park for its panoramic views of Seoul. To scope it out for free, visit Palgakjeong, an octagon-shaped viewing pavilion that boasts alluring vistas of the city. For an even more breathtaking sight, shell out a few won to get to the observation platform atop N Seoul Tower, Namsan Park's real showstopper. Recent visitors said that on clear days, the view from 1,574 feet up is spectacular. Out on the sky deck, you can't miss the thousands of padlocks attached to the fence; couples lock them there as symbols of everlasting love (bring your own lock if you're feeling romantic). For an extra-special experience, reserve a table for dinner in the rotating French restaurant, n.GRILL, on the tower's top floor. 

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