Thursday, October 30, 2014

Seoul, Korea: Gyeongbokgung Palace & Changing of the Guards

There are five grand palaces in Seoul built during the Joseon Dynasty, but we just chose to visit just one, which was Gyeongbokgung Palace. To be honest, I personally think they all kinda look the same anyway so why not just go to the biggest and regarded as the most beautiful, right? ;p

We took the train to Gyeongbokgung station and the first thing we saw when we exited the subway was the National Palace Museum of Korea. Too bad it was closed though, we would have loved to take a look inside (admission is free btw).

National Palace Museum of Korea

Right in front of the museum was the palace and we just had to walk a bit to finally reach the entrance.

We also made sure to arrive before 10am which was perfect since we were able to catch the Changing of the Guards ceremony, which happens outside the palace (I believe this takes place every hour until 3pm).

There were a lot of people, so make sure to position yourself in the front to be able to have a good view. But there's lots of space anyway, since the grounds are so huge. This is definitely a must-see since it's a great opportunity to experience a traditional ceremony which is reenacted exactly as in the olden times.

We went there on a Monday since it said online that the palace was closed on Tuesdays. There is an entrance fee of 3,000 won but it was apparently a holiday when we went (Autumn Harvest Festival) so entrance was FREE! But the downside was that there were no free guided tours that day. 

Heungnyemun or second inner gate. This was also the main entrance to the palace grounds.
Ready to do some serious walking... ;p

Gyeongbokgung was the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty. It was the first of the five palaces to be built and you can see the former offices of the state government, living quarters of past kings and queens, and historic artifacts inside.

The first building we saw was Geunjeongjeon which was the main hall of the palace. I believe this building was used for the king's affairs of state, including meetings and receptions with foreign guests.

this was the inside of the hall

After that, we just kinda wandered off wherever. I was just looking for nice spots (and there were a lot!) and making kulit hubby to take my pics haha!

Everything kinda looks the same for me though haha! But I loved taking pics of all the intricate details especially the rooftops. So pretty and colorful!

Saw a lot of people taking pics by this giant poster of Jewel in the Palace, which I guess was shot here.

 a map of the palace grounds

The whole palace grounds is really huge and sprawling, but I guess we didn't realize just how big it was until we reached this part. You couldn't even see any houses, just land and trees (and mountains in the background). And it was quite a long walk to get to the other compounds. I can imagine back in the olden days when you wanted to visit someone or even give an urgent message. You really need horses to get to one place to the next!

I definitely want to come back in spring or fall so see all the pretty flowers`and autumn colors :)
more day-off pics lol! ;p
fermented pastes and sauces in clay pots in one part of the palace
Hyangwonjeong, a two story hexagonal pavilion built on a small island in the middle of a lake
Gyeonghoeru, an open two story pavilion on a surrounding man-made pond, used for banquets and entertainment of foreign guests

We probably spent a little over 2 hours exploring the palace. We were already exhausted from all the walking (I guess because the weather was also a bit hot) and I think there were a lot we still didn't get to see. Hubby was the one who wanted to check out more places, but I was already happy with all our pictures and was already dying from hunger haha! ;p

We exited through the Gwanghwamun Gate which is the main gate of Gyeongbokgung. We left at about 12 noon so we were able to catch the hourly Changing of the Guards ceremony again, although it was now concentrated in this front area. 

Right across the Gwanghwamun Gate is Gwanghwamun Square, where you can see the statues of King Sejong and Admiral Yi-Sun-Shin. There is another exit from the train (Gwanghwamun Station, Subway Line 5) which I believe lets you walk out right here in the square itself. So maybe if you like, you can choose to exit here instead of where we did, so you can take pics with the statues before entering the palace. 

In our case, I was already soooo hungry that we decided to just skip going here and head straight to Insadong for lunch.

I'll be posting about Insadong and Bukchon Hanok Village next so stay tuned! :)


  1. Oh Helene, I lurve your dress! Please post OOTD in your instagram! :)

    1. Thank you sis! Posted this outfit in IG na before :) Got it in Bangkok ;p



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