Visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace In Seoul

Complete Guide To Visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace In Seoul

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Gyeongbokgung Palace is undoubtedly one of the most visited historic sites in Seoul and should be on anybody’s list of must-sees when coming to Korea. I’ve visited the palace more times than I could count and know what to do and what not to do when it comes to visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.

You can avoid a stressful visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul by reading the following tips first!

Here is what you really need to know about visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace!

Also be sure to check out these 25 awesome and FREE things to do in Seoul and if you’re only in Seoul for a layover, you might be interested in booking a FREE Seoul transit tour from Incheon Airport.

VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL

WHEN TO GO

Since Gyeongbokgung Palace is among the top attractions in Seoul, it’s pretty much always packed with tourists, both foreign and local. However, you can still avoid the crowds if you stick to the following tips when visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.

TIP #2 FOR VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL:

Show up before 9AM when the palace opens

TIP #2 FOR VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL:

Visit in the early morning or in the late afternoon

I highly recommend heading to Gyeongbokgung Palace as soon as it opens at 9:00 in the morning. The second best time to visit the palace is the late afternoon, 1 hour before closing time at the latest.

Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed every Tuesday. Gyeongbokgung Palace opening hours are subject to change depending on special conditions or circumstances.

 

Months Opening Hours Ticketing Time
January to February 9:00 – 17:00 9:00 – 16:00
March to May 9:00 – 18:00 9:00 – 17:00
June to August 9:00 – 18:30 9:00 – 17:30
September to October 9:00 – 18:00 9:00 – 17:00
November to December 9:00 – 17:00 9:00 – 14:00

 

Admission Fees
Adults (ages 19-64): 3,000 won / Groups (10 people or more): 2,400 won
Children (ages 7-18): 1,500 won / Groups (10 people or more): 1,200 won

* Free admission: Preschoolers (age 6 and younger), seniors (ages 65 and older), people wearing hanbok, the last Wednesday of every month (Culture day)
* Refer to the website for details

VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL

Changing of the Royal Guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace

Since 1469, the Joseon Dynasty royal guards would keep watch and guard the main entrance of Gyeongbokgung Palace from where the king ruled the country. Today, this tradition is kept alive by daily changing of the royals guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul based on royal documents of the ceremonies.

The changing of the guards is a great opportunity to get a glimpse into Korean tradition and history. When visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, be sure to time your visit according to the changing of the guards schedule.

Performance Times

Sumunjang (Royal Guard) Changing Ceremony
10:00, 14:00 / 20 minutes per ceremony
Gwanghwamun Gate Guard-on-Duty Performance
11:00, 13:00 / 10 minutes per ceremony
Sumungun (Gatekeeper) Military Training (outside Hyeopsaengmun Gate)
09:35, 13:35 / 15 minutes per ceremony

* Please note that the schedule is subject to change.
* Event may be canceled in the case of rain.

VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL

HOW TO GET TO GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE

Gyeongbokgung Palace is located in the heart of Seoul and is very easy to get to. You can either take a taxi or hop on the subway and get off at “Gyeongbokgung Station”. From there, take exit

 

 

VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL

WHERE TO ENTER GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE

Gyeongbokgung Palace is situated in the Jongno District in one of the oldest parts of Seoul. It is very accessible from all different directions.

You can enter Gyeongbokgung Palace through the four main gates: the southern gate Gwanghwamun, the northern gate Sinmumun, the eastern entrance of National folk Museum of Korea and the western gate, Yeongchumun. However, if you have never been to Gyeongbokgung before, the most impressive way to enter is definitely from the southern gate Gwanghwamun.

There are two recommended ways to reach Gwanghwamun:

#1: Take the subway line 5 to Gwanghwamun station and take exit no. 2. Follow the impressive walkway up to Gwanghwamun. This is the most impressive way to enter the palace if you will as it lets you pass by the statue of King Sejong, the creator of the Korean alphabet. 

#2: Take the subway line 3 to Gyeongbokgung station and take exit no. 5. This way will lead you directly into the palace entrance, right in front of the National Palace Museum of Korea.

VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL

HOW TO GET TICKETS / SKIP THE LINE AT GYEONGBOKGUNG

You can purchase your Gyeongbokgung palace ticket at any of the four entrances. A regular ticket costs 3,000 won. Groups of 10 or more get a discount and pay 2,400 won each. Children ages 7 to 18 pay 1,500 won, while groups of 10 or more pay only 1,200 won each. However, if you wear hanbok, the Korean traditional dress, there is no Gyeongbokgung palace entrance fee and you can enter for free. This also means, you won’t have to line up to purchase tickets, but can simply skip the line and enter.

I highly recommend booking a guided Gyeongbokgung Palace tour. This allows you to learn more about the palace and the individual rooms and halls inside the complex. There aren’t too may signs and explanations so a guide can fill those gaps.

Recommended tours at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul:

VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL

HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD YOU SPEND IN GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE?

There are 7,700 rooms at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. Even though you cannot enter all of them, it’s still a huge place and will take quite some time to explore and really take in. I would say anywhere between 2 and 3 hours seems like a good amount of time to really experience Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul.

VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL

WHAT TO WEAR WHEN VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE

There are no official guidelines or restrictions on what you can and cannot wear to Gyeongbokgung Palace, but I definitely recommend wearing comfortable shoes as you will walk a lot! Also, don’t forget to bring a lot of water, especially during the hot summer months. You might also want to wear sunscreen and a hat in summer. In winter, Seoul can get very cold, so warm shoes and a thick coat is also recommended.

Renting a Korean hanbok dress is very popular among tourists and locals alike. Not only will you take some seriously beautiful photos at the palace grounds, but you also get free admission to Gyeongbokgung when wearing a traditional dress.

wearing hanbok at Gyeongbokgung
wearing hanbok at Gyeongbokgung

VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL

What’s Nearby Gyeongbokgung Palace?

Statue of King Sejong

Right in front of Gwanghwamun Gate lies Gwanghwamun Plaza, a public open space featuring statues of Admiral Yi Sun-sin of Joseon Dynasty and King Sejong the Great of Joseon. King Sejong is probably the most famous king in Korean history as the Korean alphabet “Hangul” was invented under his reign as an effort to create a script that all Korean people could easily learn.

Bukchon Hanok Village

Situated on the top of a hill between Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace and Jongmyo Royal Shrine, Bukchon Hanok Village is a Korean traditional village. The traditional village is boasts beautiful traditional alleys, hanok and is preserved to show a 600-year-old urban environment.

Museums near Gyeongbokgung Palace

Underneath the middle section of Gwanghwamun Plaza are exhibitions on the life and work of two of the most important historical figures in Korean history: King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sunsin. Both exhibitions are completely free to enter and offer an interesting glimpse into the life of two of South Korea’s most famous historical figure. The exhibitions are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:30am–10:30pm (final admission at 10pm, http://m.sejongstory.or.kr/eng).

Other museums you shouldn’t miss that are close to Gyeongbokgung Palace are:

  • The National Folk Museum of Korea
  • National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art – Seoul
  • Kumho Museum of Art
  • National Museum of Korean Contemporary History
  • Daelim Museum

 

King Sejong Statue in Seoul
Bukchon Hanok Village Seoul
View of Gwanghwamun Plaza with Gyeongbokgung Palace
View of Gwanghwamun Plaza with Gyeongbokgung Palace

VISITING GYEONGBOKGUNG PALACE IN SEOUL

The Other Four Main Palaces

There are four royal palaces located in Seoul, Gyeongbokgung Palace being the largest. They are officially called “The Five Grand Seoul Palaces” and were all built between 1300 and 1500 during the Joseon Period. However, due to destruction by Japanese invasion (16th Century) occupation (20th Century) and fire outbreaks, only reconstructions of the buildings remain.

Changdeokgung Palace & Changgyeonggung Palace

Both of these palaces are situated right next to each other and are often combined together as “East Palace”. Visit these two palaces for genuinely old buildings (rather than modern reconstructions of old buildings), and for the beautiful surrounding gardens.

Gyeonghuigung Palace & Deoksugung Palace

Connected by an attractive tree- & sculpture-lined walled road, these two palaces are the smallest palaces in Seoul – ideal for anyone not too much into palaces as they make for a nice and manageable visit. There’s a pretty good museum at Gyeonghuigung, ideal for a half-day of Korean culture that isn’t too heavy on the palaces.

View of Deoksugung Palace

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Guide to Gyeongbokgung Palace Seoul

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Linda

Linda has been living in Asia since 2012 and loves sharing her travel and life experiences on her website. She currently works remotely in Online Marketing and also teaches various English classes in South Korea.

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