Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁: Ultimate Guide - IVisitKorea
changdeokgung palace

Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁: Ultimate Guide

📍 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99
🚆 Anguk Station, Line 3 Exit 3
🕒 Feb – May and Sep – Oct – 09:00-18:00 | Jun – Aug – 09:00-18:30 | Nov-Jan – 09:00-17:30 | Closed on Mondays
₩ Adult (age 19~64): 3,000 won (USD 2.30) | Group admission (10+ people) 2,400 won (USD 1.86) | Free for those wearing Hanbok, ages under 18 and over 65, Culture Day (the last Wednesday of every month)
🌐 www.cdg.go.kr
☎️ +82-2-3668-2300
✍🏻 Requires valid ID card for free tickets(ages under 18 and over 65)

Changdeokgung Palace, along with its captivating Huwon Secret Garden, is a major attraction in Seoul. Exploring this historic site is among the top-notch things to do in the city. The palace showcases exquisite Korean architecture and is a great peek into Korea’s rich culture and history. If planning a trip to Seoul, put this palace on your must-visit list. We have all the info you need to plan an awesome visit to this fantastic place. Get ready for a journey through history and beauty!

How to get to Changdeokgung Palace

Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99

How to get to Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul

By Subway

You can ride a subway Line 3 and get off at Exit 3 at Anguk Station. Then, walk straight for about 498 meters, and Changdeokgung Palace will be on your left. Another option is to take Line 1, 3, or 5, then get off at Jongno 3-ga Station Exit 7. From there, walk along the road about 764 meters, and you will see the palace in front of you.

By Bus

Because the palace is located in the city center, several bus routes pass in front of it. The Blue Bus (109, 151, 162, 171, 172, 272) or the Green Bus (7025) are the finest routes. Board one of these buses and alight at the Changdeokgung Palace bus stop. Then, walk about 175 meters to the palace.

Tips

  • When visiting Changdeokgung Palace, you can take a free one-hour guided tour in various languages. The free guided tours begin in front of the corresponding information signs. 
LocationLanguageMonthTime
Changdeokgung Palace BuildingEnglishJanuary- December10:15, 13:15
Japanese11:00
Chinese10:00, 15:00
Secret GardenEnglishFebruary- November10:30, 11:30
EnglishDecember- January14:30
JapaneseJanuary-December13:30
ChineseJanuary- December12:30
  • Wear Hanbok to get a free entrance. This is not only an exciting experience, but it also helps you snap more lovely photos. Check out our Hanbok renting guide for more information. 
  • Otherwise, you can make it easy with the Go City Seoul Explorer Pass, Discover Seoul Pass, or Klook Seoul Pass. These passes include access to Hanbok rentals near royal palaces, Lotte World, Folk Village, N Seoul Tower, Cookin’ Nanta Show, Everland Shuttle, DMZ Tour, Nami Island, Han River Cruise, Seoul Land, Dynamic Maze, Alive Museum, and even a Seoul Pub Crawl in Hongdae.
  • To visit multiple palaces in Seoul, you should purchase The Royal Palace Pass (KRW 10,000 or 7.47 USD). The pass is valid for three months after purchase. With the pass, you can visit Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Jongmyo Shrine. 
  • Changdeokgung Palace and Changgyeonggung are linked, so you can consider visiting both palaces.
  • If you want to view the Palace (not the Secret Garden), you will need around 1.5 hours at Changdeokgung Palace. When visiting the Secret Garden, you will need at least 3 hours at Changdeokgung Palace. 

About Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung palace
By seoul.go.kr

Changdeokgung Palace was constructed in 1405, just a few years after the completion of the main palace, Gyeongbokgung, under the leadership of King Taejong. Initially serving as a secondary palace located 1 km east of Gyeongbokgung, it is the second oldest palace in Seoul after Gyeongbokgung. The palace grounds are divided into three areas: the public palace, the royal family living building, and the back garden. The rear garden, known as a king’s resting place, has a massive tree over 300 years old, a small pond, and a pavilion.

Like other places in Seoul, it suffered significant damage during the Japanese invasion from 1592 to 1598 but was reconstructed in 1610. Changdeokgung Palace then functioned as the main palace in Seoul for 270 years until 1997, when it was designated as a “World Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.

Despite facing destruction multiple times, Changdeokgung is remarkably well-preserved, contributing to its UNESCO listing in 1997 with the Huwon Garden, encompassing an area of 78 hectares. The palace is celebrated for its exceptional architecture and design that seamlessly integrates with the natural landscape. Today, the Changdeokgung Palace Complex is a must-visit destination in Seoul.

Changdeokgung Palace Moonlight Tour (Annual Event)

Changdeokgung-Palace-Moonlight-Tour
  • Period: 2023.09.07 ~ 2023.10.22
  • Open hours: 19:00 – 21:30 (Last entrance 20:00) Closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday
  • Admission: 30,000KRW
  • This event must be booked online and takes approximately 100 minutes.

I’m thrilled to share the wonderful moonlight tour, a premier cultural event held in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Changdeokgung Palace in Seoul. The 창덕궁 달빛기행 (Changdeokgung Moonlight Tour) is a program that allows visitors to explore the palace under the soft glow of the moon, blending beautifully with the greenery around. Accompanied by professional guides, participants get to delve into the history and architecture of each pavilion, coupled with traditional Korean performances.

Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Performances

The journey starts at the palace’s main gate, Donhwamun, and winds through several significant spots including Injeongjeon, Buyongji, the rear garden forest paths, and more. This tour offers a unique and moving experience exclusive to the Changdeokgung moonlight tour. I’ll be updating the schedule for 2024 as soon as it’s released, so stay tuned for an enchanting night at one of Seoul’s most majestic historical sites.

Things to see in Changdeokgung Palace

Huwon secret garden
By seoul.go.kr

The Secret Garden is a must-visit in Changdeokgung. It’s the most famous part of the complex, covering over half of the palace grounds across 78 acres. Initially used by the royal family for privacy and relaxation, it features terraces with lawns, flowers, and pools. The pavilions blend harmoniously with the surrounding trees, including walnut, oak, chestnut, and pine; some are over 300 years old. The garden tour also includes historical buildings like Juhamnu Pavilion, Aeryeonjeong Pavilion, and the Yeongyeongdang complex, making it a captivating experience.

Notes: 

  • To enter the Huwon Secret Garden, purchase a Changdeokgung Palace admission ticket. Then, buy another ticket for Secret Garden separately. 
  • The Secret Garden only offers guided tours (about 90 minutes), and ticket sales are restricted to 100 persons per session.
  • Currently, 50 of these tickets may be purchased online, while the remaining 50 are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

General information

  • Open hours: Mar.-June/ Sept.-Oct. 10:00 – 17:30 | July-August 10:00 – 17:10 | Feb. 10:00 – 16:40
  • Ticket: Adult (age 19 and above) 5,000 Won (3.84 USD) | Youth (age 7~18) 2,500 (1.94 USD) Won | Free entrance for ages under 7
  • Changdeokgung tickets online booking here
  • Free guided tours: English 10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30 | Japanese 13:30 | Chinese 12:30
Donhwamun Gate
By cha.go.kr

Donhwamun Gate serves as the main entrance to Changdeokgung Palace. Initially built in 1412, it faced destruction during Japanese invasions in 1592 but was reconstructed by 1607, making it the oldest remaining entrance in Seoul. 

Unlike Gwanghwamun, the main entrance to the Joseon Dynasty’s primary palace, Donhwamun Gate, features a distinct ground-level structure with three open arches. This is also a favorite spot among photographers since it offers gorgeous views of a row of trees and the broad stone bridge. 

As you step through the main entrance of Changdeokgung Palace, you’ll encounter Gwolnaegaksa, the area that once housed government offices within the palace. These offices was important in overseeing the royal family’s affairs, including hosting the Royal Counsel Committee meetings. Gwolnaegaksa also housed facilities such as a royal pharmacy and a library.

Injeongjeon Hall
By seoul.go.kr

Every hall has a central hall representing the king’s power and authority. Injeongjeon is the primary throne hall of Changdeokgung Palace, hosting major state events and royal conferences. It was also where the king received visitors, ambassadors, and foreign envoys.

When you go through the grand entrance, you’ll see this open area leading to the hall at the back. There’s a clear path down the middle just for the king, and there are stones on the sides where officials positioned themselves according to their rank. While visitors cannot enter Injeongjeon Hall, you can take a sneak peek inside to appreciate the exquisite Korean architecture.

Seonjeongjeon Hall
By cha.go.kr

Seonjeongjeon Hall is a single-story building that serves as the king’s main workspace and is conveniently positioned close to his sleeping quarters. The hall gives off comfort and solidity, as highlighted by key features such as high footstones for the gutter, eye-catching blue-glazed ceiling tiles, and four-leaf doors with panes replacing paper to light up the interior. The decorative ceiling above the throne symbolizes the king’s authority, showcasing the woodcraft and art of the Joseon Dynasty.

At the heart of the building, the king occupied his throne in front of a screen adorned with the sun, the moon, and five mountains. Subjects were then seated on both sides, and a scribe recorded their discussions from a corner. 

Huijeongdang Hall
By cha.go.kr

The king often used Huijeongdang as his personal office space. This area was also considered the king’s residence and was off-limits to many. The biggest rooms served as a drawing room and a meeting room. 

During that time, western culture was brought into Korea, which was undergoing acculturation. Huijeongdang is one of the best examples of this. From the outside, the building appears to be traditional Korean, with red and green paint and a hip and gable roof. However, there have been other improvements inside that make it look more Westernized. 

Daejojeon hall

The Daejojeon is the queen’s residence, situated just behind the king’s residence in the center of the palace. Unlike other palace buildings, it lacks a ridge on its roof, making it easily identifiable. At the center of the Daejojeon is a small base called “Woldae,” where visitors would greet the queen or wait for her appearance. 

The residence’s rear features a terraced garden with doors leading to the famous secret garden. Noteworthy is the impressive brick fireplace covered by regularly sculpted slabs. This serene area, adorned with trees, offers a pleasant and aesthetically charming space, free from the usual crowds.

Best time to visit Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung in autumn
Changdeokgung in Fall

Changdeokgung Palace, especially the Secret Garden, is beautiful all year round. But the best times to visit are in January or February for snowy scenes or from mid-October to mid-November to see the stunning autumn colors. Whether it’s the palace covered in snow or surrounded by vibrant fall foliage, these seasons make for the most picturesque visits.

changdeokgung-palace in spring
Changdeokgung in Spring

Nearby attractions

Changgyeonggung Palace by night
  • Address: 185, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 창경궁로 185
  • Open hours: 09:00-21:00 (Last admission 20:00) | Closed on Mondays
  • Phone: +82-2-762-4868

Changgyeonggung Palace is next to Changdeokgung, so it’s easy to visit both together. Originally built by King Sejong as Suganggung Palace, it served as living quarters for queens and concubines. During the Japanese colonial period, it became a park with a zoo and botanical garden. Restoration work in 1983 brought back its historical charm. While Gyeongbokgung is only open at night at specific times, Changgyeonggung is open all year. So, if you want to see what the royal palace looks like at night, head to Changgyeonggung.

Things do to in Ikseondong
  • Address: Supyo-ro 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 수표로28길 일대)

This is a hipster spot in Seoul. Ikseon-dong is one of Seoul’s oldest neighborhoods, and is in the Jongno district; north of the city center. Even after hundreds of years, the traditional custom has been kept till today. The tight lane with many twists and turns creates a sense of being trapped in a wonderful labyrinth world. The neighborhood has the prettiest small lanes filled with Hanoks, stylish stores, excellent cafés, and great restaurants. It’s a great place to hang out and chill with your loved one.

Bukchon Hanok village - best place to visit near Changdeokgung Palace
  • Address: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 계동길 37

Bukchon Hanok Village is known as Seoul’s most beautiful ancient village. It is nestled between Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and Jongmyo Temple, providing a peaceful getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Many galleries, small museums, and lovely cafés in the alleys. 

Visiting Changdeokgung Palace is like taking a trip back to Korea. With the Secret Garden and fancy halls, it’s an adventure filled with history and beauty. So, if you want a cool experience, check out Changdeokgung and get ready for a trip through ancient stories and sights!

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