Saturday, March 30, 2013

Seoul Day 4 - Culture seeking at Gyeongbokgung Palace (Part 1)

It was a fine morning during my fourth day at Seoul. Finally, the sun decided to shine bright today after hiding in the clouds for the past days! I really appreciated this blessing of good weather since this was the day designated for my Gyeongbokgung Palace tour.

a nice view of the main throne hall amidst the mountainous backdrop

As the grandest of all the palaces located in Seoul, I did not pass up the chance to get to know more about it. With that in mind, I also signed-up for a walking tour of the place through this site: prior to my visit. The process was very simple. You just need to fill out a form and you will get a confirmation e-mail afterwards. Oh yeah, did I mention that this service is absolutely free so don’t miss the opportunity to sign-up!

TIP: If you plan to visit all Jongmyo Shrine and the 4 palaces in Seoul, purchase the Integrated Ticket of Palaces worth 10,000 KRW. Instead of paying 14,000 KRW if bought separately, you will save 4,000 KRW on this one.

The palace was relatively near (actually a stone’s throw away) from where I’m staying so it was best to just walk towards it. It took me 15 minutes at a leisurely pace.

When I got to the designated meeting place, I saw my walking tour guide holding a piece of paper that contained all the names of those who registered for the tour. I introduced myself and he warmly greeted me back. As it was already 10:00am, he told me to watch the Changing of the Guards ceremony first before purchasing my ticket and going on with the walking tour.

the change of the guards ceremony

I was amazed at how the Changing of the Guards ceremony was performed. Watching it made me feel like I was transported back in time during the heydays of the palace – all the costumes were vibrant in color and the sounds of the drums echoed throughout the palace grounds. Everyone was surely delighted in taking part of this reenactment of a historical event. The whole ceremony took about 20-30 minutes to complete.

got to have a photo with one of the guards

I then proceeded to buy the entrance ticket and regrouped with my walking tour guide. Apparently, there are just two of us for today’s tour – unfortunately, the other one failed to show up. After a few introductions, I got to know that my fellow traveller was a newly graduated student from Canada. I got to know that she is half Filipino too!

Gyeongbokgung Palace ticket priced at 3,000 KRW

Built in 1395 (after just 3 years from the establishment of the Joseon Dynasty), Gyeongbokgung Palace served as the main palace for what spanned to more than 500 years. Although destroyed during the Japanese invasion of 1592, the palace was rebuilt again in 1867 during the time of Prince Regent Heungseon Daewongun.

The Gwanghwamun or the main gate is composed of 3 entrances – the central one exclusively reserved for the king’s use.

the overwhelming Gwanghwamun

We then proceeded to the Geunjeongjeon. This is the main throne hall and was used primarily for the king’s state affairs. These include meetings and reception with foreign envoys. However, the most important thing done here is the coronation ceremony.

at the center of Geunjeongjeon

how the throne hall looks like inside

As we moved towards the Sujeongjeon (formerly known as the Jiphyeonjeon), we noticed a large empty space. We were told that there were numerous government buildings there before. However, these were removed by the Japanese for an expo in 1915. Anyway, this particular building is highly significant because it is here where the Korean alphabet, Hangeul, was invented under King Sejong.

the infamous Sujeongjeon where Hangeul was invented
Found this post informative and useful? Perhaps you've visited this palace before? Feel free to share your opinions and experiences by commenting below or by using the Contact button on the right.

Up next, culture seeking at Gyeongbokgung Palace (Part 2).

Yes, I actually had to breakdown this post into two parts since I realized how long it actually was after reviewing it.  

Want to discover more about my 5 Days and 4 Nights in Seoul, South Korea? Just click the link.


  1. I didn't know that there's a free sign-up for the walking tour. Nice shot on the changing of the guards! At least I got to see it here. :)

    1. Hi Kim! Thanks for dropping by. Yes, there are free tours around Seoul. You simply sign-up ahead of time and meet your guide on the designated spot. It's a great way to learn more about the culture.

    2. Hi i was looking through the site where i can sign up for the walking tour but i cant seem to find it can you please guide me through the process thanks! looking forward to hear from you soon!

    3. Hi Shalom, it looks like the site made some changes. You can directly try this link for the walking tours reservation.