Seoul's Royal Palaces

By Seyra Rico - 11:40 AM

After shopping, Nami Island, and Petite France, you know I have to do explore the palaces, right? I woke up fresh and bright, checked Myeong-dong (which is packed on Sundays), and went to Gyeongbokgung. I purchase the Integrated Ticket of Palaces which is good for all the five grand palaces. It costs 10,000 won, and it's valid for a month. It will also save you 4,000 won, comparing to the individual entrance costs per palace. It includes the entrance for Huwon Secret Garden, too. It looks like a booklet with the helpful tips and maps on how to get to all the locations. Everything is near a train line so you will find it easy to navigate around.  You can purchase the pass near the main gate of Gyeongbokgung, the Gwanghwamun Gate. There is also a tourism office inside that will let you wear the Hanbok (traditional Korean costume) for free! I didn't try it, for I think that is just commodifies the culture, and people try it on without learning South Korea's history first. Even if the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is the one promoting it.

First stop: Gyeongbokgung! It is the most popular one, and it was swarming with tourists when I got there. It is a large complex, so if you want a decent photo with no people, you have to walk beyond the main building in the front. You'll get to see rooms and temples there. I noticed that they don't build their palaces for height, they utilize their ground spaces well. But you can't get inside nor take photographs of the palaces. 

Second stop: Changdeokgung. This is located east of Gyeongbokgung Palace. It is one of the best preserved examples of Korean palatial architecture. It became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. It connects to Changgyeonggung. 

Third stop: Changgyeonggung Palace. It was a residential quarters for queens, king's relatives and concubines. Changgyeonggung Palace, along with Changdeokgung Palace, were together known as Donggwol, or the East Palace. Both shared the rear garden, which I didn't get to see, for the palaces were about to close at 5:30pm.

I missed Jongmyo Shrine, Deoksugung Palace, and Huwon Secret Garden in Changdeokgung Palace for I got too caught up in The National Palace Museum of Korea in Gyeongbokgung Palace. I spent hours inside and didn't realize the time! More reason to go back and see the rest, I suppose. Although when I came to the third palace, I noticed that all the palace have similar attributes--Dancheong (or the five colors of blue, red, yellow, white, and black which were used in various designs to decorate wooden buildings) and same furniture.

I went on a Sunday and Mondays are closed for palace visits. I was contemplating what to do on Monday when I met someone who invited me Everland (up on my next post!) and on Tuesday I was on my way back to the Philippines. So read on! 😃

Haminjeong Pavilion

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