Right in the middle of Seoul’s modern city is a taste of tradition in the form of Gyeongbok Palace (경복궁). Built in 1395, the palace has been home to Korea’s royalty over the generations. Today the palace is open to the public year-round to explore.
The palace can be accessed by subway – i suggest taking line 5 to Gwanghwamun station to explore the area around the main gate.
The area is marked by 2 statues of important figures in Korean history, Yi SunSin (a naval commander celebrated for his victories against Japan in the 1500s) and King SeJong (The founder of Hangeul, the Korean writing system they use today)
Underneath the statue of King SeJong is a museum celebrating both figures, nice to have a look around if you are interested in history (or it’s a hot day.) Stay on the lookout for events near the site, often there are cultural festivals (We got lucky with some free calligraphy on this day!) but the area is often used for protests, so keep an eye on the news!
At 10:00 and 14:00 (every day except Tuesday) you can witness the changing of the guard at Gwanghwamun gate. Make sure you are inside the gate before it starts, its much more impressive!
Entrance to the palace is W3,000 for adults and W1,500 for under 18s, and you can buy tickets inside the gate area. If you have rented a Handbook to wear from one of the surrounding stores, there is no entrance fee! Make sure you grab a guide at the ticket booth so you know what you’re looking at! (if you are really interested there are tours. The times are on their website)
Take your time to look around, especially away from the main parts of the palace grounds. Taewonjeon Hall especially is often quiet and so beautiful to look around.
There are a few cafes dotted around the grounds as well as a gift shop and a museum, so head there if you need a rest! (we hit up every one. it was 37 degrees C…)
I took way too many photos. This place is so beautiful it was hard to choose only a handful to post!
Heading out of the gate closest to the folk museum will take you to the main street, where you can find a lot of art museums and a shortcut to Samcheong-Dong, a place i recommend taking a trip to!