A Night Out at Seoul’s Palaces

When you visit Seoul, Korea, one thing that you should not miss is walking around one of the city’s ancient palaces, such as Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁), Gyeonghuigung Palace, (경희궁) Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁), Changgyeonggung Palace (창경궁), and Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) and Huwon (창덕궁). These architectural gems were not only residences of kings and queens, but were also the center of politics and city life during the Joseon Dynasty, which is the past generation of the Republic of Korea.

Generally, Seoul’s palaces are not open until late night, so you can only visit in day times. But actually, the night view of Seoul’s palaces is so beautiful, so many people want to visit there at night time. Because of that reason, some palaces are open at night time during some period. The seasonal night tours at Seoul’s palaces have seen popularity since the program’s inception, despite being offered intermittently throughout the year to limited numbers of visitors.

The first palaces to welcome night tourists in 2016 were Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces which were open from March 1st to April 5th from 7 to 10 p.m. And they were reopened on April 29th, and they will be run until June 2nd. At this year’s night tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace, Sajungjeon (the king’s office), Gangnyeongjeon (the king’s bedroom,), and Gyotaejeon (the queen’s room), are additionally open to visitors.

The night event is limited to 2,500 visitors per evening for each palace, and visitors must arrive before 9 p.m. During the night opening period of Gyeonbokgung Palace, the National Palace Museum of Korea also extend its hour. However, Gyeongbokgung Palace will close on Tuesdays and Changgyeong Palace will close on Mondays.

Not only the Gyeongbokgung and Changgyeonggung palaces. the one that you should not miss is ‘Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace’ (창덕궁 달빛기행). Changgyeonggung palace, in particular, is the perfect destination for any who are interested in seeing Korean palaces, designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1997, Changdeokgung palace is said to be the most traditional and authentic of Seoul’s five palaces. It has been praised for its architectural sensitivity to its natural surroundings and lauded as a representative masterpiece of East Asian Palace Architecture. The palace is also believed to have the perfect geographical location according to ancient philosophies like that of Feng Shui (풍수지리설).

As amazing as the palace is in the daylight, it is even more beautiful when you stroll through the grounds under the light of the full moon. If you like to know more how this would feel like, join in annual moonlit journey through Changdeokgung palace.

The Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace is the only chance you can walk around in the palace at night. The tour takes place on the days of full moon and only allows a limited number of people. So it is best to reserve right away because spots fill up fast.

This program was open on March 21st and it will be run until June 22nd. The fee for entering is 30,000 won, which is not really cheap, but I guarantee that you will not regret it. The total program will take about 2 hours.

 

– Changdeokgung Moonlight Tour Route-

  1. Donhwamun (Main Gate) (돈화문); tour meeting point → 2. Jinseonmun Gate (진선문) → 3. Injeongjeon Hall (인정전) → 4. Nakseonjae (낙선재); viewing the full moon → 5. Sangnyangjeong Pavilion (상량정); Daeguem Solo Performance → 6. Buyongji Pond (부용지); viewing the fullmoon → 7. Bullomun Gate (불로문) → 8. Yeongyeongdang Hall (연경당); watching performance and sampling refreshments → 9. Secret Garden Forest trail (후원); end of tour

 

Article by Junhyung from Korea, a Freshman in Business Administration

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