This is post five of twelve on our autumn trip to South Korea. Check out the other posts in this series here:
- Back for One Last Score: Intro to our Korean Babymoon
- 4 Nights at the Stylish Park Hyatt Seoul
- Checking Out Seoul’s Spirits
- Eating Our Way Through Seoul
- Seoul’s Other Palaces
- Staying at the Hilton Gyeongju
- Visiting the Silla Kingdom: 1 Day in Gyeongju
- 4 Nights is Not Enough at the Park Hyatt Busan
- Temple Time in Busan
- Tricked out Again: The Busan Trick Eye Museum
- Busan BBQ: A Mixed Bag
- 14 Hours in Hong Kong: Protests, Dim Sum & Giant Buddhas
The first time we visited Seoul, we managed to hit Seoul’s top 2 palaces, the Changdeokgung Palace and the Gyeongbokgung Palace. Both palaces were very beautiful and I highly recommend visiting each one if you’re visiting Seoul for the first time.
Since this was our second time visiting Seoul, however, Mrs. Selfish and I decided to hit up the two palaces we had missed during our Selfish Year trip – the Deoksugung Palace and the Changgyeonggung Palace.
Yeah, they have a White House-looking building. Weird, huh?
Deoksugung Palace: The Modern Palace
Located close to Seoul’s City Hall, the Deoksugung Palace was built in the late 16th century, and inhabited by several Korean Royal families until some time in the 20th century.
Like the other palaces we visited entrance was 1,000 KRW (~$1 USD) and is totally worth it. If you time your arrival on the hour you can even catch the totally kitschy changing of the guards.
They have photo ops at the Deoksugung Palace. So. Many. Photo. Ops.
Deoksugung Palace is reminiscent of the other palaces in many ways. It differs in one important way, however, the presence of a massive Western-style building toward the back of the complex.
Definitely more than a little strange, and definitely worth the price of admission. In addition, Deoksugung has the usual palace buildings.
Although there were tons of other tourists, Deoksugung Palace never felt that crowded thanks to the sheer size of the complex. The palace was also very educational. One of the buildings was showing an exhibit on modern Korean art, while another housed actors portraying historical visits from foreign ambassadors.
We briefly checked out the modern art, before deciding it wasn’t our thing. Upon leaving, we managed to catch the changing of the guards again, this time from the other side of the gate.
Changgyeonggung Palace: The Other, Other Palace
Changgyeonggung-ro is the “New Palace,” which I guess happens when you’re built in the early 12th century after the Changdeokgung Palace, but before the other palaces.
The Changgyeonggung Palace is built very much in the style as the other palaces. As such, it didn’t really feel much different from the Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung Palaces, other than being a bit smaller.
The Changgyeonggung Palace does have more extensive park grounds than most of the other palaces and houses some interesting artifacts. Large plots of the Palace are filled with forests and streams, which makes for a welcome refuge in the middle of the city. We even managed to spot some wildlife!
Some sort of Korean fox/raccoon? Anyone know?
Overall, I appreciated the differences the Deoksugung Palace brought to the table, but didn’t really think the Changgyeonggung Palace was worth seeing – even at 1,000 KRW (~$1 USD).
That being said, the Changgyoenggung Palace connects to the Changdeokgung Palace, which is worth a visit. So perhaps it would be worth getting a combo pass if you’re in the area. I just wouldn’t go out of my way to see it on its own.
Join us tomorrow when we leave Seoul for the Geyongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Empire.