Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace Guide (Top things to do + how to get there)

If you’re planning a trip to Seoul in South Korea, Gyeongbokgung Palace should be on your top five places to visit!

Gyeongbokgung Palace is one of the five grand royal palaces in Seoul and in my 28 places to visit in Seoul.

Gyeongbokgung Palace is an incredible time hop into the rich history and incredible architecture from the Joseon dynasty. Wherever I walked, I couldn’t help but gasp “wow.”

Here’s a comprehensive Gyeongbokgung Palace guide, including its history, admission costs, opening hours, top sites to do, nearby attractions, travel tours and how to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace.

It’s a must for a short trip or one day in Seoul itinerary.

And once you’ve visited, I recommend going to the other royal palaces of Seoul too.

If you’re new to South Korea, read my travel guide to South Korea.

Gyeongbokgung Palace Quick Links:

🌸 Gyeongbokgung Hanbok Rental and Photoshoot Experience

🚌 Join a group tour for Gyeongbokgung Palace + Temple Guide

🏒 Book discounted hotels in Seoul on Agoda (what I use)

🚊 Ride from the airport: prebook a transfer | airport bus | AREX train

🎫 Browse through dozens of available Seoul tours

Quick History of Gyeongbokgung Palace

Inside a pavilion courtyard with traditional halls at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest palace in Seoul at over 4 million square feet. It was built in 1395 during the Joseon dynasty, but was destroyed by a fire during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and then rebuilt in 1868.

Gyeongbokgung Palace served as the central palace and residence of the Joseon kings, their households, and the government officials.

The palace’s name itself means β€œPalace of Shining Happiness.”

Where is Gyeongbokgung Palace Located?

Address: 161 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea. The Gyeongbokgung Palace is located in the Jongno-gu district of Seoul, South Korea.

The palace is situated in the northern part of central Seoul, near the base of Mount Bugaksan and to the west of the city’s main business district.

Gyeongbokgung Palace Admission Price

The entrance fee for Gyeongbokgung Palace is 3,000 won ($2.30 USD) for adults and 1,500 won ($1.15 USD) for children.

You can purchase tickets at the ticket booth located near the main entrance. They accept cash and credit card.

Free guided tours of the palace are available in multiple languages. Inquire at the information center.

NOTE: All palaces in Seoul are free on the last Wednesdays of the month!

Gyeongbokgung Palace Hanbok Rental Information

Two young wome in traditional hanboks walking through a pavillion at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

If you enter wearing a hanbok (traditional Korean clothing), you get free admission to Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Many visitors wear hanboks and take photos inside Gyeongbokgung Palace and around the palace grounds. If you want to rent a hanbok in advance, you can get a hanbok rental from Viator online.

You can also rent a hanbok from Oneday Hanbok, a hanbok rental shop near Gyeongbokgung Palace and the cost ranges from 10,000 to 30,000 won depending on the outfit.

Opening Hours for Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day except Tuesday.

The best time to visit the Gyeongbokgung Palace is early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.

But, if you want to make the Gyeongbokgung Palace Change of Guards Ceremony, it’s best to go right before 10am or 2pm.

Gyeongbokgung Palace Change of Guards Ceremony

Royal Guard Changing Ceremony - guards in red and blue traditional Korean clothing - Gyeongbokgung Palace Guide in Seoul

The Palace Change of Guards ceremony inside Gyeongbokgung Palace takes place twice a day, at 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.

The ceremony is free to attend, and it’s recommended to arrive early to secure a good spot.

When I visited, it was nearing 2:00 PM, and I was on the other side of the palace so I hurried to make the Change of Guards ceremony.

The palace is massive, so make sure to plan accordingly, which is one of my top Gyeongbokgung Palace guide tips. The best view of the ceremony can be found near the Gwanghwamun Gate.

Popular Gyeongbokgung Palace Tours

If you want to get a guided of Gyeongbokgung Palace and other popular Seoul attractions, you can easily book them online.

Here are three popular Gyeongbokgung Palace tours:

1. Gyeongbokgung Palace and Temple Guide | BOOK IT HERE 🎫

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • National Folk Museum
  • Jogyesa Buddhist Temple
  • Ginseng Center

2. Gyeongbokgung Palace Tour + More | BOOK IT HERE 🎫

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Bukchon Hanok Village
  • Namsan Tower
  • Hanbok Museum
  • Shilla Duty Free Seoul

3. Seoul City Full Day Tour-Gyeongbok Palace + More | BOOK IT HERE 🎫

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Seoul Tower
  • Jogyesa Temple
  • Insadong

What to Do in Gyeongbokgung Palace

There are lots of sites to see at the palace. The palace features numerous pavilions, halls, courtyards, and gardens that showcase traditional Korean architectural styles.

You’ll see lots of wooden structures, tiled roofs, and stone pillars. Here are some of the main sites that you won’t want to miss in this Gyeongbokgung Palace guide.

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion, a large mahogany building with pillars on an artificial lake at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion sits on a small island in a tranquil pond. This is where the kings of the Joseon dynasty held banquets and entertained foreign guests.

Jagyeongjeon Hall

Jagyeongjeon Hall is a two-story building that was originally built as the queen’s quarters. The hall also features an impressive throne, which was used by the queen during important ceremonies.

Hyangwonjeong Pavilion

Hyangwonjeong Pavilion, a small dark red pavillion on an artificial island - Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Hyangwonjeong Pavilion is a small pavilion located on a small island in a pond. The pavilion was built for the queen’s leisure and has several rooms that were used by the royal family for activities like including banquets, music performances, and poetry readings.

Geunjeongjeon Hall

Geunjeongjeon Hall, a red and green traditional Korean hall at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Geunjeongjeon Hall was used for important state affairs and royal events. The hall has a beautiful painted ceiling and elaborate carvings on the wooden pillars made by Joseon-era craftsmen.

Sujeongjeon Hall

Sujeongjeon Hall is another must-see spot in the palace. This hall was used as the king’s study with a beautifully carved wooden desk and shelves filled with ancient books and artifacts.

🌌 Rent a hanbok + photoshoot for only $11 USD to wear inside Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyotaejeon Hall

Gyotaejeon Hall is a building that was used as the king’s bedroom. The hall has a unique painted designs on the walls and ceilings and is decorated with ornate furniture and decorations.

Sajeongjeon Hall

A large room with throne and two big red pillars and royal seat at Sajeongjeon Hall at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Sajeongjeon Hall was used as the king’s office and used for meetings with officials, receiving foreign ambassadors, and holding important ceremonies. You can also see a throne that was used by the king.

Gwanghwamun Gate

Royal guards walking through Gwanghwamun Gate at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

Gwanghwamun Gate is the main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace and the first landmark you’ll see when you enter the palace grounds.

Gwanghwamun Gate is also the starting point for the guard change ceremony and a great spot to watch it.

Gyeongbokgung Palace Throne Hall

Gyeongbokgung Palace Throne Hall with long red pillars at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

The Gyeongbokgung Palace served as the main venue for ceremonies and events. The throne, which was used by the king, is still on display.

Jibokjae Hall

Jibokjae Hall was used as a library and study for King Gojong, the last king of the Joseon Dynasty. Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public and can only be viewed from the outside.

How to Get to Gyeongbokgung Palace

Getting to Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea is relatively easy, as it’s located in the city center and can be accessed by several transportation options like subway, bus, and taxi.

By Train:

The nearest subway station to Gyeongbokgung Palace is Gyeongbokgung Station, which is located on Line 3. From Exit 5, it’s a short walk getting to Gyeongbokgung Palace.

By Bus:

To get to Gyeongbokgung Palace by bus, take one of the many city buses that stop near the palace. The buses that stop at the palace include bus numbers 1020, 1711, 109, 171, 172, and 601.

Get off at the Gyeongbokgung Palace bus stop. You can use Google Maps to check which bus you can take, but note that while Google Maps provides bus + walking routes for Seoul, it does not give just walking routes.

I recommend downloading the CityMapper app for your trip to Seoul.

By Taxi:

You can also hail a taxi to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace. Uber works in Seoul if you don’t have the Kakao Taxi app, or don’t want to hail a taxi.

Don’t rely on Uber however, as it’s not always widely-available in Seoul, or sometimes just takes a while to find one.

How Long Do You Need at Gyeongbokgung Palace?

A green mountain in a green courtyard at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

I recommend saving 2 to 3 hours for your trip to Gyeongbokgung Palace. The palace is large at over 4 million square feet. To make the most of your visit, bring a map of the palace grounds.

You can find a map at the ticket booth or download one online before your visit, and is the perfect Gyeongbokgung Palace guide once there.

Things to Do Near Gyeongbokgung Palace

If you have time, there’s several other attractions and things to do near Gyeongbokgung Palace that are worth a visit.

Some of the nearby attractions that are walkable to Gyeongbokgung Palace (or a short bus or train ride away) include:

Changgyeonggung Palace

A large courtyard with a traditional Korean palace building surrounded by green trees at Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul

This palace was built in the 1400’s and has the most greenery of all the palaces in Seoul. Admission to this palace costs just 77 cents (1,000 won).

🌌 Join a Seoul night tour of Changgyeonggung Palace

Insadong

A long walking street surrounded by small shops and restaurants with tourists walking at Insadong Shopping Street in Seoul

Insadong Street is located in the northern-central Jong district and is a long street of local shops and restaurants, including the famous Ssamzigil Mall. You can find a lot of traditional Korean souvenirs here. Inside Insadong Street are the popular Annyeong Insadong and Ssamzigil Malls.

Bukchon Hanok Village

A neighborhood of brown and red traditional Korean houses at Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul

This village consists of traditional Korean houses designed with nature and weather in mind. It’s a beautiful neighborhood and many tourists come dressed in hanboks to take photos.

Is Gyeongbokgung Palace Worth Visiting?

Gyeonghoeru Pavilion behind trees on a lake in Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

100%. Gyeongbokgung Palace is easily one of the most must-visit places to visit in Seoul (another one would be Seoul Tower/Namsan Park!).

You get to see some of the most beautiful structures in Korea and experience the rich culture and history of the country. It was my favorite time-hop in South Korea.

Hope this Gyeongbokgung Palace guide was helpful! Enjoy your visit!

🚌 Join a group tour for Gyeongbokgung Palace + Temple Guide

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