The 5 Grand Palaces of Seoul: what is the best palace to visit?

You are going to Seoul soon and know that Seoul is full of magnificent royal palaces. If you only stay a few days in Seoul, you cannot see everything. Which one of the 5 royal palaces of Seoul should be favored for the visit? What is the best palace to visit, or the most famous, in Seoul? Here is our description of the most beautiful palaces in Seoul to visit, which will help you make a choice.

The 5 royal palaces of Seoul

In Seoul, there are 5 royal palaces. Here they are, from most visited to least visited:

  • Gyeongbokgung (closed on Tuesdays)
  • Changdeokgung (closed on Mondays)
  • Deoksugung (closed on Mondays)
  • Gyeonghuigung (closed on Mondays)
  • Changgyeonggung (closed on Mondays)

All these 5 palaces are located in the historic center of Seoul. Therefore, they are easily accessible. You can quickly reach them by public transport or even on foot if your accommodation is located in the historic center of Seoul (to find out more, read our article: the best areas to stay in Seoul).

Visit the 5 Royal Palaces in Seoul, South Korea

Tips for Visiting the 5 Grand Palaces of Seoul

If you want to visit several royal palaces in Seoul, consider the pass, which will cost you less than each palace’s unit prices. You can buy the pass at the ticket offices of the palaces directly. Only Changgyeonggung Palace is not included in the pass, as admission to this palace is free.

When to visit the palaces? Apart from Seoul’s largest palace, Gyeongbokgung (closed on Tuesdays), all other royal palaces are closed on Mondays. Try to avoid Gyeongbokgung on Mondays and the other palaces on Tuesdays. Expect lots of visitors on Saturday and Sunday.

Entrance to the royal palaces is free for people dressed in traditional Korean attire (Hanbok). You can rent one from the shops near the entrances to the palaces.

Each palace has a particular charm and its advantages. Find out more about each of them to decide which one(s) you will visit during your trip to Seoul.

Hanbok in a palace, Seoul, South Korea

Gyeongbokgung: Seoul’s Most Impressive Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of these 5 grand palaces of Seoul and the most visited. Its territory is immense. On the territory of Gyeongbokgung Palace is the Seoul National Folk Museum, admission to which is free.

During your visit, don’t miss the guard changing ceremony, which takes place at Changdeokgung Palace every day. Find more practical information in our blog post: Tips for visiting Gyeongbokgung.

Be aware that Gyeongbokgung is not the most charming palace in Seoul. Its large spaces are impressive but are flat. For example, the Changdeokgung (especially its Secret Garden) and Changgyeonggung palaces have more relief and charm.

Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

Changdeokgung and its Secret Garden: Seoul’s most charming palace

Changdeokgung Palace is best known for its Secret Garden (or Huwon Garden). It is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Seoul in autumn! You will love this tour! The Changdeokgung Palace complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Once the tickets are in hand, head to the entrance to the Secret Garden since it is the most exciting part of the palace. Entrance tickets include a free guided tour in English. Guided tours start at specific times, but you can also do the self-guided tour. To learn more, read our article: Tips for Visiting Changdeokgung.

Secret Garden in Changdeokgung Palace

Deoksugung: a nice collection of palaces from different eras

Like Changdeokgung (the largest of the 5 grand palaces of Seoul), Deoksugung is another palace in Seoul where you can watch the guard changing ceremony. It’s a lovely ceremony to see when traveling to Seoul!

Deoksugung Palace is small compared to other royal palaces, but it differs in its architecture. Here you will see buildings of traditional Korean architecture and some in the Western style. Find more information in our article: Visiting Deoksugung.

Spring in Deoksugung Palace

Changgyeonggung: A Gorgeous Underside Seoul Palace

Changgyeonggung Palace is a stone’s throw from Changdeokgung Palace and its Secret Garden. As many people want to visit the Secret Garden, Changgyeonggung Palace is slightly left out, especially when we have seen other palaces. It’s not surprising, but it’s a shame because this Seoul palace is definitely worth visiting.

As Changgyeonggung Palace is less famous, the visit is quieter. Its pond is splendid, and the view of Seoul from the heights of the park is surprising. Come and visit this palace in Seoul if you want more tranquility.

Gyeonghuigung: quiet, small, and free

Among the 5 palaces in Seoul, Gyeonghuigung is the least visited palace. Admission to Gyeonghuigung Palace is free! On the other hand, compared to other palaces, there are fewer buildings to see. For this reason, and despite being free, there are few visitors.

You can add Gyeonghuigung to your itinerary if you are looking for a calm visit or if you are staying more than 10 days in Seoul and you plan to do other palace visits before this one.

You cannot miss these 5 magnificent royal palaces during your trip to Seoul. Visit at least two of them, as these tours will be among your fondest memories of your travel to Seoul. If you think you are running out of time or are afraid of getting tired of visiting the palaces, select the palaces that speak to you the most. Find other helpful information in our article: what to do in Seoul.

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