Deoksugung, or Deoksu Palace, is one of the 5 royal palaces in Seoul. Deoksugung is quite easy to visit, as it is right in downtown Seoul. Compared to other palaces in Seoul, Deoksugung Palace has the most diversity of architectural styles reflecting Korea’s recent history. Deoksugung is also where you can see the guard changing ceremony in Seoul.
Tips for visiting Deoksugung Palace
- Deoksugung Palace is open daily except Mondays and other special events.
- If you visit other palaces in Seoul, you can take the pass instead of the unit ticket. This pass includes 4 royal palaces and Jongmyo Shrine.
- In the Deoksugung compound, you can visit the MMCA modern art museum or even go inside the Western-style palace: Seokjojeon.
- Come and visit Deoksugung in traditional Korean dress (hanbok): entrance to the palace will then be free! It works for all royal palaces in Seoul.
See the Guard Changing Ceremony at Deoksugung Palace
You can see the guard changing ceremony in two places: at Seoul’s largest palace, Gyeongbokgung, and Deoksugung Palace.
In Deoksugung, the guard changing ceremony occurs 3 times a day at 11 am, 2 pm, and 3:30 pm, except on Mondays (the day the palace is closed). The guard changing ceremony lasts approximately 30 minutes.
How long does it take to visit Deoksugung?
Allow about 1 hour to visit Deoksugung as a self-guided visitor. It is a palace that can be visited quite quickly. However, a guided tour can be fascinating if you want to learn more about the palace’s history. We talk about it later in the article.
Tickets to visit Deoksugung palace in Seoul
You can buy tickets to visit Deoksugung directly at the checkout at the palace’s main entrance. Also, note that a pass includes the 4 royal palaces and the Jongmyo sanctuary.
The pass is interesting only if you are going to visit several palaces in Seoul. Thanks to the pass, the price of the entrance ticket to Deoksugung will cost you less. You can buy it at the checkouts of each palace, not just at Deoksugung. Physically, the pass is a bundle of tickets, one ticket for each location.
Deoksugung Palace is a popular place for Seoulites. As the territory of the palace is quite small compared to other palaces in Seoul, it can feel cramped when there are many people. Try to avoid weekends, especially in the fall.
Visit Deoksugung with a guide
The life and tragic history of Emperor Gojong are closely linked with this palace. The guided tour is fascinating. In general, it lasts only 2 hours. If you want to learn more about Korea’s recent history, this is a great place to visit!
Japanese occupation, Western influence, Korean traditions. Deoksugung is an ideal place to discover lots of exciting things. Here is an example of a visit. Visiting Deoksugung with a guide provides a better understanding of South Korea’s recent history.
History of Seoul’s Deoksugung Palace (In Very Brief)
Originally, Deoksugung Palace was the residence of Prince Wolsan, the brother of King Sejong (it is the statue of this king that you can see in Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul).
From 1591 to 1598, during the Japanese invasions, Deoksugung was considered the main palace of the royal family. Like the other royal palaces in Seoul, Deoksugung was also destroyed (1592), then partially rebuilt later (1618).
Deoksugung Palace is closely linked to the tragic story of Emperor Gojong, who lived in this palace for a long time. In 1907, after being forced to abdicate, Gojong was locked up in this palace for years. Several times he tries to flee but fails. He died in this palace in 1919.
His son Sunjong becomes the last king of Korea. He gave the palace its current name: Deoksugung, which means “palace of virtuous longevity”.
During the Japanese occupation of the 20th century, Deoksugung Palace lost a third of its territory and almost 90% of its buildings.
How to get to Deoksugung Palace?
To get to Deoksugung Palace, you can take the subway or the bus. If you take the metro, the nearest station is City Hall (line 1 and line 2, exits 1, 2, and 3). Otherwise, here are the buses that stop near the main entrance (stop: Deoksugung or Sicheong ap): green buses 1711, 7016, 7022, and blue buses 103, 150, 401, 402, 406, 604, and N16.
What to do around Deoksugung?
Deoksugung palace is in downtown Seoul. If you visit Deoksugung, here is what you should not miss in the area.
Deoksugung Stone-wall Road is a pedestrian street along the Deoksugung palace wall. It is very lively on weekends. It will take you to another nice street to visit: Jeongdong-Gil.
Seoul City Hall and its large square are right in front of the entrance to the palace! Here, events or entertainment organized by the city of Seoul often takes place.
Cheonggyecheon is a must-see in Seoul! It is a waterway in the center of Seoul. A place without cars, ideal for a walk!
Seoul History Museum is a free museum that traces the history of Seoul and helps to understand the different eras of Korean history.
Lotte Department Store Main Store is an impressive colossal mall. Come here to shop or eat at its excellent underground food court.
Sungnyemun is one of the eight gates of the Seoul Wall! If you go to continue on Sejong-daero Avenue, you will see it on your way.
Visiting Deoksugung is part of our TOP 40 things to do in Seoul. We especially recommend it if you want to see the Guard Changing Ceremony and learn more about South Korea’s recent history.