Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung are the most popular palaces in Seoul, but Changgyeonggung Palace is also worth a visit because it was the third palace compound built during the Joseon period.
This palace was created to serve as a royal residence rather than a seat of government. We recommend you visit Changgyeonggung Palace because it is quite different from Seoul’s other palaces.
In our Seoul travel guide, we will show you:
- How to save money on your Changgyeonggung Palace tickets
- 10 best things to see on the palace grounds
- Tips for your visit to make the most of your time
- Our personal photos of Changgyeonggung Palace
Now, let’s explore Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul!
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Our Seoul Experience
We spent two weeks exploring Seoul in March 2023 after the covid lockdowns. Our goal is to bring you the most up to date info on Seoul to help you plan an amazing trip.
We personally visited Changgyeonggung Palace during our time in Seoul. This guide features everything we learned and includes tips for your visit.
Seoul is home to 5 royal palaces and each are unique in their own way. If you can fit it into your Seoul itinerary, we highly recommend visiting all the palaces in South Korea’s capital city.
But if you are short on time, Changgyeonggung is a smaller palace that can be easily visited in 1-2 hours so it can be a great option if you don’t have much time.
Planning to visit Seoul? Don’t miss our popular guide featuring the best things to experience in Seoul next.
What Is Changgyeonggung Palace?
Changgyeonggung Palace was built during the reign of King Seongjong (1469-1494). This was the third palace compound built following Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung.
The royal family spent most of their time in Changdeokgung Palace due to the Huwon Secret Garden so it made sense the king had Changgyeonggung Palace built right next door.
Often referred to as one of the eastern palaces, Changgyeonggung Palace principally served as a residence for the queens and other members of the royal family when needed.
Changgyeonggung Palace History
Off all the palaces in Seoul, Changgyeonggung Palace has one of the most colorful histories. Unfortunately it was destroyed many times by the Japanese, but it has also been home to a zoo and botanical garden.
The palace originally had no garden of it’s own due to the close proximity of the Huwon Secret Garden.
If you visit Changgyeonggung Palace, you will notice a pond which is now an important avian refuge in the middle of Seoul. But these grounds originally served as rice paddies for the king who plowed them himself.
Constructed in 1909, the Grand Greenhouse now found within the palace walls is Korea’s first modern conservatory. When it was first built, this greenhouse was the biggest conservatory in Asia.
How To Get To Changgyeonggung Palace
The third most popular palace complex in Seoul is located directly next to Changdeokgung. Here are the best subway stations for visiting Changgyeonggung Palace:
- Anguk Station (line 3, exit 3)
- Hyehwa Station (line 4, exit 3/4)
Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul is open every day of the week except Monday. It is open from 9:00am to 9:00pm with the last admission at 8:00pm.
Changgyeonggung Palace Tickets
Admission tickets for Changgyeonggung Palace cost KRW 1,000 for adults (US$ 0.76), but only KRW 800 (US$ 0.61) with groups of 10 or more.
Visitors over the age of 65 and under the age of 6 will gain free entry into Changgyeonggung Palace.
Tickets can be purchase onsite in person or online by booking in advance on various websites. However, there are a few different ways you can save money when visiting Changgyeonggung Palace.
We will discuss each option below:
The Royal Palace Pass
We visited Changgyeonggung Palace with our Royal Palace Pass which we recommend if you plan to visit multiple palaces in Seoul.
The Royal Palace Pass costs KRW 10,000 and it is valid for three months from the date of purchase. This pass can only be purchased onsite at any of the 4 palaces or shrine listed below:
- Jongmyo Shrine
This pass is a good option for those who want to visit numerous palaces in Seoul, but if you want free admission there is another choice.
Hanbok Rentals For Changgyeonggung Palace
Admission to Changgyeonggung Palace is free for anyone wearing a hanbok which is traditional Korean clothing. When you visit the palace, you can expect to see numerous tourists dressed in hanboks.
This Hanbok rental is a very popular option with Klook.
The pick up location is located between both Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung and Changgyeonggung Palace so you could visit all 3 palaces in the same day if you planned well.
Travel Tip: Hanboks are typically rented by the hour or per day.
Popular Changgyeonggung Palace Tours
When you visit Changgyeonggung Palace, you can join a free one hour guided tour offered in numerous languages. Here are the current free tour times:
- Korean: 10:30, 11:30, 13:00, 13:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30
- English: 11:00, 16:00
- Japanese: 10:00, 14:00
- Chinese: 9:30, 15:00
But there are also many popular tour options offered by various companies. Many of these tours offer admission to Changgyeonggung Palace at night which would give you a completely different perspective.
Here are popular Changgyeonggung Palace tours:
- Changgyeonggung Palace Night Tour – Your chance to explore the palace at night and learn about the dark history of this third palace
- Palace and Night Market Tour – This tour begins at Changgyeonggung Palace illuminated at night then continues to a popular night market
- Dark Side of the City and Ghost Stories – Explore Korea’s dark history as you hear ghost stories. This tour explores three of Seoul’s five palaces.
10 Best Things To Do In Changgyeonggung Palace
There are many beautiful buildings you should see when visiting Changgyeonggung Palace because this is a smaller complex so it’s much more manageable compared to the other palaces.
Here is what to see at Changgyeonggung Palace:
1. Honghwamun Gate
The Honghwamun Gate is the main gate of the Changgyeonggung Palace. The translation literally means “promoting harmony.“
Similar to other palace structures, it was destroyed by the Japanese invasion of 1592-1598. But the gate was rebuilt a few years later in 1616.
This gate is important because it served as a place where the king met with citizens performing duties such as collecting public opinion and handing out rice to the poor.
2. Okcheongyo Bridge
Each palace in Seoul has a stream purposely built inside the complex because the water serves as a boundary for the main throne hall.
Built in 1484, the water in the stream under Okcheongyo Bridge orientates from nearby Eungbongsan Mountain.
This water follows a path south towards to the bridge passing both Jondeokjeong Pavilion of Changdeokgung Palace and Chundangji Pond of Changgyeonggung Palace.
Travel Tip: Under the arch of Okcheongyo Bridge, there is a face of a goblin carved into the stone. This goblin helps to protect the palace against evil spirits entering the grounds through the river.
3. Myeongjeongjeon Hall
This is the main hall of Changgyeonggung Palace where royal rituals took place. These official events included the king’s enthronement, state examinations, royal receptions and congratulatory ceremonies.
One of the most important ceremonies from the Joseon period was the marriage between 66 year old King Yeongjo (1724-1776) and 15 year old Queen Jeongsu’s (1745-1805) wedding ceremony in 1759.
Originally built in 1484, Myeongjeongjeon Hall is considered to be one of the oldest of it’s kind. But unfortunately, this hall is smaller than others as it was originally constructed to be the queen’s residence.
On our guided tour, we learned government officials stood next to the corresponding stone marker that matched his rank and the king would walk down the center during official events.
Inside this stunning hall, you will see the king’s seat as well as a folding screen of a sun, moon and the five peaks. The sun and moon refer to the king and queen while the five peaks represent the five elements and the entire nation.
4. Sungmundang Hall
This intricate hall was used as the king’s study and it was a place where officials gave lectures about Confucian classics.
King Yeongjo was known to hold academic meetings and discussions with other royal family members. He also invited students from the Seonggyungwan National Academy.
5. Binyangmun Gate
One of the most popular places for photography inside Changgyeonggung Palace, Binyangmun Gate connected the king’s official space to his private quarters.
This main gate was the entrance door to the king’s private area so access through this gate was strictly prohibited. The gate we see today was rebuilt in 1986 after the Japanese invasion.
6. Chundangji Pond
This large pond in Changgyeonggung Palace was created in 1909 by the Japanese, but it was renovated in 1986 to showcase Korean traditional forms. It sits in the rear gardens of the palace.
Chundangji Pond was divided into two main sections. The smaller upper section of the pond was the original location while the lower section was used for cultivating vegetables.
7. Octagonal Seven Story Stone Pagoda
Originally built in 1470, this octagonal seven story stone pagoda is rumored to have been purchased from a merchant during the Chinese Ming Dynasty.
Now classified as an official Korean treasure, you can find this beautiful structure on the side of Chundangji Pond in Changgyeonggung Palace.
The pagoda is stunning because the platform features a lotus pedestal and each side is adorned with flowers. Each tier is also carved with various intricate designs so we recommend you try to find it.
8. The Placenta Chamber
One of the most interesting things to see at Changgyeonggung Palace is the Placenta Chamber and Stele of King Seongjong.
When a new baby was born into the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), his or her naval string was then kept in a very special jar and buried in the placenta chamber.
However, the placenta chambers of the royal family have since been moved to Seosamneung (royal west three tombs), the stone structure of King Seongjong’s placenta chamber was moved to this spot in 1928.
9. Grand Greenhouse
Another unique thing to see inside Changgyeonggung Palace is the Grand Greenhouse. Originally built in 1909, this beautiful building was Korea’s first western style greenhouse.
It was built alongside a zoo by the Japanese colonial government under the rule of Emperor Sunjong who resided at Changdeokgung Palace throughout this turbulent period.
The Grand Greenhouse is filled with both native and rare tropical plants so we recommend you stop by when visiting the palace.
Travel Tip: The gardens in and around the Grand Greenhouse are a very popular spot for photos so it can be extremely busy in this general area.
10. The Paths Of Changgyeonggung Palace
While the paths of Changgyeonggung Palace are not an official tourist destination, we think this palace is once of the best destinations to enjoy a leisurely walk in Seoul.
The palace itself is quite small compared to the large grounds, but there are extensive paths leading from each side of the palace so you have a lot of options depending on where you want to explore.
From our experience, Changgyeonggung Palace was a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of both Gyeongbokgung or Changdeokgung.
Is Changgyeonggung Palace Worth Visiting?
Yes, Changgyeonggung Palace is worth visiting because this complex features a gorgeous pond, a unique Greenhouse and it’s one of the lesser visited palaces in Seoul.
We recommend you take time to visit Changgyeonggung Palace in your Seoul itinerary because it’s a smaller palace with beautiful gardens so you can easily get away from the crowds.
Our Changgyeonggung Palace Photos
We enjoyed our visit to Changgyeonggung Palace and took many photos. Here are a few of our favorites:
Changgyeonggung Palace FAQ’s
Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about Seoul’s Changgyeonggung Palace.
Visitors should plan to spend anywhere from 1-2 hours in Changgyeonggung Palace. One hour guided tours are offered each day in numerous languages so you may need additional time if you want to walk through all the gardens on the grounds.
Many visitors flock to Changgyeonggung Palace because this was the location of the murder of the Crown Prince Sado. There are numerous theories, but it was rumored the prince was mentally unwell and driven to madness by his father the king.
We recommend you enter Changgyeonggung Palace through Honghwamun Gate. Built in 1484, this is considered to be the main gate of this Seoul palace.
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We hope this guide featuring things to do at Changgyeonggung Palace helps with planning your visit to Seoul!
Please let us know if you have any questions about visiting Changgyeonggung Palace in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
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