Travel Guide

Solo in Seoul Part One. (Palace Hunting)

Angelynn
May 25, 2023

Have you ever just wanted to take a risk and just go on a trip by yourself whether it’s to another country or just to another state and maybe learn about the history of that place and try the different foods you can find? Well, that’s what I have been doing these past few days. I took the risk of traveling around various parts of Seoul, South Korea to learn the history of the different palaces throughout Seoul. All the palaces are considered as historical sites. I have seen so many beautiful places that just took my breath away. Even if you’re already in South Korea you should take the time to visit the palaces and learn the history of them. I also ended up going on the shuttle app to find restaurants nearby to pick food up and have a good meal. In this blog I am going to talk to you about the various palaces you can visit and what restaurants you can get food from using the Shuttle Delivery app near the palaces. There are five palaces Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁), Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁), Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁), Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁), and Changgyeonggung Palace (창경궁), but I traveled to only three of them. The best time to visit any of the palaces would be early morning or late afternoon. All the palaces have different times of when they close.

Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁)

Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁) was my first stop. I thought that the Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁) was the smallest palace but it turns out it is not the smallest it just has less land than the rest of the palaces. Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁) was not very crowded, which was very nice. It was a quiet and relaxing visit. This palace started being built in the year 1617 and was finished in 1623. Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁) was originally named Gyeongdeokgung but the name was changed to Gyeonghuigung (경희궁) in 1760 during the reign of King Yeongjo.

The years of 1907 to 1910 Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁) lost its status as a palace because the nationwide anti-Japan Struggle broke out. The palace was actually a lot bigger than its current size; the palace had over 100 halls when it was first built. The Japanese colonialists decided to get rid of some of the halls so that they could build a school for their children to learn. In 1945 that land the Japanese colonialist used for their school became Seoul High School until 1978. Just seven years later in 1985 a lot of buildings at Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁) were restored including Sungjeongjeon Hall (숭정전).  

Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁) has been open to visitors since 2002. While I was visiting this palace, I saw all sorts of different people including tourist, and I even saw a film crew filming around the Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁).

Operating Hours:

09:00-18:00

Closed Every Monday

Admission Fees:

Free

Homepage:

www.heritage.go.kr

museum.seoul.go.kr

Address:

45, Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

서울특별시 종로구 새문안로 45

How to get there:

Seodaemun Station (line 5, exit 4). 10 minutes walk.

Hillside Table

The restaurant I found near Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁) on the Shuttle Delivery App was Hillside Tables. Hillside Table is a brunch restaurant. They have sandwiches, soup, and salads.  When I ordered my food from the app it said the order would take about 10 minutes and when I got there my food was packed and ready to go. I ordered the Tokyo which has grilled teriyaki chicken, mixed greens, broccoli and sweet corn with citron dressing. I also ordered the potato soup and bread. The food was very good. The teriyaki chicken in the salad as well as the potato soup was tasty.

They are open Monday through Sunday from 11:30am to 8:50pm. They do take a break through from 3:20 pm to 5:00 pm. When you visit Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁) and you get hungry you know what restaurant can be easily found on the Shuttle Delivery app to order you some food for pickup. If you need help with getting a pickup order here are the steps you can follow.

  • When you get on the shuttle app first you select pickup and then you click on “All Cuisines” which will take you to the nearest restaurants in the area.
  • I choose to order food from Hillside Table, which was only a few minutes away from Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁). When you have gotten to the Hillside Table page you then decide on what you want to eat and add it to the cart. For this time, I clicked on the Tokyo and the Earl Grey Tea Iced. You have to buy food worth at least 12,000 won. Here is the menu of Hillside Table if you decide to order food from the Hill Side Table Menu.
  • Once you have added everything to your cart and it all looks right, you just have to proceed to check out and pay for your food. They will give you a pickup time, after that you go and pick up your food.

Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁)

Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) was my second stop. Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) is such a beautiful place. The palace was extremely big. King Taejong built Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) in 1405. King Taejong was the third king of Joseon. Just like other palaces Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) was burnt down by the Japanese when they invaded in 1592. Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) was the very first palace to be rebuilt in 1610. Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) has roughly 110 acres. The Secret Garden is about two thirds of the acres.

The royal family lived in the Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁). The Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) ended up being where kings and ministers would talk about state affairs. Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) was the main palace for about 270 years where thirteen kings including the last king would deal with state affairs. Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) became a historical site in 1997.

In the Secret Garden there turned out to be a show of people dancing to traditional Korean music. The people were all dressed in Hanbok which was amazing to see.

Operating Hours:

09:00-17:30 (November-January)

09:00-18:00 (February-May, September-October)

09:00-18:30 (June-August)

Closed Every Monday

Admission Fees:

Adult 19-64: 3,000 Won

Children, Seniors, and People wearing Hanbok: Free

Secret Garden:

Adult: 10,000 Won

Children 7-18: 2,500 Won

Homepage:

http://www.cdg.go.kr/

Address:

2-71 Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

서울특별시 종로구 와룡동 2-71

How to get there:

Anguk Station (line 3, exit 3). 8 minutes walk

Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁)

Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) was the last palace I visited. Again, this was another palace I thought was extremely beautiful. Junghwajeon Hall (중화전) was probably my favorite place to visit out of all of the halls I visited at the various palaces. It has an extraordinary design, as seen in the photo below. I could not believe when I read that Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) was the smallest palace of them all because it has so many different buildings such as Junghwajeon Hall (중화전), Hamnyeongjeon Hall (함녕전), Jeukjodang Hall (적조당관), Junmyeongdang Hall (전명당), Seogeodang Hall (서거당), Deokhongjeon (덕홍전), Jeonggwanheon Pavilion (정관헌), Seokjojeon Hall, and Jungmyeongjeon Hall (중명전).

Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) is actually one of the last palaces of the Joseon Dynasty. The Joseon Dynasty lasted a very long time. The Joseon Dynasty was from 1392 till 1910. When the Japanese Army invaded South Korea in 1952, they were able to march all the way to Seoul from Busan. The king at the time, King Seonjo was able to retreat from Seoul before the Japanese Army came but once they left, he was able to return to Seoul. When King Seonjo returned to Seoul, he had no place to live because most of the palaces were burned down during the war, so he had no choice but to live in Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁).

Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) was known as a temporary palace where one of King Seonjo family members lived at a time. After King Seonjo was no longer king the palace was taken from Prince Gwanghaegun by King Injo.  Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) was not used for about 270 years when King Injo took over the palace. Another king who lived in Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) was King Gojong. King Gojong lived there for quite some time. King Gojong lived there even after he was forced to give up the throne to his son, Emperor Sunjong.

Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) was originally named Gyeongungung Palace (경웅궁) but became Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) after Emperor Sunjong became emperor. Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) actually means palace of virtuous longevity. When Japan was ruling the Japanese turned Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) into a public park, which changed the size of Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) drastically.

Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) size became one-third of what it originally was and the number of buildings was just one-tenth of what it used to be. What I found to be interesting about Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) is that they sometimes have concerts at the palace. They seem to have them every weekend for the month of May. You can find all the information of who is performing here at Hill Pungnyu, Concert at Palace. At Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁) they also have Deoksugung Pungnyu, which is where they have Korean traditional music performers who only have performances about Korean National Intangible Cultural Heritage every Thursday at 7:00pm from the month of May to the month of September. You can

find that information here at Events - Deoksugung Pungnyu.

Operating Hours:

09:00-21:00

Closed Every Monday

Admission Fees:

Adults: 1,000 Won

Children 7-18: 500 Won

Children under 7, Seniors, Visitors wearing Hanbok are free

Homepage:

http://www.deoksugung.go.kr/

Address:

5-1 Jeong-dong Jung-gu, Seoul

서울특별시 중구 정동 5-1

How to get there:

City Hall Station (line 1, exit 1) 3 minutes walk

Summary

I am glad that I took the risk of embarking on this journey and exploring all of these beautiful palaces. The decision to travel and learn about the history of the palaces has been very rewarding. Each palace was a unique experience for me. I feel like I gained so much knowledge about the various palaces that I would have never learned anywhere else.

As I took on this adventure of going to these magnificent palaces I found myself feeling as if I was in another world or in the past. I was captivated by the architecture and the cultural significance. The architectural marvels, intricate details and well-preserved artifacts painted a clear picture of the past of the Joseon Dynasty. From the astonishing elegance of Gyeongbokgung Palace (경희궁)

to the beautiful scenery of the Secret Garden in Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁), each visit helped me have a better understanding of Korean heritage and its profound influence on the present.

One thing that really made this journey truly amazing was the opportunity to capture these breathtaking palaces through the lens of my camera and make some incredible photos of them all. The stunning visuals I was able to capture not only serve as cherished mementos for myself but also vividly give others a look at how magnificence these historical sites are in South Korea. The countless hours of walking and exploration were worth it when I witnessed the beauty of these palaces come to life in my photography.

Yet, my adventure in Seoul doesn't end here. There is still so much more to discover, explore, and share with everyone around the world. As I continue my solo journey through the vibrant city of Seoul. I eagerly look forward to finding the hidden gems of this city, and learning more about the history and the culture of not just Seoul but all of South Korea.

Stay tuned for my upcoming blog post, Solo in Seoul Part Two. In the second part of my blog, I'll share more of my experiences, captivating encounters, and newfound discoveries. Join me as I learn more about Seoul, unearthing its secrets and embracing the spirit of adventure that fuels this remarkable city.