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Gyeongbok Palace

This royal palace has been destroyed on more than one occasion, but today it stands as one of Seoul’s finest examples of classic Korean architecture.

Seoul is a relatively modern city, but Gyeongbok Palace is one of the exceptions. The palace was originally built in 1395 and, as home to the Joseon Dynasty, was one of the most important places in the country. Today, almost half of it has been restored to its former glory and serves as an example of traditional Korean culture.

The complex has been through hard times. It was first destroyed during Japanese invasion in the late 16th century, and demolished by the Empire of Japan again in the 20th century. Work is still ongoing to restore the 300 or so buildings that made up the original palace.

Gwanghwamun is the complex’s main gate to the south, and where most visitors enter from. It’s also where you can catch the changing of the guard, which happens hourly throughout the day. Other highlights of the palace complex include Gangnyeongjeon Hall (where the kings once lived), the Royal Banquet Hall, and the picturesque Hyangwonjeong, one of the only surviving 19th-century structures. 

You’ll need at least an hour to stroll the palace grounds. Learn about Gyeongbok in depth on one of the free guided tours, which depart from the information office inside Heungnyemun Gate a few times a day. Learn more about Korean history at the National Palace Museum to the south of Heungnyemun Gate, and the National Folk Museum, which is in Hyangwonjeong itself. Both museums contain extensive collections of Korean artifacts and cater to English speakers.

A short stroll to the north of Gyeongbok Palace brings you to South Korea’s current seat of power, the Blue House. This is where the head of state resides. Though you’ll need to book well in advance for a tour, the exterior alone is worth seeing. The traditional-style blue-tiled pavilions and mountainous backdrop make for a superb photo opportunity.

Gyeongbok Palace is best reached from the Gyeongbokgung or Gwanghwamun subway stations. The palace complex is open every day, except Tuesdays. Consider buying an integrated ticket, which includes access to three other Grand Palace complexes and the Jongmyo Shrine.

Popular Activities at Gyeongbok Palace

You won't believe how many activities there are at Gyeongbok Palace. Here are some ideas to get you going:

For many more activities, peruse our Seoul things to do page.


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Lodging Near Gyeongbok Palace

See all 1,669 Properties near Gyeongbok Palace
Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong $88
Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong

Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong

362, Samil-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
     
    4.3
    of 5, from 1,697 reviews
    4.0 out of 5.0

    This hotel is located in Seoul (Myeongdong), close to Seoul City Hall, Namdaemun Market, and Gwanghwamun. Nearby attractions also include Gyeongbok Palace.

    Lotte Hotel Seoul $166
    Lotte Hotel Seoul

    Lotte Hotel Seoul

    30, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
       
      4.4
      of 5, from 2,431 reviews
      5.0 out of 5.0

      In the midst of the central business district, the Lotte Hotel Seoul is one km (less than a mile) from several attractions such as Kyung Bok Palace and Dong Dae Moon Gate Market.

      Loisir Hotel Seoul Myeongdong $52
      Loisir Hotel Seoul Myeongdong

      Loisir Hotel Seoul Myeongdong

      115 Toegye-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
         
        3.8
        of 5, from 2,208 reviews
        3.5 out of 5.0

        This hotel is located in Seoul (Myeongdong), close to Myeongdong Nanta Theatre, Namdaemun Market, and Seoul City Hall. Also nearby are Lotte Department Store and Korea House.

        Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Seoul Myeongdong $103
        Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Seoul Myeongdong

        Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Seoul Myeongdong

        27 Myeong-dong 8-gil, Seoul
           
          4.6
          of 5, from 2,727 reviews
          3.5 out of 5.0

          Located in the heart of Seoul, this hotel is within walking distance of Myeongdong Nanta Theatre and Lotte Department Store. Also nearby are Namdaemun Market and Seoul City Hall.

          Hotel Venue G $44
          Hotel Venue G

          Hotel Venue G

          117, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
             
            4.1
            of 5, from 1,189 reviews
            3.5 out of 5.0

            This hotel is located in Seoul (Jongno), close to Lotte Department Store, Seoul City Hall, and Namdaemun Market. Also nearby are Dongdaemun Market and Gyeongbok Palace.

            L7 Myeongdong by LOTTE $118
            L7 Myeongdong by LOTTE

            L7 Myeongdong by LOTTE

            137 Toegye-ro Jung-gu, Seoul
               
              4.4
              of 5, from 1,989 reviews
              4.0 out of 5.0

              This hotel is located in Seoul (Myeongdong), close to Myeongdong Nanta Theatre, Namdaemun Market, and Seoul City Hall. Also nearby are Lotte Department Store and Korea House.

              Hotel PJ Myeongdong $64
              Hotel PJ Myeongdong

              Hotel PJ Myeongdong

              71, Mareunnae-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
                 
                4.2
                of 5, from 2,762 reviews
                4.0 out of 5.0

                Situated in the Dongdaemun shopping hub, this modern Seoul hotel is 0.5 km (0.3 mi) from Korea House and 1.4 km (0.8 mi) from Dongdaemun Market. N Seoul Tower is 1.6 km (1 mi) away. Convenient access to public transportation.

                ibis Ambassador Seoul Insadong $56
                ibis Ambassador Seoul Insadong

                ibis Ambassador Seoul Insadong

                31, Samil-daero 30-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
                   
                  4.0
                  of 5, from 1,460 reviews
                  3.5 out of 5.0

                  This hotel is located in Seoul (Jongno), close to Changdeokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, and Gyeongbok Palace. Also nearby are Seoul City Hall and Namdaemun Market.