Huwon Secret Garden

Huwon Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Huwon Secret Garden is a rear garden at Changdeokgung Palace that flows naturally with nature and was used as a place of leisure by members of the royal family. The garden, which has also been known as Bukwon, Geumwon, and Biwon. At 78 acres, the garden takes up about sixty percent of the palace grounds.

This intimate rear garden, which today is the highlight of any visit to Changdeokgung Palace , was first constructed during the reign of King Taejong, who ruled from 1400 to 1418. Its location allowed access from either Changdeokgung Palace or adjacent Changgyeonggung Palace .

The royal family has used the garden as a place of rest since the reign of King Taejong (1400 to 1418). They would come here to contemplate life, write poems, and hold banquets. The garden was also used as an archery range and as the location of military drills.

Entrance to the garden, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

The highlight of the garden is the two story Juhamnu Pavilion which was used by as a library and for reading by the king. The pavilion is located on a small, peaceful square lily pond.

Many of the pavilions and buildings located here were destroyed by fire in 1592 during the Japanese invasion of Korea.

Restoration work began in 1623 during the first year of the reign of King Injo. This work continued from one king to the next leading to its present appearance.

Fall is one of the best times to visit the garden, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

The design of the garden flows naturally with the surrounding nature. The exquisite design is adapted to the topography, geography, and ridges of Mt. Bugaksan. Artificial landscaping is minimal and left untouched to human hands as much as possible. Many of the trees seen here today are over 300 years old. The landscaping and trees are a great example of Joseon Dynasty gardening design.

Table of Contents

What to see at Huwon Secret Garden

Juhamnu pavilion.

Juhamnu Pavilion, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Juhamnu Pavilion is a two story pavilion that served as a library and reading room during the reign of King Jeongjo. The two story pavilion was first constructed in 1776 during the first year of the reign of King Jeongjo.

A royal library known as Gyujanggak was found on the first floor. Gyujanggak was not only used as a library but also as a political research institute for the king as he worked on his reform ideas. The second floor was used as a reading room.

Jeongjo was always under pressure from political foes while he held power. He worked hard to strengthen his mind and body and went on to become a great leader who enlightened and served his people to the best of his ability.

The small gate leading to Juhamnu Pavilion is known as Eosumun Gate . The name Eosumun refers to the fact that a fish cannot live outside of water. This was a reminder to King Jeongjo that he as a ruler must consider and respect the people he rules.

Aeryeonjeong Pavilion

Aeryeonjeong Pavilion surrounded by fall foliage, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Aeryeonjeong Pavilion is a small square pavilion located on Aeryeonji Pond. It was first constructed in 1692 during the reign of King Sukjong. The pavilion was originally located on a small island in the middle of the pond. After the island was removed, the building was relocated to its current location on the side of the pond.

The first son of King Sukjong, Crown Prince Hyomyeong, often visited here to relax and contemplate state affairs. The location makes it a very peaceful and popular area of the garden.

The name means “love of lotuses” which King Sukjong was very fond of.

This pavilion is one of the only buildings at Changdeokgung Palace that faces north. This location allowed more light for reading and contemplation. Another pavilion that faces north is Uiduhap Pavilion.

Bulromun Gate

Bulromun Gate, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Bulromun Gate is a single rock stone gate inside the Huwon Secret Garden. Anyone who passes under is said to be blessed with long life and good health. On the tour, you can pass under it and be blessed with good health and longevity. Bulromun leads to Aeryeonjeong Pavilion and Uiduhap Pavilion.

A replica of the Bulromun Gate can be found inside Gyeongbokgung Station on the Seoul Subway .

Changdeokgung Chinese Juniper

The 750 year old Changdeokgung Chinese Juniper, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

This tree that stands here, known as the Changdeokgung Chinese juniper, is thought to be over 750 years old. The tree measures in at 12 meters (40 feet) high and 5.9 meters (19 feet) in circumference.

These types of trees were often used during rituals for incense because of their aroma. Chinese juniper trees were commonly used for incense during rituals by worshipers who visited the nearby Seonwonjeon Shrine.

If you take a tour of the Huwon Secret Garden, the tree will be located on the left hand side as you exit the tour and walk back out to the palace.

Jondeokjeong Pavilion

Jondeokjeong Pavilion on Gwallamji Pond, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Jondeokjeong Pavilion is a hexagonal, two story roof pavilion. On the underside of the painted ceiling are two dragons playing with a wish fulfilling jewel. This jewel is known as a cintamani. The painting is symbolic of total royal authority.

A tablet hangs on the north side of the pavilion that reads “All streams of the world have moons reflected on them, but there is only one moon in the sky. The moon in the sky is me, the king, and the streams are you, my subjects.” This plaque reiterates that King Sejong desired full royal authority over the people of his country.

Jondeokjeong Pavilion is located on a small and peaceful pond with wonderful views of the surrounding garden. The pavilion would have been a peaceful retreat for anyone in the royal family that would have wanted to rest and relax.

Seonhyangjae Hall

Seonhyangjae Hall, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Seonhyangjae Hall was built as a study for the adjacent Yeongyeongdang Hall. It was here where books were stored and read and where guests were often greeted.

Records known as Gunggwolji (Record of the Palace) were found noting the function of this luxurious building as a study.

The building features, which faces to the north and south, features a sun shade on the western side which was used to block the setting sun, wind, or rain from those inside reading books or studying.

On the inside of the building is a wide wooden floor with heated floors on each side of the main floor. A bronze plate once hung from the rood.

The building is 7 kan wide and 2 kan in depth. A kan is the interval between pillars.

To the east is a terraced flower garden that was built into the hill.

Uiduhap Pavilion

Uiduhap Pavilion, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Uiduhap Pavilion was built by Crown Prince Hyomyeong as a place of study, reading, and contemplation. Unlike other royal structures, the architecture is conservative and not decorated with vivid paintwork. It is one of the most modest buildings at Changdeokgung Palace.

The structure was built in 1827 by Hyomyeong who was the first son of King Sunjo. Sunjo, who reigned from 1800 to 1834, was the 23rd Joseon Dynasty king.

Hyomyeong only lived to be 22. Known for his intelligence and fine character, he handled state affairs on behalf of his father from the age of 18.

Along with Aeryeonjeong Pavilion, these are the only buildings in the palace that face north to allow more sunlight for reading and contemplation.

Yeongyeongdang Hall

Yeongyeongdang Hall, Huwon Secret Garden, Changdeokgung Palace, Seoul, Korea

Yeongyeongdang Hall was built in 1828 by Crown Prince Hyomyeong for Jinjakrye, which was a special ceremony for his father King Sunjong. During this ceremony court officials would present food and wine to the king and queen as a sign of strong royal authority.

Yeongyeongdang was also the men’s quarters. It was here where the master of the house resided. Inside is a main room where the master would meet with guests and where he stayed during the day. A separate room with a raised floor was used as a bedroom in the summer.

Yeongyeongdang is built with stone pillars on top of a stone platform. The roof is single-eaved and features roof extensions at each of the corners. Windows surround all four sides of the building which were designed to be lifted during the warmer summer months.

Next to Yeongyeongdang is Seonhyangjae, which was used as a study and for reading books inside the garden.

Last Updated on Jul 21, 2023

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Seoul Korea Asia

How to Visit Changdeokgung Palace (+ Secret Garden)

By: Author Max

Posted on Last updated: November 12, 2023

Changdeokgung Palace is not the biggest palace in Seoul, but it’s notorious for its unassuming beauty, intriguing both locals and foreigners. Like all palaces in Seoul , the operating hours at Changdeokgung depend on the season you decide to come, but they generally run from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM (closed on Mondays). 

Entrance costs ₩10,000 for adults and ₩5,000 for children, and grants you access to all parts of the palace, including the Secret Garden tour (which is available in 3 different languages: English, Japanese, and Korean).

huwon tour

Fast Facts About Changdeokgung

Most palaces in Seoul were made to impress, but Changdeokgung isn’t like that at all. In fact, the first thing you’ll notice is that it more so blends in with the natural topography. Walking the grounds feels like a refuge from the city, which is exactly what it was built for.

Some aristocratic residences, like Nakseonjae Hall, are unique compared to other buildings because they have no dancheong , or multi-colored patterns on the building’s surface. The designs inside are distinct from the usual Korean traditional designs you see on temples and other palaces.

A fascinating fact about this palace is that it’s home to a beautiful (not-so) secret garden in Seoul, also known as Huwon . Here you’ll see a lot of maroon pavilions overlooking ponds, perfect for, well, pondering the important stuff. 

No matter what the season, the garden is absolutely breathtaking. It’s even lovely during the winter ! How to get to Changdeokgung secret garden, however, requires you pay extra for access, but wearing a hanbok reduces your overall entrance fee.

Fun Fact : if you wear a hanbok, you can enter any of the five Grand Seoul Palaces of Seoul for free!

huwon tour

How to Get to Changdeokgung Palace

If you’re planning to visit Changdeokgung, you should be well prepared. The trip takes just 20 minutes from Seoul Station to Anguk Station, leaving from Exit 3.

It is quite a walk (and is about similar to the distance if you use Exit 7 from Jongno-3 Station), but there are plenty of hanbok rentals, cafes & restaurants you can visit before eventually arriving at Donhwamun Gate . There are also free & interesting museums nearby, like the Tteok Museum and the Seoul Museum of Korean Folk Music.

Both are good options if you really want to immerse more in Korean culture and practices before coming to the palace. For those who find walking tedious, there are shuttle buses that take you directly to the historical site.

You can find the bus stop in front of Jamong Gold Jewelry Store. To save time and effort to locate it, we recommend you install helpful apps like Naver Map or Kakao Map in your phone.

Another way to get to Changdeokgung is to ride bus 162 or 151 from the Seoul Station bus stop (서올역버스환승센터.강우규의거터 정류장(02007)), taking you to the bus station near the gate (창덕궁.우리소리박물관 정류장 (01199)).

Upon disembarking, you’ll have to cross the road and walk over to the ticketing office on the far left of the gate. You can either use the ticketing machine outside the front door or get in line inside to be assisted by an English-speaking staff member.

Changdeokgung’s muted design and layout give it a historically humble feel during the day. The purpose of this palace is to be one with nature, and the grounds’ feminine allure is largely what entices people to come. When the sun is out, this is the perfect time to take pictures wearing a hanbok. 

Thankfully there are rental shops nearby that you can visit, such as Hanboknam and Changdeokgung Su-Hanbok . You can walk in to rent, but there’s also an option that lets you pick from the website in advance, and they’ll have it ready for you as soon as you arrive.  

huwon tour

Touring Changdeokgung Palace (at Night & Daytime)

Did you know that Changdeokgung Palace is the only Joseon palace that is hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site? This fact alone makes it a no-brainer why it is worth a visit, but if you need specifics, this section will help you pan out your trip to Changdeokgung.

You can choose from two major tour programs at Changdeokgung. The first one showcases the important parts of the palace, such as the Injeongjeon (main hall) and the Nakseonjae Hall (King’s office). As for the second part, you get to see the parts of the Secret Garden in Seoul, such as the Buyeongji pond, the entrance to the Secret Garden, and even Okryucheon Stream.

It is also possible to do both tours in one day (making it an excellent choice for a Seoul daytrip ), but it is important to keep in mind that some parts can get grueling and uncomfortable due to the trail’s rocky natural terrain.

If you plan to visit Changdeokgung Palace, wear comfortable shoes. Even though there are plenty of rest areas (with vending machines nearby), it takes quite a walk to get from one place to another, and some trails can get pretty steep.

huwon tour

If you need to unload your bags somewhere safe, there are free lockers by the entrance. Don’t worry, they are easy to use. Additionally, don’t forget to bring a hat and slather on sunscreen if the weather is hot. There’s little room for shade on the palace grounds, unless you enter the private chambers or inspect the workers’ quarters.

While this palace is suitable for most kinds of visitors, it is absolutely perfect for couples and solo travelers that want to take long, pensive walks with no interruption. Unfortunately, it is not recommended for families with young children because there are snakes that roam in grassy areas of the forest.

At night, from late April to June, the Changdeokgung Palace hosts a special evening for people who want to visit the Secret Garden. This special tour circles the Jondeokjeong Pavilion, a hexagonal, 2-story roof pavilion near the Korean peninsula-shaped pond.

Sometimes, during random points of the night tour, there will be reenactments of the Joseon royalty taking a peaceful night stroll near the Buyeongji Pond and the Juhamnu Pavilion.

Each stop also has various traditional performances, which range from songs and dances to instrument demonstrations. Another event happens every October at Injeongjeon Hall, where they hold a reenactment of the Gwageo Siheom, or national state examinations of the Goryeo and Joseon periods.

huwon tour

The Secret Garden at Changdeokgung Palace

This is the famous secret garden in Seoul, so you should expect flowers in the spring & summer – but it’s so much more than that. Best enjoyed during spring and autumn, this vibrant garden doubles as a walking trail, which takes approximately 2 hours to complete.

People mainly come to see the Buyeongji and Juhamnu, two structures that have come to represent the Secret Garden thanks to the promotional pictures.

While here, you’ll discover that the Juhamnu has two parts divided by two floors: the Gyujanggak, which served as a research institute to develop policies in support of the king’s reforms, and the reading room on the second floor.

The sound of the water coming from the Buyeongji (Buyeong pond) also provides a therapeutic ambiance, which is reinforced when you stand next to Buyeongjeong Pavilion, which overlooks the pond.

Another fun fact, even though this part is reserved for the King and few of his trusted officials, there were some special cases. Aspiring state officials used to take their state exam in front of the Yeonghwadang Hall.

huwon tour

As you venture deeper, you’ll be taken to Aeryeonjeong Pavilion and the Uiduhap. This is the spot where Crown Prince Hyomyeong underwent academic training and performed duties to support his father, King Sunjo.

Like Nakseonjae Hall, Uiduhap was not adorned with dancheong, probably to reinforce the mood for reading and contemplation. It is also said to be the most “modest” spot in the entire garden due to its colors mimicking the forest hues surrounding it.

After visiting the study area, you’ll see the Yeongyeongdang Complex. This structure is recent compared to the other areas because it was built near the end of the Joseon Dynasty. Initially an audience hall, this is where important figures brought pledges to the King and Queen, offering food, wine, and other luxurious items.

While performances are being held, others can retire to a small library (Seonhyangjae). This library is used by some officials to take refuge from the sun as well as read books until the program ends.

huwon tour

Here you can also learn how the original ondol works. The ondol is a traditional heating system that provides warmth during cold Korean winters – the underground systems trap smoke from a nearby fire to slowly warm the floor above.

Following the paths in the area reveals plenty of nature walks that lead to ponds and small waterfalls. But perhaps the most memorable one is the Ongnyucheon, which is a stream that is perfectly shaped like the letter U. 

This stream is also where the King was known to play games with his top officials. He would send wine cups from the top part of the channel for his subjects to catch. If they failed to do so, they’d have to drink three times — which by Korean drinking standards isn’t really a punishment.

You can also find the “Soyoam Rock” above the stream. Inscribed is a poem about the gorgeous Ongnyucheon landscape, said to be authored by King Sukjong himself.

huwon tour

Best Picture Spots at Changdeokgung Palace

  • Donhwamun Gate

This is a two-story wooden gate that not only provides passage into Changdeokgung Palace, but is also used for surveillance. You can pose on the wide stone bridge in front of the gate, which will include the billowing trees and the vibrant flowers planted near parts of the wall.

  • Injeongjeon (Hall of Benevolent Rule)

This is the throne hall of Changdeokgung, where they hold major state events like the coronation ceremony and the state banquets for foreign delegates. You can’t enter the hall, but you can pose on the platform in front of it to show off the throne behind you.

Here, you’ll see the best of Korean Architecture. The best places to appreciate this style is in the courtyard and the terraced garden that leads to Maebong Peak.

huwon tour

  • Seonjeongjeon

Inside Seonjeongjeon lies a narrow colonnaded area that once served as a royal funeral site. It’s known to be the only remaining funerary building in any of the still-standing Seoul palaces. It may not be the typical “best picture spot,” but it’s evidence of being inside a rare historical spot.

  • The Staircases between the Tongmyongheon & Yanghwadang and the Yeongchunheon & Jipbokheon buildings

Since this is the area where the queen & the concubines used to stay, there is a large staircase (with a slippery stone formation before the first step) that takes you to an elevated path that showcase this vast residential ground.

If you stand on top of the staircase, facing the trail, it makes for a nice photo that includes the houses below, as well as the view of the Seoul skyscrapers and N-Seoul Tower behind you. Then you can have someone take a picture of you from below so that the nice, billowing trees of the hiking trail are included in the shot.

  • Gate of Eternal Youth

Within the Secret Garden lies the stone-framed gate of eternal youth. Inscribed on top of it are three Chinese characters that identify it as such. Not only that, once you pass by this gate, you will be blessed with a long life. Whether this is true or not, this is a perfect place to take a hanbok selfie because it looks like an old-timey frame.

huwon tour

How to Rent a Hanbok Near Changdeokgung Palace

As I have mentioned earlier, the 10-minute walk that takes you to the palace has a lot of hanbok rental places. Below is a list of the ones that have a hassle-free transaction as well as good customer reviews. You can also negotiate to have these sent to you via courier, or you can just pick them up personally from the store. 

My opinion is that if you plan to spend a whole day in Changdeokgung Palace, or you have plans to move from one place to another, a whole-day rental makes a lot of sense. However there are options that let you borrow hanboks for just an hour or two.

The only downside is that their websites are in Korean, so you’ll have to use Papago to make the process easier.

Addess: 2F Hostel Korea (호스텔코리아 창덕궁점), 85, Donhwamun-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03131

A 24-hour hanbok rental for a single person can cost between ₩50,000 and ₩200,000, while rentals for couples can cost between ₩99,000 and ₩220,000. A child’s hanbok ranges from ₩40,000 to ₩50,000.

If you have a Discover Seoul Pass , you can enjoy a 20% discount on any kind of hanbok, as well as use their hairstyling service. You can pay in cash on the spot or through online banking, though foreigners are just recommended to pay in cash or book in advance .

  • Changdeokgung Su-Hanbok

Address: 서울특별시 종로구 돈화문로 98, Donhwamun-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 03134

This is a convenient hanbok rental service near Changdeokgung Palace. Aside from being the closest, there are plenty of styles you can choose from, and all you have to do is walk in; there’s no need to reserve in advance.

Prices depend on the style you’ve chosen, but it should be similar to Hanboknam’s. However if you’re looking for a specific style, it wouldn’t hurt to inquire directly by calling their number: 02-747-2546.

huwon tour

Where to Eat Near Changdeokgung Palace

If you’re looking for places to eat near Changdeokgung Palace, here are three of the best locations with varying specialties:

This restaurant opens an hour before lunch and closes around 10 PM. They take their break from 3 PM to 5 PM, so come around lunch time. The ambiance feels a lot like an outdoor hanok garden, and you get plenty of food for only ₩22,000.

The basic set menu includes fancy Korean dishes like octopus, fish, and soybean paste soup ( dwaenjang ); try their glutinous rice wine while you’re at it. For more details, visit Newijo’s website .

  • Italy Budae Jjigae

If you’re looking for something filling, it’s always a guarantee that a bowl of budae jjigae will do the trick. This is a spicy sausage stew so-named because it was a  filling meal for Korean soldiers in years past, made using rations stolen from US military bases.

Now a dish enjoyed by all, locals and foreigners can enjoy this meal for just ₩9,000. If you feel like splurging, their stir-fried webfoot octopus and pork belly set is a divine combination that’ll set you back just ₩30,000 . More information about their menu can be found on their website .

  • Baan Khun Kwan

For a more vegetarian-friendly option, this is an amazing restaurant that serves mouthwatering kao pad thai fried rice. That dish and all the rest of their food takes your tastebuds all the way to Thailand. Moreover, this is the best place to try unique spices not usually used in Korean food. 

huwon tour

Things to Do near Changdeokgung Palace

One thing you will appreciate about Changdeokgung is that not a lot of people come to visit. This may normally be seen as a downside, but the lack of crowds just means there are no lines to do some of my favorite activities near Changdeokgung Palace.

1. Tteok Museum (Institute of Traditional Korean Food)

Next to kimchi, the food Koreans are best known for is tteokbokki . In this free museum, you can see the various kinds of tteok (rice cakes) prepared for every kind of season and occasion.

Here you’ll also get to know the ingredients and tools used to make the delicious rice cakes, and learn what enhances their flavor, texture, and other fun facts about this beloved dish.

2. Find the Taesil

As you walk through the hiking trail, you eventually see this small pagoda made out of stone and may wonder what it is. The Taesil, also known as the “placenta chamber,” is a stone monument that can be found anywhere in Korea.

But the one in Changdeokgung Palace is the best-preserved of all the royal Taesils. Back then, the royal family believed that putting their newborn’s placenta would guarantee a fortuitous life for the child. Inside, multiple stone plates identify whose placenta is stored within.

3. Son Donhwamun Traditional Theater

This modernized hanok theater faces Changdeokgung Palace, specializing in acoustic sounds of traditional music. The inside consists of an impressive wooden theater, a studio, the gugak madang (courtyard), and a cafeteria.

When you come here, the first thing you’ll notice is that this fan-shaped auditorium’s structure enhances the reverberation, and the sound quality is so clear that even small movements can be heard from the back of the hall. See the upcoming performances by visiting the Son Donhwamun Traditional Theater’s website .

4. Seoul Museum of Korean Folk Music

There’s another petite hanok building across Changdeokgung where you can experience the traditional instruments used to create beautiful melodies used in Korean folk music. Stepping into this museum also sets the tone.

It lets you listen to songs fishermen used to sing to boost their morale as they yanked heavy nets full of fish, or even the humming of women tasked with extracting silk from silkworms in the late Joseon Period.

Inside, there’s a virtual database that lets you listen to a range of 20,000 pieces of Korean folk music and learn about almost 6,000  musical instruments. It really is an admirable endeavor by the Korean government to keep their culture preserved.

5. Try to tell the time using the Angbuilgu

The Angbuilgu, or the “hemispherical sundial”, used to be the most widely used astronomical scientific device in the Joseon Dynasty. It is a pot-shaped sundial, very different from the image of the sundial we are used to.

These unusually-shaped things have been around since the mid-1400s, sometime around the 16th year of King Sejong’s reign. You can find one on the elevated palace trail, somewhere near the resting area connected to the large stone staircases.

Even if you’re not a big fan of the Joseon Dynasty, it is still a good choice to swing by Changdeokgung on your visit to Seoul. There you can see how a palace in Seoul can still look grand without overdoing the traditional flair most Korean architecture is known for.

Plus, it’s a great refuge from the overwhelming sounds of the city to enter the famous Secret Garden in Seoul.

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SecretMoona

A Travel and Lifestyle Blog

Strolling Changdeokgung Palace and its Stunning Secret Garden: Huwon

Last Updated on 05/08/2023 by secretmoona

Changdeokgung secret garden - Palace and its Secret Garden is one of the most well-preserved royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a heaven of peace in buzzing Seoul.

Changdeokgung Palace and its Secret Garden are located in the Jongno-gu district in Seoul. It is situated east of Gyeongbokgung Palace, about 20 minutes walk – so you can visit both palaces. 

The Palace was Joseon’s kings’ favourite and had many characteristics of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Its architecture is thought to be in perfect harmony with nature, and its secret garden is one of a kind. Despite being ravaged by fires and Japanese invasions, the Palace remains one of the most/best-preserved palaces in the country. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is an important landmark thousands of people visit each year. 

Injeongjeon Hall - Palace and its Secret Garden is one of the most well-preserved royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a heaven of peace in buzzing Seoul.

Having visited three of the five palaces in Seoul, I can’t say which one is my favourite, but I can say Huwon, the secret garden is the most peaceful place in Seoul! 

Here’s a little info about the history of the Changdeokgung Palace, some of the existing buildings, including the secret garden and practical information to help you plan your trip. 

History of Changdeokgung Palace and its Secret Garden

Changdeokgung Palace roof's tiles details

Changdeokgung was built in 1405 as a secondary palace during the reign of King Taejong (Joseon Dynasty). The main reason for making this Palace was that Gyeongbokgung didn’t preserve its original topography. However, many believe the real reason is that King Taejon assassinated his brothers in the main Palace and didn’t want to reign there. 

The Palace was destroyed during the Japanese invasion in 1592. Changdeokgung was the first Palace rebuilt in 1610 and became the main royal Palace.  It was again destroyed by fire in 1623 and was rebuilt. This cycle continued for another hundred years. 

The royal family and their descendants lived in Changdeokgung until 1989. In 1990, restoration work started in the complex and the Palace was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The designation highlights the beauty of the architecture and design, which is in harmony with the surrounding landscape. Today, work is still ongoing to fully restore the place complex. 

Why you should visit Changdeokgung Palace

Changdeokgung Palace is a big palace with a vast open space and many things to see. The Palace was loved because of its design and its beautiful secret garden: Huwon. 

Changdeokgung Palace

Donhwamun (돈화문), the main gate of changdeokgung .

The main entrance to the Changdeokgung palace: Donhwamun Gate

It’s the first thing you notice when you approach the Palace. It’s the largest of all the gates (all combined courts). Tickets can be purchased just before entering the gate. As you enter, you have the meeting point for the guided tours. 

Geumcheongyo (금청요)

Dating back to 1411, this bridge is the oldest structure in the Palace and one of the oldest stone bridges in Seoul. Despite the various fires, it has remained intact. 

Injeongjeon (인정전) throne hall

Injeongjeon Hall at Changdeokgung Palace

Built in 1405, the palace throne hall was where all the essential ceremonies were held, such as coronations, receptions for prestigious guests from abroad etc…The hall was restored in 1804, and by visiting it, you can appreciate the architectural style of the end of the Joseon Dynasty. To get to the hall, you will need to pass through the gates of Jinseonmun (진선문) or Sukjangmun (숙장문) and finally, Injeongmun (인정문) gate. 

Seonjeongjeon (선정전) King’s Council hall

Hidden behind Seonjeongmun (선정문) is the hall where the king works or discusses state affairs with his senior officials. It is said to be the only building in Korea to have kept its blue-green tiles intact. 

Huijeongdang (휘정당) King’s residence

Huijeongdang was part of the inner Palace and initially served as a private quarter for the royal but ended up being used as an office for the king as the space in Seonjeongjeon was limited. LikeLike most of the palace complex’s buildings, Seonjeongjeon was destroyed and rebuilt several times. The current room decoration differs a lot from its original: you can see that it has been westernised with chandeliers and carpets decorating the room. 

Changdeokgung Palace's secret garden

Daejojeon (대조전)

Daejojeon was the queen’s residence. It was rebuilt with structures from Gyeongbokgung after being destroyed by fire in 1917. Surprisingly the Queen’s home is more spacious than the King’s.  

Seongjeonggak (성정각)

Located next to the King’s residence is Seongjeonggak, where the crown prince lived and studied.

Nakseonjae Complex (낙선재)

Nakseongjae was built by King Heonjong in 1656 for his concubine Kim Gyeongbin in an isolated corner at Changdeokgung Palace. It was still in use until 1989 by Lee Bangja, the wife of the last Korean crown prince.

Huwon: Changdeokgung Secret Garden

Changdeokgung Palace and its Secret Garden: Huwon

The main attraction of the Palace is, without a doubt, the secret garden: Huwon. The park, which has also been known as Bukwon, Geumwon, and Biwon, takes up about sixty per cent of the palace grounds (78 acres). By building Huwon, the aim was to create a relaxing space for the kings and royal family. It’s a place inviting calm, relaxation where the word “zen” reveals its true meaning. They preserved the garden much as possible to keep its raw state. As well as being a place to relax, it hosted many activities, such as archery contests or banquets. It was surprising to find such a serene garden in the middle of buzzing Seoul.

We spent time going up and down paths lined with trees; you feel like you are in a forest. I can only imagine how beautiful the site will be in autumn when the leaves change to show a range of beautiful colours from yellow, orange, and red to brown.  

Buyongji Pond and Juhamnu Pavilion  (부영지와 주함누)

Buyongji Pond

The first place you’ll visit on your tour is Buyongji, a rectangular pond with a small island in the middle. This is a gorgeous area, perfect for a morning stroll, and I can perfectly picture the royal family enjoying leisure walks around the lily pond, surrounding trees and pavilion. The Juhamnu is a two-story library. It was the place where scholars came to study and read. It was also a venue for celebratory banquets for those scholars who passed state exams. For that reason, they made the landscape surrounding the pavilion serene and beautiful. 

Aeryeonji Pond and Uiduhap (애련지와 의두합)

Aeryeonji Pond.Palace and its Secret Garden is one of the most well-preserved royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a heaven of peace in buzzing Seoul.

You will reach another serene area once you pass through the garden at the back of Buyongji Pond and walk along the hill. On the opposite side of the Aeryeonji pond is a little pavilion, Aeryeongjeong,  placed half over the water. It is known to offer a gorgeous view of the pond’s scenery.  

Yeongyeongdang Hall

Yongyeongdang Hall - Changdeokgung and its Secret Garden is one of the most well-preserved royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a heaven of peace in buzzing Seoul.

Yeongyeongdang Hall was built, taking inspiration from the houses of the Korean nobles. The wooden houses were decorated naturally without vivid colour paints as they were reserved for the royal family. They have less of a regal feel but fit exceptionally well with the natural setting.  The complex used to hold ceremonies and performances for the royal family thanks to its vast yard. 

Bandoji Pond (반도지) 

Bandoji Pond - Yeongyeongdang Hall

Another notable part of the tour was Bandoji Pond, a complex with a number of beautiful pavilions in different shapes around it. The Gwallamjeong Pavilion stands at the edge of the pond and is shaped kike an extended fan.  Jondeokjeong Pavilion is also very pretty. 

Ongnyucheon Stream

Ongnyucheon Stream -Palace and its Secret Garden is one of the most well-preserved royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a heaven of peace in buzzing Seoul.

The Ongnyucheon (“Jade Stream”) area is also attractive. It contains an L-shaped water channel with a small man-made waterfall. The site also includes several small pavilions, including Cheonguijeong, Soyojeong, Taegeukjong and Chwihanjeong, designed and arranged along the stream in the traditional Korean ways. Each pavilion has a small pond and stone bridge to enable a way across. Cheonguijeong, with its straw-thatched roof and in the centre of a small rice field, is perfect for those looking for a fresh and cool spot even in hot summer.

Practical information about Changdeokgung Palace 

How to get to changdeokgung palace  .

Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (in Korean – 서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99 (와룡동)

By Subway: This is the fastest and most reliable way to get there.

  • Anguk Station (안국역) (Metro Line 3), take Exit 3 and walk for about 5 minutes.
  • Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Metro Line 1, 3 or 5), Exit 6. Walk for 10 minutes.

By local buses: Several buses stop close to the Palace. Take buses 109, 151, 162, 171, 172, 272 or 7025 and stop at Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁.서울돈화문국악당). It’s less than 5 minutes walk to the palace entrance. To check the bus times, make sure you download the Naver App.

By taxi: this can be a good option if you spending a little more is not a problem for you. Having said that, taxis are relatively cheaper than in Europe or America. Make sure you have the Korean address of the Palace.  

Cost: 

  • Changdeokgung Palace: 3,000₩ (1,500₩ for children) for the Palace. Entry is free for anyone wearing a Hanbok, kids under 6, and senior citizens during Chuseok and every Wednesday.
  • Huwon Secret Garden: 5,000₩ (2,500₩ for children) You are required to have a palace admission ticket.
  • Royal Palace Pass: 10,000₩ to access Seoul’s five palace sites (Gyeongbokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksuggung, Changgdeokgung and Jongmyo Shrine) and Secret Garden; valid for three months from the date of purchase

Opening Times: 

  • 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Closes 30 minutes earlier in Winter and 30 minutes later in Summer. The last admission is an hour before closing time. 
  • Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret Garden are closed on Mondays 

Available Guided tours to Changdeokgung & Huwon

huwon tour

There are several tours available to enjoy Changdeokgung Palace, including the Secret Garden tour offered by the Palace.

  • Palace Tour: there are three daily tours in English (11:30, 1:30, 3:30), one in Chinese (12:30), and two in Japanese (10:30, 2:30). Those speaking Korean can join the tour every hour from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. Price included in admission fee. 
  • Secret Garden Tour: It is only possible to visit the Secret Garden via a guided tour. Tours leave strictly on time: English (11:30, 1:30, 3:30), Chinese (12:30), and Japanese (10:30, 2:30). Those speaking Korean can join the tour every hour from 10 am to 4 pm. Check prices & book here.  
  • Moonlight Tour: The Palace is even more magical when seen under a full moon. You can join the Moonlight Tour every Sunday at Changdeokgung Palace for a pleasant evening stroll. W30,000 per person; this two-hour evening event is limited to 100 people from April to June and then from August through October. It includes a tour of the Palace and Secret Garden, plus a traditional performance. Check prices & book here .  
  • One-Day History Joseon Dynasty Tour – This tour is perfect for those wanting to learn more about the history of the Joseon Dynasty. It includes visits to Changdeokgung and Gyeongbokgung, the National Folk Museum, Jogyesa Buddhist temple and Namsan Hanok Village. Check prices & book here .
  • One-Day History of Seoul Tour: similar tour similar to the above but including a visit to Insadong and Namdaemun Market instead of the folk village. Check prices & book here.

The Changdeokgung and especially the secret garden is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Seoul. I highly recommend it!

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if a product is purchased through one of these links at no extra cost to you. 

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Changdeokgung Palace - the palace and its Secret Garden is one of the most well-preserved royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a heaven of peace in buzzing Seoul. #Seoul #palace #garden #history

10 thoughts on “ Strolling Changdeokgung Palace and its Stunning Secret Garden: Huwon ”

This palace is absolutely fascinating and so beautiful. Adding it to my bucket list!

Thank you Francesca, the palace is an absolute gem. It’s definitely a must see.

This is such an informative post!! Will be saving it for our bucket list! Love that you included the tours as well!

Thank you. I’m had you found the post informative. The tours are the best way to explore all the corners of the palace. I highly recommend joining one.

Oh wow, this garden and palace is beautiful! Thanks for a great detail post about the experience.

Such an informative post, the garden looks so beautiful!!

Wow, this is stunning. The Secret Garden looks so beautiful. It’s nice they have so many tour options! I’d want to do them all!

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Changdeokgung Palace & Secret Garden 창덕궁과 후원

서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99 (와룡동) | 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Feb-May, Sep-Oct: 9:00-18:00

Jun-Aug: 9:00-18:30

Nov-Jan: 9.00-17:30

Last admission: 1 hr before closing.

Closed on Mondays

General Tours (Building Area): English (10:15, 13:15) / Chinese (10:00. 16:00). 1 hr.

Secret Garden Guided Tours (required for Secret Garden entry) , 1.5 hrs :

​English - (Feb-Nov 10:30, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30 | Dec-Jan 10:30, 11:30, 14:30).

Chinese - (12:30).

100 tickets available for each tour. 50 tickets available onsite and 50 tickets available for online reservation (no payment required) on official website from 6 days in advance.

Changdeokgung Palace & Secret Garden - Admission Fees

Changdeokgung Palace:

Adult (age 19-64): 3,000 won, Child (age 7-18): 1,500 won, Child (under 7) / Senior (over 65) / Wearing Hanbok (traditional korean clothes) / Culture Day (last Wednesdays of every month): Free

Changdeokgung Palace & Secret Garden (Huwon) Tour:

Adult (age 19-64): 8,000 won, Senior (over 65): 5,000 won, Child (age 7-18): 4,000 won

Combination Ticket:

Adult: 10,000 won, child: 5,000 won to 4 palaces (Changdeokgung incl. Secret Garden, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung) and Jongmyo Shrine. 3 months validity.

Entry to Secret Garden can be reserved online via official website or exchanged for voucher at the ticket office, subject to availability.

Anguk Station (line 3, exit 3). 6 mins walk.

Jongno 3-ga Station (line 1, 3 or 5, exit 6). 10 mins walk

www.cdg.go.kr

The Changdeokgung Palace is one of the most well-preserved royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty.

It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage in 1997 and regarded as a Korean palace architecture masterpiece with buildings in perfect harmony with nature.

Cherry Blossoms in Spring

Changdeokgung Palace - Cherry Blossoms in Spring

Kings and their ministers discussed state affairs at Changdeokgung Palace and residence of the royal family. It was built in 1405 by King Taejong, the third ruler of Joseon and the first palace to be rebuilt in 1610 after the Japanese invasion in 1592. 

Autumn Foliage

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Changdeokgung Palace

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Map of Getting to Changdeokgung Palace & Secret Garden

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A step-by-step guide to visit Changdeokgung palace and Huwon secret garden

huwon tour

Changdeokgung Palace, with Huwon Secret Garden , has been one of the most tourist-attracting historic sites in Seoul and visiting this attraction is one of awesome things to do in Seoul . Korea has thousands of years of history and culture. Which explains why the city of Seoul is home to so many historic sites. The city attracts a large number of tourists every year. And today, we will be guiding you to one of the oldest and most beautiful historic sites of Seoul. Let's start, shall we?

Changdeokgung Palace, the Prospering Virtue Palace

Changdeokgung, also known as Changdeokgung Palace or Changdeok Palace. The name literally means Prospering Virtue Palace. It is one of the "Five Grand Palaces" built by the kings of the Joseon Dynasty. Due to its location being the east of Gyeongbokgung Palace , people also refer to Changdeokgung Palace as the "East Palace". Apparently, you should add Changdeokgung Palace to your Seoul city day tour.

changdeokgung palace

Changdeokgung was the second palace after Gyeongbokgung which had been established in 1395 as a primary palace. The construction began in 1405 and completed in 1412. In 1592, during the Japanese invasion, the palace was burnt to the ground. Later, In 1609, King Seonjo and King Gwanghaegun reconstructed the palace. In 1623, King Injo led a political revolt against Gwanghaegun, and Changdeokgung Palace was once again burnt down to the ground. The Chinese also attacked the palace several times. Through many repairs and reconstructions, Changdeokgung Palace still stays true to its original design.When they were rebuilding the nearby Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace was the site of the royal court and the seat of government until 1868. Emperor Sunjong, the last emperor of Korea, lived here until his death in 1926. Other members of the former Royal family were allowed to live in parts of the palace. Former Crown Prince Yi Un lived in the Nakseonjae Buildings with his wife Princess Bangja and sister Princess Deokhye until their deaths. Differing Presidential orders supporting and objecting their use of historic facilities repeatedly interrupt this arrangement. The modern-day Changdeokgung Palace has 13 buildings remaining on its ground and 28 pavilions in the gardens. The palace occupies 110 acres (45 hectares) in total. The palace is considered one of the most beautiful palaces in Seoul thanks to its garden and natural surroundings. In 1997, Changdeokgung Palace became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

What to expect in Changdeokgung Palace

Donhwamun gate.

The first thing that you’re going to notice is the giant 3-door gate serves as the entrance to Changdeokgung Palace. People name it Donhwamun Gate. Its construction began in 1412 during the twelfth year of Emperor Taejong’s reign. He was the third emperor of the Joseon Dynasty, he ruled the country from 1400 to 1418In 1592, during the war between Korea and Japan (the Imjin War), Japanese troops destroy and set the gate on fire. Years later, Emperor Gwanghaegun orders the gate’s restoration. The process took 2 years, from 1607 to 1609, giving it the current appearance.

Changdeokgung palace guide

The gate has a simple yet elegant 2 story wooden design. According to data, in 1413, there was a 7.5-ton bronze bell hung here, but it was later removed. The rock roads going through the gate, which passengers use, were made in the 1890s. Originally, only royal vehicles allowed to go through the gate. Nowadays, the gate act as one of the oldest, if not the oldest, existing entrances to Changdeokgung Palace. The gate is also Korea National Treasure #383.

Gwolnaegaksa Complex

While many government offices were located outside Changdeokgung Palace, some offices were built on the palace grounds and were collectively known as Gwolnaegaksa Complex. The Emperor choose these offices to handle royal family and political affairs.Because so many of the king’s support offices were concentrated in such a small area, Gwolnaegaksa had a labyrinthine feel to it. The buildings in this complex are Naeuiwon (Royal Infirmary), Hongmungwan (Office of Special Advisers), Geomseocheong (Publication Office), Gyujanggak (Royal Library), and Bongmodang (Hall of Upholding the Policies of Former Kings).

Changdeokgung Palace guide

During the Japanese occupation of Korea in the early 20th century, the Japanese decided to vastly simplify Gyujanggak by destroying most of the building. They move its collection to the library of today’s Seoul National University. After destroying the building they covered the place with roads. In 2005 the restoration process of Gwolnaegaksa Complex began. They rebuild the complex to its original design.

Huijeongdang Hall

In Changdeokgung Palace, there’s a place to stay only for women and later become a place for the Emperor to rest and work.  And that place is Huijeongdang Hall. This place is where the Emperor meet his official. It’s also the place where they handle official royal affairs and discuss political issues.A fire in 1917 destroyed the original building. When the Japanese government rebuilt it in 1920, they use materials from the king’s residence at Gyeongbokgung Palace. The new building is completely different than the original one. On the outside, Huijeongdang Hall still looks like a traditional Korea building. But the interior is where the change took place, they built the entire interior in Western style.

Guide to Changdeokgung Palace

This kind of interior design where east meets west is rarely seen in early 19th century Korea. The interior features many amenities such as glass windows, wood floors, electricity, lights, a chandelier, bathroom, and curtain. There’s even a car parked in the front.Originally, the Emperor would meet his officials and discuss matters in Seonjeongjeon Hall. But when the meeting requires more room, the king decided to relocate to Huijeongdang Hall.

Huwon Secret Garden

Behind Changdeokgung Palace lies the beautiful 78-acres (32 hectares) garden of Huwon. The garden is enormous and takes up approximately 60% of the palace ground. They originally construct the garden for the use of royal family and palace women. The garden contains a lotus pond, pavilions, and multiple landscape lawns, trees, and flowers. In the garden, there are over 26,000 specimens of more than 100 different species. Some of the trees are over 300 years old.People call the garden ‘Geumwon’ (Forbidden garden) because it’s only for the private use of the king. Even high ranking officials were not allowed to enter the garden without the emperor’s permission. Huwon Garden also have other names like ‘Naewon’ (Inner Garden) and ‘Biwon’ (Secret Garden). Despite its various names, the one that people use through Joseon dynasty was ‘Huwon’.

Guite to Changdeokgung Palace

The king hosted a variety of ceremonies in Huwon. In the early period of the Joseon dynasty, military inspections in which the king participated were often held here. King Sejo had troops parade before him or commanded them by himself in this garden. In addition, they also host feasts, archery tournaments, and fireworks displays in Huwon.The highlight of the garden is the two-story Juhamnu P1avilion, the king use it as a library and reading room. The pavilion is located on a small, peaceful square lily pond.In 1592, the Japanese destroyed most of the building in the garden, during their invasion of Korea. In 1623, the first year of King Injo’s reign, he ordered the restoration of the garden. The restoration process continues through many kings until creating the current look.

Injeongjeon Hall And Injeongmun Gate

Injeongjeon hall.

In 1405, during the 5th year of his reign, Emperor Taejong ordered the construction of this hall along with Changdeokgung Palace. The Japanese destroy this hall the first time in 1592 in their invasion of Korea. In 1804, which is the 4th year of Emperor Sunjo, the hall was destroyed and rebuilt.Injeongjeon Hall is the main hall of Changdeokgung Palace. It’s where the official gather to greet the emperor on New Year’s day. It’s also where the emperor held national ceremonies and received foreign officials.

Changdeokgung guide

The Hall is a two-story building, with 5 rooms in the front and 4 rooms on the side. The top of the roof was decorated with a plum design, which was a symbol of an imperial family during the very end of the Joseon Dynasty. Injeongjeon is one of the three great halls along with Geunjeongjeon in Gyeongbokgung palace and Myeongjeongjeon in Changgyeonggung palace. It’s the main place that represents the history of the Joseon Dynasty.In front of the hall, there’s a royal walkway and courtyard, both dating back to 1609. On the walkway, there are stone markers with ranks of the officials inscribed on them. The official will stand behind their designated stone marker when they meet the emperor. The higher rank the official is the closer they stand to the emperor. And the lower ranked official will have to the furthest from the emperor.

Injeongmun Gate

Serving as the main gate of Injeongjeon Hall, Injeongmun Gate was built in 1405 (5th year of King Taejo’s reign during the Joseon Dynasty). Later on, the Japanese destroyed the gate with multiple fires during the Imjin War (Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592), therefore the current form of the establishment displays designs that are more often seen in the late 19th century's.

Changdeokgung and Huwon Guide

Injeongmun Gate served as the place for several coronation ceremonies of kings, prince's succession of the throne, and many other national affairs celebrated by the royal members who gathered and aligned around this gate. It’s National Treasure #813.

Jinseonmun Gate

Jinseonmun Gate is the small inner and middle gate in the Changdeokgun Palace. To reach the main throne hall, you must pass under three gates, one of which is Jinseonmun. The other two are Dowamun and Injeongmun.

Guide to Changdeokgung and Huwon

In front of the gate is a wide stone bridge known as Geumcheongyo. Bridges similar to these are a common royal feature and symbolizes purifying oneself who passes over it. Passing over the bridge and through the gate is a sign of royal sovereignty and is often seen at other royal residences in Seoul.

Nakseonjae Complex

The Nakseonjae Complex is a residential compound in the Changdeokgung Palace. In 1847, Emperor Heonjong orders the construction of this complex, during his reign. In the complex, there’s Nakseonjae Pavilion, it was a library for the emperor, where he can read and paint. There’s also Seokbokheon, the residence of Gyeongbin. Sugangjae was built for Queen Sunwon, the grandmother of Heonjong.Nakseonjae is famous for its love story. When Heonjong was 7 he ascent to the throne. He married at the age of 14, but his wife died two years later. His mother, Queen Sunwon spearheaded the selection for the mother of the heir to the throne. King Heonjong attended the selection and immediately took interest in Kim Gyeongbin. However, his mother preferred a different candidate, Hyojeong (later known as Empress Dowager Myeongheon). And so, following tradition, Hyojeong became his second wife. But unfortunately, Hyojeong couldn’t bear a child. So she decided to call in a concubine, Kim Gyeongbin. Nakseonjae was built for Gyeongbin in an isolated corner at Changdeokgung Palace

A guide for Changdeokgung palace

There’s also a garden in the complex. There’s also a simple and beautiful pavilion known as Sangryangjeong or Pyeongwonru before the Japanese occupation of Korea. This place was a resting place and it has a beautiful view of the palace area below. In 2006, after many years of restoration, the complex finally open to the public for the first time.

Seonjeongjeon Hall And Seonjeongmun Gate

Seonjeongjeon Hall is the main place for the emperor to meet with high ranking officials to discuss political, state, and foreign affairs in Changdeokgung Palace. The king and his subjects would hold seminars and have morning meetings here. He would discuss royal issues and other national affairs.

Changdeokgung and Huwon guide

The area surrounding the building act as for storage and offices for secretaries. Attached to the hall is a narrow corridor leads to Seonjeongmun Gate. The corridor was also used in royal funerals when Seonjeongjeon Hall became a royal shrine. It’s the only remaining evidence of its function during funerals.

Seonwonjeon Hall

Seonwonjeon Hall is where the portraits of former emperors were enshrined and where people perform ancestral rites. Emperor Taejo, Emperor Yeongjo, and Emperor Jeongjo all had their portraits enshrined at the same time here. The portraits were destroyed in the Korean War (1950-1953).

Huwon and Changdeokgung Guide

In 1656, They move the building here from the nearby Gyeongbokgung Palace. From that time to 1695, people called this place Chunhuijeon.In 1921, during the Japanese occupation, they built a new hall inside Huwon Secret Garden. Now, they perform the Ancestral rites at the new location. In 2005, they restored auxiliary buildings on the left and right of the hall, which are Jinseolcheong and Naechaldang.

Opening time and how to get Changdeokgung Palace

They actually change the palace’s opening time based on the month. From February - May and from September - October, the opening time is 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. From June - August, the palace is open from 9:00 AM to 6:30 PM. And in November - January, the opening time is 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. So be sure to check the time before starting your tour.The secret garden also has its own opening time. Throughout the year, the opening time doesn’t change, it’s always 10:00 AM. But the closing time changes. From February - May and from September - October the garden close at 5:30 PM. From June - August, it closes at 6:00 PM. And finally, from November - January, the closing time is 4:30 PM.If you want to get to Changdeokgung Palace by taxi, the address is 99 Yulgok-ro, Waryongdong, Jongnogu. Going by taxis also has it perks; you can freely see the sights, just beware that the price probably won’t be cheap.To cut down on the travel budget, try the subway. Just take the Anguk Subway and take the 3rd exit. Walk straight for a couple of blocks, and the palace will appear on your left side. You can also take the Jongno 3-ga Station in line 1, 3, 5 and take the 6th exit. The walk to the palace is 5 minutes if you take the Anguk Subway and 10 minutes if you take the Jongno 3-ga Station.If the subway is still too expensive for you, the bus is just perfect. Admittedly, the bus is slower than the two options above, but its price and convenience are just unrivaled. You can take the number 109, 151, 162, 171, 172, 272 blue buses or the number 7025 green bus to get to the palace.And that concludes our guide to the Changdeokgung Palace. I hope that this article provides you with useful information. And I hope that you have a great trip to the Palace.

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Secret Garden (Huwon)

Secret Garden (Huwon)

The Secret Garden or Huwon as it is referred to in Seoul's tourist literature, is an undoubted highlight, when visiting Changdeokgung Palace .

Approached through a mysterious path, this is concealed by an arch of leaves. In the centre is a lotus pond, one of Seoul's most photographed sights, alive with colorful flowers in late June or early July.

A small building overlooking the pond served as a library and study room in imperial times and the tiny gates blocking the entrance path were used as aninteresting checking mechanism by the king - needing to crouch to pass through, he'd be reminded of his duty to be humble.

This is the last stop on the tour and most visitors take the opportunity to relax here for awhile before exiting the complex.

Sign up for a tour at the entrance to Changdeokgung Palace.

Contact Secret Garden (Huwon)

99 Yulgok-ro, Seoul , Jongno-gu

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Gwanghwamun & Jongno-gu

Walk through the dense woodland at the rear of the main buildings of Changdeokgung and suddenly you come across a serene glade. The Huwon is a beautiful vista of pavilions on the edge of a square lily pond, with other halls and a two-storey library. The board out the front, written by King Jeongjo, means ‘Gather the Universe’. Joseon kings relaxed, studied and wrote poems in this tranquil setting.

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Seoul UNESCO World Heritage Tour

1) Changdeokgung Palace & Huwon Secret Garden -> 2) Jongmyo Shrine -> 3) Seolleung & Jeongneung Royal Tombs

This suggested itinerary covers the 3 sites in Seoul that have been designated as world heritage sites by UNESCO.

huwon tour

Chandeokgung Palace & Huwon Secret Garden

Changdeokgung Palace was the second palace built after Gyeongbokgung Palace in 1405. It served as the main palace for several Joseon Dynasty kings.

The back of the palace is where Huwon Secret Garde is located. The garden served as a resting place for the royal family, but today, it is open to the public. There is a separate tour of just the garden available.

Suggested Tour duration (Changdeokgung Palace): 1-1.5 hours

Tour duration (Huwon Secret Garden):  1.5 hours (set time)

huwon tour

Jongmyo Shrine

Jongmyo Shrine is a Confucian shrine dedicated to the perpetuation of memorial services for deceased kings and queens of the Joseon Dynasty. Jongmyo is the oldest royal Confucian shrine.

Suggested Tour Duration: 1 to 1.5 hours

Visit our info page for more information about Jongmyo Shrine:

huwon tour

Seolleung & Jeongneung Royal Tombs

Seonjeongneung (Seolleung & Jeongneung combined) is the burial site of King Seongjong, his second wife Queen Jeonghyeon, and their son, King Jungjong.

The tomb of King Seongjong was built in 1495 after his death. The tombs of Queen Jeonghyeon and their son King Jungjong were added in 1530 and 1544 respectively.

Visit our info page for more information about Seolleung & Jeongneung Royal Tombs:

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huwon tour

Huwon Secret Garden of Changdeokgung in Spring

huwon tour

I happened to be near Changdeokgung recently with my family. While I had a meeting nearby, my family decided to look around Changdeokgung palace and Huwon. Fortunately it was opened even during this Covid-19 period.

huwon tour

Huwon of the palace has been opened to public in limited areas only by touring with an official guide at scheduled hours for preservation of ecosystem because Changdeokgung has the broad mountainous districts exposed more fire risk and damage of dense forest than other palaces. That is why the individual viewing is usually not allowed in the Secret Garden of Changdeokgung. The tour by guides at scheduled hours is supposed to be conducted in limited areas.

huwon tour

However, at the moment, all official guided tours are cancelled due to the Coronavirus and only self-guided tours are available within the designated trail as below.

huwon tour

My little child was able to look around freely in the Secret Garden thanks to the self-guided tour. Perhaps the guided tour would have been hard for kids. The individual viewing is sometimes allowed on a special event, but reservations are required and limited at most times.

huwon tour

Each tour has only 100 tickets and half of those are available on the on-line booking site. The other half is sold in a ticket office on a first come first served basis. Tour lasts for 90 minutes (70 minutes in the hottest and coldest seasons).

huwon tour

With that being said, all guided tours are currently cancelled due to the spread of the Coronavirus. During this time, only self-guided tours are allowed within the designated route from 10 a.m. till 4 p.m.

huwon tour

Huwon is the filming location for the Netflix series, Kingdom. I don’t like the horror movie especially zombie movies, but I have heard good comments about this Korean style zombie movie which is very speedy and immersive. If you have watched the movie, it would be fun to find out where the locations were filmed in.

huwon tour

Webpage : http://www.cdg.go.kr/eng/cms_for_cdg/contents/c3_1.jsp Reservation for Secret Garden tour: https://ticket.uforus.co.kr/web/main?shopEncode= Address : Yulgok-ro 99 Jongno-gu, Seoul Telephone : +82) (0)2 3668 2300 Operating Hours : April-October 09:00-19:00 (entrance available until 18:30) November-March 09:00-18:00 (entrance available until 17:30) ※ Closed every Monday Admission Fee : Changdeokgung Adult (age 19-64) 3,000 won, Youth (age 7-18) 1,500 won Huwon Adult (age 19~) 5000 won, Youth (age 7-18) 2,500 won * You will need Changdeokgung ticket to visit Huwon since Huwon, the Secret Garden is a part of the palace. Transportation Subway : Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3) Exit 3, Jongno 3-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1,3,5) Exit 6 or 7 (Ten minutes on foot from exit 6 of Jongro3ga station(line 1,3,5), five minutes on foot from exit 3 of Ahngook station(line3)) Bus : 109, 151, 162, 171, 172, 272, 7025 (Use bus numbers below and get off at Changdeokgung Palace bus stop.(5 min. walk from the bus stop)

Huwon Secret Garden of Changdeokgung

huwon tour

This secret garden looks so incredibly beautiful in spring! I visited once in the summer months some years ago, but I would love to revisit again during the spring season. 🙂

Summer in Korea looks amazing! Wish I can visit <3

x Natalie Lucy and the Runaways – Blog and Instagram

Very informative and the place really look so beautiful. Nice feature it will be one of my travel list thank you☺️

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huwon tour

Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) and Huwon, The Secret Garden

KoreaTravelPost Editor

 3,737 total views,  3 views today

huwon tour

Changdeokgung Palace is one of the most beautiful of Seoul’s five main palaces . Although Gyeongbukung is Korea’s main Palace, Changdeokgung actually served as the main residence from the early 1600s-1800s. 

Unlike other palaces, Changdeokgung Palace works in harmony with nature, and the overall construction highlights the natural settings. The buildings don’t overshadow the overall natural beauty of the region.

huwon tour

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most well-preserved palaces amongst all the royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty reigning from 1392 to 1910. Changdeokgung Palace was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. It is regarded as a masterpiece of Korean palace architecture where the buildings are in perfect harmony with the natural setting.

Read more about Grand Palaces of Seoul:

  • 5 Seoul palaces you must visit to add to your Royal South Korea Experience
  • Gyeongbokgung Palace – Korea’s Magnificent Main Palace
  • Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁), Seoul

History of Changdeokgung Palace

The Palace was built originally as a secondary palace in 1405 following the construction of Gyeongbukung Palace . It was commissioned by King Taejeon, the third king of Joseon. 

After the Japanese invasion in 1952, all the palaces in Seoul were burnt down. Changdeokgung became the first one to be reconstructed in 1610, and it became the main palace. It was the primary royal residence and Palace until 1872, around 270 years! The Palace has remained well in use up into the 20 th  century. During the Joseon Dynasty rule, 13 different kings, including the last monarch, used Changdeokgung as the primary Palace. 

huwon tour

The palace construction follows the excellent feng shui (pungsu), just like all the other Korean palaces – a mountain behind the palace building and a small stream in front. The buildings of the Palace are positioned more naturally following the land contours, unlike the Gyeongbokung, which is built on flat land. Changdeokgung blends in naturally with the surroundings, and the compound covers a sprawling area of about 462,000 square meters. 

Things to See in Changdeokgung Palace

Donhwamun gate ( 돈화문 ).

It is the largest and imposing entrance gate amongst the other Seoul’s main palaces. The gate dates to 1608. Like other palaces in Korea, as you enter the gate, you will cross a stone bridge over the water stream. 

Geumcheongyo ( 금청요 )

It is the oldest structure in the palace complex dating back to 1414. The bridge has guardian animals carved on its side and is considered one of the oldest bridges in Seoul. 

huwon tour

Injeongjeon (인정전)

After passing through the Jinseonmun gate, you can enter Injeongjeon. It is the main palace building and sits in harmony with the paved courtyard, open corridors, and the trees in the background. All the significant affairs like coronations and royal ceremonies were held here. 

Seonjeongjeon ( 선정전 )

It is the only building with a blue-tiled roof, and it stands next to the Injeongjeon and other office buildings. 

Huijeongdang ( 휘정당 )

It was the royal bed-chamber where the king used to spend his time working. The reconstruction of Huijeongdang is much different from what it used to be initially. 

Daejojeon ( 대조전 )

Daejojeon was the queen’s bed chambers that have been reconstructed as they were also destroyed in the fire. 

Nakseonjae ( 낙선재 )

It was built during the reign of King Heonjong in 1656 as a place to relax and read. It has also served as the quarters for the crown prince. The complex was in use until 1989 by the wife of the last Korean crown prince. 

Moonlight Tour of Changdeokgung Palace

changdeokgung palace

Huwon – The Secret Garden of Natural Beauty

Huwon, the garden at the back of Changdeokgung Palace, is self-contained and occupies about 60% of Changdeokgung. It is an excellent example of Korean garden design, and it is one of a kind. The rear garden was constructed during the reign of King Taejon, and it served as a resting place for the family members. There are many pavilions and fountains in the garden which enhance its natural beauty.

huwon tour

There is a large pond in the center of Huwon named Buyongji. Along with the pond, there is Buyongjeong (Pavilion) and Juhapru (Pavilion). The construction design of Buyongjeong is unique, with a cross-shaped roof and two supporting pillars rising from the pond. It is said that King Jeongjo (the 22nd king of the Joseon Dynasty) and his courtiers often enjoyed fishing here at Buyongjeong. The Juhapru Pavilion used to house the royal library and was used by the king and his courtiers to study and discuss politics. The entrance of Juhapru, the Eosumun (Gate), even has a symbolic meaning as the name literally means “Fish cannot live without water.” It reflects that “The ruler should always put his people first.”

If you visit the garden in autumn, you will be mesmerized by the autumn foliage and the gorgeous falling leaves!

Important Info about Changdeokgung Palace

Where :  99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Timings : Every Monday the Palace and the garden are closed.

Changdeokgung

  • Feburary – May, September & October 09:00 – 18:00
  • June – August 09:00 – 18:30
  • November to January 09:00 – 17:30
  • March – May, September & October 10:00 – 18:00
  • June – August 10:00 – 18:30
  • November – February 10:00 – 17:30
  • December to February 09:00 – 17:00

Entrance Fee: 

  • Changdeokgung – Adults (aged 19-64): KRW 3,000; Children & Teens (aged 7-18): KRW 1,500
  • Including Huwon – Adults (over 19 yrs.): KRW 8,000; Adults (over 65 yrs.): KRW 5,000; Children & Teens (aged 7-18): KRW 4,000

Website :  http://www.cdg.go.kr/eng/

Important Note

You must book tickets ahead of time, especially for a tour to visit Huwon. In busy times, the tickets sell out pretty quickly. You can still visit the palace complex, but you won’t be able to see the secret garden. 

You can book the tickets online up to 6 days ahead of time. There are only 100 tickets available for each tour, so they sell out fast. And if you are late and the tour has started, you won’t be allowed entry into the Secret Garden. So, make sure you give yourself around 20 minutes to walk to the Secret Garden from the main gate. 

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Ploy's Little Atlas

Just another world from Ploy's view

The Secret Garden – Autumn Foliage Viewing Spot in Seoul

huwon tour

Changdeokgung or Changdeok Palace might be best known as one of Seoul’s favorite spots to admire red plum blossoms during the flower blooming season. But in autumn, a part of the palace that was once called the forbidden garden boasts out amazing fall colors captivating even more attention than the spring flowers ever does from the beginning of the year.

The garden is known today as the Secret Garden or Biwon as written in every tour guide pamphlet for the palace but many Koreans seem to simply refer to it as Huwon or the rear garden (창덕궁후원). Although it is established on the same ground inside the palace wall, getting into the garden might not be a piece of cake as it should be. A separate admission pass is required. Not only do you have to save a little extra money for the ticket but you also need to be on an arranged tour to visit Huwon. However, since everyone is quite acquainted with its prominence during the fall, the guided tour tickets can be commonly booked or sold out from early October. 

If you would like to explore the garden at its peak, plan your trip accordingly. Get the ticket ahead of time or you can try to arrive at the palace ticket office very early in the morning. They sell 100 tickets per tour with 50 for purchase offline. It’s first come, first served, so you can try being there a little before 9 to reserve your tour. 

[Book/purchase the tour online]

My last visit to the Secret Garden was on the last day of October of 2021. Korea was then still under the pandemic hibernation. Admission to the Huwon was available but a lesser number of visitors was allowed and they offered a fewer tour a day too. The place had never been quieter during this time of year.  

huwon tour

The time was pretty impeccable. We already noticed some brilliant shade of fiery red and glowing orange of trees within the palace that were in the process of surrendering their leaves as we headed towards the garden entrance. 

huwon tour

Once we stepped into the first area of the garden, Buyongji and Juhamnu (부영지와 주함누), we were greeted by an amazingly turned brownish red fluff of a big tree by the rectangular pond. 

huwon tour

Walking the path a little deeper, it would lead you to the second pond area, Aeryeonji and Uiduhap (애련지와 의두합). I felt it was a tad sooner for those maple trees behind the pavilion to give up their leaves by the time of my visit. Once they fully turn red, the scene can easily become the most postcard worthy picture of the Huwon during the fall. 

huwon tour

The highlight of my trip has to be the vista of the third pond site located right in front of the pavilion called Jondeokjeong (존덕정). With all the plants and trees densely encompassing the lotus pond, I can picture how this would be a perfect place to relax and keep one’s mind sharp after a long hot summer day. And when those leafy trees start to change their color, it is truly a feast for the eyes and senses that should not be missed. 

huwon tour

If you linger around till dusk, don’t forget to capture the view of the Namsan Tower with your good camera on your way out at the garden entrance. The image of the Seoul landmark framed with gorgeous foliage soaking up in warm autumn sunset is something I can assure you that is worth lingering around.

huwon tour

More Treats for the Eyes from My Visit <3

huwon tour

Quick Info About Changdeokgung’s Secret Garden

Operating Hours:

Tuesday~Sunday (Close on Mondays) 09:00~16:00 (Oct.)

Secret Garden Admission Fees:

Adults (age over 19) – 5,000KW

Seniors (age over 65)  – 5,000KW (General entrance fee included)

Youths (age age 7-18) – 2,500KW

Naver Map: 서울 종로구 율곡로 99 창덕궁 [See Map]

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Secret Garden (Huwon) tour - Changdeokgung Palace

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Secret Garden (Huwon) tour

This was the first palace in Seoul we saw due to the Secret garden tour. Tried to reserve online but it was closed; no problem buying tickets at the door though (you can’t visit the garden without a guided tour.) There’s a fair amount of walking and stairs for outdoors (we were fine, ages 23, 58 & 70) and it was the largest palace garden we saw in Seoul and Kyoto. The guide was one of the best English speaking guides we heard over 2 weeks: she allowed ample time for photos but kept us moving along (a lot of ground to cover.)

Nice place to roam around admire the structural and architectural history of Seoul considering this palace offers some structures being built earlier than the other palaces in the surrounding area. The Secret Garden tour provides more access to different areas and also great views. It's a short hike up and down some small hills but definitely worth the extra fee.

A place that you must visit in Seoul. If you like history, this site will satisfy you. There are so many buildings & courtyards to view that you will be lost in your own world. The highlight of this historical site however is the Secret Garden appended to the Palace grounds. In fact the area taken up by the Secret Garden is larger that the actual Palace grounds. There is Nature, History and beauty to behold. The tour takes you on a wonderful walk through the grounds. In autumn, with the red, yellow and orange leaves, it is a unforgettable sight. Plan for a visit in either Spring or Autumn.

You should visit all the palace. all are special in there own way. Gyeongbokgung is ofcourse the bigest and the one you shoud do for sure when you are in Korea

I love the forrest and the lake beside the palace. It's so fresh and it makes me feel peacefully. That's all of my feeling. The architect of the places are normal and there's only the walls. I dont find any culture things in this.

There's so much to do and see here as inside there are also entrances to Changyeonggung Palace and the Secret Garden Tour. The architecture of this complex is so outstanding that it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 1997. Also, I'd highly, highly recommend the Secret Garden Tour, just make sure you get there early enough because there are limited tickets available for each time slot.

Where Are Those Morgans

How To Visit Changgyeonggung Palace In Seoul

By: Author Mark and Kristen Morgan

Posted on Published: September 11, 2023  - Last updated: December 31, 2023

Categories Asia Travel Blog

How To Visit Changgyeonggung Palace In Seoul

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!

Our Seoul Experience

Man posing for a picture at Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul

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.

Large red pillars inside Changgyeonggung Palace in Seoul, South Korea

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 refug e 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:

Royal Palace Pass for entry into all the Seoul Palaces

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:

  • Gyeongbokgung
  • Changdeokgung
  • Changgyeonggung
  • 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.

A visitor inside a Seoul Palace wearing a hanbok

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.

Woman standing behind a large red pillar in Seoul, South Korea

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:

Honghwamun Gate 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.

Myeongjeongjeon Hall inside Changgyeonggung Palace

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 sea t 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.

Close view of a Changgyeonggung Palace building roof with vibrant purple flowers

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 .

Woman inside a large wooden gate in Seoul

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.

Visitors walking around Chundangji Pond

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.

A perspective photo of the seven story stone pagoda in Changgyeonggung Palace

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.

The placenta chamber in Changgyeonggung Palace

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.

The Grand Greenhouse in Changgyeonggung Palace with a maze

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.

A large walking path through Chundangji Pond

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:

The white Grand Greenhouse inside Changgyeonggung Palace with maze out front of the building

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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Want more Seoul content? Head over to our South Korea Travel Guides to explore the very best of Seoul and beyond.

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.

Happy Travels ,

Mark and Kristen

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Mark and Kristen Morgan are travel, hiking and photography experts. Over the last 6 years traveling full time, they have explored more than 40 countries and 30 US states.

Where Are Those Morgans has been featured in USA Today, Gestalten, Get Your Guide, CityPASS and Condé Nast Traveler along with various other publications. Read more about us .

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COMMENTS

  1. Huwon Secret Garden

    Huwon Secret Garden is a rear garden at Changdeokgung Palace that flows naturally with nature and was used as a place of leisure by members of the royal family. The garden, which has also been known as Bukwon, Geumwon, and Biwon. At 78 acres, the garden takes up about sixty percent of the palace grounds.

  2. Huwon Secret Garden Tour In Seoul

    A tour through Huwon Secret Garden is one of the most interesting ways to learn about the Joseon Dynasty. Free guided tours sign inside Changdeokgung Palace Where Is The Secret Garden In Seoul? The Secret Garden in Seoul is located in the back of Changdeokgung Palace.

  3. Changdeokgung Palace's Secret Garden: Ticketing & Scenic ...

    Head out of Exit 3 at the Anguk Station and the palace should be a short 10-minute walk away. How To Reserve Tickets For Changdeokgung Palace? All tickets for entry visits and guided tours to the Secret Garden should be booked in advance via the official website.

  4. Huwon Secret Garden in Seoul

    Roam with me to Huwon Secret Garden Seoul, a sprawling 78-acre rear garden within the historic Changdeokgung Palace. The lush grounds designed for the royal family, features enchanting lotus ponds, elegant pavilions, and a two-level library. Explore the serenity of this hidden gem, also known as Huwon (후원), Biwon (비원), Geumwon (금원), Naewon (내원), or Changdeokgung Palace Garden ...

  5. How To Visit Changdeokgung Palace + Huwon Secret Garden

    Changdeokgung Palace is one of the most popular things to do in Seoul because it is home to the Huwon Secret Garden. We highly recommend you add this palace to your Seoul itinerary because it's a great place to admire the pagoda style architecture and learn about Korean history. In our Seoul travel guide, we will show you:

  6. Huwon Secret Garden: A Hidden Gem in the Heart of Seoul

    Huwon Secret Garden is a Korean garden design masterpiece located at the rear of Changdeokgung Palace. The garden is spread over an area of 78 acres, which is about 60% of the palace grounds. It was used as a leisure place by members of the royal family.

  7. How to Visit Changdeokgung Palace (+ Secret Garden)

    A fascinating fact about this palace is that it's home to a beautiful (not-so) secret garden in Seoul, also known as Huwon. Here you'll see a lot of maroon pavilions overlooking ponds, perfect for, well, pondering the important stuff. No matter what the season, the garden is absolutely breathtaking. It's even lovely during the winter!

  8. Strolling Changdeokgung Palace and its Stunning Secret Garden: Huwon

    Strolling Changdeokgung Palace and its Stunning Secret Garden: Huwon secretmoona South Korea, Travel Changdeokgung Palace, Imperial Palace, Jongno-gu, Joseon, Seoul 10 Comments Last Updated on 05/08/2023 by secretmoona Injeongjeon Hall Changdeokgung Palace and its Secret Garden are located in the Jongno-gu district in Seoul.

  9. Changdeokgung Palace [UNESCO] (Huwon Secret Garden)

    Address 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99 (와룡동) Closed on Mondays Operating Hours Feb-May, Sep-Oct 09:00-18:00 Jun-Aug 09:00-18:30 Nov-Jan 09:00-17:30 * Last admission: 1 hour before closing. * Huwon Course (Guided Tour only) Admission Fees Adults (ages 19-64): Regular 3,000 won / Huwon 5,000 won

  10. Changdeokgung Palace & Secret Garden

    Changdeokgung Palace & Secret Garden (Huwon) Tour: Adult (age 19-64): 8,000 won, Senior (over 65): 5,000 won, Child (age 7-18): 4,000 won Combination Ticket: Adult: 10,000 won, child: 5,000 won to 4 palaces (Changdeokgung incl. Secret Garden, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, Gyeongbokgung) and Jongmyo Shrine. 3 months validity.

  11. A step-by-step guide to visit Changdeokgung palace and Huwon secret

    2021-09-04 • 11 min read Changdeokgung Palace, with Huwon Secret Garden, has been one of the most tourist-attracting historic sites in Seoul and visiting this attraction is one of awesome things to do in Seoul. Korea has thousands of years of history and culture. Which explains why the city of Seoul is home to so many historic sites.

  12. Secret Garden (Huwon) in Seoul

    The Secret Garden or Huwon as it is referred to in Seoul's tourist literature, is an undoubted highlight, when visiting Changdeokgung Palace. Approached through a mysterious path, this is concealed by an arch of leaves. In the centre is a lotus pond, one of Seoul's most photographed sights, alive with colorful flowers in late June or early July.

  13. Huwon

    21.05 MILES The World Heritage-listed fortress wall that encloses the original town of Suwon is what brings most travellers to the city. Snaking up and down Paldal… Deoksugung 1.52 MILES One of Seoul's five grand palaces built during the Joseon dynasty, Deoksugung (meaning Palace of Virtuous Longevity) is the only one you can visit in the…

  14. Huwon Secret Garden of Changdeokgung

    You can either book a tour online or buy the ticket on site. Tickets are on a first-come-first-served basis so I recommend booking a tour on its official website. The tour takes about 90 minutes. Here are some photos of Changdeokgung and its Huwon Secret Garden from this winter. Changdeokgung Address : 99 Yulgok-ro, Waryong-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul

  15. Huwon

    per adult. Premium Private DMZ Tour & (Suspension Bridge or N-Tower) include lunch. 43. Recommended. Historical Tours. from. $92.00. per adult (price varies by group size) Drinking and Eating through the Alleys of Seoul.

  16. Seoul UNESCO World Heritage Tour

    The back of the palace is where Huwon Secret Garde is located. The garden served as a resting place for the royal family, but today, it is open to the public. There is a separate tour of just the garden available. Suggested Tour duration (Changdeokgung Palace): 1-1.5 hours. Tour duration (Huwon Secret Garden): 1.5 hours (set time)

  17. Huwon Secret Garden of Changdeokgung in Spring

    Huwon of the palace has been opened to public in limited areas only by touring with an official guide at scheduled hours for preservation of ecosystem because Changdeokgung has the broad mountainous districts exposed more fire risk and damage of dense forest than other palaces.

  18. Huwon

    61 reviews 21 helpful votes 1. Re: Huwon - Secret Garden tour Jul 14, 2023, 5:54 AM Save I think the Secret Garden (Huwon) is nice but not compelling. I think if you can be there at the time for the tour its worthwhile but I wouldn't go to any special effort or go out of my way to do it.

  19. Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) and Huwon, The Secret Garden

    5 Seoul palaces you must visit to add to your Royal South Korea Experience Gyeongbokgung Palace - Korea's Magnificent Main Palace Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁), Seoul History of Changdeokgung Palace The Palace was built originally as a secondary palace in 1405 following the construction of Gyeongbukung Palace.

  20. Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon [UNESCO World Heritage ...

    Length of tour: Approx. 90 min. Start point: Hamyangmun Gate (approx. 10 min walk from Changdeokgung Palace) * Koreans can participate in the interpreted guided tour only when accompanying a foreigner. tel: +82-2-3668-2300. zipcode: 03072. expguide: Huwon (Secret Garden) Special Admission Tour. heritage1: 1

  21. The Secret Garden

    The garden is known today as the Secret Garden or Biwon as written in every tour guide pamphlet for the palace but many Koreans seem to simply refer to it as Huwon or the rear garden (창덕궁후원). Although it is established on the same ground inside the palace wall, getting into the garden might not be a piece of cake as it should be.

  22. Secret Garden (Huwon) tour

    35 10 Secret Garden (Huwon) tour Review of Changdeokgung Palace Reviewed October 17, 2018 via mobile This was the first palace in Seoul we saw due to the Secret garden tour. Tried to reserve online but it was closed; no problem buying tickets at the door though (you can't visit the garden without a guided tour.)

  23. How To Visit Changgyeonggung Palace In Seoul

    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 ... 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 ...