Situated along an old stone road and tucked among a handful of Western-style buildings, Deoksugung is the only one of Seoul’s five traditional Joseon palaces in the bustling neighborhood of Jung-gu. It’s also the only one open in the evening, when the grounds and buildings are illuminated.
What sets Deoksugung apart from Seoul’s other palaces is its unusual mix of traditional Korean and Western-style architecture. Visitors enter the grounds across a picturesque bridge where the king’s carriage traveled thousands of years ago. Though much smaller than it was in its heyday, the palace complex comprises traditional palace buildings, as well as ornate gardens and the National Museum of Art.
Those wishing to see the palace with the extra insight of a guide are in luck, as options abound. Palace tours take visitors to multiple palace complexes, while other tours combine a visit to Deoksugung with market shopping or a stop at Jogye Temple or Bukchon Hanok Village. Since the palace grounds remain open at night, it also features on evening food-tasting and ghost tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Deoksugung is a must-visit for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts.
- Buy a single admission ticket or a combo ticket that includes other palaces and Jongmyo Shrine.
- The palace grounds are wheelchair-accessible, and wheelchairs and strollers are available for rent.
- Admission is free for anyone wearing a hanbok (traditional Korean dress) and on the last Wednesday of each month.
How to Get There
Deoksugung Palace is situated in one of Seoul’s busiest business districts. To get there, take the subway (line 1 or 2) to City Hall Station, or take a city bus to City Hall/Deoksugung Palace bus stop.
When to Get There
The palace is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 9pm. Try to arrive in time to see one of the three daily changing of the guards ceremonies or the Bosingak bell-ringing ceremony at noon.
Western Architecture at Deoksugung Palace
The palace grounds are home to two notable Western-style buildings. The first, Jeonggwanheon Hall, was built in 1900 as a place where King Gojong would spend his free time. The second, Seokjojeon Hall, was completed in 1910 and today houses a palace treasure exhibition as well as part of the National Modern Art Center.