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Changdeokgung and Biwon

June 18, 2011

So we have returned to the US but are way behind on blogging about our trip to Korea this summer, so we will still have a number of Korea posts over the upcoming weeks!

Without a doubt, one of our favorite places to visit in Seoul is Changdeokgung. For those of you up on your past K-drama series, “Gung” (a cute K-drama, starring Coffee Prince’s Yoon Eun Hye) or a more accurate pronunciation of “Goong” means “palace”, and Changdeokgung is our favorite of Seoul’s palaces as it is the most well preserved and really incorporates nature on its grounds, including the Secret Garden (Biwon), a huge garden behind the palace.


Changdeokgung was the second palace built (in 1405, after Gyeongbukgung) and a favorite for many of the kings and royal families due to its garden, which still has many trees that are hundreds of years old. Both palaces are a short walk from Insadong and are specified as World Heritage Sites. As we abruptly realized upon trying to take our friend to them on this trip, both are also closed on Mondays!

We love visiting Changdeokgung for its garden, so if you want to visit, be sure to get there early enough to get a ticket to the garden as they are sold separately and sometimes sell out (they limit the number of visitors to help preserve the garden)!

Changdeokgung Secret Garden

Visiting the palaces in the summer means hot temperatures, so the Secret Garden is a welcome relief as it heavily shaded by all of the large trees. The garden was designed to embrace nature, not alter it, so apart from being incredibly beautiful, it is also has a very natural feel to it with the mountain behind trees everywhere.

Changdeokgung Secret Garden

After a walk of some distance along a road climbing a hill, you come to the largest set of buildings in the Secret Garden, Juhamnu, with a beautiful pond that includes a small island with trees. The royal libraries were housed here.

Changdeokgung Secret Garden

The garden is very large (78 acres), so the tour will take several hours, and includes a number different buildings, ponds, and a lot of walking amongst the beautiful trees.

Changdeokgung Secret Garden

I love the trees in Korea. They tend look much more delicate than trees in the US and the leaves of the maple trees in particular are so beautiful!

Close up of Biwon building roof

Biwon buildings

Fan-shaped pavilion in Biwon

Biwon irises

Biwon has a lot of beautiful flowers as well. Korea irises such as this one are also more delicate.

Biwon bleeding heart flowers

Biwon irises

Biwon building close-up

The colors of the palace buildings are all incredibly vibrant.

Ceiling of Biwon pavilion

I had to take a picture of the ceiling of this pavilion and its dragons. Look at those colors!

Changdeokgung throne room

After finishing our tour of Biwon, we returned to the palace. Above is a picture of the Changdeokgung throne. It’s good to be the king (especially with a garden like Biwon)!

It’s always been summer when I visited Changdeokgung. I really have to visit in spring and autumn to see the different colors then!

Sunnie & Bill at Juhamnu

This was my seventh trip to Korea, and I come to Changdeokgung every time I visit. There is a lot more to the palace structures than I included here. If you visit Seoul, it is an absolute must see; just be sure you can see Biwon as well. The tours are limited to 50 people at a time, are the only way you can access Biwon, and only run a couple of times a day, so it’s important to plan ahead.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2011 10:35 am

    Oh, I loved Changdeokgung, too. So beautiful! It was one of my favorite things. Gyeongbokgung is impressive and beautiful, too, but it has more of an administrative feel. I saw Changdeokgung in the fall, and I agree that you have to try to go then, too. 🙂 That palace and its grounds cannot take a bad picture–everything is so balanced in terms of layout and color. I also liked the friendly picture of you both at the end. Cute!

    • Bill permalink*
      June 22, 2011 11:31 pm

      Thanks, Lu! 🙂
      I don’t know when we’ll be able to visit in the fall due to our schedules, but I really want to. I definitely agree about the administrative nature of Gyeongbokgung. We were going to visit a couple of other palaces on this trip too but ran out of steam.

  2. July 6, 2011 6:39 am

    Oh wow, that place looks just beautiful. I especially love the painted ceiling with it’s intense colours and details. I’m going to have to put it on my list of places to visit when I visit Korea (flying out tomorrow! :D). You two look very ~ethereal~ and happy in the midst of that scenery, cute! 🙂

    • Sunnie permalink*
      July 7, 2011 8:46 am

      Hey, Julia!! Awesome, good luck with everything – I hope everything goes very smoothly! I guess you could be in the airplane right now. Or at least getting ready to leave. Please keep us posted, we would love to hear about your travels in Korea. 🙂


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