Getting there: LINE 3 Anguk Exit 3
There are 5 palaces in Seoul, and I thought they would all be the same. But it was apparent that not all palaces are created equal.
On this trip (and day) we made our way to 2 different palace. Gyeongbokgung Palace (the picture on the left) and Changdeukgung Palace (the picture on the right). I chose to visit the ladder. Although Gyeongbokgung Palace is the main palace, Changedeukgung Palace is an UNESCO world heritage site because it is considered to be the best preserved. It also features a secret garden in the palace. Plus, if you compare the main entrance to each palace, I think Changdeokgung Palace is prettier. I shared my full day itinerary which includes both palaces on Creative Cynchronicity.
To see the secret garden, you have to purchase an additional ticket and follow a guided tour. Tours are available in Korean, English, and Chinese. Check their schedule before going (you can also book the tickets online). We didn`t give ourselves enough time to walk around the palace, instead we just made our way directly to the Secret Garden.
We went on a Wednesday afternoon (the last tour group of the day) and found ourselves among a large tour group. I don’t know if this is just how it is but it was not easy trying to listen to out tour guide (even though she had a microphone), and take some good pictures without others in our pictures. So we decided to stay at the back of the pack for pictures.
The group also seemed to get smaller and smaller as we went on. That is because you can choose to leave the tour and head out to the palace at any time, you just can’t wander the gardens on your own.
Unlike other palaces, the buildings here seem to be in harmony with its surroundings (that sounds tacky, maybe its the secret garden making me tacky). Lets just say everything just seems to fit in nicely and its obvious that not very many trees seemed to be killed in the process of building this place.
I don’t know if it’s because I have seen too many traditional Asian traditional buildings or what, but they are all seeming to look the same. The signs above the doors and gates are written in traditional Chinese characters instead of the Korean characters. This one says “Forever Youthful Door” or “Forever Spring Door”.
This gate is call Bullomun which literally means “Gate of Everlasting Youth”, by walking through will we gain everlasting youth? Looks like it was built specifically for that right?
This little gate lead us to a smaller garden courtyard with a little lake which leads to more courtyards and buildings in the Secret Garden. By now, I think I could get lost with out our guide and tour group leading the way.
This little part of the secret garden looks like a fairy tale garden with the greenery, rocks, and its little stream running through.
After a little bit of research I found that this area is called Ongnyucheon Stream at the back of the Secret Garden. This area was where kings held parties along the stream. Near the stream are little pavilions with thatched roofs made from the dried rice plants grown right there.
Even as were were leaving the Secret Garden, the view behind the trees made it feel like a little secret.