Changdeokgung Palace & The Secret Garden

Monday, 22 February 2016

After a brief trip to Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁) for our hanbok experience, we made our second trip to the historical landmark the next day as a tourist. Changdeokgung Palace was the second palace to be constructed after Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁) and is the most preserved palace in Seoul. But more so than the palace itself, it was the Secret Garden or Huwon (후원) of the royal grounds that made me want to visit Changdeokgung Palace the most.

Located at the rear of the palace, the Secret Garden even felt magical walking up from the entrance of it because we were instantly greeted by many different colours of foliage. I've never seen anything like that before so I was really glad we went at a good time. Apparently, there are no trees like that in the main palace! The highlight of the Secret Garden for me was definitely Buyongji Pond (부용지) and the Buyongjeong Pavilion (부용정). When we first arrived, it felt like we were entering some private sanctuary—it was amazing. The tour took about one and a half hours, but we were so close to running off when it hit the 60 minute mark because we were absolutely freezing. So as soon as the tour was over, we just left immediately and didn't bother with exploring the rest of the palace.

It's true that the buildings might start to look a bit repetitive if you're visiting all the Five Grand Palaces in Seoul, but every palace has its own charms and distinction. For me, Changdeokgung Palace wins with its beauty because it's entire complex was actually built following the natural topography of Bugaksan Mountain (북악산), such that any artificial landscaping was kept to a minimum—unlike Gyeongbokgung Palace which imposed itself on the site. So if you're looking for a lovely, laid back and less crowded attraction, definitely check out Changdeokgung Palace—especially the Secret Garden because there's nothing like it in any other palace.

Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁)
99 Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
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