Finally, it was the day where Saucer was off from work – Saturday! We had the whole day to ourselves, and I had planned a day full of activities. 🙂 Starting from the morning, we took the subway to Changdeokgung. Look at the screen at the subway, it even showed where the train was at real time! Referring to the screen, there were 2 oncoming trains, one at the station just before this, and another at 2 stations before. So cool and convenient to the passengers.
witch impressed with the subway
Once we got off the subway, I was the default tour guide, looking at the map every now and then to make sure we’re on the right track.
Where are we?
I know my way now 🙂
After about 10 minutes walk from the Anguk Subway station, we reached Changdeok Palace (Palace of Prospering Virtue)! We were there on a Saturday, so we had to follow the guided tour – which was actually a good thing! Firstly, it was cheaper to go on guided tour (3,000 won/RM9) as compared to non-guided tour (20,000 won/RM60). The difference is that for guided tour, it only lasts about 1.5 hours, while for non-guided tour, you can be inside for as long as you want. There were also several languages available for the guided tour – Korean, English, Chinese and Japanese. But due to time constraint, we chose the one which was earliest and it was in Chinese.
Changdeok Palace – World Cultural Heritage
The main gate to Changdeok Palace is Donhwamun (National Treasure #383) – built in 1412, it was destroyed in 1592 during the Japanese invasion and later rebuilt in 1607.
Changdeok Palace entrance – Donhwamun
The tour guide was this friendly guide who could speak fluent Korean and Chinese – I couldn’t tell if he was a Korean or Chinese native. Joining our group were some native Chinese, Taiwanese and a couple of Thais!
Entering the palace with the tour group
The guide told us to take note of these interesting shapes on top of the roof, which would have gone unnoticed otherwise.
Cute animals on the roof
The long walk
Soon, we reached this humongous palace, which was the Injeongjeon Hall. This is the throne hall of Changdeokgung, and was used for major state affairs including the coronation of a new king and receiving foreign envoys.
The guide was demonstrating to us that back in those days, when the King was present, the people had to kneel down on the two sides of the walkway – chanting Long Live the King, or something like that.
Guide demonstrating what the people did back in the olden days
Looked like Korean? 😛
We soon headed towards the hall, and saw some restricted steps on the staircase. This must be where the King had stepped on last time.
Keep off these steps
And we peeked inside the Injeongjeon Hall.
The interior of the hall
Side profile of Injeongjeon Hall – grand architecture
According to the guide, the main uniqueness of Changdeokgung lies in the fact that its architecture of all buildings are in harmony with the environment surrounding them.
We saw some other buildings along our guided tour, but I wasn’t quick enough to catch all that the tour guide said. (OK, my Chinese is lousy)
We saw the old school clock right in front of one of the halls and the tour guide taught us how to tell time. I remember knowing how to tell time back then, but totally forgot about it right now. 😛 Do you know how to tell the time here?
The old time clock – Can you tell the time?
Inside Huijeongdang Hall
The King’s chambers – reconstructed
They also had their own method to heat up the floor – burning wood underneath the floor. Of course, this was only practised during winter or cold weathers. Very brilliant idea, I think.
The Juhamnu Pavilion was a scenic view of royal libraries surrounding a pond. State exams were conducted in front of the pavilion on special occasions in presence of the King.
Juhamnu Pavilion #1
Saucer and witch
Juhamnu Pavilion #2
Dried grass in the winter
On the way back to the entrance, the guide told us that there was a little secret that he had to keep him youthful looking. And it was this arch with the words “Won’t get old” on top. In Korean, of course. He said, once you cross the arch, you’d be younger by 3 years. *LOL* I wonder how true that is.
“Never old” arch
And to get back to the entrance of the palace, we had to walk up this steep hill with many steps. *gasp*
The long way back up
Saucer with the guide
This was indeed an enlightening tour to give us a better insight of Korean’s culture and history. It would have been better if the tour I joined was in English, but time was not on our side, so we couldn’t choose. You should visit this place if you visit Seoul!
Visiting Hours for Changdeok Palace:
Feb. – 09:15 ~ 15:45 Enter every 15 and 45 minutes past the hour.
Mar. – 09:15 ~ 16:45 Enter every 15 and 45 minutes past the hour.
Apr. ~ Oct. – 09:15 ~ 17:15 Enter every 15 and 45 minutes past the hour.
Nov. – 09:15 ~ 15:45 Enter every 15 and 45 minutes past the hour.
Dec. ~ Jan. – 09:45 ~ 15:45 Enter every 45 minutes past the hour.
* The last entrance time varies according to sunset time. Closed on Mondays
Admission fee (Everyday except Thursday):
Adults (19 to 64 years old): 3,000 won
Youths (7 to 18 years old): 1,500 won
* Children 6 and under, seniors 65 and over: Free
Directions to get there:
Subway lines 1, 3 & 5, Jongno 3 (sam)-ga Station, exit 6, 10 minutes walking
Subway line 3, Anguk Station, exit 3, 5 minutes walking