Travel Highlights

Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace

  • Tag Event History Tour
  • Date07/17/2017
  • Hit81772

Night view of the Changdeokgung Palace Huwon (credit: Cultural Heritage Administration)

One of the must-do’s in Seoul is none other than taking a visit to the city’s ancient palaces - Gyeongbokgung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon. These architectural gems were not only residences of kings and queens, but were also the center of politics and city life during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910).

Changgyeonggung Palace, in particular, is the perfect destination for anyone who is interested in seeing Korean palaces. Designated as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1997, Changdeokgung Palace is said to be the most traditional and authentic of Seoul's five palaces. It has been praised for its architectural sensitivity to its natural surroundings and lauded as a representative masterpiece of East Asian Palace Architecture. The palace is also believed to have the perfect geographical location according to ancient philosophies like that of Feng Shui.

As amazing as it is in daylight, the palace is even more magical when you take a stroll along the palace grounds under a full moon. Take The Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace for a pleasant evening walk within the royal palace as well as discovering interesting historical facts related to the royal family.

 

  • * Changdeokgung Moonlight Tour Route
  • ① Donhwamun (Main Gate) tour meeting point → ② Jinseonmun Gate → ③ Injeongjeon Hall → ④ Nakseonjae (view full moon) → ⑤ Sangnyangjeong Pavilion (Daeguem Solo Performance) → ⑥ Buyongji and Aeryeonji Pond (view full moon) → ⑦ Bullomun Gate → ⑧ Yeongyeongdang Hall (performance and refreshments) → ⑨ Huwon Garden Trail (end of tour) (Total program takes approx. 2 hours.)

 

Tidbits to make your palace journey even more enjoyable!

1. Donhwamun Gate: Front Gate of the Oldest Palace

Donhwamun Gate (credit: Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation)

Donhwamun Gate is the oldest of Changdeokgung Palace's gates. First built in 1412, it was burnt down during a period of conflict and later restored in 1608. The two-story high gate was given the name Donhwa, which means "to teach and love the subjects with compassion." This is where the Moonlight Tour officially begins with a cheongsachorong (a traditional candle lantern from the Joseon Dynasty covered with red and blue silk cloth) to light the path.

2. Injeongjeon Hall: The Venue for Royal Ceremonies

Injeongjeon Hall (credit: Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation)

Located at the center of the palace is Injeongjeon Hall. Injeongjeon Hall was used as a banquet venue for foreign diplomats and as well as for King's coronation. Inside this prestigious room, visitors will be able to see the King's throne and folding screen behind, called Ilwoloakdo byeongpung (partition used as a decoration as well as to block strong winds from outside), embroidered with the sun, moon, and five mountain peaks. One can see Seoul's modern cityscape looming in the background.

3. Nakseonjae: The King's Quarters

Nakseonjae (credit: Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation)

Nakseonjae was built as the study and sarangchae (living quarters of the head of a household) of King Heonjong (24th king of Joseon, 1827-1849). Literally meaning “to enjoy virtue,” Nakseonjae implies that a king should serve his people with virtue so that both the people and the king himself will be happy. After King Heonjong passed away, the compound was used by King Gojong (26th king of Joseon, 1852-1919) and King Sunjong (27th king of Joseon, 1874-1926) to carry out state affairs.

4. Sangnyangjeong Pavilion: A perfect spot to view the full moon

Sangnyangjeong Pavilion (credit: Cultural Heritage Administration)

A hexagonal pavilion is located atop the hill of Nakseonjae Huwon, providing a panoramic view of the surrounding garden. Participants of the tour will be able enjoy the mood of a moonlit night with a daegeum (traditional Korean instrument) performance here.

5. Buyongji and Aeryeonji Pond: The Majestic Royal Backyard

Scenic view of Buyongji Pond (credit: Cultural Heritage Administration)

Buyongji Pond and its surroundings are the most beautiful and tranquil area inside Changdeokgung Palace and is one of the finest examples of landscapes designed during the Joseon period. This garden where kings would take leisure walks in the past consists of small but pleasant Buyongji Pond and the striking Buyongjeong Pavilion with its pillars steadfast in the pond. The surrounding trees that have endured hundreds of years create cozy and elegant scenery. Next to the pond is Yeonghwadang, a venue once used for holding state exams during the Joseon Dynasty.

Aeryeonji Pond and Aeryeongjeong Pavilion (credit: Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation)

Another pond as beautiful as Buyongji Pond within the palace is Aeryeonji Pond, a charming pond with a name meaning “a pond where lotus flowers blossom.” To the north of the pond is Aeryeongjeong Pavilion, with its half standing over the water, which is known to offer a gorgeous view of the pond’s scenery from inside the pavilion.

6. Yeongyeongdang: A Stage Fit for a King

Yeongyeongdang Pavilion (credit: Cultural Heritage Administration)

Yeongyeongdang Pavilion is a wooden building built in the same style as the houses of the noblemen during the Joseon Dynasty. The building was built in the 19th century and was used as a venue to hold ceremonies and performances for the royal family by the best performers at that time. During your moonlit journey, Yeongyeongdang Paviliion will serve as the venue for an array of gukak (traditional Korean music) performances. The building's expansive yard and temporary stage are complete with enough seats for the audience. Korean tea and snacks are served as well.

7. Huwon Garden Stroll: Soak into the Twilight of Seoul's Past and Present

Night scenery of Huwon Garden (credit: Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation)

After the performance, visitors will be led into the forest of Changdeokgung Palace, known as Huwon. For centuries its access was strictly limited to the royal family. Now open to the public, guides dressed in hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) lead visitors through the trees using the light of the cheongsachorong. Guided by the delicate glow of this traditional lantern and the serene light of the full moon, visitors are guaranteed a unique and unforgettable evening.

More Info
  • Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace
  • ☞ Address: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • ☞ Monthly Schedule (First tour takes place from June-August; second tour takes place from late August-November)
  • - First tour: June 1, 2017-August 27, 2017
  • - Second tour: August 31, 2017-November 5, 2017
  • ☞ Number of People: 100 per tour (first-come, first-served basis)
  • ☞ Programs: Changdeokgung Palace night stroll, traditional Korean performance, teas and snacks as refreshments
  • ☞ Admission: 30,000 won
  • ☞ Ticket Reservation: ticket.interpark.com (English, Japanese, Chinese)
  • * First round of tickets are no longer available as of June 2017. Second round of tickets are available for reservation on August 17 at 2 p.m.
  • ☞ Websites
  • Changdeokgung Palace: www.cdg.go.kr (Korean, English)
  • Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation: www.chf.or.kr (Korean, English)
  • ☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

* This column was last updated in June 2017, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.