Travel Highlights

Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace

  • Tag Event History Tour
  • Date09/02/2016
  • Hit71286

Night view of the Changdeokgung Palace Huwon

Photo: Night view of the Changdeokgung Palace Huwon

When visiting Seoul, one thing that’s not to be missed is a walk around one of 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 any who are 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 the palace is in the daylight, it’s even more magical when you stroll through the grounds under the light of the full moon. If you like to know more how this would feel like, join in annual moonlit journey through Changdeokgung Palace!

The Moonlight Tour at Changdeokgung Palace is the only chance you can walk around in the palace at night. The tour takes place on the days of full moon and only allows a limited number of people, it’s best to reserve right away because spots fill up fast.

* Changdeokgung Moonlight Tour Route
① Donhwamun (Main Gate) (돈화문) tour meeting point → ② Jinseonmun Gate (진선문) → ③ Injeongjeon Hall (인정전) → ④ Nakseonjae (낙선재) viewing the full moon → ⑤ Sangnyangjeong Pavilion (상량정) Daeguem Solo Performance → ⑥ Buyongji Pond (부용지) viewing the fullmoon → ⑦ Bullomun Gate (불로문) → ⑧ Yeongyeongdang Hall (연경당) watching performance and sampling refreshments → ⑨ Secret Garden Forest trail (후원) end of tour (Total program takes about 2 hours.)

Tidbits to make your Changdeokgung Palace
Moonlight Journey even more enjoyable!

1. Donhwamun Gate (돈화문): Front Gate of the Oldest Palace

left)People line up to enter the dark Donhwamun holding down chorongbul, right)The people who stand to hit the gong wearing dark clothing made earlier injeongjeon.

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 gate is two stories high, and its name Donhwa means "benevolently teaching and loving the citizens." This is the landmark from which your Moonlight Tour officially begins with a cheongsachorong in your hand (a candle lantern from the Joseon Dynasty made with red and blue silk cloth).

2. Injeongjeon Hall (인정전): The Venue for Royal Ceremonies

left)Injeongjeon night view, right)Injeongjeon night view2

Injeongjeon Hall, located at the center of the palace, had been used as a reception room for foreign diplomats and was also the place where the King's coronation was carried out. Inside this prestigious room, visitors will be able to see the King's throne and folding screen behind, called Ilwoloakdo byeongpung*, which is embroidered with the sun, moon, and five mountain peaks. Around this historic building, one can see Seoul's modern cityscape looming in the background.

* Byeongpung: a partition used to keep out strong winds from outside, though mostly served as an interior element as it is decorated with traditional drawings or calligraphies.

3. Nakseonjae (낙선재): The King's Quarters

left)Nakseonjae night view, right)Nakseonjae stone walls outside night view

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 the 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 (상량정)

Sangnyangjeong Pavilion night view

A hexagonal pavilion is located atop the hill from 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 (부용지): The Majestic Royal Backyard

Buyongji night view

Buyongji is the most beautiful and tranquil area inside Changdeokgung Palace and is one of the finest examples of landscapes designed during the Joseon era. The kings would take leisure walks around the small pond located in the backyard of the palace called Buyongji. The striking building jutting out over the pond is the Buyongjeong Pavilion. The area is surrounded by trees that are hundreds of years old. Next to the pond is Yeonghwadang, the venue for gwageo exams (the highest-level state examination to recruit ranking officials) during the Joseon Dynasty.

6. Yeongyeongdang (연경당): A Stage Fit for a King

Music played in Yeongyeongdang opened brightly lighted lights sits a lot of people visit it.

Yeongyeongdang 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 had been used as a venue for ceremonies and performances by the best performers of that era. During your moonlit journey, Yeongyeongdang 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 plenty of seating for the audience. Korean tea and snacks are served as well.

7. Huwon Forest Stroll: Soaking in the Twilight of Seoul's Past and Present

left)This beautiful beach along the Changdeokgung doldamgil chorongbul light, right)Building inside Changdeokgung night view decorated with lanterns

After the performance, visitors will be led into the forest of Changdeokgung Palace, which for centuries its access was restricted for the common people and reserved exclusively for the use of 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 (traditional lanterns). Guided by the delicate glow of this traditional lantern and the gentle light of the full moon, visitors are guaranteed a unique and unforgettable evening.

More Info
  • ☞ Venue: 99, Yulgok-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
  • ☞ Monthly Schedule (Dates for first half of 2017 (Mar-Jun) TBA)
  • August 15, 16 / 20:00
  • September 12, 13 / 20:00
  • October 8 / 19:00
  • ☞ Number of people: 150 per tour (first-come, first-served basis)
  • ☞ Program: Changdeokgung Palace night stroll, Korean traditional performance, teas and snacks as refreshments
  • ☞ Admission: 30,000 won
  • ☞ Ticket Reservation: (English, Chinese, Japanese)
  • ☞ Websites
  • Changdeokgung Palace (Korean, English)
  • Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation (Korean, English)
  • ☞ Inquiries: +82-2-2270-1233, 1238 (Korean, English)
  • ☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

Photo courtesy of Korea Cultural Heritage Foundation
(Exception: Main photo & Sangnyangjeong Pavilion by Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, Yeongyeongdang by Korea Tourism Organization)

* This column was last updated in August 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details from the official websites before visiting.

<Last updated on August 22, 2016>