Changdeokgung Palace is one of five grand palaces in Seoul and the second one I’ve visited. (You can read about my trip to Gyeongbokgung here) I went with friends on Seollal and it ended up being free for the holiday. We wandered around and took photos before getting tickets and paying for the tour for the secret garden. There is no other way to see the secret garden. It was over an hour long walking tour with steep hills and it was bitterly cold. All of the water was frozen, lakes and waterfalls included. At all points of interest our guide stopped and talked about the spot and it’s history before giving at least 3 minutes to wander and take photos. My favorite spots were towards the end of the tour, where they used to play drinking games. Specifically where the loser would have to come up with poetry. There is a rock with poetry carved into it.
My other favorite spot was the “party house” which was sectioned off into a male side and a female side. The lady of the household couldn’t go over to the other side. But the guest could go to visit her. In order to find out how many guests she should later expect she would open a small door and peak to count the shoes left out to know how many guests would require refreshments by the time they came over to pay their respects.
By the end of the tour I was exhausted and frozen to my core, wishing I could have brought a hand warmer. But I greatly enjoyed the tour and was happy to stop at the cafe and have some tea.
The palace is closed on Mondays.