Saturday, 15 September 2012


창덕궁의 비원 . 昌徳宮の秘苑 . 昌德宫的秘院

We arrived at Donhwamun 돈화문, main entrance of Changdeokgung Palace 창덕궁.

After Mom collected our entry and tour tickets, we walked for about 10 mins to Hamyang Gate 함양문, the entrance of the Secret Garden / Biwon 비원 / Huwon 후원. Mom said the palace is very big so we need to walk a lot. Oh no ...

Blue line - the walk from Donhwamun to Biwon Entrance
Red circle - Area covered in the Secret Garden Tour
Grandma and Grandaunt waiting under the trees for the tour to start

Many people joined this tour, and Mom said our tour guide was dressed in a Korean traditional dress called hanbok.

Entering the garden
Our tour guide

The first stop was the Buyongji Pond 부용지 area - where Yeonghwadang 영화당, Buyongjeong Pavilion 부용정, and Juhamnu Pavilion 주합루, etc were.

Yeonghwadang 영화당 - civil service examination hall
Juhamnu Pavilion 주합루 - library and reading area

On the other side was the Gioheon 기오헌 area - where Aeryeonjong Pavilion 애련정, Geummamun 금마문, Bullomun 불로문, and Uiduhap 의두합, etc were.

Aeryeonjong "Love of Lotus" Pavilion 애련정
Geummamun 금마문 - entrance to Uiduhap 의두합
Bullomun 불로문 - Gate of Long Life
Uiduhap 의두합 - reading and studying place for the Crown Prince

Then, it's a short walk to the Yeongyeongdang 연경당 area - men's living quarters.

Entering via Jangrakmun 장락문

Step on this to mount a horse!

Modelled after yangban's / nobleman's house

Next was the Gwanramjeong 관람정 area - where the Gwanramjeong 관람정, Seungjaejeong 승재정, Jondeokjeong 존덕정 and Pyeomusa 폄우사 were.

Pyeomusa 폄우사 (reading place for the Crown Prince) with Jondeokjeong 존덕정 in the background
Jondeokjeong 존덕정 - double-layered roof
Seungjaejeong 승재정
Gwanramjeong Pavilion 관람정 and Bandoji Pond 반도지
Gwanramjeong 관람정

After walking for about 10 mins, we were at the Ongnyucheon 옥류천 vicinity - where Ongnyucheon 옥류천, Soyoam 소요암, Soyojeong 소요정, Cheonguijeong 청의정 were.

We were always amongst trees

Up a slope, then zizag down ...

Ongnyucheon 옥류천
Soyoam 소요암 - where the King carved a poem on the rock
Soyojeong 소요정 - of poetry and parties
Cheonguijeong 청의정 - the only existing thatched-roof pavilion, and the rice
paddy helped the King understand the importance of farming to the people

From here, we walked the rest of the way out on our own.

(Mom's Notes: The tour guide departed from the group at this point, and this was also where we had to decide whether to continue walking for about 15-20 mins to the Secret Garden exit, or to turn around & back-track to the Secret Garden entrance. Most people chose the former, but there seemed to be nothing of particular interest along the way.)

Think we passed by Shin Seonwonjeon 신선원전, but the gates were not opened
Up a long flight of stairs
Then down a long long slope
Almost there!
At the exit!

After the exit, and near Gyuchanggak 규장각, was a 750-year-old Chinese Juniper tree called 향나무.

Chinese Juniper tree 향나무 - its aromatic wood is used to make
incense for ancestral rituals at Seowonjeon Shrine 선원전
Gyuchanggak 규장각

Back at Donhwamun 돈화문, we had some time left to explore the rest of the palace, so we crossed the Geumcheongyo Bridge 금천교 and walked towards Jinseonmun 진선문.

Geumcheongyo 금천교 - oldest stone bridge in Seoul
Jinseonmun 진선문
Long path in to Injeongmun 인정문 (on the left)

Past Injeongmun 인정문, we entered the main hall in the palace called Injeongjeon 인정전, where the King met his court and military officials, and held important ceremonies.

Injeongmun 인정문
Injeongjeon 인정전 - main palace hall
Grade 1 officer! (Mom caught me mid-yawn)

The King's throne

Going past Sukjangmun 숙장문, we did not have time to see more so Mom only took pictures outside. Mom wants to see Nakseonjae 낙선재 in the next visit.

Sukjangmun 숙장문
Seonjeongjeon 선정전 (blue roof) was used for daily meetings,
and Heejeongdang 희정당 was the King's workplace
Heejeongdang 희정당 on the left, and
Seongjeonggak 성정각 (Prince's study area and the royal pharmacy) on the right
Behind and to the right of Sukjangmun 숙장문 was the gift shop and rest area

Then it's off to lunch @ Bukchon.
I was very tired after walking so much!

Mom's Notes
  • The Secret Garden tour starts from the entrance of Biwon / Huwon, and NOT at the main entrance. Hence, factor in time to walk to the Biwon entrance (which is a little distance away)
  • Download the new Changdeokgung Palace app, that tells the story of the palace. This app was not yet developed when we visited
  • You must join a guided tour in order to visit Biwon, and I'd recommend that an advanced online reservation be made (booking instructions are clearly stated). Or, you can purchase the tour tickets on the spot
  • Plenty of water, comfortable walking shoes, and a fan are things to bring along. We worked up quite a sweat during the tour although the weather was cooling then
  • There is only 1 toilet stop in this tour, which is also the same place where you can buy a nice cold drink. There were also very few places to rest your feet
  • There were many more intriguing stories told, and other highlights during the tour that we were not able to blog here (wish I had brought along a notebook to take notes)
  • Overall, a visit to Biwon is highly recommended if you are visiting Changdeokgung Palace. However, the tour might be more suitable for older children or teens who can better understand the content and historical significance, as well as tolerate the amount of walking (uphill) required
  • To read about the history of the palace, refer to the UNESCO website, the Korea Cultural Heritage Administration Website (English / Korean), or the Rediscovery of Korea website (Korean)
  • Check out these other photoblogs - Robert Koehler Travel & Photography and Kodos' Photolog

      Address:    110-360 서울특별시 종로구 율곡로 99번지
      Tel:           02-762-8261 / 9513
      Directions: 5 mins walk from Anguk Station Exit 3 안국역

Admission Fees:
Entrance Ticket / Regular Tour - Adults ₩3000 / Youth 7-18 year olds ₩1500 / Free for
                                               kids below 6 years old
Secret Garden Tour - Adults ₩5000 / Youth 7-18 year olds ₩2500 / Free for kids below 6
                               years old

Operating Hours:
Palace / Regular Tours - check here
Secret Garden Tour - updated schedule here (as of Apr 2013)

I took this picture myself!


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you for reading my blog!
      I heard it is very beautiful in autumn too...

  2. Hi Baby Marcus! Thanks for blogging about your adventure. May I ask how long is the secret garden tour? more than an hour?

    1. I think it was about 1.5 hours.