In the right place at the right time. It is freezing cold, but the day is sunny. And it is just the right, unfortunately far too short phase, when the autumn leaves still shine from the trees in their full color splendor. I wonder if the gardeners of Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul planted the trees after that? It almost looks like it, because this cheerful warm mixture of all imaginable leaf colors is unique and too beautiful to be just a coincidence. Or it may simply be because the palace complex itself is very plain. No pomp, no gold, no flaunted wealth. And quite a lot of gray. Modesty is probably something original to Korea.
Tradition at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul – or: how to get in for free!
But not only the sea of leaves around the palace is colorful, but also its visitors: Many young Koreans in the most amazing traditional costumes buzz through the complex, taking selfies or draping themselves giggling in front of their cameras for the most beautiful photo. They also proudly let themselves be photographed with strangers, because Koreans are really happy from the bottom of their hearts when tourists are interested in their culture. Who came up with the disguise and what it is really all about, no one knows. But everyone is having fun. And free admission. Because if you show up in traditional costume, you don’t have to pay admission! However, the money saved in this way is usually invested beforehand in the fee for one of the surrounding costume rentals – but so what?
By the way, I didn’t pay an entrance fee either, completely without a costume. On the way to the checkout, a Korean woman came up to me and pressed a card I had bought too much into my hand. Why? Just like that. “Take it as a gift. You look so nice. And enjoy Korea!“and ran away joyfully. What a nice, happy people. Real.
Information about Gyeongbokgung Palace
closed on tuesdays
Subway Line 3 Gyeongbokgung
Entrance fee 3000 won (approx. 2,50€)
free guided tours in English 11.00, 13.30, 15.30 (highly recommended, otherwise little info on site)
more info here
Bukchon Hanok Village – an ancient village from the Joseon Dynasty
Near the palace is also Bukchon Hanoi Village, a small mountainous neighborhood with well-preserved houses that has 600 years of history. Despite tourist crowds, it is actually quite relaxing here. There’s a sign on pretty much every front door asking for quiet – and fascinatingly, everyone abides by it, moving silently and thoughtfully through the small streets.
There are little to no restaurants, stores or the like in the alleys themselves. But a little further down you will find nice little streets with the dreamiest cafes. Stop in, drink tea, forget about time.
Information about Bukchon Hanok Village
about 15-20 minutes walk from the main entrance of Gyeongbokgung Palace
or subway line 3 Anguk
All posts about South Korea: