Autumn Views of The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden (비원 or 후원) is one of the biggest draws to Changdeok Palace (창덕궁) and it is touted among Koreans as a beautiful place to take a stroll not only in the autumn but in every season. It’s one of those places, they say, that should in fact be visited each season to truly appreciate its beauty.
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The garden, though it hasn’t changed much from the beginning, has seen a few different names through its history. Due to the private nature of the area and that only the king and those he permitted could enter the space it was once known as Geumwon (금원) or the Forbidden Garden. Later is was known as Naewon (내원) or the Inner Garden but today most Koreans know the garden as Biwon (비원), the Secret Garden, or Huwon (후원) meaning the Rear Garden and the name most commonly used during the Joseon Dynasty period. The Secret Garden was a place where kings and queens strolled through the trees among the pavilions and allowed them to get away to relax from their hectic public lives. For more than 250 years, kings of the Joseon Dynasty, beginning with King Taejong, took advantage of the large space that takes up nearly 60% of the palace grounds to enjoy various activities from fishing, archery and banquets to planting, raising grains and sericulture (rearing of silkworms). The garden, with its pavilions scattered among different valleys and sitting beside the many ponds and stream that flows through, was designed to adapt to the topography of the area rather than making the area adapt to the ideals of architecture at the time.
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The gardens have been maintained as natural as possible with as little human touch as possible which is why only guided tours of the area are available. That being said, the day that we went, the guide said that those interested were welcome to stay with him to hear the history and stories of the area while those just wanting pictures of the area were able to wander ahead and enjoy the views and scenery that surrounded. Only 100 tickets are sold for each tour though and they can fill up fast, especially during the autumn, so plan ahead. Fifty tickets are available to be booked online in advance while fifty are held back for walk-ups and it is suggested that you arrive a half hour to an hour in advance to get the walk-up tickets in high season.
Changdeokgung Palace Secret Garden
서울특별시 종로구 와룡동 2-71
2-71 Waryong-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
Subway: Anguk Station, exit 3. Walk straight for a couple blocks and the palace will become visible on the left.
Bus: 109, 151, 162, 171, 172, 272, 7025
Days: Open everyday except for Mondays.
Hours: (Last ticket purchase available 1 hour before closing for the regular tour and 2 hours before closing for the Secret Garden.)
February ~ May & September – October: 9:00am – 6:00pm
June ~ August: 9:00am – 6:30pm
November ~ January: 9:00am – 5:30pm
The Secret Garden: (by guided tour only)
February ~ May & September – October: 10:00am – 5:30pm
June ~ August: 10:00am – 6:00pm
November ~ January: 10:00am – 4:30pm
General Tours: Adult: W3,000; Youth (age 7-18): W1,500
Secret Garden Tours: Adult: W8,000; Youth: W5,500
Children 6 years old and under, Seniors over 65 and every month on the last Wednesday there is free admission. (This does not include the Secret Garden.)
General Tours: Takes 1 hour
Korean: March ~ October: 9:30am , 11:30am , 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 4:30pm; November ~ February: 9:30am , 11:30am , 1:30pm, 3:30pm
English: 10:30am & 2:30pm
The Secret Garden Guided Tours: Takes 90 minutes. There are only 100 tickets available for these tours. 50 tickets can be booked in advance online while 50 tickets will be held for walk-ups and are sold at the ticket office on the day.
Korean: Throughout the year there are 6 to 9 tours a day generally starting on the hour from 10:00am throughout the year.
English: February ~ October: 11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm; November ~ January: 11:30am & 1:30pm
Japanese: 10:30am & 2:30pm
Amenities: parking, restrooms, cafe, water fountains, free wheelchair rental, baby stroller rental