Unhyeongung Palace: Free & Quaint
With five palaces in Seoul to choose from when visiting the capital of South Korea, it’s easy to head to the biggest and grandest of them all, Gyeongbukgung Palace, and call it a day. I often recommend the palace to tourists saying that if they’ve only a short time, it is a must see. That isn’t to say that the other four main palaces shouldn’t be seen though and I was reminded that this past weekend when I had some time and stopped into Unhyeongung Palace or Royal Residence (운현궁) that sits quietly along the road just south of Bukchon.
(This page contains affiliate links. That means if you click on them and purchase something, I will get a percentage of the transaction to keep up this blog and maybe if there’s a little extra to buy a bottle of red wine to go with dinner. Thanks for the support!)
This palace is quaint and not nearly as colorful as the others. The wood has not been painted the colorful hues of green, red and yellows like the grander palaces but that means this one is just a little different and just a little special that way.
While tourists are scrambling to the other palaces these days, and seriously, the Chinese tourist buses that line up in front of the palaces are getting out of control, but this one is relatively devoid of tourists. On my visit, just a handful of tourists were there and a Korean family in Hanboks taking pictures to celebrate the birthday of their one year old. This palace was the residence of Emperor Gojong, the 26th king of the Joseon dynasty. He lived here before he took the throne. The information explains that this residence was owned by Gojong’s father, Regent Heungseon and he ruled over the country from here for ten years after he took control in place of his son. Originally, there were gates that connected this palace to Chandeokgung Palace in order for King Gojong and the regent to go back and forth unfortunately now those gates no longer exist. This palace is more akin to an inner palace as it is quite small though what you see today is even smaller than it was in the beginning due to a portion of it being sold off after the Korean War.
If you want to stay downtown near this and other tourist attractions, check out Ramada Hotel & Suites Seoul, Lotte Hotel Seoul or Royal Hotel Seoul to be in the right spot to really enjoy this city!
The halls that exist today make for beautiful backdrops for some photos in Korea. Making it even easier to get some good shots, there is a Hanbok rental stand just inside the entrance with a very minimal fee of just around W3,000. You can rent Hanboks and walk around the area taking some beautiful photos without a bunch of people mulling around in the background.
If you just want a quiet place to rest in the every busy and always popular Insadong/Bukchon area, then this is definitely the place to head. Visitors can even stay in a traditional Korean home for a night as many have been turned into guesthouses. Take a little break, it’s free afterall, and enjoy the views of Unhyeongung Palace.
Unhyeongung Palace (운현궁)
464 Samil-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 삼일대로 464 (운니동)
by subway: Anguk station, exit 4. Walk straight, it’s on the left just 100 meters down.
Hours: November ~ March: 9:00am ~ 6:00pm; April ~ October: 9:00am ~ 7:00pm
Days: Open Tuesday through Sunday; Closed Mondays unless Monday is a holiday, then it is open.
Amenities: restrooms, baby strollers and wheelchair rental available for free, audio guide/interpretation services
Information available in English, Japanese, and Chinese on audio guide:
– Operating hours: Summer 10:00-18:00 / Winter 10:00-17:00
– Rental fee: 1,100 won