Gyeongbokgung Palace Photo Guide

Gyeongbokgung Palace is the grandest palace in Seoul since its construction over 600 years ago at the dawn of the Joseon Dynasty. This is my complete Gyeongbokgung Palace Photo Guide. The palace is rich in history, however, the original structures have been sadly destroyed and since reconstructed. It’s also been said that much of the original antiquities and art were also removed during the Japanese colonization of the peninsula.

Despite that history, there’s much beauty to be discovered and it is well worth the time and effort to visit, explore, and photograph the palace.

(*This guide will be continuously updated*)

Gwanghwamun—Business District in Front of Gyeongbokgung Palace

The front gate of Gyeongbokgung palace is called Gwanghwamun. The Gwanghwamun area in Seoul is the neighborhood in front of the palace. There’s a subway station called Gwanghwamun as well. When people talk about Gwanghwamun, they are generally referring to this business district in the center of Jongno-gu, Seoul. There are many large government buildings, and tall office buildings belonging to corporations operating in the area.

Every day there is a steady stream of businessmen and office workers going to and from work in the area. Additionally, there are chains of buses and bus stops, as well as a subway station, bringing crowds to the center of the district. There are also many restaurants, coffee shops, and the like lining storefronts on the first and second floors of the many buildings. The area is absolutely amazing for street photography and so I have personally photographed here many, many times.

Gwanghwamun Square—Leading up to the Palace

Gwanghwamun Square, View of Sejong the Great Statue with view of Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gwanghwamun Square with a view of Sejong the Great statue and Gyeongbokgung Palace. Aug 2015.

Gwanghwamun square is a large area and public space in front of the palace. There are grand statues that many tourists like to visit of Sejong the Great, some of his scientific achievements, and a statue of Admiral Yi Sun-Sin (이순신). Below the square, there is also a museum dedicated to both historically important figures.

Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul. December 2015.

The square was recently reconstructed in 2022, changing the placement of the street, and making a more relaxing park-like experience for both locals and visitors.

Gwanghwamun—The Main/Front Gate of Gyeongbokgung

Gyeongbokgung Palace’s Gwanghwamun, overlooking Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul. December 2015.

The main gate, the front gate of Gyeongbokgung palace is named Gwanghwamun. It is absolutely beautiful and worth a short visit, even if you decide to forego exploring the palace. The front gate is open, you can go through the gate into a large square ground that precedes the ticket gate. This area is open to anyone, and also the area where you can purchase a ticket to go into the rest of the palace grounds. The Gate is beautiful. You will enjoy viewing and photographing it from both outside and inside the palace walls.

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul. August 2015.

At night the gate is lit up making it amazing for night photography, light stream photography is also possible as there is a large street with lots of traffic flowing across. I have personally done much photography of the front gate, as it’s so beautiful.

Gyeongbokgung Palace Station

Gyeongbokgung Station connects directly to the palace. If you are visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace, one of the easiest ways to navigate towards the palace is by this Line 3 subway station.

Gyeongbokgung Surrounding Area—Places Worth a Visit

The area around Gyeongbokgung Palace is absolutely beautiful. There are many places within a short distance from the palace that you may want to consider visiting, perhaps before or after your visit to the Gyeongbokgung!

#1. Insadong

#2. Bukchon Hanok Village

#3. Cheonggyecheon

#4. Samcheong-dong

My Personal Photography at Gyeongbokgung Palace

August 2015
Gyeongbokgung Palace’s front gate view from Gwanghwamun Square.

Gyeongbokgung Palace's front gate view from Gwanghwamun Square. King Sejong the Great in front

On the very same day, I tried to create my very own Time-Lapse photography for the first time:

It’s a very short and sweet video. I share the details about my first time-lapse experience in this article.

November 2014
Another visit to the palace in early November allowed me to photograph the beautiful autumn colors around the palace.

October 2014
As you can see, I frequently visited the palace whenever I had time to take photographs at the palace. I returned and took these images I was very happy with at the time. I loved the look of the palace lit up at night, despite not being able to go inside.

September 2014
After purchasing my first starter DSLR, I returned to the palace to explore and take more photographs.

August 2014
I explored the palace again and took many photos with my phone of some of the details around the palace. I saw a hint of ‘photographer’ in some of the images!

February 2014
After moving to South Korea at the end of 2012 I began exploring a lot throughout Seoul and other areas in Korea. I began taking photos with my phone as I explored. One such photo was this on a night looking around in Seoul. The quality certainly leaves a lot wanting!

Gyeongbokgung Palace lit up at night in Seoul, South Korea February 2014

December 2011
My first experience was shortly after getting married and having a 3-week honeymoon in Seoul. I was not into photography yet, at the time and I only saw the outside of the palace from the main gate.

Gyeongbokgung Palace Information

What is Gyeongbokgung’s Entrance Fee?

The price for tickets to Gyeongbokgung is very reasonable. It costs 3,000 KRW, which is about $2.25 USD for an adult. It’s half-price for children and teenagers ages 7-18 and free for ages 1-6 and seniors 65 years and older. If you’re planning to visit multiple palaces in Seoul and Jongmyo Shrine, you can purchase a 10,000 KRW ticket that will give you access to all within a 3-month period.

Is Gyeongbokgung Palace Free Entrance?

Entrance to Gyeongbokgung palace is free for children ages 0-6, and seniors aged 65+. There is an exception to this. If you wear a Hanbok, Korean traditional clothing, entrance to the palace is also free. You can rent Hanboks in many of the surrounding areas around the palace.

How to go to Gyeongbokgung Palace?

The easiest way to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace is by subway. The palace is located in the historical center of Seoul, In the Jongno district. The palace is located at subway line 3, Gyeongbokgung Station, it’s also a short distance from subway line 5, Gwanghwamun station.

Using bus, taxi, and map apps on the phone will greatly assist you in getting to the palace hassle-free.

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