Gyeongbokgung Palace was the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty, and is the largest and oldest among the five Grand Palaces. Initially, we planned to go to all the five palaces, but we decided to just go to Gyeonbokgung instead. Early morning of day 2 we made our way to the Anguk Station and boarded the Subway Line 3 to Gyeongbokgung Station. From there, we exited through exit 5 and the Palace is just a short distance away. We took photos of the facade of the gates and by the time we bought the entrance tickets (entrance fee is 3000 Won), it was time for the first Royal Changing of Guards Ceremony of the day.
During the Joseon Dynasty, the royal guards were given the task of guarding the Gwanghwamun Gate, the entrance of the Gyeongbokgung Palace. They started to do the reenactment in 1996 for locals and foreigners to be able to experience this traditional event. They have 3 time slots for the ceremony, 11:00 am, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, and the Palace is closed on Tuesdays. There is also a booth opposite the ticket booth that is solely for letting tourists experience wearing the royal guards clothes. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get the feel of their uniforms. We kept laughing because my dad became embarrassed to wear the costume coz he said he feels like a gay wearing one (it looks like a dress). After the costume experience we entered the palace premises. It was quite big and after a lot of photo-taking, we exited in time for the 2nd Guard Changing Ceremony.
After watching the 2nd Royal Guards Changing Ceremony we ate lunch at one of the restaurants near the palace grounds. On the left side of the grounds there is a street where you can find a lot of restaurants. Given my mom’s diet, and we were really quite hungry that we settled for the first Korean restaurant we saw, on the second floor of one of the buildings. The choices were limited, they served 4 varieties of Bibimbap, but it was good enough for us because they have the all vegetable kind for my mom. The rest of us ordered Beef bibimbap. Bibimbap is literally “mixed rice”, the veggies/beef are arranged in a metal bowl, then the rice is placed on top of it and everything is mixed together.
After lunch we walked to the Gwanghwamun Square, which is just in front of the Main gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. The square is a public place which features the statue of King Sejong the Great and Admiral Yi Sun-sin, both from the Joseon Dynasty. It is accessible through the Subway Line 5, Gwanghwamun Station.