Wandering the hushed stillness of Gyeongbokgung Palace at night, clad in a traditional Korean hanbok, you can’t help but be transported back in time. With its graceful buildings brilliantly lit against the night sky, this is a magical event that not everyone gets access to.
Twice a year only, for a limited period of time, and for a limited number of people – this gem of the Joseon Dynasty, is opened to the public for night viewing. If you happen to be in Seoul for this special occasion, count yourself lucky.
In this guide
- 1 Gyeongbokgung Palace at Night | 경복궁 야간 특별관람
- 2 Gyeongbokgung Palace Night Tour Tickets
- 3 Gyeongbokgung Starlight Night Tours
- 4 Gyeongbokgung Palace at Night | Photo Spots
- 5 How to go to Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace at Night | 경복궁 야간 특별관람
OPENING DATES FOR SPRING: April 5th – May 31st, 2023
OPENING DATES FOR AUTUMN: September 1st – October 29th, 2023
ADMISSION TIMES: 7:00 – 9:30PM (last tickets at 8:30)
Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 사직로 161 (세종로)
Gyeongbokgung is the largest, and perhaps most iconic of Seoul’s 5 royal palaces. Built in 1395 to serve as the royal home and political seat of the Joseon Dynasty, it’s survived wars, fires, occupations, demolitions, and restorations during its tumultuous history.
Today, Gyeongbokgung Palace is an enduring symbol of Seoul, and one of Korea’s most popular tourist attractions.
If you’re visiting Korea for the first time, a trip during regular daylight hours is essential to any itinerary. If you have the opportunity to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace at night however, you’re guaranteed a remarkable evening, devoid of daytime buzz and excited crowds of tourists.
Cross the threshold of majestic Gwanghwhamun Gate in the early evening hours, and you’ll enter a world so markedly different from the one you came from, you’ll have to pinch yourself. Maybe you really DID time travel back to the Joseon Era…
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Gyeongbokgung Palace Night Tour Tickets
If you plan to visit Gyeongbokgung Palace at night, it’s best to reserve tickets as far in advance as possible. This is a popular event, with limited tickets available (2700 per night), that regularly sells out. Tickets are sold out incredibly quickly for both the spring and autumn events.
You can try to reserve tickets online in advance (only in Korean) once they’re released to the public. Tickets are 3,000 won per person, for adults, and 1,500 won for children aged 7-17. Children under 6 and seniors enter free.
Ticket for the 2023 Gyeongbokgung at night autumn session go on sale on August 25th at 10AM for September tickets, and on September 26th at 10AM for the October tickets. You’ll have to have super fast fingers to get tickets!
You can visit Gyeongbokgung Palace at night, everyday until October 29th, except for Mondays and Tuesdays. For the autumn viewings, the night tours to Gyeongbok Palace will also not take place on the alternative holiday of October 4th.
On-site Tickets for Foreigners
Don’t stress if you missed your chance to buy tickets online though. Because tickets to see Gyeongbokgung Palace at night are also issued on-site. Up to 200 tickets per day are available at the ticket booth for the special night viewing sessions during spring and autumn in Seoul. These are sold on a first-come first-serve basis.
On-site tickets are ONLY available for purchase by non-Korean passport holders. You MUST present a passport or alien registration card in order to buy them. Each foreign passport holder can purchase up to 2 tickets on-site, and anyone can use these tickets (even Korean friends).
LEARN HOW TO MAKE KIMCHI | Can’t get enough of Korea’s national food? Make your own kimchi and tteokbokki with professional chefs, snap photos in hanbok, and learn about Korean culture at the Seoul Kimchi Academy. Check details here.
Renting a hanbok near Gyeongbokgung Palace
Wearing a Korean hanbok is the only way to guarantee entrance into Gyeongbokgung Palace at night, if you don’t have an advance ticket. You’ll be admitted to Gyeongbokgung, even if the maximum number of visitors per night is reached – so it really is guaranteed.
Just show up wearing a hanbok, visit the ticket booth to grab FREE tickets, and then enter one of Seoul’s most iconic attractions for an epic night time photo shoot.
Don’t have a hanbok? Don’t worry. There are many affordable hanbok rental shops near Gyeongbokgung Palace, where you can get help getting dressed properly, pick accessories, and have your hair done in a traditional style.
I’ve rented hanbok in Seoul, a few times with my daughter, and it’s a wonderful way to commemorate your visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace at night.
If you’re nervous about how to put on a hanbok, or feel like it might be cultural appropriation, don’t be! Koreans are generally thrilled to see foreigners wearing their traditional dress. Here’s the lowdown on exactly what’s involved in renting a hanbok in Seoul.
JOSEON DYNASTY TOUR | Learn all about the history of the Joseon Dynasty on a guided tour of Gyeongbokgung Palace, the National Folk Museum, Jogyesa Buddhist Temple, and Namsol Hanok Village. Check info here.
Gyeongbokgung Starlight Night Tours
A popular feature of the Gyeongbokgung at night event are the Starlight Night Tours. These special tours offer the chance to explore parts of the palace that are not normally available to visitors, like Jipokjae, Palujeong Pavilion, and the Seonyanggyo Bridge. A royal meal and Korean traditional performances are also included.
Running from September 8th to October 8th, on Wednesdays through Sundays, at 6:40. and 7:40PM, each session lasts 110 minutes long. Ticketing for the Gyeongbokgung Starlight night tours will be available through a lottery system, and cost 60,000 won per person.
Gyeongbokgung Palace at Night | Photo Spots
You can snap a pic pretty much anywhere inside Gyeongbokgung Palace at night, and be guaranteed a gorgeous result, but here are some suggestions for where to start.
Gwanghwamun Gate | 광화문
There are 4 entrances into Gyeongbokgung, but Gwanghwamun Gate is the one you’ll want to enter at. As the main gate, it’s larger and more ornate than the other 3 gates. It’s located on the south wall of the palace complex, across the street from Gwanghwamun Plaza.
You don’t actually have to be inside Gyeongbokgung Palace to enjoy a stunning night view of Gwanghwamun Gate. You can take pics with all its lit-up glory without even entering the palace.
Geunjeongjeon Gate and Hall | 근정전
Once you cross Gwanghwamun Gate, you’ll walk through a grand stone courtyard with three footpaths running through the centre. These lead to Geunjeongjeon Gate and Geunjeongjeon Hall – the main throne hall of Gyeongbokgung Palace.
During the Gyeongbokgung Palace at night event, it’s brightly lit so you can capture pictures even on dark nights. The front of Geunjeongjeon Hall is one of the most popular places to snap pictures, so it can be difficult to get a shot without other people in it.
Try walking around to the rear of the hall, and you’ll likely have plenty of room to get that perfect solo shot.
Pillars around Gyeongbokgung Palace
I didn’t get a shot between the many pillars around Gyeongbokgung Palace at night, but these are a worthy spot. You’ll find these all over the palace complex, but head to the right of Geunjeongjeon Hall for a well-lit and beautiful place to pose.
Gyeonghoeru Pavilion | 경회루
Gyeonghoeru Pavilion is one of the few structures at Gyeongbokgung Palace that survived the Japanese occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945, relatively intact. It’s the biggest pavilion in Korea, and sits on a peaceful pond, with views of Mount Ingwangsan and the surrounding temple complex.
Lights glow on the pond’s surface during the Gyeongbokgung Palace at night event, creating a wonderful atmosphere. For an extra special experience, go when the moon is full and admire Gyeonghoeru Pavilion’s reflection glinting off the surface of the water.
There are free 40 minute tours of Gyeonghoeru from April 1st to October 31st. Advance registration on the official palace website is required for this (only in Korean).
How to go to Gyeongbokgung Palace
Address: 161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul | 서울특별시 종로구 사직로 161 (세종로)
The simplest way to get to Gyeongbokgung Palace is to get on Seoul Subway Line 3 to Gyeongbokgung Station. Take Exit 4 and walk about 250 metres until the reach the palace grounds.
If you prefer to take a bus, its best to map out your route on Naver or Kakao Maps. Both apps offer service in English.
Gwanghwamun Plaza is a stop on the Seoul City Tour Bus route. This is a hop-on hop-off bus which gives you access to all the best highlights and attractions of Seoul, while also saving you money on public transport / taxi costs.
- tickets can be purchased or redeemed at the ticket office in Gwanghwamun
- the first bus leaves from Gwanghwamun at 9:30AM, and circulates through a total of 15 stops, including Myeongdong, Cheong Wa Dae, Namsan / North Seoul Tower, Gyeonbokgung, Bukchon Hanok Village, and more (see full schedule here)
- time your last bus stop for Gwanghwamun at 18:00, so you can easily visit Gyeongbokgung Palace at night
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Gyeongbokgung Palace at Night: Essential Info and FAQs
Is seeing Gyeongbokgung Palace at night on your bucket list? Rent a hanbok and go!