The first time I went to Gyeongbokgung Palace back in 2012 (i think) was with my family and as part of a tour group. While I was impressed by how big the compound was, I couldn’t enjoy anything properly in the bitter cold weather (it was winter then).
Since then I have yet to visit the palace although I’ve been to Korea multiple times, and so for the boyfriend who has never stepped into Korea I decided to revisit the palace again!
Gyeongbokgung is the main royal palace of the Joseon Dynasty and was built in 1395. The National Palace Museum of Korea and the National Folk Museum can also be found within its premises.
While the exterior of the palace is free for all to enter, the interior part of the palace (where you can see the great halls and other areas such as their chambers etc) requires a ticket. This costs ₩3,000 (SGD 3.65) for adults and ₩1,500 for children. While this is not expensive, there is an alternative option!! Those wearing hanbok (Korea’s traditional clothing) get free entry not only for Gyeongbokgung, but for all of Seoul’s palaces (Changgyeonggung,Changdeokgung and Deoksugung).
This option has recently been more popular with foreign visitors and locals alike, because you get to roam around the historical palace in traditional clothing – which makes for a unique experience.
We decided to go for it as well, and I had come across Hanbok Girls’ website previously. Their hanboks looked too pretty I couldn’t resist! Bonus was that their store is located right outside the subway station’s exit.
Their site may not be as user-friendly for some, so here’s how it works.
For normal hanboks, rental fees are:
Below is an example of their normal hanboks. This includes the inner layer, the skirt, and the outer top.
For special hanboks, the rental fees are:
Below are examples of special hanboks. This also includes the inner layer, the skirt, and the outer top.
What is the difference between the two?
The main difference usually lies in the skirts – the special hanboks has skirts that are more elegant and detailed.
For guys, here are the rental rates:
Optional normal vest: ₩5,000
Optional special vest:₩10,000
While the vests are optional, most guys end up taking it anyway because it really completes the entire look! Similar to the hanboks for girls, the difference between ‘normal’ and ‘special’ vests is how elaborately designed the vests are.
There are also optional add ons such as the scholar’s hat, and shoes! Those cost you an additional ₩3,000 each.
For girls, the good news is that there are free hair-tying services for you, together with hairbands and a small purse for you to put your essential items in.
The hanbok renting experience:
Once you enter the store, the staff there will pass you keys to a locker where you can put all your belongings. They will then tell you to pick a skirt (for girls), or bottoms (for guys). They will let you know which range are the more expensive ones too! After picking the skirts and bottoms, you then pick the top. For guys, you can pick vests to match your outfit as well.
The staff will then assist you in changing into your hanbok. Afterwards, guys can choose if they want to add on headgear like the scholar hat, and you can also decide if you want to rent their traditional shoes.
For girls, head over to the hairdressing area and a staff will help you with your hair! Feel free to try on the different hair accessories and pick one for yourself because they are free for rent. Lastly, pick a purse and put all your essential items inside (the purse isn’t big though).
You then return the keys and the staff will let you know how much is the total cost, along with what time you have to return the clothes. They will issue you a slip which you later use to pick up the locker keys for your items!
I opted for the more elaborate hanbok and my boyfriend had a special vest with the scholar’s hat so that cost us a total of approximately ₩46,000 for two hours. Our friends preferred simpler ones and so their total cost was only half of ours!
The service here was excellent and there’s no worry about language barriers because the owners here do manage a fair amount of English – enough for you to rent their beautiful hanboks!
From the store, it was a short 2 mins walk to the front gate of the palace.
To obtain your ticket (free or not) – after stepping through the gates, head down to the right side where you’ll see a row of ticketing counters! The staff will issue you your free ticket once they see that you’re in hanbok.
The palace grounds were a lot bigger than what I remembered and it was interesting to see the old halls that were used for court meetings. We wandered around other parts of the palace and took many photos till our two hours were up!
Those visiting Korea for the first time or have yet to experience touring Gyeongbokgung in a hanbok, it’ll definitely be a memorable experience for you.
Hanbok Girls 한복소녀
서울시 종로구 자하문로2길, 8 3층
8 Jahamun-ro 2-gil, Jongno-gu 3rd storey
서울특별시 종로구 사직로 161 (세종로)
161, Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
How to get there:
Hanbok Girls 한복소녀
1. Take subway Line 3 to Gyeongbukgung station 경복궁 역
2. Exit from exit 3-1
3. Upon exiting walk straight a few steps and you’ll come across an alley on the left
4. Turn into the alley, and you’ll see the sign for the shop! (it’s on the 3rd floor)
This is what you should see.
Gyeongbukgung from Hanbok girls
1. Walk out of the alley (the same way you came in)
2. Turn left and walk straight the whole way! (You’ll need to cross the road once)
It’s takes approximately 2-3 minutes to get to the main gate.