Recently Josh and I were able to book a tour inside Seokjojeon Hall in Deoksugung Palace, which we were told was the first Western style building built in Korea. Also, this is apparently where coffee was introduced to Korea as the emperor at the time really enjoyed coffee. Walking around Deoksugung Palace costs ₩1,000 ($1) per person and I think well worth a trip to anyone visiting Seoul. The palace consists of multiple buildings (some of which are under restoration currently) and the contrast between the older style palace and the Western style buildings is really unique.
A plus of our visit was that the cherry blossom trees were blooming and it made the visit a little more special to see the pretty flower petals. Check out our cherry blossom experience here.
The two Western style buildings in Deoksugung Palace are the National Art Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Seokjojeon Hall. The National Art Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art didn’t allow pictures to be taken inside but had free entrance and some interesting art pieces.
We pre-booked a tour inside Seokjojeon Hall which was free but required the reservation. Inside we met with a small group for the tour. Since the tour is given in Korean we were given some super cool ear pieces to follow along with the tour. I would recommend pre-booking a tour for Seokjojeon since the tour was very informative and gives you an inside look at how the emperor and his family lived.
A huge plus of the tour is that they only take small amounts of people in at a time, our group was less than 15 people so you don’t feel overcrowded or rushed while touring through the palace.
The tour lasted about 45 minutes and was a great experience. I would say visiting Deoksugung Palace and touring the art museum and Seokjojeon Hall would be a great half day trip to any visit to Seoul!