Why Hwaseong Haenggung Old Palace is my favorite Korean Palace

 About 30 minutes before closing, as the sun was disappearing behind the hills, I finally arrived at Hwaseong Haenggung from Everland. It's located in Suwon, a town just south of Korea. Haenggung means a shelter where the king would rest or retire from a war. Suwon's Hwaseong Haenggung is the largest in Korea.
 I knew I had a limited amount of time, but I made sure to capture as much on film as possible.
 Like the other Korean palaces, the buildings are pretty similar in style. But many of them at Hwaseon Haenggung have displays showing a bit of life at the palace.

 Like the other palaces, the (Chinese character) names are on each building.

 Some rooms have mannequins and plaques outside that help understand the purpose of each room. And other rooms are toilets.

 One room had displays of beautiful food bouquets that were used for feasting by the emperor.
 The detail on the roofs is quite impressive.
 The displays make it seem that women were a very important part of life at the palace, though I'm sure none of them had any actual power.
 The throne on the left can be sat in; I'm not sure what the rules are (I didn't try or ask). It's used when trying on costumes of the king, queen, prince, and princess.
 There are a few old rice chests in one area where you can experience a bit of what it was like for a prince who was locked in one until he suffocated to death. It's not exactly roomy in there.

 The palace offers several other cultural experiences on weekends, and I had planned on returning in May, but the timing didn't work out. I'll still make sure I go back sometime for those experiences. There is an extra charge, of course.

 These outfits are off limits, but one of the experiences include trying on traditional clothes.
 The other palaces were more crowded (possibly due to the timing of my visits) and I don't think they offer all the experiences Hwaseon Haenggung does.
 And while other palaces have displays, beautiful architecture, and pleasant grounds, this fortress goes above and beyond the others. Again, timing was an issue, but the old wall still surrounds a lot of the fortress and a walk around the rest of the grounds should provide even more bang for your buck. There's a "train" that runs around the fortress too.
By all means, be sure to visit the other fortresses and temples around Seoul, but don't let its distance from Seoul dissuade you!

Note that the entire fortress area is called Suwon Hwaseong, while the palace is referred to as Hwaseong Haenggung. The palace, fortress, and other historical structures/areas on the grounds have their own admission fees; I provide details on the palace only below, but combination tickets are available.

Suwon Hwaseong Haenggung opens at 9:00, closing at 17:00 in winter, 18:00 in spring and fall, and this year it's open until 21:00 for cultural activities in June through September. Admission is only 1500 won ($1.50).

Access is a little tricky but manageable. Take the subway Line 1 to Suwon Station, and use Exit 6. Cross the road, turn right, and walk about 100 meters to the Yeokjeon Market bus stop. From there, catch a 7, 7-2, or 32-1 bus to Hwaseong Haenggung.

Alternately, take bus 1007 from Jamsil Station to Hwaseong Haenggung (runs every 8-12 minutes), or bus 3000 from Gangnam Station to the Buksu-dong stop (runs about once every 20 minutes).

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