Ever since my Korean co-worker mentioned the nighttime viewing of the traditional Korean palaces, I’ve always wanted to visit. Although tickets are available online, it’s extremely competitive so they sell out within a few minutes of opening. I decided to get the day-of tickets for foreigners instead.
Finding Out How to Get the Tickets
I first checked the official English website for the royal palace. It had no information about the nighttime viewing.
Then I checked the Korean website. It listed the nighttime viewing dates and hours, and showed that day-of tickets were available for 500 foreigners each day on a first come, first served basis. It also said that each ticket was 3000 won and one person could purchase up to 4 tickets with a valid ID/passport.
To double-check, I even asked my Korean husband to call the staff about ticket purchases, and they simply told us that tickets had to be purchased the day of. I also checked their official Instagram to see if there were any recent updates about purchasing tickets. Nothing. Okay. I did my research. I had to go there directly to see how ticket purchases worked.
Purchasing the Tickets
So on a Sunday morning, I got there at 10:30 am. Got in the line for the ticket booth. Here’s what happened.
Me: I would like to get the nighttime viewing tickets for foreigners. Staff A: They’re sold out.
Staff B: No, they have to come back.
Staff A: Oh, you have to come back at 7:00 pm when the nighttime viewing starts.
Me: Oh… okay.
EXCUSE ME??? I traveled almost an hour to buy a ticket and I have to travel another hour back empty handed? The website, and the staff that we called did not mention anything about the nighttime viewing tickets being unavailable during the day… and even the first staff I talked to was not well-informed about this situation. I asked another staff outside the booth just to make sure. And boy was I glad that I did that.
Me: Hi, I have a question about the nighttime viewing…
Staff C: For foreigners? You have to come back to this ticket booth at 6:30. People start lining up before it opens at 7 pm.
Me: Okay, thank you.
So thanks to the last staff I spoke to, we got there at 6:30 with a short line.
This sign said that their ticket purchase hours started at 6:40 pm, but they actually opened at 6:30 on the dot. One person could get up to 4 tickets, so as long as there is one foreigner buying the tickets with an ARC (alien registration card) or passport, then 3 friends who forgot their IDs or 3 Korean friends can come along!
The ticket was finally in my hands…
Entering the Nighttime Palace
Aaaand we were back in line again until they opened the gates at 6:40 pm. But it was worth the wait.
They also had a Korean traditional drum performance at 8 pm.
Some people wore the Korean hanbok dresses and they looked gorgeous with the palace buildings!
At 9 pm, the security guards guided the guests outside, and the magical nighttime in the palace was over.
Here are the remaining opening days for 2019! If you’re visiting in 2020 or later, their policies may change again, so it might be best to just go there directly to ask several people until you find the well-informed staff.
– September: 09. 22.(Sun) ~ 10. 05.(Sat) / 19:00 ~ 21:30(Last entrance: 20:30) / Tuesdays Closed
– October : 10. 20.(Sun) ~ 11. 06.(Wed) / 19:00 ~ 21:30(Last Entrance: 20:30) / Tuesdays Closed