When I had finished visiting the main part of Changdeokgung Palace I entered the Huwon, which translates to “Rear Garden”. This region of the palace is also known as the Geumwon (“Forbidden Garden”) or the Biwon (“Secret Garden”) because it was reserved exclusively for the royal family and palace women, and no one could enter it without the king’s permission. Getting into the Huwon requires you to purchase a separate ticket (or a combo ticket with the main part of Changdeokgung) but it doesn’t cost much.
In the heart of the Huwon is a pond with several palace buildings around it. You can almost imagine Korean royals hanging out here while taking a break from state affairs.
The rest of the tour route leads you on a big loop through the rear of the Huwon. Along the way you’ll pass a few smaller buildings and pavilions. At the far end of the Huwon there’s a spot called the Ongnyucheon (“Jade Steam”) with a poem carved into a rock near a small waterfall. Apparently this is where members of the royal family would go when they wanted to work on their poetry.
Eventually the tour route leads back to the entry area of Changdeokgung. When I got there I checked my phone and saw that I was almost out of time in Seoul so I headed out and started a meandering route that would eventually get me back to my hostel where my backpack was waiting.