If you only have time for one of Seoul's five palaces, Changdeokgung is the one to see. Built in 1405, it is the Joseon Dynasty's second palace and is now registered as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Changdeokgung has an older, more historic feel than some of the other palaces and was designed to blend in with the natural landscape surrounding it. What truly sets it apart, however, is its stunning garden. Nestled on a hill and featuring a lotus pond and 300 year
old trees, the garden follows the serene flow of the four valleys that divide it. Most days, visitors are required to join a 90 minute tour of the palace and gardens. The tours are interesting and informative, but for a more serene and contemplative experience, visit on a Thursday when guests can roam freely (albeit for a higher admission fee). For guided tour times in English, see the palace website.