We walked through the Biwon (secret garden) in the frigid Seoul weather of Christmas Day.
Actually we were at the Changdeokgung Palace the day before but we were told we just missed the last English tour of the day. So on the 24th we only got to see the palace itself. If you are a foreigner it is assumed that you need an English tour. In the cold short winter days of December (may be even January and February), there were only two English tours in a day. It was at 11:30am and 2:30 pm. (It is worth double checking these times for yourself) We were not the only ones who were disappointed and had to go back a second time. (We were also made to pay the palace tour again)
The palace itself was ok. In spite of the cold and the run around, the Biwon was worth it.
In the palace compound proper one can still see the city buildings around. Once inside the garden it was a hidden world, and a very photogenic place. The idea is closer to a rambling Chinese garden with hills, ponds, gates, teahouses and pavilions than a controlled Japanese Zen meditation garden. Enjoy!
The gift shop/Cafe carries good souvenirs but somewhat pricey.
On the way out, west of the palace compound there are a few restaurants. For very delicious and very sizeable meat dumplings and oyster/fish pancakes, Buckchon Restaurant is highly recommended. (This place has tables and chairs) The service was also very good.