The largest and most attractive of the World Heritage–listed royal tombs scattered around Seoul and Gyeonggi-do, Donggureung is the burial place of seven kings and 10 queens from the Joseon dynasty. The tombs are set over 196 hectares of forested paths, and it takes around 1½ hours to explore the site in its entirety. It's located 20km north-east of central Seoul in Guri.
All the tombs are similarly arranged on large grassy mounds according to the rules of Confucianism and feng shui. The entrances are marked by a simple red-painted wooden gate, stone pathway and hall for conducting rites in front of the humped burial mounds decorated with stone statuary – typically a pair of civil officers and generals, plus horses and protective animals such as tigers and rams.
The most notable tomb is that of King Taejo (1335–1408), the founder of the Joseon dynasty. In contrast to the other neatly clipped plots in this leafy park, his mound is covered in bushy pampas grass from his hometown of Hamhung (now in North Korea) that – in accordance with the king’s pre-death instructions – has never been cut. Also don't miss the tombs at Mongneung, the only tombs that you can scramble up to and explore close-up.
A walking-tour map is available from the History Centre Museum, which also has a good overview of the area.
To reach the complex take the Jungang Line 1 to Guri station where you can connect with bus 88, or take a 40-minute walk to the site.