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We arrived in Seoul on a Wednesday from an early morning flight from Guam. Because it was too early to check-in at K-Guesthouse Myeongdong 3, my husband and I decided to spend the day at Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong and probably just catch our much-needed zzzs when we finally settle in our room.
The usual itinerary would suggest a stop first at Gyeongbokgung (Gyeongbok Palace), and then Samcheong-dong before heading on to Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong. We knew however that these sleep-deprived parents of a sleep-deprived toddler are too low on energy and pushing our limits on the first day is not a good idea.
The three of us started our summer in Seoul adventure and left the guesthouse past 10:00 AM. We took the subway from Myeongdong station to Bukchon Hanok Village (Subway Line 3, Anguk Station, Exit 2).
Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을)
Address: 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 종로구 계동길 37 (계동)
Open all year round/Free admission
Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional neighborhood of hanok-style houses. Most of these hanoks were converted into tea houses, restaurants galleries, cultural centers and even guesthouses. But still, a number of these hanoks are private residential properties so it’s important to remember before you explore the village to respect the residents and not disturb them by making too much noise, or worse, damage their property.
The first thing we wanted to do was eat, as we only had iced coffee and a couple of glazed donuts for breakfast. Unfortunately, the restaurants in the area are not yet open but we did find a Paris Baguette shop so we were able to buy a few pastries.
You can get a map of the Bukchon Hanok Village at the Tourist Information Center. There are Tourism Officers wearing red vests who can help you in case you’re lost or give you recommendations on the best route to take.
Nowadays, a lot of tourists would rent a Hanbok (traditional Korean costume) and wear it as they go around the traditional village and neighboring palaces. While there are no fees to visit Bukchon Hanok Village, you can actually get free entrance if you are wearing a Hanbok when you visit some tourist spots in the city such as Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁, 景福宮), Jongmyo Shire (종묘, 宗廟), Changgyeonggung Palace (창경궁, 昌慶宮), Changdeokgung Palace (창덕궁, 昌德宮), Unhyeonggung Palace (운현궁, 雲峴宮), Deoksugung Palace (덕수궁, 德壽宮) and Gyeonghuigung Palace (경희궁, 慶熙宮). This is definitely an interesting way to immerse yourself in Korean culture and explore the city!
There are eight scenic views of Bukchon Hanok Village on the map, but given our level of energy, we are in no condition to strictly follow the map. After our quick snack at Paris Baguette, we walked around the block on Bukchon’s Bzone (Gahoe-dong).
This is where you can find the first 3 of Bukchon’s Scenic Views:
Bukchon 1st Scenery: Changdeokgung Complete View – The best spot for seeing the entire view of Changdeokgung over the stone wall. It can be seen once you step up the hill.
Bukchon 2nd Scenery: Wonseo-dong Crafts Workshop Way – Following through the stone pathway reaching the end of the alley you can see the trace of the servant taking care of the Royal family in the past.
Bukchon 3rd Scenery: Gahoe-dong 11 Area – The area where you can appreciate the interior of the Hanok traditional houses via various Handicraft Workshop and experience Bukchon culture.
(Source: Bukchon Guidebook Dadam)
We found ourselves back at the main road. Fortunately, the small restaurant we were eyeing on for lunch was already open.
We ate lunch at Cityfood Noodles Myung-ga where we ordered Stir-fried Beef (₩8,000) and Spicy Stir-fried Pork (₩7,000) both with a serving of rice. It was a filling lunch and just what we need to start our Seoul summer vacation.
After lunch, we walked towards the main area of Bukchon Hanok Village also known as the Azone (Samcheong-dong). We took the quickest route to probably the most photographed residential street in the Village.
Scenic views in the Azone:
Bukchon 4th Scenery: Gahoe-dong 31 Hill – The regular Hanok traditional house dense area where the Hanok Village can be viewed all at once. It is the representative scenery of Bukchon.
Bukchon 5th Scenery: Gahoe-dong Alleyway (downward view) – Views of the with well-maintained Hanok traditional houses.
Bukchon 6th Scenery: Gahoe-dong Alleyway (upward view) – The most tourist-crowded place in the village where you can see the view of Seoul City between the rooftops of the Hanok traditional houses.
Bukchon 7th Scenery: Gahoe-dong 31 view – An alleyway where you can view the residents’ daily life.
Bukchon 8th Scenery: Samcheong-dong Stone Step Path – A stone path that connects the Bukchon road and Samcheong road.
(Source: Bukchon Guidebook Dadam)
Some of the hanoks are open to visitors so you can take a look at the interiors.
We saw a couple of hanoks with a notice outside their doors explicitly telling tourists to keep voices down and that they are “suffering” because of the volume of tourists who visit their neighborhood every day. I can just imagine the inconvenience they have to go through with strangers outside their home, endless photo shoots, the noise, etc. So again, please be very respectful of their homes.
There weren’t that many people at Bukchon, not what I was expecting. Normally, you’ll see photos of the Village with a throng of people in their hanboks and camera on hand. It was a nice and quiet stroll up into the residential street.
Also, families traveling with little kids and strollers should note that some of the roads are very steep. My husband and I took turns pushing our daughter and stroller around. It was a good thing that we came on a no-crowd day otherwise it would have been a challenge navigating the Village.
We stopped by at a local cafe to buy a Strawberry Cherry Juice (₩4,000). There are plenty of shops in Buchon Hanok Village, some cosmetic stores, boutiques and little restaurants.
This is a pretty popular alley because of the many Korean dramas that were filmed here. I was looking for the infamous wall from the K-drama Goblin but I took a picture of the wrong side of the wall. Hahaha!
We still have about an hour to spare so even though we were oh so tired and sleepy, we crossed the street and headed to Insadong (Subway Line 3, Anguk Station, Exit 6 or Subway Line 1, Jonggak Station, Exit 3).
Address: 62, Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 종로구 인사동길 62 (관훈동) 일대
Open all year round
Insadong has many alleys lined with shops selling traditional goods, art galleries, tea house, cafes and restaurants. Tourists interested in Korean art and culture will surely love spending time in and out of the alleyways of Insadong.
Ssamziegil is a unique mall-like structure connecting each level with a spiral walkway. I remember coming here on my first visit to Seoul back in 2012 as part of a tour. I also remember not caring much because all I can think about that day was how cold it was outside (it was winter) and that I couldn’t wait to go back to our car where it’s warm and cozy.
I am a big fan of guided walking tours however, we chose not to join any on this trip. Traveling with a young child can be tricky and we wouldn’t want to cut short our tour nor do we want to inconvenience the other members of the group. But just in case you’re interested, I found this deal online for Seoul Historic Walking Tour covering Gwanghwamun Plaza, Gyeongbokgung Palace, National Folk Museum, Jogyesa Temple and Insadong. Bukchon Hanok Village is not part of the tour because you wouldn’t really need one (just get a map/guidebook from the Tourist Center).
We took the train from Jonggak Station back to Myeongdong and finally was able to check-in to K-Guesthouse Myeongdong 3. We slept for a couple of hours before heading out again for some street food (saving that for a separate post) and to meet a dear friend for dinner.
That’s all for now!
Check out the rest of my trip using the links below. I have also listed some Seoul Travel Essentials you can book in advance for a better travel experience.
4G Wifi Rental (Airport Pick up)
Seoul Hop-On Hop-Off City Sightseeing Bus Tour
AREX Incheon Airport Express Train to Seoul Station (One Way)
Discover Seoul Pass
T-Money Card (Pre-loaded with KRW5,000)
Korean Rail Pass
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Seoul Travel Diary Series:
Seoul in 7 Days: An Itinerary for First Time Visitors
K-Guesthouse Myeongdong 3 Review
Korean Skincare Shopping Haul
N Seoul Tower
Myeongdong Street Food
Everland Theme Park
Namdaemun Market and Kalguksu Alley
Gyeongbokgung Palace and National Folk Museum of Korea
Eland Han River Cruise
Dongdaemun Toy Market
30+ Best Activities to do in Seoul with Kids
Photo Gallery: Seoul, South Korea
Bukchon Hanok Village Youtube video: