Alley Travel Course
People can reach Samcheong-dong Culture Street by walking about 10 minutes along Gyeongbokgung doldam-gil after looking around Cheongwadae Sarangchae. Exotic handcraft shops, cafés and restaurants in remodeled hanok run along narrow roads. Feel the flavor of Samcheong-dong by sipping a cup of coffee in a café while looking down the streets. In fall, golden ginkgo leaves add a quaint beauty. Bukchon Hanok Village in the neighborhood of Samcheong-dong has plenty of hanok with eaves curved up to the sky as if to fly away. The exploration of Bukchon Hanok Village goes through the densest areas around 11beon-ji, 31beon-ji, and 33beon-ji of Gahoe-dong to Bukchon Culture Center. People can take a short rest here while sitting on toenmaru (narrow wooden porch running along the outside of a room) or experience traditional handcrafts. A perfect tour course of Korean traditions can be completed by looking around Insa-dong.
Cheongwadae Sarangchae is a comprehensive tour promotion hall where you can look around Korean culture and walk in the footsteps of former Korean presidents. The first floor is divided into the Gallery of Korean Culture and Tourism and the special exhibition room, where various themes are displayed throughout the year. Blue House Hall, located on the second floor, introduces the Blue House and former presidents while Happy World Hall shows the vision the government is aiming for.
Samcheong-dong is a representative culture street that has restaurants, cafes, accessory shops, and handcraft shops with overflowing personality. We recommend tourists to choose little souvenirs at handcraft shops or to enjoy the ever-changing landscape of Samcheong-dong while sitting in a café. There are many small museums such as Owl Museum, Tibet Museum, and World Jewelry Museum.
Bukchon Hanok Village is packed with about 900 hanok. The slimline roof line of hanok shows the beauty of Korea well. People can take commemorative photographs white experiencing an alley tour in accordance with their taste such as Gahoe-dong Handcraft Shop Alley, Samcheong-dong Ginkgo Tree Alley, Anguk-dong School Street, Sagan-dong Galley Alley, and more.
Bukchon Culture Center is an information center that promotes the history and value of Bukchon Hanok Village. This building maintains the original structure of ‘Minjaemugwandaek’ from the late Joseon Dynasty. Before visiting the center, we recommend inquiring in advance about the availability of traditional culture courses such as tea ceremony, macramé, Korean paper art, cloisonné handcraft, and Korean traditional music. In addition, indigenous solar term events and Saturday experience events are held constantly.
Insa-dong Traditional Culture Street is a culture street filled with antique arts, antique shops, traditional tea houses, and traditional handcraft shops. It has plenty of shops that sell Korean traditional arts and design products with an overflowing sense of young designers. Culture shows and exhibitions are frequently held in the area so keep an eye out for them when visiting Insa-dong.
Menu : Temple food
Phone : +82-2-733-2081
Menu : Samgyetang
(Chicken soup with ginseng)
Phone : +82-2-747-5535
Menu : Kalguksu
(Shank bone noodle soup)
Phone : +82-2-739-6334
Phone : +82-2-730-3451
Phone : +82-2-731-1000
Phone : +82-2-747-5000
Cheongwadae Sarangchae is a space to learn about Korean culture and the history of former Korean presidents. The area is comprised of a planned exhibition hall where various special exhibitions are held, Korean culture exhibition hall, Korean food (hansik) promotion hall on the first floor and Cheongwadae Hall which introduces former Korean presidents and Haengboknuri Hall which presents the future vision of Korea on the second floor.
It is said that Samcheong-dong was named from the story about the three ‘cheong’ (Chinese character meaning ‘clean’) of the area, namely the mountain, water, and people. Another theory is that the origin of the region's name came from Samcheongjeon Hall where three tablets called ‘Taecheong,’ ‘Sangcheong,’ and ‘Okcheong,’ were set up based on Taoism. Samcheong-dong Street features a mixture of old scenes of hanok building with traditional beauty and modern scenes of galleries and cafés, creating a unique atmosphere. Visitors can feel the abundant cultural mood at every corner of the street through the art galleries, museums, antique shops, and quiet pathways.
Surrounded by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine, Bukchon Hanok Village is home to hundreds of traditional houses, called hanok, that date back to the Joseon Dynasty. The name Bukchon, which literally translates to "northern village," came about as the neighborhood lies north of two significant Seoul landmarks, Cheonggyecheon Stream and Jongno. Today, many of these hanoks operate as cultural centers, guesthouses, restaurants and tea houses, providing visitors with an opportunity to experience, learn and immerse themselves in traditional Korean culture.
Bukchon Cultural Center was established to offer traditional cultural experience opportunities for citizens in Seoul. The programs include calligraphy, tea ceremony, handicraft, traditional culture class as well as a promotional hall introducing Bukchon culture and hanok. Also, the center houses a space and pavilion for visitors to take a rest.
Insa-dong has been situated at the heart of the nation’s capital for over 600 years and was at the center of culture during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). The Insa-dong area usually refers to the areas extending from the Anguk-dong Rotary to Tapgol Park in Jongno 2(i)-ga, past the Insa-dong Intersection. The notable features of Insa-dong are the countless alleys that branch out from the main street. Insa-dong has also become known as ‘Merry’s Area,’ one of the favorite shopping spots among foreigners.
Over forty percent of the nation’s antique stores are clustered in the Insa-dong area, and they sell more valuable antiques compared to any other places in Korea. The price of the valuables and souvenirs in this area can range from 10,000 won to some hundred million won. Among the antiques sold there are old pictures, pottery, wooden containers and jewelry. There is a variety of artwork varying from earthenware of the Unified Silla Era to white pottery of the Joseon Era. Foreigners from all over the world including Japan, China, France, and America frequent Insa-dong to witness a truly traditional Korean atmosphere.
Prices range greatly depending on the customers and the items. Old books are usually popular among the Japanese and Chinese tourists who can identify Hanja (Chinese characters). Antique books are purchased by many visitors, from history professors to antique collectors, at prices varying from 10,000 won to 30,000 won. Highly valued items are not sold and even if they are displayed in the store, as some shopkeepers do not intend to sell them. Archaeology and history books are the most popular selections. Some items are priceless so shopkeepers often name their own price, but keep in mind that some stores do have price tags to indicate products for sale. Tongmungwan is a representative store selling old books and has been run by a family for three generations. When you enter this small bookstore, you can see old books packed in rows. This bookstore was originally opened by the grandfather of the current shopkeeper, and is living proof of Insa-dong’s long-standing history. This is definitely a place worth visiting even if you do not intend to make a purchase.
Traditional Korean ceramic ware is the main artwork Insa-dong has to offer. It is also the most popular item among tourists. Ceramic ware can be used in everyday life and many also consider it an essential decorative item. Ever since Queen Elizabeth I of England visited Insa-dong in April 1999 and praised the beauty of the ceramic art forms, many tourists from all over the world, including Europe, America, and Japan have become interested in them. Prices may start at 10,000 won, but can cost you up to some 10 million won. The most popular ceramic ware are pottery in the shape of a gourd bottle, costing anywhere from 100,000 won to 200,000 won. Keep in mind that the finer ceramic ware boast a clear color and have a clear resonant sound when tapped with the tip of your fingernail.
Famous shops include ‘Park Young Suk Yo’ where Queen Elizabeth paid a visit and ‘Haedong Godoja.’ The main artwork offered are the common porcelain ware that have been recrafted, and pots of the Joseon Era. ‘Haedong Godoja’ is known for selling the best quality ceramic ware.
‘Goseohwa’ (old paintings and calligraphic arts) is another main form of artwork offered in Insa-dong. There are shops selling old artwork along with oriental paintings, as well as modern paintings. Shops such as Dongmundang and Gonghwarang display and sell old paintings along with calligraphic works.
Antique furniture and other items are available at Naraksil and Gayajae. Naraksil offers great quality antique furniture such as bookshelves and bookstands, while Gayajae sells old pieces of furniture, stone Buddhas, and tiles. Other popular antiques can be found at ‘Toto’s Antiques’ where there are contemporary articles from the period before and after the liberation of Korea from Japanese forces. Even though there isn't any traditional artwork at this store, Korean antiques are displayed picturesquely. Toto’s Antiques seems to arouse nostalgia among its visitors, as it is decorated with old schoolbooks, toys, and ornaments from the 50’s and 60’s.
Sunday is designated a pedestrian-friendly day as cars are not permitted in the area for on that day of the week. Instead, a flea market opens on this day to sell various antiques, accessories, artwork, and books. Traditional antiques from different parts of Korea as well as international antiques brought by foreign tourists are displayed throughout Insa-dong, allowing visitors to view many items in one glance. It is highly recommended that you visit Insa-dong on Sundays since you can also view the beautiful street art.
When shopping in Insa-dong, make sure you check where the product is made. Recently, cheap Chinese goods such as teacups, wall tapestries, and small accessories have been brought into the Insa-dong markets and there have been cases where merchandise thought to be made in Korea turned out to be marked as ‘Made in China.’ So if you are looking to purchase only authentic Korean products, be sure to check the label.