Seoul Shopper – Insadong

(Pic of Insadong from here)

So I was saying that Seoul in July was not the best time to visit, what with the crazy Singapore-like weather with torrential rains and hot weather, but I’m sure glad I’m not there now! Maybe I was luckier than I thought… Here’s hoping things clear up for them soon.

Anyway back to my trip, here’s another spot I spent some time at! Insadong is the ‘artsy’ area of Seoul, with galleries galore lining the streets, along with many shops dealing in traditional handcraft and antiques, making it quite different from the modern Myeongdong and other shopping districts in Seoul.

A main road runs down Insadong – a narrow, slightly winding stone paved road lined with trees and shops, with little alleys of wonder leading off on either side. Walking down it is pretty refreshing. There are also plenty of galleries to walk into when you’re tired of shopping.

I found the cutest shop where I ended up buying a whole bunch of accessories, from a robot necklace, to a wooden button hair band, and including some cute little bear rings.

One of my favourite and possibly the most distinctive building in the area is Ssamziegil, right in the middle of the Insadong area.

It’s a 5 story building filled with a whole host of the cutest shops and well known for the quirky artistic installations in its main atrium. What’s unique is that instead of your usual escalators, the floors are all connected in a winding spiral way, so you can slowly browse all the shops as you wind your way to the top. There’s a roof garden and a great view of the Insadong area – I spent my first evening here chilling out after a whole day of walking. There’s also a basement where there are restaurants and art workshops. Truly cool building that’s an art space and an art piece in itself!

I also ate in a couple of pretty good restaurants here!

After Changdeokgung, me and my new friend Terrie walked into a random restaurant and had ourselves a meal of bulgogi and lemonade. It was just great to be sitting in the aircon with an ice-cold drink after a whole morning of walking! The bulgogi turned out to be pretty good though, and the restaurant was quite charming.

I wish I could tell you how to get here, but we were walking pretty randomly and just stopped at whaatever caught our eye! It was in an alley off the main Insadong road though…

And a lady at the information kiosk recommended me this place called Songdo in one of the alleys of the main road for Ginseng chicken soup. It took a bit of guessing and searching but I managed it – it was a traditional looking place where you had to take out your shoes and everything, and I must have walked in at peak hour as the woman serving me looked pretty harrassed and didn’t speak a lick of english, but thank goodness the menu had pictures! I had a bowl of Samgyetang for 12,000 won, YUM.

Songdo – if you walk from Anguk Station, turn left onto Seokjeonggil after the Ssamziegil complex, and then left into the alley. The tea shop/gallery area is on your right, Songdo is in the middle of the rowon the left

There’s a pretty charming looking tea drinking place and gallery area opposite the Samgyetang place, too bad I didn’t stop there…

Overall a nice place to walk and explore with more time! Art and culture lovers will enjoy the vibe of this place.


Getting There:

Insadong can be accessed via Subway (Anguk station, Line 3, Exit 6). Check out the shopping map from the Korea Tourism Organization here to give you an idea.

Around the area:

  • Around Insadong (here’s a link to the official site):
    • Ssamziegil
    • I watched Jump at the IBK Jump Theatre near Samilgyo bridge
  • North: Insadong is south of Samcheongdong and the Bukchon Hanok, which is flanked by Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung. After both my palace tours I walked down to Insadong for lunch or a drink.
  • West: It’s a pretty short walk from Jogyesa temple. You’ll pass the temple stay centre across the road, an Insadong tourist information centre in a hanok, and a charming creeper cover Italian restaurant en route.
  • East: After lunch I walked over to Jongmyo park for the tour. It’s a tad further away, and you’ll walk through an industrial-like area and under some overpasses on your way there
  • South: Terrie and I walked to the Cheongyecheon, the pretty river that runs through Seoul, and ended up at the Samilgyo bridge
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4 comments to Seoul Shopper – Insadong

  1. Great blog! I just spent almost three years teaching there, just spent two months in Paris. Seems like we would’ve come across each other. Your photographs are making me miss my lovely Seoul this morning. Thank you and keep up the great work!

    • Hey thanks! Seoul was really nice and I do hope to return in autumn one day… (and if you’re looking for a crumpled map as I saw on your blog, you can check out the shop page too!)

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