Hello I’m finally going to finish up the last of my Seoul posts! It’s been like… 3 months since my trip but I’m SO BAD at finishing things… my Taiwan posts are still unfinished, and that trip was 4 years ago! Anyhow, I’m endeavoring to finally finish up Seoul’s posts… most of these posts have been a bit delayed because I didn’t take so many pictures, and I think that somehow demotivates me from writing about them. But here I go!
After my Gyeongbokgung tour, I headed out the east gate and took a quick 5-min walk towards Samcheongdong. It’s a pretty nice area in Seoul, lots of galleries and cafes and what I would describe as hipster high end; the Singaporean context of it would be somewhere like Ann Siang Hill or Dempsey Hill. Definitely less packed than places like Myeongdong and Insadong, and the shops are smaller and more quaint and indie than those of Ewha and Hongdae.
I didn’t pop into any of the galleries, but there are lots of them along the streets. The shops were definitely great! I love tiny little shops so much more than large boutique stores or big brand names, they usually have really unique items. But unfortunately, as cute quaint shops go, many of them weren’t exactly cheap either! I did end up buying things from a shop called Kim’s Boutique, which I would run across again a few days later in Itaewon as well (and I bought stuff both times!).
I stopped by this cute little shop for lunch. The pork chops are probably more like Japanese food (Katsu) than Korean, but it was such a cozy little corner with a nice ajuma, and it was so hot outside I was genuinely sad to leave!
And I also did swing by the Seoul Education Museum, which is up by the Jeongdak library (on top of a hill, I didn’t go in but the outside was a pretty lovely garden setting). Not particularly exciting with just a bunch of old school paraphanelia in exhibition cases and quite small really… I was in and out in about 10 minutes! Did love the old school illustrations of their mascots though~
I then headed to Bukchon Hanok just next to Samcheongdong, one of the areas in Seoul where they’ve preserved an entire district’s worth of old-style Korean houses (‘hanoks’). What makes Bukchon Hanok (meaning Northern Village) unique is that it’s still a residential area today, unlike Namsangol Hanok which is more of a life-size museum. While you do get tourists ambling along the rather hilly roads, it’s still a pretty quiet district
I would love to stay in one of these quaint little houses… these houses use to be part of the grounds of palaces like Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, and while reflective of typical Joseon dynasty architecture, I like that there’s somehow more variety in the Hanoks then in the palaces. For those who want to experience old school living first hand, there are hanok guesthouses! Too bad I didn’t know about it before I went over, or I would have definitely have liked to book a night’s stay.
There are also many little museums within the Bukchon, from traditional ones like the Donglim Knot Museum to really odd ones like the Museum of Chicken Art. (I know, like really? Chickens?!) though check their opening hours before you go. Pick up a tourist map or head on over to the Bukchon official website here to find out about the museums. Many of them include workshops as well, which sounds like fun if you’re looking for a real immersive experience.
Around the area:
- West: I walked over to Samecheongdong and Bukchon Hanok after my Gyeongbokgung tour (closed on Tuesdays)
- East: Changdeokgung, the other palace I visited is on the other side of the Bukchon Hanok, it’s possible to do both palaces in the same day, but note that Changdeokgung is closed on Mondays.
- South: the artsy area Insadong is where I headed after I was done with Samcheongdong and Bukchon Hanok. Anguk station is between the Bukchon area and Insadong.
- Also nearby if you’re tired of palaces: Jogyesa (A buddhist temple in the middle of the city next to Insadong)
- Gwanghwamun Square lies in front of the main Gwanghwamun gate of Gyeongbokgung. A giant statue of King Sejong the great, his admiral and a fountain line this open plaza