My favourite place in Seoul? Absolutely Insadong 인사동. Located nearby Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheondong, Insadong 인사동 is another centre of traditional Korean arts. Here, I could find various Korean traditional souvenirs, antiques, pottery, calligraphy and other artistic pieces of art that I could not find in Seoul’s modern districts. Art galleries and traditional tea houses add to the interest of the area.
Although most visitors are foreigners, locals still coming here to look for traditional crafts, chill out at Insadong‘s unique cafe or simply to take a walk. What I noticed here, cosmetic shops names here are written in hangul (korean alphabets) since it is a very traditional and cultural area. Not only Korean brands, such as Etude House or Nature Republic, even international brand such as Starbucks too…
Things that I like to do when coming to Insadong 인사동 besides looking for artsy stuffs, are to eat their street food! Definitely hotteok 호떡 is a must to have here.. Hotteok 호떡 is a Korean street food snack made of dough and is usually filled with sugar, honey, nuts and cinnamon. There is a famous hotteok 호떡 stall in Insadong where people are willing to queue for it. It is located at the main street and the shop name is Sambodang 삼보당.
There are sweet hotteok 호떡 and japchae hotteok 잡채호떡. Japchae hotteok 잡채호떡 maybe similar to the sweet hotteok 잡채호떡, but the filling is japchae 잡채 (stir-fried glass noodle). It may seem to be a funny combination, but to my surprise, it tastes good! Compared to the sweet one, Japchae hotteuk 잡채호떡 is a rare find. There are a few shops selling around Samcheondong area and Insadong 인사동 (near Anguk subway exit).
Coming to Insadong 인사동 means you have to visit Ssamziegil 쌈지길. It is marked as the ‘Special Insadong 인사동 within Insadong 인사동’. This unique area was designed in such a way by connecting its charming alleys in the form of a spiral-like stairway towards the open Sky Garden where you can get a clear view of Insadong. Along the way to the top, you can window shop through the small business stores owned by young-established artisans.
Insadong 인사동 has a lot more to offer. Traditional korean restaurant where you have to sit on the tatami floor and dining on a low table, looking for souvenirs and antiques, handmade goods, museums and the list goes on… It is where one can forget the modern city life and immerse in a traditional Korean culture.
How to go there:
- Take subway to Anguk Station 안국역 (Line 3, orange line) take exit #6. Walk straight from the exit and take a turn left after 3 minutes walking. You will reach Insadong gate; or,
- Take subway to Jonggak Station (Line 1, dark blue line) and take exit #3. Keep walking for about 300m, and turn left at the 4-way Intersection. Go straight for about 100m and take the left road towards Insadong-gil Road.
- Anguk Station (Line 3, orange line), take exit #6. Walk toward Jongno Police Station and enter the Insadong one-way street of Crown Bakery & GS25, and go straight for about 100m; or
- Jonggak Station (Line 1, Exit 3). Go towards Jogyesagil (pass 2 signals) and enter the alley next to the 7th Day Sabbath Church.