Insadong is a famous pedestrianized area in Seoul’s Jongno-gu district. Millions visit Insadong annually because of its many cultural attractions. If you’re looking for an authentic insight into Korean culture, you should do the Insadong Seoul Tour.
In the Joseon period, Insadong was made up of two towns. It became a single locality during the Japanese occupation. At that time, rich people would use the area to sell their belongings. Eventually, the area became an official antique trade-spot.
Today, Insadong is a unique combination of old and new Korean culture. During the early 2000s, the area was revitalized (like many other Seoul neighborhoods at the time). Many new attractions were added, increasing its popularity with tourists.
If you’re visiting the area, here’s what you should do:
Explore the Insadong Seoul Tour Food Street and Tea Houses
Firstly, Insadong has some of the best street food in Seoul. From Korean dumplings to fishcakes and tteok-bokki, Insadong has a wide range of local delicacies.
If you want something sweet, you should try the corn cookies. These aren’t cookies, though. You can think of them as ice-cream cones filled with Korean sweets.
There are also many Chinese and Japanese restaurants in the area. One of the most popular Chinese foods is the Dragon’s Dessert, which consists of honey-coated strings. You can get them in different flavors, including chocolate, strawberry, and peanut butter.
However, the main food-based attraction is the Shin Old Tea House. There are many tea houses in the area, but Shin is the most popular. The menu lists dozens of teas and brews.
Check Out the Local Bazaars
The next stop on your Insadong Seoul Tour should be the local bazaars. As mentioned, Insadong became an antique trading spot in the late 1800s. Such businesses are still alive in the local market.
Ssamzie-gil Market is also a big attraction in the locality. This is an outdoor market with over 70 shops. Some of these shops date back to the early antique-traders.
Ssamzie-gil is interesting because it’s not just a market: it’s a cultural complex.
You can buy all sorts of traditional Korean items here, including hanboks, ceramics, fans, furniture, etc. There are also multiple galleries and book shops, selling traditional Korean art and literature respectively.
However, be mindful; items such as hanboks are pretty expensive. An adult-sized hanbok costs at least $500 to $600.
At the same time, each item sold here is completely authentic. If you’re looking for traditional Korean antiques, Ssamzie-gil is an excellent place to visit.
Immerse Yourself in Korean Culture
If you want to focus on Korean culture during your Insadong Seoul Tour, you should first stop at the local tourist information center. The Insadong Tourist Center is a good place to start for many reasons.
Firstly, it has its own cultural activities. For example, you can rent a hanbok for a small price. Hanboks are the traditional Korean dress. You can try one on and take pictures. However, don’t treat the hanbok like a costume. The local guides can tell you about its rich history and significance within Korean culture.
Secondly, the Tourist Center can guide you on where to go next. There are many art exhibits and museums in the area. The Alive Museum is one of the most popular ones because it’s more interactive.
Since the area is more than 500 years old, you’ll find many Joseon-era buildings, including shops and temples. If you’re a history buff, you’ll undoubtedly appreciate the architecture.
Visit the Tapgol National Park
Lastly, your Insadong Seoul Tour should include the Tapgol National Park. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a nature-lover or not. Everyone loves Tapgol National Park’s gorgeous landscape.
The Tapgol National Park has much historical significance. Firstly, it’s home to some of Seoul’s oldest temples and monuments. The Monument of Wongaksa dates back to 1417.
Secondly, it’s the origin-site of the 1919 March 1st Movement. This movement was one of the first Korean resistance movements against the Japanese occupation. It’s one of the events that kickstarted the Korean Independence Movement.
You can learn more from local experts. There are multiple official tours in the area. Consequently, if you’re looking to learn, you can sign up for one.
However, if you’re going it alone, you’re gonna need directions. The park’s easy to find. You can easily reach the park if you follow the main street:
If you get lost, you can refer to street signs like this one:
In essence, with so much going on in Insadong, it’s easy to get confused. However, these are the four essentials you must explore during your Insadong Seoul Tour.
It’s easy to do everything on this list in a day. Therefore, even if you’re short on time, you can experience everything Insadong has to offer.
However, if you’re looking for other areas to scout, you’re in luck. Don’t forget to check out this guide on Ihwa Mural Village, another tourist hotspot in Seoul.