Visting Bukchon Hanok Village is one of the most popular things to do in Seoul, Korea. It’s the best way to see the traditional side of Seoul, but very busy! Read on to know what to expect and how to make the most of your visit to the Hanok Village!
Here’s everything you need to know before visiting Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul.
Before we share the most deserted Hanok Village spot let’s cover some basics.
What is the Bukchon Hanok Village?
The first thing to understand is why the Bukchon Hanok Village is so important.
Seoul is becoming one of the leading technological cities in the world. It’s the headquarters for Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, Hyndai Motors, Kia Motors, SK Oil, and is the leader in Aisan TV shows and music (anyone else obsessed with the glitz and glamour of K-drams and K-pop?). The city structure is constantly morphing into a more modern landscape, which eventually encroaches on the traditional places.
The Bukchon village is the largest collection of traditional houses left in Seoul city. It’s a neighborhood located on either side of a main road, Bukchon-ro, beside the famous area of Insadong and the Gyeongbukgung Palace.
The village is full of ‘Hanok’ houses, which are traditional homes from the Joseon Dynasty made of gorgeous wood, colored tiles, and intricate roofs.
The houses have been maintained by modern owners, and the neighborhood is now part of the official tourist map!
Getting to the Bukchon Hanok Village
Take the subway to Anguk station and exit toward Bukchon. There will be signs leading you in the right direction from the station, or just look for foreigners and follow them!
Once you’re in the area look for an information booth beside the Seoul Education Museum (there’s a closer information station near Seoul Jaedong Elementary School but it is currently under renovation).
Inside information employees will have maps and books available in most languages ready to help navigate you through the area.
Ask the multi-lingual employees for advice on where to go and they will point out on a walking map the traditional Hanok neighborhood as well as other landmarks.
The Gyeongbokgung traditional palace 10-20 minute walk away, there is a traditional Hanok house museum which allows you to see and read about the different room and garden uses, a calligraphy museum, an arts and crafts center, and more!
Follow the map to the side streets behind Bukchon ro and you’ll soon see hordes of tourists going in the same direction. Keep with the flow and you’ll soon see gorgeous wood and tiled roofs peeking out behind white walls!
What to Expect at Bukchon
Bukchon Traditional Village is a popular place among tourists. It’s beautiful and completely worth seeing, but don’t expect to be the only person there.
The neighborhood is a cluster of winding roads with traditional Hanok, or homes. The homes are protected by low, whitewashed stone walls, wooden pillars and walls which extend past the stone.
The homes are very close together which creates a beautiful clustered landscape.
The Hanok homes in the village are occupied by real citizens and you’ll see many signs across doorways or garages asking tourists to be respectful. Keep your voice down and don’t encroach on someone’s personal space for your pictures.
The signs will mostly be in English, which gives you an idea of the types of tourists they are used to seeing!
You’ll See Traditional Hanbok Dress
You’ll also see lots of tradtional Korean dress in the Bukchon Hanok Village, called Hanbok.
Hanbok outfits are distinct dresses and pant suits made of colorful materials and simple lines. Traditional Hanbok were worn by both men and women during formal or semi-formal events, ceremonies, and festivals in Korea. They remain a part of the Korean culture today, and many Koreans own their own set of custom-made Hanbok clothing.
You’ll see Koreans in Hanbok walking up and down the Hanok Village streets. It’s a popular Instagram activity for teenagers, in particular, to create iconic Korean pictures by wearing traditional Hanbok dress surrounded by the Hanok houses.
If you’re interested in creating your own iconic Korean pictures you are able to rent traditional Hanbok clothing from one of the many retailers along Bukchon-ro!
You’ll see many Hanbok stores offering to rent complete outfits for children to adults for as little as $10, or offering a free outfit rental if you sign up for a photoshoot in their studio. This isn’t something we decided to do, but it sounds like another great way to experience the local culture!
If you want to pre-arrange renting your own Hanbok for a guided photoshoot book it here!
We found two teenage girls in traditional Hanbok taking selfies in the village. They were quite giggly and excited when we politely gestured to our phones to ask if they would take a picture with Whit!
Koreans of all ages love children, and I’m glad they were so welcoming of our son! The picture turned out to be a great souvenir of our time in Korea, and they probably enjoyed the pictures, as well.
This was not a one-time occurance. We saw teenagers in beautiful Hanbok all over the place! If you’re feeling brave approach one and just kindly gesture toward taking a picture together. They understand the value of a cool Instagram picture as much as anyone, and will most likely be friendly about it.
You can also enjoy seeing the traditional Hanbok clothing around the streets and simply imaging you’ve gone back in time. There isn’t any room to sit on the ground, so maybe just step aside and take in this beautiful moment you’ve found yourself in. Simply enjoying the traditional culture is one of the best things about traveling, anyway!
How to Avoid Tourists at the Bukchon Hanok Village
If you’re a seasoned traveler you probably don’t enjoy being around a lot of other travelers. You don’t want to go to a new country around the world only to be surrounded by people from your old neighborhood, after all! If you’re like us, you’ll want to find a way to get Bukchon all to yourself. It’s the best way to fully immerse yourself in this remarkable place and, let’s be honest, makes for much better pictures!
For some reason the majority of tourists head to the neighborhood cluster down Bukchon-ro 11-gil, which is on the same side of Bukchon-ro as the Seoul Education Museum information booth. This side of the Hanok Village is nice to see as the streets are longer, which gives you a great view of a dense traditional neighborhood.
Since this is the most crowded spot, however, we recommend you only walk through quickly and resist taking pictures until you’re at a quieter spot.
Our suggested place to see the Hanok houses is back across the main Bukchon-ro. Head across the street to Bukchon-ro 12-gil to find smaller streets of Hanok houses which are virtually deserted!
The neighborhood off of 12-gil is the same area with the traditional arts and crafts experience house. There will be a fabric banner waving out front to signal the right side street. Follow the alley to the craft house, where you can walk into rooms teaching a variety of traditional crafts! The crafts cost between 8,000w-16,000w, and are a great way to further your cultural experience of traditional Korean life at the Hanok Village.
You’ll also find these streets are much quieter. The streets aren’t as long and, therefore, don’t exhibit the breadth of traditional homes as the neighborhood across the street, but you’ll get a better sense of the daily life. We feel like this trade is definitely worth it!
One way to make sure you have the best time at Bukchon is to take an official tour with a guide. Get Your Guide offers a tour to Bukchon Village and other cultural sites. It’s probably the easiest way to make sure you see the best cultural sites in Seoul without having to figure out directions for yourself. Buy Bukchon tour tickets here.
Take this opportunity to snap some pictures in the gorgeous doorways or down the street. You won’t regret taking the extra time to come to this side!
Other things to do in Bukchon
Bukchon neighborhood is more than just the traditional Hanok houses. You’ll find interesting museums which will teach you all about the Joseon dynasty’s way of life, great views of downtown Seoul, and opportunities to try your hand at traditional crafts!
Once you’ve finished renting your own Hanbok dress and taken all the Instagram pics you want in front of the traditional Hanok homes don’t go straight home. Take a few extra hours to experience all of the other things to do in Bukchon!
Traditional Crafts Experience Center
One place we suggest visiting is the skills center on the side of the road we suggested above. You’ll find signs pointing toward the craft experience center which is located down an alley.
The center holds daily classes in making your own embroidery knots, bookmarks, and more. Costs vary around $8 and up, but to learn a new skill with a local teacher and to keep your craft afterwards is a wonderful opportunity to appreciate this new place.
Simsimheon Hanok Museum
This is a modern day replica of traditional Hanok houses. It’s recently been constructed in accordance with traditional architectural design in order to showcase the interesting home style to new people.
Find the Hanok museum at the top of the hill on the main road, or Google #47 Bukchon-no 11 ga-gil. For a small entrance fee an English-speaking local guide will tour you around the house with a lesson on the grounds and structure. Afterwards enjoy some traditional Korean plum tea. It’s delicious!
Seoul Education Museum
Right beside Bukchon’s Information Center is the Seoul Education Museum. It’s a small museum which will give you a glimpse into the life of Korean schoolchildren. It includes over 1,000 relics to display the role of education in the lives of Koreans for decades.
Seeing the documents and educational tools helps you understand how Korea developed into the country it is today!
As long as you are stopping by the Information Center for a map and travel tips, anyway, why not stop in for some education!
Gyeonbukgung Palace or Changdeokgung Palace
Bukchon is centrally located between the first and second royal palces in Seoul. In one direction you have Gyeongbukgung, the first and most important royal palace, and in another is Changdeokgung; a smaller royal palace.
Both palaces are intricately carved and colorfully painted. They are not only visually stunning but also quite educational. If you’re keen to immerse yourself in the history of Seol by seeing the traditional Hanok homes and Hanbok dress then visting the royal palace is only icing on the cake.
These palaces are within walking distance of the Bukchon subway stop. Simply Google each and the exact location will appear. There is a small fee to enter each, which is well worth it!
There you have it, the best way to understand and experience the history of the Joseon Dynasty in Seoul is at Bukchon Hanok Village. By following this guide you will not only have a great experience you will also get perfect pictures and come away with a greater knowledge of Korean history and daily life!
Seoul’s Bukchon Hanok Village is a unique, beautiful place to visit and we hope you get the chance to go!
If you have any other tips for people visiting the Hanok Village please share in comments!
The O’Briens sold everything in 2017 to travel the world full-time. They work online as digital nomads to fund their travels, and homeschool their son along the way. Follow them on Instagram and YouTube for a glimpse into what it’s like to travel full-time as a family!