Bukchon Hanok Village, Seoul

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Bukchon, also called “the street museum in the urban core”, located between Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace, have many Hanok residentials, historical and cultural heritage sites. Hanok is Korea traditional houses.

bukchon_map

(Source: Hanok Homestay)

 

You can see this map once you exit Anguk Metro Station, Exit 2, or you can also get a copy from the Jaedong Tourist Information Center, on your way to Bukchon. On the map, it has a highlighted route that you can follow to see the most of Hanok residential area. Just follow the sign to the Tourist Information Centre.

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You can also check out Hanok homestay Information Centre (or website), if you wish for more Hanok experience, or engage an alley tour.

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Where it’s an living residential area, many of the houses are not allowed to enter. We are to also try to keep out voices down to avoid disturbing the residents there. However, there are some art museums, craft centres and also a open house to visit with limited visitors per visit.

Simsimheon

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Halfway through Bukchon-ro 11-gil, you can see this house named Simsimheon, which is an actual living Hanok that you can see at KRW10,000 with a cup of tea.

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There will be a lady to introduce you to the house. The top level of the house is for public viewing while the owner lives at the lower level.

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This house has been refurbished to a certain extent where certain area of the house is suited to a modern lifestyle (especially the kitchen and bathroom) but at the same time its structure, living and resting room are still at it’s traditional ambience. It’s wooden structure has since lasted many years without any nails and still standing strong.

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Its resting room has a window with serene and beautiful view. From afar, it can look like a picture of the window frame. This window is at the same time big enough to be a door for us to step out to the view of the garden below.

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After the tour, you can take a seat to relax and is served with homemade cold plum tea. It’s refreshing and cooling while enjoying the view of the garden of the last time.

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Location:
About 930m walk from Metro Line 3, Anguk Station, Exit 2.

Seoul, South Korea – Getting around

Travelling from Incheon Airport to Seoul City

If it’s your first time to Seoul and wondering how to reach the city cheaply, you can take the airport bus. Find airport express bus counter after exiting from customs declaration and before getting out of the terminal. I took mine at KRW9,000, from Incheon Airport to Shinsegae Department Store (Times Square). The trip took around 1.5 hours with a rather slow and safe bus driver. 

Being in a country of foreign language, it’s important to know your location and destination. Remember to take picture of the bus information stand at the bus stop stated on your ticket. The bus will announce every next station that they are stopping but does not stop if no one rings the bell or stood up. With this picture, you can refer to the bus stop point to know how many station more to alight at your station. Don’t fall asleep unless you are certain that it’s a long trip!

You can leave your luggage at the bottom of the bus and you will be given a luggage number tag to identify your luggage. So you don’t need to worry about other people taking your luggage.

Subway travel card

If you want to travel the cute way, go to Family Mart to buy cute top-up travel card for KRW8,000 (non-refundable). It will not be expired and if not used, can be treated as souvenier or accessories. It’s sold as Hello Kitty, Rilakuma, and Angry Bird. It also contain a Swarovski’s cut crystal.

Otherwise, go for the traditional single journey card or day passes. We took the single journey pass which you can only buy from machines with KRW500 refundable deposit.

Getting around with taxi

If you’re carrying too much or legs too numbed from long walks, you may consider taking a taxi. The normal sedan taxi fare starts at KRW2,400 for first 2 kms and adds KRW100 for every subsequent 144 meters. You may first estimate the fare based on google map’s estimated km.

Generally, it’s around the same price as Singapore. If you have friends to share, why not?

Myeongdong 명동 (明洞)

This is a one of Seoul’s main shopping area. What best to shop here? Mainly facial products, cosmetics, and accessories. Most of the Korean facial product brands you need, you will get it from this place.

To get here by subway: Myeongdong Station (Line 4), Exit 6, Turn left.

You don’t need to worry if you can speak Chinese. Most salesgirls knows Chinese.

Note: Even if you enter to the 2 different shop of the same brand, you may get different promotions. Some shops give better promotion than others and you can negotiate for more free samples at some shops.

Dongdaemun 동대문 (东大門)

A place for clothes and accessories shopping. They are all in many floors of buildings, such as Doota, APM, and Migliore, all on the same road. It seems that Migliore’s prices are lower than the rest of the complexes. The prices that they quote can still be bargained lower by KRW2,000 to maybe half of the initial quoted price. I was warned, bargain only if you’re interested to buy. You won’t want their faces or Korean language to spoil your day.

To get here by subway: Dongdaemun History & Cultural Park (Line 2, 4, or 5), Exit 13 or 14.

General operating hours: 10:30 – 04:30 (yes, 04:30 a.m.) but varies among different complexes.

Gyeongbokgung Palace 

A royal palace located in north of Seoul, South Korea. One of the main attraction of Seoul. There is also a museum in the Palace that explains Seoul’s history.

To get here by subway: Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3)

Looking around…

Insa-dong 인사동

This place is known as cultural street where you can see many shops selling antiques and artworks. Most of all are Korean souvenirs. You can also find traditional Korean food.

To get her by subway: Anguk Station (Line 3)

Cheonggyecheon 청계천

This is a man-made river of 8.4km long in Seoul city. It’s a place that you can sit down and relax a little water and green scenery in the middle of high rise office buildings.

You will pass by it if you walk from Insadong to Myeongdong.

Gangnam Underground Shopping Arcade (Gangnam jihasang-ga) 강남지하상가

One of the underground shopping. It’s newly refurbished with air-conditioned for comfortable shopping. Here they sell many of clothes (men, women, kids), shoes, to household items, garden items, etc. You can spend more than half a day here.

I prefer this place to Dongdaemun as the prices quote are already at a lower price with similar range of varieties. You will get your item at better price without the need to bargain alot.

To get here by subway: Express Bus Terminal Station (Line 3, 7 or 9)

Gwanghwamun 광화문 (光化門)

Gwanghwamun is the main and largest gate of Gyeongbokgung Palace. This place also exhibits history of King Sejong, a King who created Korean language characters.

To get here by subway: Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5)

It’s free to walk around the square but you may also enter the King Sejong’s museum below his statue.

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 – 22:30; Closed on Monday.

Admission fee: Free

On your way to the square, you will see this cute Haechi, a symbol of Seoul. You can buy its soft toys and souvenirs from the shop.

Utopia Spa 유토피아 스파 

A 24 hours spa place where you can massage, sauna, watch tv, do nothing, sleep, etc.

Location:
187-3 Guro-dong Guro-gu, Seoul
(Entrance at B1, just follow the sign) 

Tel: +82 2 839 6800

http://utopiaspa.co.kr/ (Korean only)

Subway: Guro Digital Complex Station (Line 2), Exit 2

Seon Cheon 宣川 (Traditional Korean food)

A place at Insa-dong to eat some traditional Korean food. This is just a random pick.

Location:
100-4, Insadong 14 Road, Seoul Special City

Tel: +82 734 1970

Subway: Anguk Station (Line 3)

Side dish starters – Kitchen’s special (KRW10,000 per person)
If you want the side dishes, you have no choice but to eat what they cook on that day and it’s unlimited refill. How much can you refill, seriously?

Beef bulgogi (KRW26,000)
It’s fried with mushroom and garlic. It’s tender and juicy. Very good with rice.

Each person comes with a bowl of rice and a soup. Beancurd soup to share at KRW5,000.