Staying in the Bukchon Hanok Village will transport you back to the Joseon Dynasty. Located between the Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Changdeokgung Palace in northern Seoul, this traditional area will make you feel worlds away from the bustling skyscapers of Seoul.
Hanoks are traditional Korean houses built from wooden structure and soil baked tile roofs. Many today have now been converted to cultural museums, restaurants, cafes, guesthouses and some still remain as residential houses. Popular in this area is the opportunity to hire and wear a hanbok- traditional Korean clothing- from one of the many hanbok rental stores. You can wonder the streets in hanbok for some great souvenir pictures and also be an active participant in an open air museum. Wearing a hanbok will also give you free entry into both palaces.
As you walk around, there are signs to remind visitors that they are in a residential area and to keep their voices down. Noise must really project in these small alleyways and with hundreds of tourists coming by every day, it is no wonder that the locals feel this way.
I booked to stay a night in a hanok and ended up at the Gongsimga Hanok Guesthouse. The single room was roomy enough for a single fold out mattress and space to put your belongings. There was a TV, air conditioning and a heater inside to accommodate all the seasons. For the single room, the bathroom was located across the courtyard which I didn’t mind. There were 4 rooms in total that guests could book.
The room was quite cool inside with the high ceiling. Upon further research, the hanoks are orientated so that the mountains are behind and rivers in front to maximise ease to water access while at the same time blocking out undesirable winds. In addition, the floor heating system – ondol – allows for an effective way to heat the entire room in the snowy winters.
When walking around the Hanok Village, you can find many hanoks that have been converted to cafes, tea houses and restaurants. One of the more popular cafes is Onion Anguk which is normally packed with a waiting line during the day! They offer patisseries and coffee which is a perfect break stop. Knowing the crowds on the weekends, I came early on a Sunday morning to be able to snag a table.
Have you ever stayed in a hanok? How was the experience? Will you be adding a hanok stay next time you’re in Korea?