Insadong is a must-go destination for all tourists visiting Seoul for the first time. It is known for its extensive array of shops and restaurants. There are also loads of others things to do and see in the area. Here are our 10 recommendations.
The Alive Museum is all about taking comical and ridiculous pictures with the on-site exhibits. The main idea is that you can insert yourself into the artwork and create an optical illusion to make the piece come alive. This is a big place to explore with many humorous pieces that include the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Indiana Jones.
Insadong has some of the tastiest food vendors in all of Seoul. One of the main attractions in the area is the ‘Kings Dessert’ or the ‘Dragons Beard Candy’, 16,000 strings of honey wrapped multiple times with a flavoring of either almond, peanut or chocolate on the inside. Another popular street food is the corn cookie, which isn’t actually a cookie but a twisty ice cream cone with sweet fillings. There are also gooey pancakes and spicy Korean dumplings to sample.
The Shin Old Tea Houseis tucked away in an alleyway, away from the main hustle and bustle of the area. It’s small and only provides floor seating like a traditional Korean tea house. The lighting is dim and provides a very relaxing aura, while the tea list is extensive and boasts some fantastic regional specialities.
The Kyung-in Art Museum was opened in 1983 and is filled with international and cultural artistry. There are six different exhibits a year, along with permanent sculptures in the garden area. Insadong is a place filled with tradition and Kyung-In reflects that in its artwork and architecture, which comes courtesy of the Joseon dynasty.
Beautiful Tea Museum is a tea shop and a tea museum all rolled into one. It’s located inside of a hanok building, which is a traditional Korean house. They exhibit a variety of tea from China, Korea, Japan, Sri Lanka and India to name just a few, while ceramic artworks and displays chronicling the history of tea drinking also appear.
Ssamzie-gil Market is half mall and half outdoor bazaar. It’s on the main road of Insadong and is really easy to find. The mall contains over 70 shops that are filled with one-of-a-kind clothes, ceramics, furniture, food and traditional Korean item. It’s a great place for some retail therapy or souvenir hunting.
At the Insadong Tourist Information Center you can try on a hanbok for a small price. A hanbok is traditional Korean piece of clothing worn since the Joseon era. They have a variety of colors and styles of hanboks for men, women and children. Even though this was clothing worn by Koreans throughout history, actual hanboks now cost upwards of $500!
Korean BBQ places are a popular option for eating out in Korea. Not only do they serve delicious food but are spots for meeting, chatting and drinking. Insadong is home to many such places, given its traditional past. One popular restaurant is Cha Iyagi, which literally means ‘tea story’. The interior looks like the inside of a hanok (a traditional Korean house) and the food is delicious.
Along with Korean BBQ, Insadong has some restaurants that serve royal Korean cuisine. Royal meals contain about twenty different courses of traditional Korean delicacies. JinJinBara is one of the few places that gives the royal dining experiences in Insadong, and comes highly recommended.
Tapgol Park was one of the first parks to be established in Korea and is home to many national treasures. It was also the site of the March 1st Independence Movement of 1919. It’s a fairly small park compared to Korea’s other national parks but makes up for that with its many monuments and must-see sights.