After 5 trips to Korea (3 to Seoul, 1 Jeju Island & 1 Busan), I think I’m finally getting a hang of the areas in Seoul. I said specifically Seoul because I always had to stopover & stay a day or 2 before moving on to Busan/Jeju and I have explored Seoul more than any other areas in Korea.
2 charming (but be forewarned that they are as touristy as well), urban yet nostalgic areas that any visitor to Seoul should visit are Samcheong-dong & Insa-dong.
Samcheong-dong is a few minutes walk from Insa-dong so you can hit 2 birds with one stone and spend half a day here. It’s best to go early if you’re the sort to appreciate quieter streets and less crowd but if you’re in the mood for the bustling and lively scene then afternoons and evenings are best.
The area gets lighted up and the atmosphere is significantly more spirited.
I was there twice (last year & this year again) and on both accounts it was early in the morning. It is really serene and almost therapeutic to walk here at such early hours.
The word “Samcheong” means 3 (Sam) clean (cheong) things and it is characterised by water, mountain and people. In geomancy, this is known to be an auspicious place.
The entire Samcheong-dong gil (gil = road) is about 4km long so do set aside approximately 3 hours for a relaxing exploration session of this ancient but quaint area.
The main road branches out to many side lanes where there are many more shops to see and explore.
You would typically start from Anguk station, stroll all the way up to Samcheong Park and then back come down to Anguk station.
Expect nice hanok-style restaurants and art galleries. Many here are boutiques and each store carry their own unique styles: vintage, retro, hippie, romantic, classic chic.
Women will love it here (though men are likely to find some stuff as well) and it is possible to find something unique or purchase timeless classic pieces. Most of the products are very ladylike; chic and feminine.
So, how would you spend your hours here in Samcheong-dong?
Well, admiring the architecture is one. Each outlet is unique from the other; from the exterior, size, interior as well as colours.
Some are exposed red bricks, some all steel and mirrors while others are wood and stones.
The layout on the street itself is quirky, some buildings are slightly recessed and there’s a pathway to access the entrance while some are traditional hanok buildings converted to shops.
Here’s an example of a traditional hanok converted into a restaurant.
This one too.
Another hanok style building.
I realized one of the factors the buildings here are so pretty is because of the height. Most doesn’t exceed 3 – 4 storeys.
This looks pretty modern with the grey tiles but still charming.
This is an entrance to one of the cafes. 🙂
Keep a lookout for some of the quirky decorative items around too. I thought this was really cute!
As you stroll along, work up an appetite and try visiting some of the cafes.
O’sulloc has a branch here and it is the largest tea producer in Korea. Three of their four tea gardens are on Jeju Island, one of Korea’s three main tea producing areas.
Specializing in green tea, the café also offers a variety of juices, smoothies, and ice cream, many of which are made with green tea as the main ingredient.
We tried the green tea ice cream which is pretty good; though not mind-blowing.
For the women, shop til you drop. I assure you, it’s a good plan as well.
I got myself a pair of nautical sandals. Nice? 🙂
And I almost, ALMOST bought this. So chic!
But it was RM300 so I didn’t. 🙁
And of course, go shutter-happy. 🙂
This is the group of us last October.
And this is me this April. I explored the area on my own this time since it is my second visit to Samcheong-dong so I was going at a slower pace than the rest.
The many quaint cafes here and perfect for a respite from the shopping and walking.
There’s something for everyone; do take a chill pill at this OM Restaurant. It is HALAL. 🙂
“There is no love sincerer than the love of food” – Bernard Shaw.
That is so true. We like to make fun of Malaysians or Singaporeans as we are legendary for our obsession for good grub and would endure bad service and tiring queues just to dine at a particular outlet. But hey, the Koreans queue for good food too!
This long line of LOCAL Koreans are lining up patiently for the famous Sujebi (similar to Panmee in Malaysia). No, I didn’t queue.
I might have if our lunch was already booked ahead. 🙂
Both Samcheong-dong and Insa-dong are located in the Gangbuk district (ie. north of Han River). In contrast the Gangnam district (yes, that area made famous thanks to Psy) is located at the (ie. south of Han River).
The northern (Samcheong-dong, Insa-dong) have a wealth of historically significant places such as palaces, royal gardens and gates while the southern district is known to be the business district and home to the wealthiest in Seoul.
From Samcheong-dong you can take a 10 minutes leisure stroll to Insa-dong. The connecting street is sheltered on both sides by the trees which made the walk (especially with the mild Korean weather) a very pleasant journey.
If you do not wish to continue your exploration to Insa-dong, then look out for Bus #11.
I noticed it passing through at almost every 30 minutes intervals on this street. This bus takes you to downtown Seoul, Gyeonbokgung Palace, Seoul Station, and Namdaemun Market – all the fabulous places for more exploration of Seoul. 🙂
Getting to Samcheong-dong:
Take subway to Anguk Station (Line 3), use Exit 1. Go straight 100m and turn right onto the alleyway next to Pungmun Girl’s High School. Continue straight along the road.
• Anguk Station (Line 3, Exit 1) – 10 minutes on foot
• Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3, Exit 5) – 20 minutes on foot
*Thank you Korea Tourism Board (KTO Malaysia) for both of my trips to Seoul (last October and April 2014). 🙂
Stay tuned as I’ll update more on my trip over the next few weeks.
For other travel adventures, please swing by my travel page –> http://www.rebeccasaw.com/travel/!