Since Seoul is the largest city in South Korea, any kind of Seoul travel guide can easily overwhelm you with the best kind of problem—having too much to choose from! Of course we’ve found this problem across Korea—from the glorious beaches of Jeju (including this immaculate Hidden Beach of Jeju Island), the colorful mountains of Daedunsan and Hallasan, the largest theme park in the country, Everland Korea, and so many romantic spots we’ve lost count. Indeed, our time teaching English abroad in Korea has exposed us to the country’s wonderful sights and activities, but for specifically Seoul travel, Insadong has our hearts. A wonderful place to experience Korean culture, Insadong is home to numerous art galleries on its twisting hidden streets. The Seoul neighborhood of Insadong makes a perfect blend of Korean culture old and new, and can delight visitors young and old. But here’s the ultimate Seoul travel question: what to do in Insadong? Don’t worry, we got you!
Here is our Seoul travel guide with some fun ideas for what to do in Insadong!
Note: All the photographs below were taken with a Canon G7X (check out Best Budget Travel Cameras to Improve Your Travel Photography for more information), but we have since upgraded to a Canon 80D and love it! Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more!
- 1 Go Shopping
- 2 Visit a Temple
- 3 Eat Korean Street Food
- 4 Visit a Traditional Tea House
- 5 Visit a Nearby Palace
- 6 How to Get to Insadong By Metro
- 7 Where to Stay in Insadong
- 8 Like this post?
- 9 You Might Also Appreciate…
- 10 Any other suggestions for what to do in Insadong?
When you’re trying to decide what to do in Insadong, you can always shop! Known as a center for traditional Korean crafts and artwork, Insadong has a plethora of stores and stalls where you can find the perfect Korean souvenirs. These run the gamut from the traditional masks and chopstick sets to the kitschy hats and t-shirts reading cheeky things like “외국인” (waegookin, Korean for “foreigner”). Quality souvenirs that Insadong specializes in include personalized stamps and beautiful calligraphy scrolls.
|Calligraphy Brushes||Korean Water Calligraphy Scroll||Korea Traditional Hahoe Mask Yangban Nobleman||South Korea Flag|
Visit a Temple
Jogyesa Temple, the center of Zen Buddhism in Korea, is a quick 5-minute walk from Insadong’s main street. While the temple may lack the ambiance of other Korean temples in beautiful natural settings, it’s still a unique experience to visit such a large temple in the middle of skyscrapers. The streets around Jogyesa Temple are also home to many specialty Buddhist shops, for those who want to take some Buddhism home with them.
If you’re visiting in the spring in April and May around Buddha’s Birthday, you’ll be lucky enough to see hundreds of lanterns brilliantly festooning the temple grounds, as well as some lovely flowers. And here’s another South Korea travel tip: if you happen to be in Korea in spring, try to catch the incredible Korean cherry blossom trees!
Jogyesa Temple, 55, Ujeongguk-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 종로구 우정국로 55 (견지동)
Directions to Jogyesa Temple:
From Anguk station (line 3), take exit 6. Walk 50m straight, and cross the street in front of Dongduk Gallery. Go straight 50m more to find the temple.
Eat Korean Street Food
No Seoul travel guide is complete without a shout out to the city’s street food! Insadong is said to have some of the tastiest street food in all of Seoul. One of the more unique treats you’ll find in Insadong is the Dragons’ Beard Candy, a mind-boggling 16,000 strings of honey wrapped around delicious flavorings such as almond, peanut, or chocolate. It’s quite fun to watch the vendors making it, and fun to eat as well! You’ll also find tasty baby octopi on skewers, as well as more common Korean street food such as tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), hotteok (sweet, gooey pancakes), and odeng (fish cake on skewers).
For some more posts on the food we’ve eaten in South Korea, check out The Zesty Truth of Jeju Tangerine Picking: Jeju Island, South Korea and (Shark?!) for the Soul: Willala Fish and Chips on Jeju Island.
Visit a Traditional Tea House
While South Koreans may not drink as much tea as neighboring China and Japan (although you will find the gorgeous O’Sulloc Green Tea Plantations on Jeju!), a few traditional Korean tea houses still call Insadong home. In fact, one of our favorite recommendations of this Seoul travel guide is visiting one of the quaint old tea houses in Insadong.
|Korean Roasted Cassia Tora Seeds Tea (Gyeolmyeongja Cha)||Organic Korean Tea Luxury Boxed Set||The Book of Korean Tea||Korean Handmade White Ceramic Tea Set|
Hidden away down a narrow alley, the Shin Old Teahouse (신옛찻집) provides a welcome respite from the busy streets of Insadong. Housed within a beautiful and elegant traditional Korean hanok home, this tea house creates a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere with its dim lighting. In true Korean style, the tea house only provides floor seating, which adds to the experience of traditional Korean tea culture. Try some traditional Korean teas, including yujacha (yuzu tea), saenggangcha (ginger tea), and insamcha (gingseng tea).
Visit a Nearby Palace
Insadong is located within easy walking distance of some of Seoul’s grand palaces, including Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung. These palaces are a must for anyone’s Seoul travel guide, as they are among the best places to see traditional Korean architecture on a grand scale. Gyeongbokgung Palace, the largest of Seoul’s palaces, is home to the imposing Gwanghwamun Gate and the beautiful Hyangwonjeong pavilion, surrounded by a lotus-flooded pond.
Changdeokgung Palace, the only Seoul palace that’s a UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, contains the fantastic Secret Garden. The Secret Garden, or huwon, a 78-acre garden filled with over 26,000 trees of 100 different species, is beautiful any time of year but particularly stunning in autumn. In fact, we chose the Secret Garden as one of the top Romantic Spots to Enjoy Autumn in Korea, and featured it in our popular post, 30 Photos That Prove the South Korea Autumn Just Won at Life! (Note: the Secret Garden requires a reservation to enter. If you’re going at a busy time, try to reserve it in advance online).
Directions to Gyeongbokgung Palace:
Gyeongbokgung station (line 3), exit 5 or Anguk station (line 3) exit 1.
Directions to Changdeokgung Palace:
Anguk station (line 3), exit 3. Walk straight (east) for about 5 minutes to find the entrance.
|Hanbok: The Art of Korean Clothing||Pink Silver Hanbok Korean Dress||Pink Hanbok Korean Dress||Green & Red Hanbok Korean Dress|
How to Get to Insadong By Metro
Insadong is easily reachable by Seoul’s fantastic metro network. The closest station to Insadong’s central area is Anguk Station (line 3). Take exit 6, go 100m straight and then turn left to reach the central Insadong pedestrian street.
Where to Stay in Insadong
We recommend booking early if you want to stay on one of the small winding streets off Insadong, as accommodation options are limited. Since Gyeongbokgung Palace is located fairly close to Insadong, you may choose to stay among the palaces and visit Insadong for its food options! Look here for the best Seoul hotel prices!
A visit to Insadong makes a lively part of any Seoul travel guide with many activities in and around the area. You’ll have no trouble figuring out what to do in Insadong! Insadong is the perfect place to experience Korea’s culture of the past and culture of now, and you’ll surely find a ton of activities to keep you busy.
Bad memory? Here’s a recap of our Seoul travel guide’s recommendations for what to do in Insadong:
- Go shopping
- Visit a temple
- Eat Korean street food
- Visit a traditional tea house
- Visit a nearby palace
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Any other suggestions for what to do in Insadong?
Let us know in a comment below!