The Bukchon Hanok Village: Where To Start
Visitors from far and wide head to Bukchon in Seoul to wander among the traditional Hanok houses of old Korea. Some people even sleep in them overnight to get the authentic Korean experience of yore. Which Hanoks welcome visitors in for tea and which Hanoks still house families are questions most of those that roam the area ask while peering through the cracks in the doors and deciphering the signs hung on corners.
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Picking a direction and beginning a self guided tour is how most approach the area, but a great place to start to learn more about the Hanok structures and get a great map of the area is the Bukchon Traditional Culture Center.
Bukchon is the area located between Gyeongbukgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace. The area consists of Gahoe-dong, Songhyeon-dong, Anguk-dong, Samcheong-dong and Jae-dong and once the families of nobility and the most influential families of the time lived here. Opened in 2002, the center was originally the home of the Min family, the last family in charge of finances during the Joseon Dynasty. Inside, visitors can learn about the Hanok structures and architecture in, most often, peace and quiet. The house consists of a main building, or an anchae(안채), the outer quarters, or the baccatchae(바깥채), an annex, or a haengrangchae(행랑채), a separated building, or a byeolchae(별채), and a shrine, or a Sadang(사당). The haengrangchae now features information boards and videos concerning the history of the area and the architecture of the Hanok houses and there’s also a map at the end of this structure that plots out the other Hanok houses that are good stopping places for your day in the Bukchon area. Keep reading to see where I’d take you though…
From the Information Center, if you continue up the street away from the subway, you’ll come upon a road that leads to the Hanok Support Center. A tiny alley leads to a collection of buildings that are beautifully taken care of. You can’t go inside unless invited by the overseer on the property who will let you know if you can or can’t depending on what activities are being held inside, but the windows and structures are beautiful to take photos with and it is one of the few spots where you will be able to take photos WITHOUT others in the background. Don’t miss the library Hanok in the back as well.
From here, walking up the street and around past some cute cafes and eateries will lead to one of my favorite experience spots in the Bukchon area. There are quite a few different experiences you can have from knot tying to fabric dying but I have quite enjoyed the gold leaf printing experience at Kum Bak Yeon and have taken many of tourist there as well who have all said they’ve loved it. The experience not only has you sitting in the courtyard of a traditional Hanok house, but you also get to learn about the Korean culture through the symbols and then you can gold leaf a satchel, bookmark or sash of your very own to take home. You can use real gold leaf or fake gold leaf if you’re not quite sure you want to spend the money on the real stuff and the staff is so helpful. I highly recommend this experience if you have time.
From here, it’s a quick walk down the alley to the main road to cross into the more popular area in Bukchon. The eastern side closer to Changdeok Palace is generally a bit quieter and easier to get a lovely photo without hoards of crowds though the western side nearer to Gyeongbok Palace is more popular due to its proximity to the palace and the most popular strip of Hanok homes in the area. Remember to be quiet while enjoying the houses here, get that ubiquitous shot that is a must on the Bukchon Hanok Alley and then head into my favorite tea join in the area for a traditional Korean tea that can be served warm or iced and enjoy the views in this Hanok that now has wide windows overlooking the main palace of Seoul.After the tea house, head toward the street that is overlooking Gyeongbok Palace and go downhill (or south) and you’ll walk through the happening cafe and shopping area of Bukchon before getting back to Anguk Station which is where you likely started.
Bukchon Information Center
37 Gyedong-gil Jongno-gu Seoul, Korea
서울특별시 종로구 계동길 37
Hours: 9:00AM – 6:00PM
Hanok Support Center
11-7 Gyedong 2-gil Jongno-gu Seoul, Korea
서울특별시 종로구 계동2길 11-7
Kum Bak Yeon (Gold Leaf Experience)
Jongno-gu Gahoe-dong 11-18, Seoul, Korea
서울 종로구 가회동 11-18
Hours: Monday ~ Friday: 10:00am ~ 5:00pm; Saturday: 10:00am ~ 3:00pm
차 마시는 뜰
26 Bukchon-ro 11-gil Jongno-gu, Seoul, Korea
서울 종로구 북촌로11나길 26