Heyri Art Village In Paju: A Guide To The Sights, Sounds & Eats
You might be surprised at what you can find outside of Seoul but within easy access reach. Intriguing places, pretty cafes and art too is what you’ll find if you head north into Paju to the delightful artsy spot known as Heyri Art Village (헤이리 예술마을).
The village is less than an hour northwest and was the vision of a book publisher many years back. Home to photographers, painters, artists of all kinds, musicians, architects and writers means it is quirky, artsy and very fun as well as home to galleries, museums and more. To give you an idea about where to start in this eye catching village check out this guide with some tips and pointers for navigating the small but substantial area.
Heyri Art Village doesn’t really get going until around noon or one but I would recommend going a bit earlier. I’ve visited the art village three times over the past two months and each time arrived between 10 and 11 to find very few people but plenty open and ready to greet me. I love getting to a cute cafe or into a gallery without people, so this has suited me rather well. The area itself is open 24 hours a day but galleries and cafes of course have hours so any earlier than 10 and a lot likely might not have open doors though the architecture of the buildings are still beautiful to see. If you get there early, walk the streets and alleys and get a feel for the village that isn’t HUGE but has A LOT to see.
The buildings and bridges themselves are so artistic so take it all in.
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There is a huge lack of English information but don’t let that deter you. At each entrance gate is a ticket booth with pictures and Korean information for purchasing tickets to different galleries and museums however, straight up, I did NOT purchase any tickets from these counters. It seems most Koreans head to the village with a specific exhibition or museum in mind to visit and so they purchase the tickets easily without looking around. Most of these tickets also seemed to be for the different experience programs available like pottery making, t-shirt printing, cooking and so on. There are a lot of experiences you can take part in or have children take part in if you wish. I and the people I went with, on the other hand, had no idea what we would find or what we wanted to do, so instead decided to meander and stop in wherever caught our eye.
Some places asked if we had tickets and when we said no, we were able to purchase tickets there. One place asked if we had a ticket and we said no, but said we wanted to get coffee and quickly realized that buying a coffee meant we didn’t need to purchase a ticket. This means that had we gotten a ticket and then gotten a coffee, we would have wasted money. We also walked into a gallery and the owner, probably seeing our a bit confused “can we, can’t we” faces, just let us go up for free and told his staff at the counter not to worry. My point is, don’t feel like you have to purchase tickets at the beginning.
Take a wander and see what you can see.
(There is a map at the end of this post with all of the places, so after reading, make sure to find that so you know where to go more specifically.)
MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
Museums and galleries are ALL AROUND the area with some being large and others being small. There are some that cater more to the adult and some that are family friendly. Some popular museums include the Trick Eye Museum, Exotic Art Museum, Coffee Museum, Tin Toy Museum and the Korean Folk Antique Museum to name some of the larger ones. There are also many that are kid friendly and cater to the child in all of us that wants to touch things when we see them. See what’s going on at the Mandang Science Experience, Art Factory and Hankyo Hologram. Below are a few that we checked out and enjoyed…
Blume Museum Of Contemporary Art (BMOCA) (블루메미술관)
BMOCA embraces nature in the area with a huge tree that the building entrance was built around. Their site explains that the museum “is a relational museum to highlight the way contemporary art creates the connections and relations among people.” The exhibition we checked out was a kid friendly hands on experiential program allowing kids to explore nature. The programs obviously change, but do be aware that if you purchase a ticket for the exhibit, you’ll also receive a ticket for a discount on a coffee from the cafe below. If the exhibit doesn’t interest you, at least walk into the entrance where the huge tree is literally growing through holes purposefully made in the walls. It’s a cool nature vs. architectural stunt.
Days: Closed Mondays
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday: 11:00am ~ 6:00pm; Sunday: 1:00pm ~ 6:00pm
White Block Art Center (아트센터 화이트블럭)
White Block Art Center is a very cool space with lots of lines, windows, staircases and angles to view things from. There are two cafe seating areas that are similar in their stark white colors but contrast with their styles. One area is chic while the other is a bit more laid back. The tall windows overlook a pond central to the village and provide so much natural light that it’d be really hard to take a bad picture here which is probably why it’s been used for numerous Korean dramas. A cool building from outside to in. Walk up, in and around and don’t forget to check out their rooftop to get views of the village from above! Also for those Hallyu fans out there, you may recognize this space from the dramas “Introverted Boss (내성적인 보스)”, “Suspicious Partner (수상한 파트너)”, “Legend Of The Blue Sea (푸른 바다의 전설)” and “On The Way To The Airport (공항가는 길)”.
Days: Closed Mondays
Hours: 10:30am ~ 6:30pm
Hangil Book Museum (한길책박물관)
Hangilsa is the leading publishing house in Korea and the company that established this gorgeous library. The large wall with shelves lined with books and a central door that has a map couldn’t be any more perfect. Introduce a book to a child and you’re in affect introducing them to the world. The museum houses an impressive book collection even featuring some books that cannot be found anywhere else in Korea. There are works by William Turner, Milton and Chaucer just to name a few. This museum was the setting for the drama “Fated To Love You (운명처럼 사랑해)” Peruse the library, get lost in a book, and then check out their cafe and shop before moving on to see more… because there is so much more.
Days: Closed Mondays
Hours: Tuesday through Friday: 11:00 ~ 6:00pm; Weekends: 10:30am ~ 6:00pm
Admission: Adults: W6,000 & Children, Seniors: W3,000
EATS & COFFEE:
When I first got to Heyri, I figured most of the venues would have western fare that was overpriced and not that good because, let’s be honest, you’re in the middle of no where and these restaurants could totally rip you off if they wanted to. HOWEVER, I was surprised and happy to find that the food as a whole was delicious. Actually, the western eateries were serving up food that was better than the Korean restaurants in my opinion and I don’t even know how that’s possible. Look at signs, see what catches your fancy because there are SO many places serving up eats. Follow your nose on this one.
Heylis caught my eye because it is a gallery and cafe solely promoting Claude Monet one of my favorite artists. While none of the pieces are real. It was pretty fun and not to mention beautiful to sip a latte while sitting right in front of colorful Monet print. Also, don’t forget to find the staircase that leads upstairs. Buy a coffee and gain entrance to the entire place. The first floor is where our picture was taken, but the staircase is a huge wall of roses and then leads up to even more and an outdoor balcony with seating as well. Picturesque indeed.
Days: Closed Mondays
Hours: Weekdays: 12:00pm ~ 9:00pm; Weekends: 11:00am ~ 9:00pm
In Square (인스퀘어)
I’ve now opted to eat at In Square twice while in the area… it was that good. The balsamic dressing on the chicken and avocado salad was just right aside the lasagna. I’ve been hard pressed to find good lasagna in this country and really enjoyed this. The highlight though, and what this restaurant is known for, is there tiramisu. Definitely leave room because it was so delicious. Don’t forget to take a picture in front of their popular front red door and wall covered in ivy. It’s the cool thing to do!
Days: Open every day
Hours: 10:00am ~ 10:00pm
The Churro Bar (츄로바)
A few years back churros were all the rage and stands popped up on every corner only to be replaced the next summer by lemonade stands. Fads come, trends change. This churro shop though stood out with their aesthetic appeal and then matched that with some deliciously vegan churros. I didn’t know vegan and churro could even go together, but leave it to the Churro Bar to figure that one out. The interior is cool with a large marble bar with high chairs surrounding and plants hung from here to there and growing all around. I felt like I was sitting in a cool European eatery and not in Korea at all. Stop in for a little dessert or a pick me up to start the day.
There are a few places to stay out in the Paju area, but there are two right in/near the Heyri area that will give you an artistic stay in the artistic village. If you want to make a weekend of your getaway, check out the two below.
Alberosantto House is up the road from the Heyri Art Village. There are a few units and they offer everything from a spa bath to terraces, a kitchen, WIFI and all of the other creature comforts you could want. Fancy a little spa retreat away from the city? Check out this artistic getaway.
Motif No.1 Guest House
Motif No. 1 Guest House is right IN Heyri Art Village and will provide that stay in the midst of art. Looking to get a little creative, be inspired or just relax? This is the place for you. Every space is designed with your experience in mind and staff hope to offer you the best stay and become a highlight of your trip rather than just a place to sleep. Don’t miss this spot if you want to stay up north.
Paju English Village (파주 영어 마을)
Just across the street from the Heyri Art Village sits the Paju English Village built to provide an immersive English program for students around the country. There are a number of programs and activities on any given day and walking among the buildings built in the style of British architecture is truly strange when you know you’re still in Korea. There is a greenhouse, a huge outdoor pool that is surrounded by columns which would have you feeling as though you were in a European mountain getaway. Definitely check it out next summer for a surreal experience. The buildings are beautiful and there is a nice little cafe and a few eateries to enjoy once inside if you don’t want to take part in any of the English programs. There is admission to the village, so to make it worth it, stop into one of the cafes after walking around everywhere. Hallyu fans would also be interested in a stop here because it has become a popular filming location for music videos like EXO’s “Miracles In December” and Super Junior’s “Victory Korea MV”. Dramas and TV shows including “Running Man” and recently “Produce 101” have also been filmed here.
Days: CLOSED Mondays
Amenities: Free parking,