The Hanok Village You’ve Probably Never Heard About In Seoul
Everyone knows about the beautiful Hanok homes that make up Bukchon Hanok Village but have you heard of the Eunpyeong Hanok Village (은평한옥마을)? I’d gather not. Considering Bukchon residents are looking to limit the number of tourists in and out of their area so they can enjoy more of a residential area, I thought it high time to let you know about a little spot I found a year or so ago. Actually, I first came upon this area many years back after the hiking club I was with came down off of the Bukhansan Mountain range. At the time only a few Hanoks were standing but it was clear, this was going to be a pretty cool village of traditional Korean homes. Time passed and I sort of forgot about the Hanok village that only had a few homes standing at the time..
(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.)
Fast forward to 2017, we’ve moved to Eunpyeong-gu and I’m driving out to Ilsan and come upon this village again. And it has grown. The difference between the Bukchon Hanok Village and this is that the Seoul City planned this area to be developed as a historical, cultural and tourist site. That doesn’t mean it’s quirky and too touristy though. Exactly the opposite to be honest. This has been one of our favorite spots to enjoy some quiet time, walks, and there are some great cafes to check out here too as well as walking paths to nearby temples and up into the mountain. As a planned community of Hanoks, you can also be assured that there are no residents hanging signs or protesting the onslaught of visitors.
This village is actually part of a larger project that Eunpyeong-gu is rolling out in order to attract more tourists. They have six new project proposals underway and this is one of the projects. Eunpyeong-gu actually aims to be the number 1 district for Korean cultural experiences. You’d think the Bukchon and Jongno areas had that under lock and key, but Eunpyeong-gu is making moves ladies and gentlemen.
Some of the Hanok homes are residences, but residents are well aware of what they’re moving into. When all said and built there will be 158 Hanoks. Some Hanoks will be open to visitors to live in and experience a Hanok, partake in different traditional handicrafts, and more.
If you head to the area, here are some highlights and things to check out while you’re there.
Do be aware that the village is not yet completely finished as of this writing in August 2018, so there are more experiences and homes yet to be completed, but why not go now and see what is done. It’s a quiet and beautiful area at the moment that doesn’t call to a ton of tourists. Just the kind of spot for some of us on a lazy Sunday. As things develop I will continue to come back to this post and update as I can.
1인1상: This cafe looks like a regular cafe if you enter on the first floor, but go up to their top floor and you’ll be greeted with more traditional seating as well as an outdoor area to walk out and have a gorgeous view of the Hanok village from above. If it’s too hot or too cold, you can still get that great view from inside through the large windows that all of the seats face. The upstairs viewing area has a break time in the middle of the afternoon, though flash a friendly smile and they might just let you up anyway… as they did with us. To get upstairs, you actually have to exit the building and walk around to an elevator entrance on the side of the building. Bukhansan Atelier (북한산 제빵소): This is another gorgeous cafe with a ton of space. With multiple floors as well as veranda seating, you can choose to sit under a lofty chandelier or surrounded by the dozens of plants on the deck. Get there a bit early to enjoy their bready treats and a coffee. This is a great spot to get a breakfast/brunch fill up before taking a walk around. This cafe isn’t as traditional as many others in the area, but still has plenty of ambiance to enjoy and some cool seating areas.
Just up a clearly marked road, an easy walk for those that are less inclined to hike and stroller friendly for those with kiddos, sits Jingwansa Temple (진관사 (서울)). It is one of four major temples in Seoul. The other three are Bulamsa, Sammaksa and Seunggasa. This temple was originally dedicated to Preceptor Jingwan in 1010BC by King Hyeongjong, the 8th King of the Goryeo Dynasty. The temple was destroyed during the Korean War but has been restored and rebuilt over the past fifty years to be what it is today.
This is the only temple in Seoul to serve Suryukje, a Buddhist ceremony to provide food and the Buddhist teachings to spirits and starved demons who wander the land and sea. The ceremony is performed every leap year for 49 days. The temple is really gorgeous. We visited once again on Children’s Day in order to get away from the chaos of most locations centered on children and happily met monks greeting the few children coming to the doors with small gift bags of treats and gifts. It was a lovely surprise.
The temple also hosts a temple stay program for those that want to experience a bit of Korean Buddhism. The programs include a relaxing meditative type perfect for adults and families. There is a more Buddhist and cultural type and a group option as well. This is a beautiful temple complex and since it’s so easy to get to from the Hanok Village, why not head up to see what is there? As a side note, this is temple has some very friendly Buddhist monks on the premises. We came here for Children’s Day hoping to steer clear of the crowds and the Buddhists here were handing out little goodie bags for the very few children that were walking around with their parents. It’s was a great surprise for our little one.
Museums & Activities
The Eunpyeong History & Hanok Museum: This three story museum towers over the area and isn’t easy to miss. Visitors will find a toy library, pond and rest area on the first floor. There is a history hall and library on the second floor to learn more about the cultural heritage of the area and the third floor houses a special exhibition hall and Hanok exhibition hall. There are installations outside and a rooftop area to view as well. Admission: Adults W1,000; Children W500.
Every time I’ve gone, we’ve found various Hanoks open with various activities from traditional games to poetry. Don’t be afraid to step into the open gates and just ask. That’s what I always do and I’ve never been greeted with anything other than hospitality. The more I find, the more I’ll add to this post, but this is definitely an up and coming spot to check out in Seoul.
If you can’t get out to this Hanok Village, there are others around Seoul that are totally worth visiting. You can join tours to other villages to get more out of them too. Here are some great options:
- Namsangol Hanok Village + Hanbok Experience + Kimchi & Gimbap Cooking Class with Klook
- Yongin Folk Village + Everland with Klook
- Jeonju Hanok Village + a Red Ginseng Spa Hot Spring with Klook
- Visit the Andong Hahoe Folk Village in a private tour with Trazy
- Visit the Korean Folk Village where Dae Jang Keum was filmed and get a discounted ticket through Klook.
- Take a private van tour to the Suwon Hwaseong Fortress and the Korean Folk Village with Trazy.
Know Where To Stay!
If you want to stay in your own Hanok House while you’re here in Seoul, the best options are still over in the Bukchon Hanok Village. Check out the Bonum 1957 Hanok and Boutique for a chic stay in a traditional Korean home. Nestled in the heart of Jongro, Bonum 1957 Hanok and Boutique is an ideal spot from which to discover Seoul. Set 2 KM from the excitement of the city, this 1.5-star hotel commands an excellent location and provides access to the city’s biggest attractions.
Another option in the Bukchon Hanok Village is the Haemil Hanok Guesthouse. This guesthouse offers a bit more of an authentic experience as visitors sleep on the floor. A haven of rest and relaxation, the hotel will offer total renewal just steps away from the city’s numerous attractions such as Gyeongbokgung Palace and the Bukchon Hanok Villiage.