Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌한옥마을) is one of those places you don’t really think of visiting, until the day you do. Then you wonder how you went so long without visiting it in the first place. Well, this is probably because it is often overshadowed by its far more popular neighbours Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung. Also, unlike other hanok villages, Bukchon was not created as a tourist attraction, but as an actual residential neighbourhood comprised of about 900 hanoks. Weaving through the streets of 600 year old houses, you get glimpses of the modern city in the distance. It really makes you feel like you’re walking through a piece of living history frozen in time.
Since it is a residential area, there are signs reminding visitors to keep the volume to a minimum to to be respectful of the residents’ privacy. However, occasionally certain homes will open their doors and allow visitors into their courtyards to take pictures or have some tea. These rare experiences will typically run anywhere from ₩1,000~₩5,000 per person. Honestly I don’t think it is a necessary or must have experience, but I suppose it is nice to have the option.
Walking through the vast sea of traditional houses will definitely give you your cardio workout for the day. There are so many hidden alleys, paths and stairways to explore. You never know what you’ll find around each corner. This is probably my favourite part of the roaming the area… uncovering all of its little hidden secrets. On my most recent visit there, my boyfriend and I found a small museum with beautiful historical artifacts and a lovely little garden outside.
Hidden among the cluster of homes lie a few hanoks that have been converted into small shops, restaurants, cafes, guesthouses and museums. You can find some of these locations on the internet, but if you have the time to spare it’s much better to wander and see what you can find. I always find something new each time I visit and it makes me feel a bit like an explorer. The experience becomes more personal and rewarding.
So if you’re looking for a photogenic spot to simply lose yourself in, this would be the place. You can visit it any time of the year and not be disappointed. From the snow-covered rooftops in winter to the cherry blossom littered streets in spring, there’s always something to capture your eye. It’s a beautiful reminder of how Korea’s traditions and past are still kept very much alive today.
- 서울특별시 종로구 계동길 37
- 37, Gyedong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul