“The Secret of Insadong lies in your watch and in the little alleyways…”
Insadong is a whole lot of Korea wrapped up in one street and a few alleyways. It’s commonly known as the art district of Seoul and unlike Hongdae’s art scene, Insadong is a tad more fancy, old school and reserved, but it’s still something to experience.
The secret of Insadong lies in your watch and in the little alleyways. Don’t rush through the main street and think “okay, that’s it”. Go and get a little bit lost in the tiny alleyways. It’s in those alleys behind the steaming pots of mandu, the smells of traditional Korean food and the old man selling antiques on the cobblestone street where Insadong’s true nature comes alive.
Insadong is more than just a place to shop for souvenirs…
Get your name, or even better, your name in Hangul, on a beautifully designed Korean stamp (also known as “Dojang”) .
Prices range between $25 and $125.
Visit the Scarf Shop
I love scarves. In winter, in summer, I just love them. This scarf shop has been around for as long as I can remember and there is an amazing selection of scarves.
Prices range between $4 and $20.
Do you want to buy a painting or do you want to be in a painting? Between all the shops, street stalls, artists and galleries you’ll definitely find a piece to take home with you.
Declare your Love
These locks of love are popping up all over the world. At Insadong’s Sky Garden Café you can buy the “message discs” and hang it up for the world to see!
Poop Café (Ddong Café)
If you want to have a shitty day or if you’re pooped after a lot of walking then this Café is the perfect rest stop. At the Poop Cafe trees grow from the toilets , your waffle is in the shape of poop, there are poop hats and even a red bean poo bread stall outside the café.
Traditional Korean Paper
In Insadong you’ll find stacks of sheets of Hanji – the traditional Korean paper made from pine bark, rice straw and even bamboo.
Prices start at around $1.
T-shirts, magnets, pens, table cloths or Gangnam Style socks; whatever you want, you’ll find it here.
Prices range from $1 to $100.
Out with the new and in with the old? If you like antiquing be sure to get lost in those alleyways.
Hanbok it up!
If you’re a fan of Korean dramas the Hanbok photo opportunity is definitely for you! Put on a Hanbok, get your aristocratic face on, smile and pose!
Rental fee starts around $20.
Eat Weirdly Shaped Ice Cream
Korean Pipe Ice Cream is a massive J-shaped corn ice cream cone filled with ice cream at both ends. It’s also known as Jipangyi Ice Cream.
A new “fun” museum with trick and object art opened a few months ago in Insadong. Grab your friends and family and don’t forget your camera!
For more information, have a look at their website.
Entrance Fee: $12
Dragon Beard What?
Dragon Beard Candy is a traditional candy made from honey and rice flour. While the vendors are making and pulling the candy into thousands of white strands, they will entertain you through song and say “I love you” and “Welcome to Korea” as they fill the candy with nuts or dried fruit.
Price: $5 for one box.
Watch the video of how this candy is made.
Ssamziegil is a multi-level complex with a flea market vibe next to Insadong’s main street where you can find unique products from young and talented Korean artists. The Ddong Café and Sky Garden Café is at the top floor of Ssamziegil.
If you want a traditional tea set look no further than Insadong for handcrafted pottery.
Insadong is also famous for the art of traditional Korean cooking. Gourmet Restaurants are around every corner to please your palate with samgyeopsal, mandu, bibimpap, loads of side dishes and even traditional teas.
Prices range from $6 to $50.
Going Somewhere Slowly Tip:
As an early riser I like to get things done before the entire population of Korea and all the tourists flock to a place. Insadong can get quite crowded after lunch time, the best time to visit is between 10:30 am and 2:00 pm. Shops open at 10:00am.
Directions: Anguk Station (Line 3), Exit 6 OR Jonggak Station (Line 5), Exit 3.