Seoul is a busy city, and everything boils to a crescendo on the weekend. Insadong is packed every Saturday and Sunday but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the area.
Central Seoul, especially north of the Han River, has more history than the newer districts. There aren’t as many high rise apartment blocks or department stores. Insadong is a neighborhood right by Anguk station. Many of the traditional houses have been turned into restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and guest houses. Tourists stay here because they know it’s a short walk to places like Gyeongbukgung Palace.
A lot of the knick knacks that are sold here can be found in every stationery store and street-side stand in Korea. However, there are even more trinkets of the hand-made variety. There were a few hand-made card shops, aprons sewn to look like hanboks (Korean traditional clothing), a giant store filled with green tea products, jewelry stores, homemade honey, and a store selling globes and maps.
Unlike most shopping malls of the world, the Ssamjigil mall isn’t a giant box with brand name stores inside. The stores are independently owned and the walls, stairs, and railings are decorated with art.
I also took a quick peak at Gyeongbukgung Palace, but I didn’t explore. The palace grounds are enormous. I am waiting for Spring to arrive so I can take a whole day to see everything.
Insadong is also a great place for cheap and adorable purses and backpacks. I don’t like spending a lot of money on a purse, but there aren’t many good deals on cute ones. This one was only 10,000 won ($10)!
Next time I want to try one of the Korean traditional restaurants. I went to Insadong on a full stomach, big mistake!