One of my favourite places in Seoul is Insadong (인사동) and Ssamziegil (쌈지길), which is part of Insadong.
This part of Seoul can be quite busy at times because it's a well-known tourist location. However, you definitely have to drop by before leaving Seoul.
This place is so rich in culture where the old and the new of Korea co-exist. It's one of those places that makes you stop and think about Korea, not only what it is in the 21st century, but also about the long historical past that this country has.
If you initially became interested in Korea through Hallyu (K-pop or dramas), or you are more familiar with Korea as an economic miracle of the 20th century, then this will show you another part of this country.
To me Ssamziegil & Insadong is comparable to Granville Island (Vancouver, Canada). Of course, Granville Island's focus is more on fresh produce and restaurants. But, what these two places across the Pacific share is that they both showcase artwork by local artisans specializing in a variety of different things such as paintings,jewellery, or clothing.
Insadong also has some great places to eat with cafes, tea houses, restaurants, and street food.
The cafe pictured here, which is called Byul-da-bang Miss Lee (haha it's really interesting trying to translate Korean into English sometimes!) specializes in Korean old-school lunch boxes (the lunch boxes are nothing special though. Just rice w/ fried egg + kimchi + spam in a tin lunch box. But, I think you can get different toppings), traditional tea, and other treats like red bean ice dessert.
I ate at the Byul-da-bang Miss Lee cafe before. Although I would recommend everyone to go and try it once, if you want a more filling meal at a restaurant, I can tell you that there are many Korean restaurants around the are that you can go to.
But, Insadong is truly more known for the artwork and culture and this is something that you have to see.
As you could probably sense from the two pictures above, there is a great diversity of artwork that you can explore at Insadong.
|honey tea anyone?|
Most of the things, especially within the Ssamziegil area are not edible (unfortunately, haha), but on the first level, there are some stores that offer some things you can nibble on and drink while you are there.
There's a tea shop in the open area on the first level and you can order tea here and even bring some home if you liked it.
As you can see, even the edible things in Ssamziegil is a work of art :)
There's three floors of the Ssamziegil area that you can explore--and of course the rest of Insadong!
|Resting area on top of Ssamziegil|
There are so many shops around Ssamziegil that it is easy to miss the small displays in the alleyways in Insadong, like the one pictured above.
So, make sure to go to Insadong when you have at least 1-3 hours to thoroughly explore the whole area. Ssamziegil is great because it brings many artists together in one place, but this isn't everything this place has to offer.
To make the most of your day, I would recommend going there for lunch at one of the restaurants or cafes and then walking around for about 1-2 hours.
|You're going to come right? We're waiting for you :)|
Two ways to get to the place (provided by the site):
|* Anguk Station, Seoul Subway line 3, Exit #6 (towards Jongno Police Station); enter the Insa-dong one-way street of Crown Bakery & GS25, and go staright 100m|
* Jonggak Station, Seoul Subway line 1, Exit #3 : go towards Jogyesagil (pass 2 signals) and enter the alley next to the 7th Day Sabbath Church