7 places to visit in Seoul to learn more about traditional Korean culture

When we think of Seoul, we usually think of shopping in Dongdaemun, buying cosmetics in Myeongdong, eating barbecue and drinking ginseng and chicken soup. In fact, apart from eating and drinking, you can also get to know the different traditional cultures of Korea in Seoul. If you want to experience kimchi making, wear Korean costumes and watch traditional dance performances, you should visit the 7 places I recommend!

1. Bukchon Hanok Village

The Hanok houses in Bukchon Hanok Village were used to house the dignitaries, but with the development of the times and urban construction, many of them have disappeared, but some of the traditional Hanok houses have been preserved intact. The houses are built like hills and you will see a series of high and low houses, so it is recommended that you wear comfortable shoes.

While you can enjoy the traditional buildings, there are also many new shops, such as teahouses, traditional handicraft shops and flower shops, and you can always find different views between the alleys.

2. Wear Korean clothes

When you go to Japan, girls wear beautiful kimonos to take photos, but in Seoul you can also wear traditional Korean clothes to roam around the major attractions. What you may not know is that if you wear Korean costume, you can get in for free at the old palaces that you have to pay to visit, such as Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace and Deoksugung Palace. It’s a great way to see and take photos of the ancient buildings in traditional Korean costume, as if you’ve travelled back in time. You’ll be the centre of attention on the street and you’ll be approached by other tourists for photos, which is a very special experience.

The main areas in Seoul where you can rent hanbok are around the tourist areas, such as Insadong, Gyeongbokgung and Bukchon Hanok Village. Each rental shop has different rules and regulations, and the rental time ranges from 4 to 24 hours.

3. Kimchi making

If you’re travelling to Seoul on a tour, you’ll be offered a kimchi-making trip. At the Kimchi Culture Experience, you can learn to make authentic Korean kimchi with an expert and learn to make spicy fried rice cakes, while the instructor explains the culture and history of Korea. Once you’ve finished making kimchi, your instructor will give you a kimchi recipe so you can go home and make kimchi again too, reminiscing about this unique culinary experience.

If you would like to join the Kimchi Experience in Seoul, simply download the application form from the Seoul Tourism Agency website one day in advance and send it to the designated email address. Then print out the confirmation letter and your passport and meet at the Kimchi Experience at the scheduled time.

Address: Kimchi Experience Hall, 7F J Hill Hotel, 48 Myeongdong-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul

4. Enjoy a traditional music performance – Sichon Nongkak

The Sibun Nonggak is a traditional Korean music performance featuring four traditional instruments: the gong, gong, drum and drum. Each of the four instruments represents four gods. The drum is the god of clouds, the drum is the god of rain, the gong is the god of wind and the gong is the god of thunder. The four instruments also represent the concept of yin and yang, with the long drum and the drum representing the sound of the earth, and the large gong and the small gong representing the sound of the heavens. You can learn to play along with the rhythms of the music at the Korea House, but make sure you book a visit at the Korea House before you go.

Address: 10, 36-ga, Gwangye-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (2-ga, Pen-dong)

5. Enjoy traditional Korean dances

Korean traditional dances are divided into court dances, folk dances, masquerade dances and religious dances. The court dances are dances performed at banquets and receptions for dignitaries in the palace, mostly in praise of the royal majesty, and the dancers are dressed in gorgeous costumes. The masquerade dance is a satire on the social conditions of the time, with its satirical use of bureaucrats and monks. You can watch and learn traditional Korean dances at the Reijiwon, by making a reservation in advance.

Address: 72 Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (Jangchung-dong 2-ga)

6. Hand-made traditional crafts

Making your own traditional Korean handicrafts is more memorable and meaningful than going to a souvenir shop. At the Bukchon Cultural Centre, you can take part in different kinds of workshops, including traditional kites, paper-cutting, earrings made from Korean paper and precious metals, cushions made from grass and straw, embroidery and more. Professional staff will be on hand to show you every step of the way, so even those who are not so handy don’t have to worry.

Bukchon Cultural Centre Address: Bukchon Cultural Centre, 37 Gyeok-dong Street, Jongno-gu, Seoul

7. Experience the Korean tea ceremony

Apart from China and Japan, Korea also has its own unique tea ceremony culture. The Yoon’s Tea Room in Namgu Hanok Village is open for visitors to visit and experience the Korean tea ceremony while enjoying the tranquil atmosphere of the Hanok.

Yoon’s Teahouse Address: 28, 34th Street, Gwangi-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul


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