Insadong is a relatively peaceful area of Seoul where there are many teahouses and art galleries.
The main street, Insadong-gil, was once a stream that divided two towns. These ended in “In” and “Sa”, and were added to the word dong (neighborhood) when they finally joined. During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), artists flocked to Insadong to study. The artistic community has remained and today the main thoroughfare offers 2295 feet (700 meters) of shops selling crafts and pottery.
Insadong is also the best place in Seoul to get your hands on the traditional attire called hanbok and handmade hanji writing paper. Items on sale around Insadong vary greatly in value. You can pick up anything from cheap souvenirs to antique ceramics costing thousands of dollars. Visit the oldest book store in Seoul.
There are approximately 100 art galleries in and around Insadong. Hakgojae Gallery is a modern space exhibiting both traditional and contemporary art. The Gana Art Gallery has the one of the largest floor spaces in South Korea. Both attract local and international art aficionados.
Most of Insadong’s teahouses are found simply by exploring the winding alleyways that branch off Insadong-gil. Here, you’ll be offered all number of tea blends, as well as specialty dishes such as green tea flavored tiramisu.
Spend some time admiring the area’s architecture. You’ll find old buildings with structures dating back to the 14th century, as well as temples, churches and contemporary glass galleries.
Insadong is accessible by subway. Get off at Anguk. Shops and galleries are open daily. Opening times vary, but are generally from mid-morning to evening. On weekends, vehicles are banned from driving down Insadong-gil, when stalls offering everything from candy to fortune telling are set up. Visit on a Saturday or Sunday to soak up the lively atmosphere and browse street stalls.