A Short Visit at Bukchon Hanok Village

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A reflection of Seoul's 600 year history

A reflection of Seoul's 600 year history, a trace of Korean culture at its best — Bukchon Hanok Village. Visiting this village is like being transported to the past. It looks like much of old Seoul in the heart of a downtown city. Bukchon Hanok Village is surrounded by Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and Jyongmyo Shrine. The village is home to hundreds of traditional houses or the so-called hanoks. 

The village was once a community for high ranking officials and noble families. Though there aren't any entrance fees in going here, you should still observe silence and proper conduct as these houses are all private properties and is considered as a residential neighbourhood up to this date.

Korea has an extreme weather: cold winter and hot summer; that's why these hanoks were built with an underfloor heating for winter and wide porch for summer heat. All materials used in building these houses are natural and recyclable. Despite being branded as primitive and an old custom, hanoks are earthquake proof too. They aren't built exactly on foot ground, but they were inserted on cornerstones to keep it safe from the shake. I wish I could own one!

Some of the residential lots were turned into tea houses, guesthouse, restaurants, and cultural centers. There are also hanoks that are open for public viewing. It's really a great place to immerse yourself in a traditional Korean culture.

There's a sudden downpour of rain as we walk along the alleys. We don't have any umbrellas on hand so we decided to just head over to the nearest restaurant. Good thing, Bukchon Hanok Village is near Samcheongdong-gil, a famous stretch of shopping outlets and dining boutiques. It is said that there's a secret staircase that will lead you down the shopping outlets, you know, like a real short cut from the village. But as we search, we were lead to a small waffle store that has enough roof for us three. We didn't notice that it's already past 3:00 pm, and our stomachs were all grumpy already, so we just bought some waffles and waited for the rain to stop.

I think waffles and coffee is the ultimate 'korean thing' since Seoul is packed with places to drink some latte and eat stuffed waffles. I'll always remember this little honesty waffle shop, where you just put your payment on a box in front while the owner cooks inside. The waffle costs us 1000KRW each, really really cheap compared to the other cafes in the city. Plus, it is quite big for the price. There's a whole lot of ingredients, ice cream, whip cream, blueberries, etc.. 101% DELICIOUS!

The rain stopped and we head on now to Samcheongdong-gil. We were craving for Korean Barbecue.

Samcheongdong-gil is Korea's Rodeo Drive (for me) or much like Singapore's Haji Lane. It boasts from a wide variety of artsy cafes, korean fashion boutiques, and more. The shops here usually sell locally made products.  I wish it didn't rain so I could take more photos and explore more a bit. :( But it's okay, it's another reason to be back sometime soon. Since our pocket wifi was on the verge of death already, and the weather's not that happy... we then hailed a cab and called it a day. After all, there's a famous korean barbecue dining near our hotel in Myeongdong.

I know I wasn't able to cover all the scenic alleys in the village, but there's always a next time. I promise to bring an umbrella [always] from now on. But still, Samcheongdong-gil is probably one of my favorite stops in Seoul.

How to get to Bukchon Hanok Village:
Download the Korean Subway App!

1. Through subway, get off at Anguk station (Line 3), Exit 2. 
2. Walk straight for about 250m to arrive at Bukchon Hanok Tourist Desk Station. Get a map (there's an english, chinese, japanese, etc). You can also ask the lady for a guide, she'll tell you a good way to explore the area and some photo-ops.

3.   As I've said earlier, Bukchon Hanok Village is a residential neighborhood so there’s no main gate or demarcation lines, and no entrance fee too. So from the Tourist Desk, walk for about 250 m more, until you arrive at the Bukchon Hanok Village. 

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