Seoul Neighbourhoods: Part 2

This is the second of a two-part post on some of Seoul’s distinct neighbourhoods I visited on my trip there. Last time, we looked at big and beautiful commercial districts; now let’s have a wander in some more intimate locations. One of the things that immediately struck me when exploring the city was the sheer number of cafes and galleries everywhere, but especially in these small and quiet enclaves. I really like how old traditional houses have been re-purposed into shops and restaurants, instead of being bulldozed to make way for impersonal shopping malls (ahem… Hong Kong).

Insa-dong

The Insa-dong area is probably the most touristy of the neighbourhoods I visited. The main street, Insadong-gil, is lined with shops selling typical souvenirs as well as traditional Korean handicrafts and antiques. The Unhyeongung Palace is located nearby where you can check out exhibitions on Korean culture, as well as admire traditional architecture.

All along Insadong-gil you’ll also find a maze of side streets with traditional tea houses and restaurants. This is the place to try to old-school Korean food, and there are snack stands everywhere. There are also many old houses converted to galleries and tea shops, away from the hustle and bustle of the main street.

Unhyeongung Palace.

Unhyeongung Palace.

Traditional Korean architecture.

Traditional Korean architecture.

Street vendor on Insadong-gil.

Street vendor on Insadong-gil.

The Ssamzie-gil shopping complex.

The Ssamzie-gil shopping complex.

Shops selling traditional sweets.

Shops selling traditional sweets.

Even dogs are part of the show.

Even dogs are part of the show.

Old buildings have been converted into tea houses and cafes.

Old buildings have been converted into tea houses and cafes.

This traditional building is now an art gallery.

This traditional building is now an art gallery.

Trees in bloom everywhere.

Trees in bloom everywhere.

Shop selling calligraphy and paint brushes.

Shop selling calligraphy and paint brushes.

The side streets are full of traditional Korean restaurants.

The side streets are full of traditional Korean restaurants.

Colourful celebrations at Jogyesa Temple representing Korean Buddhism.

Colourful celebrations at Jogyesa Temple representing Korean Buddhism.

Samcheong-dong

The Samcheong-dong Culture Street, as it is officially known, is an interesting area with a mix of traditional Korean houses and modern buildings. It is absolutely crammed with small museums, art galleries, cafes, and retail shops. With it’s modern wine bars and restaurants, this is a very trendy area, and contrasts nicely with the adjacent Bukchon village neighbourhood. With so much to see, you could easily spend an entire day here; and best of all, it’s not too crowded, either.

The Samcheong neighbourhood.

The Samcheong neighbourhood.

One of the many cafes in the area.

One of the many cafes in the area.

Side alley with clothing stores.

Side alley with clothing stores.

Wall art - anyone know what it means?

Wall art – anyone know what it means?

A coffee shop in a quiet alley.

A coffee shop in a quiet alley.

Shoes for sale!

Shoes for sale!

A spring shower of cherry blossoms.

A spring shower of blossom petals.

Another pretty storefront.

Another pretty storefront.

Quiet and unfettered neighbourhood great for relaxation.

Quiet and unfettered neighbourhood great for relaxation.

What do you think? Any ideas or suggestions? Let me know.

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