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A photo walk in the heart of Seoul

Wander around the touristy streets of Insadong, explore the boutiques and coffee shops of Samcheong Dong, and discover the alleyways and hanok houses of Bukchon. And of course, take loads of pictures while you're about it!

Photo by roonandbeks

Finding the start of the trail is easy, simply head to Jongno 3 (Sam) Ga station on the dark blue line 1, orange line 3 or purple line 5 and leave by exit 1. Go straight until you get to Tapgol Park on your right, this is the start of our walk.

We entered Tapgol Park through the main gate and took a minute to wander round this little space filled with statues and elderly men relaxing. On Korean national holidays, this park is usually awash with Taegeukgi, Korean flags, with elderly patriots doing the occasional performance. The main permanent feature of the park is a 10-tier stone pagoda from Wongaksa, a nearby Buddhist temple. We headed through the park and took the exit on the left to continue our walk. Once outside the park, we crossed the road and took a right after the performance area, up the main street in Insadong.

The main street of Insadong is crammed full of tea houses, antique shops, souvenir shops, galleries, and restaurants. To get the true flavor of this area, it’s important to stray from the path and explore the alleys on either side. There really is something for everyone here and it’s worth stopping for lunch in a traditional Korean restaurant if you’re hungry or if you just want some tea.

One of our favorite tea houses is The Old Tea Shop. This traditional tea house has small birds flying round while you drink your tea, which will come and eat your complimentary rice cake so you can take their picture. The Old Tea Shop is down an alley on the right hand side of the street about halfway up the main road.

The next area on our walk is Samcheong Dong. To get there, simply use the zebra crossing at the end of the main street of Insadong and keep going straight. After a few minutes, you will hit the coffee shops and boutiques of Samcheong Dong.

Possibly the most “European” area of Seoul, Samcheong Dong is crammed with coffee shops, cafes, boutiques, and small bijou eateries. If you keep going straight through the first round of shops, you’ll come to a cross roads with a tourist information desk on the corner, it’s a good idea to pick up a map from here so you can get your bearings for the walk through Bukchon.

Keep going straight at the crossroads to get to the next alleyway of unique emporiums and head straight on. Once you get through this bit, you’ll hit the main road in Samcheong Dong and you should take a right here. Again, this road is lined with coffee shops and boutiques. It’s worth taking some side roads here to see what hidden treasures you can turn up.

To get to Bukchon, take the first right off the main road in Samcheong Dong and head up the hill, you will pass Samcheong Park on your left. Keep going up the hill until you get to an alley on your right, this takes you into Bukchon where you can explore the streets of old Seoul and its traditional hanok houses. It’s a good idea to have a map for this bit and they are easy to get from the tourist information desks.

We hope you enjoy the walk as much as we did and that you get some good shots on the way. Happy wandering!

written by roonandbeks

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