North of Anguk subway station, and between the palaces of Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, lie Samcheongdong (삼청동) and Bukchon Hanok Village (북촌 한옥 마을), two of the city’s most characterful areas. Like Insadong, Samcheongdong is crammed with quirky restaurants, cafés and galleries. Though most of the area remains charming and relaxed, one particular street has become rather popular; heading off from Gyeongbokgun’s northeastern corner, and a five-minute walk from the palace’s eastern exit, Samcheongdonggil has an almost European air to it, its side streets snaking uphill in a manner reminiscent of Naples or Lisbon. A few of the cafés and galleries spill over into Bukchon Hanok Village, an area characterized by the prevalence of traditional wooden hanok buildings – these once covered the whole country, but most were torn down during Korea’s economic revolution and replaced with row upon row of fifteen-storey blocks. The city council spared this area the wrecking ball, and as a result there’s some delightful walking to be done among its quiet lanes, where tiny restaurants, tearooms and comic book shops line the streets, and children play games on mini arcade machines, creating a pleasant air of indifference hard to find in the capital; a few of the buildings have even been converted into guesthouses.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

South Korea features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
Seoul food: the transformation of a neighbourhood

Seoul food: the transformation of a neighbourhood

Itaewon, a neighbourhood in the South Korean capital Seoul, is on the up and food is at the forefront of its renaissance. Here Amy Guttman explores a district u…

14 Jan 2016 • Amy Guttman insert_drive_file Article
Would you get down and dirty at South Korea’s Mud Festival?

Would you get down and dirty at South Korea’s Mud Festival?

What once began as a marketing ploy for a therapeutic mud found near Boryeong, a small city on South Korea’s sandy west coast, has since transformed into a un…

17 Jul 2015 • Colt St. George insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook