Things to do in Seoul: Bukchon Hanok Village and Changdeokgung Day Trip – Nestled in between Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung is the Bukchon Hanok Village. While there are many little cafes, guesthouses, and other activities you can do in the village, there are people that live here as well.
If you want to see what a Hanok looks like with a great view, you can stop by the Baek In-je House. This hanok was built in the early 1900s (1913) and has an elevated view within the Bukchon Hanok Village.
The hanok is built mostly in the traditional hanok style but adds a modern touch to the design. While typically the sleeping areas for men and women would be separate, the Baek In-je House connects the two. Within the walls is a beautiful garden where you can walk around and the hanok is one of the largest within the Bukchon Hanok Village.
Baek In-je was a doctor during the Japanese colonial era and spent most of his medical career studying different blood disorders and rickets. Baek In-je was also an independence activist one of the many Koreans who fought for Korea’s independence from Japan. From the information I could find, his wife lived in the hanok until her death in 2011, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government purchased the house to convert it into a museum.
Admission to the museum is free, and it’s closed on Mondays. You can visit between 10 am to 5 pm. If you’re visiting the Bukchon Hanok Village, I recommend stopping here if it’s open. When I visited, it wasn’t very crowded so I was able to take plenty of photos. From Anguk Station, it was maybe a ten-minute walk.
After walking around the hanok village, I was starting to get hungry. Located down the street from the Baek In-je house I walked by a Korean restaurant called Baengnyeon Tojong Samgyetang. This restaurant was featured in the Michelin Guide for 2018 and 2019, so I decided to stop in and check it out.
If you’ve never had samgyetang, it’s typically eaten in the summer during the hottest days and is said to help improve your health.
The main ingredient of this soup is a whole young chicken. It’s prepared with garlic, ginseng, jujube, and rice that fills the chicken.
They had a few different versions of samgyetang, but I stick with the original kind. It ended up costing 16,000 won ($14.19) and was pretty filling.
They typically give you some different side dishes with Korean meals, and with the samgyetang I had radish, garlic, and cabbage kimchi.
You have two options for palaces after this: both Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung are about the same distance away (10-15 minute walk).
If you rent a hanbok, you get free admission into the palaces, so if you’re looking to get pictures taken in Korean traditional clothing, it will cost between 10,000 to 20,000 won depending on the rental place.
Personally, I prefer going to Changdeokgung, and that’s where I headed next. From late March until summer there’s usually some type of blossom or flowers in bloom and typically is less crowded.
They have a new ticket building off to the side of the palace, so if you’re not wearing a hanbok, you will need to stop here first. It’s 3,000 won for a ticket to the main part of the palace and 5,000 won for the Secret Garden.
Typically the Secret Garden is a guided tour, but when I visited they were allowing ticket holders to walk around freely. (Tip: Get the Royal Palace Pass if you want to see the Secret Garden. It only costs 10,000 won and gets you tickets for all four palaces and the Jongmyo Royal Shrine. The unused tickets are good for three months so you don’t have to see everything in one day/weekend)
Changdeokgung was the second royal palace built during the Joseon Dynasty and was finished in 1405. The Secret Garden or Biwon was created in 1406 and was expanded over the following years to the size it is now. Fires over the centuries destroyed various parts of the palace, but it was rebuilt over the years.
Today, Changdeokgung is the largest of the four palaces in terms of size, largely in part because of the Secret Garden.
Connected to Changdeokgung is Changyeonggung Palace. It was built by King Sejong as a place of residence for his father when he retired. Near the palace grounds is the Grand Greenhouse.
Built in 1909, it became the first western-style greenhouse to be built in Korea.
There are so many different things to see and do in Seoul that you can’t see it all in one day, weekend, month, etc., and each time I visit Seoul, I try to do something new.
What are your favorite things to do in your city? Please let me know in the comments below or let us know on Instagram.