The maze-like Insadong streets are a fantastic hunting ground for first-time arrivals, since shops and restaurant choices are almost invariably traditional exerting a magnetic draw on visitors.
The face of Insadong changes three times a day. In the early morning, it is a quiet and peaceful street, in the afternoon, it becomes busy with groups of overseas tourists and at night, you will find that Insadong is a place where people, Koreans and foreigners alike, enjoy taking a stroll and simply hanging out in the tranquil surroundings. The Insadong main street is filled with shops selling antiques, old books, paintings, ceramics and Hanbok, the traditional Korean costume. Insadong is also home to many traditional restaurants and tea houses where you can enjoy an afternoon tea and a rice cake snack, elegantly decorated and hand-made.
You can easily spend a day in Insadong and if you have time, check out the famous Ssamzie-gil traditional culture and shopping complex on Insadong main street. This little shopping complex is like an oasis of peace and blissful people, relaxing, taking pictures and shopping. It is the modern face of Insadong in a traditional Korean setting.
Ssamzie-gil is a multi-level building with an open courtyard and it is filled with tiny stores that sell locally made clothes and accessories etc. Try visiting a Jikji a shop selling oriental jewelry and earthenware or the handicraft store Bin Collection. A hidden gem is Gogung - an excellent bibimbap restaurant located in the basement of Ssamzie-gil that few people know of.
Insadong has many many galleries. Visit Insa Art Center or if you want to see art by promising artists go to Gana Art Gallery or Gana Art Center. There is even an Art Gallery Tour Bus you can get on in Insadong and it will take you to the most famous galleries in the area.
The Insadong branch of Starbucks is a little special. When you see it you will know why. Located on the main street in a proudly traditional Korean neighborhood traditionalists protested until a compromise was reached. It is the only branch in the world to have its name written in a non-Latin script.
How to get there: Take subway line 3 to Anguk Station and walk out exit 6, go straight for 100 meters and turn left or take subway line 1 to Jonggak Station and walk out exit 3, go straight 300 meters and turn left at Jong-ro 2 ga intersection, then walk straight for 100 meters and veer left into Insadong main street.
"Insadong" by My Guide Seoul