Top 5 Korean traditional activities to check out in Seoul

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Korean traditional activities in Seoul

When visiting Seoul, it can be hard to know where to visit beyond visiting Gyeongbok Palace or Hanok Village. Seoul has many amazing Korean traditional activities to check out during your visit. This post will serve as a great guide to follow for fun destinations in Seoul.

1. Visit Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon Garden 

Changdeokgung Palace is not the biggest palace in Seoul, but it’s known for its natural beauty. Both the architecture of the buildings and the secret garden in its grounds have become famous with locals and tourists for its Korean traditional activities.

Over the summertime, the Changdeokgung Palace hosts traditional evening performances in the Secret Garden, from traditional dances to instrument demonstrations. The guided tour of the palace and gardens covers the grounds including the famous pavilions, waterfalls and ponds. The vibrant gardens also doubles as a scenic walking trail, which takes approximately 2 hours to complete. The palace and gardens are often recommended for its outstanding tranquility which can be an exciting discovery in such a busy city like Seoul.

Closest station: The Huwon gardens are a 20-minute walk from Anguk Station, leaving from Exit 3. As this is quite a walk, you can also opt to take the bus to the palace’s ticket office (창덕궁.우리소리박물관 정류장 (01199)).

Opening hours: 9am to 5:30 pm (closed on Mondays).

Cost of entry: 10,000 won for adults and 5,000 won for children. Tickets are purchasable at the ticket office on the day of visit. Ticket price includes access to all parts of the palace, including the Secret Garden tour available in Korean, English and Japanese.

Korean market - Korean traditional activities

2. Eat like a local at Tongin Market 

If you’re looking for Korean traditional activities to do in Seoul, Tongin Market is a traditional market located close to Seoul’s main palace Gyeongbokgung. This market is unique from other markets in Seoul as you can pay using 15th century style Korean coins to purchase from participating vendors. The market works by visitors purchasing coins from the customer centre in the middle of the market. Using these coins, you can purchase food from stalls and begin to fill a canteen style tray that the centre provides.

If you have arrived in Seoul for the first time this market is a great opportunity to try a wide variety of traditional street foods. At this market you can expect to find Korean staple foods such as:

  • Tteokbbokki 떡볶이
  • Mandu 만두
  • Kimbap 김밥
  • Jeon 전
  • Ddeokgalbi 떡갈비

Once you have filled your tray there is even two floors of seating above the market where you can sit and enjoy your food. This is one of the best Korean traditional activities you can experience in Seoul.

Closest station: The market is located near exit 2 of Gyeongbokgung station, west of the Gyeongbok palace. The market is roughly a 15 minute walk from the station’s exit. Alternatively there is a bus station stop for the entrance of Tongin market (통인시장종로구보건소 (01110).

Opening hours: 9am to 6pm (note that most stalls are not open on Sundays).

Cost: 10 tokens for 5,000 won (payment for tokens is only available in cash.) 10 tokens is typically enough to fill the canteen trays provided.

Walking in Insadong as one of the Korean traditional activities to do in Seoul

3. Design your personal stone seal 

One of the most popular Korean traditional activities that you can enjoy in Seoul is making your own stone seal Dojang. Dojang are stamps that have been used since the Joseon period (1392-1910). They are traditionally used in lieu of signatures on official documents in Korea. Still used to this day, creating one can be a uniquely traditional memento of your time spent in Korea.

Dojangs are typically made by using a small engraving knife on a small soft stone to create a Korean name seal. At the ‘Feel So Good Calli’ workshop in Insadong you can create a design using your name at host Jeongju Kim’s studio. The workshop is available in Korean or English and enables up to six visitors at a time. The experience teaches both Korean art and culture through the 3-hour class. At the end of the workshop, you will be able to take home your own personal Dojang and cute postcards to use your seal on.

Closest station: 3-minute walk Anguk station, line 3, exit 6. Third floor of ‘Tongmungwan’- the oldest bookshop in Korea.

Studio Address: 55-1, (Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, 03145.
(Korean address: 03145, 서울 특별시, 종노구, 인사동길, 55-1, 3층)

Cost: 60,000 won. Can be booked via Airbnb experiences. Snacks and drinks are provided by the host.

Korean traditional activities - Kimchi making

4. Kimchi making workshop in Mangwon

As kimchi is Korea’s national dish, learning how to make this staple dish can be considered as one of the Korean traditional activities. Although there are over 100 types of kimchi varieties, through this class’ four-hour duration, you will learn how to prepare four different types of kimchi including:

  • Fresh cabbage kimchi것절이 배추김치
  • Fermented cabbage kimchi김장 배추김치
  • Radish kimchi 깍두기
  • Cucumber kimchi 오이 소바박이

This workshop will teach you the techniques needed to prepare kimchi from scratch in an intimate group setting in Seoul. The workshop begins with a tour of the famous Mangwon Market to learn about the importance and origins of kimchi. After the tour of the market, the kimchi making itself takes place in the host Jomin’s cooking studio.

After you have learnt how to make this iconic dish, you can enjoy the kimchi varieties alongside boiled pork and fried tofu prepared by Jomin herself.

Website: Can be booked through Viator and Cookorea who also offer virtual cooking classes for tofu, banchan and bibimbap. Workshop is available in English. Vegetarian and vegan options available.

Closest station: Mangwon Station, exit 2. This location is the meeting point for the workshop and is only a 5 minute walk away from Mangwon market.

Cost: 60,000 won per 4 hour class. (Includes guided tour of Mangwon market, cost of cooking class, meal in Jomin’s studio and kimchi to take home.)

Inwangsan as one of the Korean traditional activities to do in Seoul

5. Mountain hiking

If you’re looking for other Korean traditional activities, how about mountain hiking? Covered in many guard posts to protect the city from North Korean infiltrators, Inwangsan has only been fully opened to the public since 2019. Inwangsan’s breath-taking scenery also makes it an ideal place to go in a group of friends. As well as Seoul’s iconic skyline you can see The Blue House and Namsan Tower from the mountain’s peak.

Many people also recommend walking the mountains lit trails at night-time to see all of Seoul’s city lights. Unlike Namsan Tower, at Inwangsan’s peak you can see incredible views of Seoul’s city lights without the crowds.

Closest station: The closest station to Inwangsan mountain is Muakjae Station exit 2. However, the walk to where the mountain trail begins is a 20 minute walk. For safety, it is not recommended to visit during extreme weather conditions.

Opening hours: Open 24 hours except on Mondays when all hiking trails are closed for nature conservation.

Experience Korean traditional activities on our Study trips

Are you looking for a comprehensive experience in Korea, combining your Korean studies with traditional and modern cultural activities? Go! Go! Hanguk offers short study trips of just a few weeks, including language courses, accommodation, and cultural activities. See our page for more information!

We hope that from this blog post that you are inspired to discover all the Korean traditional activities that Seoul has to offer. If you enjoyed this article, keep following the Go! Go! Hanguk blog and don’t hesitate to contact us about living and studying in Korea.

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