Hanok Buildings and Crooked Alleys visiting Bukchon in Seoul, Korea

Last weekend I went to a part of Seoul that I haven’t thoroughly explored before: Bukchon and Samcheon-dong. With the boy back in Canada visiting family and packing for us, I’ve been left to wander around town solo.

So what’s a girl to do in Seoul?

I figured I’d head out to one of the cutest areas in the city. Yes, I just called a neighbourhood ‘cute’, but wait until you see the intricate architectural details, hand-drawn coffee cup art littering storefronts, and fuzzy pink sweaters calling you into vintage boutiques.

Hanok Buildings and Crooked Alleys visiting Bukchon in Seoul, Korea: Hanok in Samcheondong Seoul
Hanok Buildings and Crooked Alleys visiting Bukchon in Seoul, Korea: Hanok in Samcheondong Seoul
Fashion in Seoul, South Korea clothing stores
Fashion in Seoul, South Korea clothing stores
Architectural details. in Samcheondong - Seoul, Korea
Architectural details. in Samcheondong – Seoul, Korea
Cute coffee cup in Seoul, South Korea
Cute coffee cup in Seoul, South Korea

What I like about Seoul is that it can’t quite make up its mind when it comes to architectural styles.

On one street you may find a modern building with clean lines and slate coloured walls, but then you turn around the corner and stumble upon a traditional hanok building with a beautiful tiled roof that is centuries old.

Keep going further down the same street until you hit what appears to be a dead end, but squeeze down the narrow alley on the left to discover a whole new neighbourhood hidden from sight.

There are few street signs here, just crooked steps leading up to homes, potted plants welcoming you at almost every doorway, and little doors made for someone much shorter than me.

It’s a mish-mash of everything, yet it works.

It’s not tacky nor cluttered, it’s simply, Seoul.

Shopping in Samcheondong in Seoul, Korea
Shopping in Samcheondong in Seoul, Korea
Seeing red in Seoul, Korea in a traditional neighbourhood
Seeing red in Seoul, Korea in a traditional neighbourhood
Flea Market in Seoul, South Korea
Flea Market in Seoul, South Korea
Alleys in Samcheondong in Seoul, South Korea
Alleys in Samcheondong in Seoul, South Korea

You’d think the city would be dreary this time of year, yet surprisingly it’s anything but that.

Sure, there are patches of ice, and mounds of week-old snow, but it’s in the dead of winter that you’re able to see that there’s a certain fairy-tale quality to this place.

The colours still shine bright, the endless twisting alleys beckon to be explored, and every hanok building seems to beg of me to step in, remove my shoes, and sit down for a cup of tea.

This city is cute plus a spoonful of honey!

Cafe in Bukchon
Cafe in Bukchon
Hat shop in Bukchon - Seoul, South Korea
Hat shop in Bukchon – Seoul, South Korea
Shops in Bukchon - Seoul, Korea
Shops in Bukchon – Seoul, Korea
View of Seoul from Samcheondong in winter covered with snow
View of Seoul from Samcheondong in winter covered with snow

With exactly five weeks left in Korea, there’s a part of me that is already starting to miss Seoul. It’s a lovely city!

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36 Comments

    1. says: Audrey

      It’s such a nice area! I can’t believe it took me this long to get there. And yes, we’ve been getting a little bit of snow here and there – I think the worst of it is over. 😉

  1. says: Zhu

    It looks cold!
    For some reason, the last few pictures remind me of Kensington Market in Toronto, or even the area close to NYU. Must be the old houses and the vintage feel.

  2. says: Julika

    This looks adorable! I love how you captured all those little details! I really want to go to Seoul now – getting lost in crooked, picturesque alleys is my favorite hobby 🙂

    1. says: Audrey

      When you do make it to Asia, I recommend a stop in Seoul. The city is often overlooked, but it has a lot of charm and cute places to be discovered. 🙂

  3. says: Jace

    Considering I live so close to this place, I wonder why I haven’t gone there lately! Your pictures just brought back the best of Seoul. I think I’ll
    hit up Bukchon in a few..Thanks! 🙂

    1. says: Audrey

      It’s a great place on a weekend! Wander around the backalleys and then warm up at one of the many cafes over waffles and hot drinks. 😉

  4. says: Maria

    Variety is the spice of life and looks like you have a LOT of spice there. Each is so different from the next and I’m thoroughly enjoying the rich personalities you’re showing us here.

  5. says: cosmoHalllitan

    This just got me even more excited for my first trip to Seoul! I love wandering around neighborhoods off the tourist track. It’s a great way to connect with the place you’re visiting.

  6. says: TammyOnTheMove

    Love the first photo with the snow on that old building’s roof. Looks like something out of a different time. Beautiful!

  7. says: Elizabeth

    what great pictures! Seoul is such a cool city with so many amazing little neighborhoods. love this post, really making me consider heading back to Korea to eat some kimchi, drink some mackolli and teach some little cuties!

    1. says: Audrey

      I hope you make it to Seoul sometime! It’s a great city to explore, and a nice little stepping stone to the rest of Asia.

  8. says: Jessica Wray

    Amazing photos! The snow and ice really adds to the scene.

    Ekk I should hit up that area one more time before I leave Seoul as well!

  9. says: Suzy

    This does look like a cute neighborhood. I certainly don’t picture Seoul this way so thanks for opening my eyes. I can see why you will miss it!

    1. says: Audrey

      It’s not the way I envisioned Seoul before moving here either, but it’s such a diverse city! You have modern glass towers right across from traditional pavilions and temples, so it’s a nice mix. 🙂

  10. says: wal

    wow.. cool pictures, didn’t imagine seoul would be like that… always thought it as a big city with all the traffic and big skyscrapers. Thanks for sharing.

  11. says: Ceri

    Your photos are incredible. Every time I see pictures of Korea – no matter what neighbourhood, town or city – I get more and more eager to visit there.

  12. says: kozaza.com

    There are about 70 Hanoks where you can stay in Bukchon. Kozaza.com can help you to find the best Hanok where you can experience the Korean tradition and lifestyle.

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