INSA-DONG is the culture & art capital of Seoul where artists, painters, craftsmen, and art lovers converge. This is a street where tourists can get a taste of traditional Korean food, culture, and arts.
Here’s a look at what you can experience in Insa-dong….
The main entrance of the street is marked by a sculpture of a painter’s brush.
You are greeted by artsy decorations with a cool bohemian vibe.
This frog sculpture and man-made river is one of Insa-dong’s signature sights.
It’s a super busy street during the weekends, with lots of locals, tourists, and street performers.
We turn into the alley marked by this signage.
There are lots of paved alleys coming from the main Insadong-gil street.
Traditional Korean Restaurant
We visited a popular traditional Korean restaurant serving set courses.
Love the modern contemporary interiors!
There are different nooks and spaces for big groups like this long wooden table setup.
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There are three set menus of Traditional Korean meals with rice, soup, and side dishes to choose from: Nam Chon Jung Sik (KRW 15,000/head), Seo Chon Jung Sik (KRW 23,000/head), and Book Chong Jung Sik (KRW 28,000/head).
We ordered the Seo Chon Jung Sik set. Here are some of the side dishes and food that were served.
I love their vegetables with Gochujang (Korean Hot Pepper Paste).
Pork with chili peppers.
Green Salad with sweet chili dressing.
Mixed greens with sesame sauce.
Japchae — sweet potato noodles cooked in sesame oil with vegetables.
Another glass noodle dish with vegetables.
Fried fish with chili sauce on top — yum!
Seafood cakes with sweet chili sauce.
Kangkong greens? 🙂
Of course — Kimchi!
More leafy vegetables.
Salted fish with nuts.
A bit sour soup.
Yummy fried fish.
Sweet soup with rice (like am).
A sweet red drink.
The food is really good, but everything is written in Korean so just order the set you want based on your budget. I forgot to get the English name of the resto but its facade is easily recognizable.
You can buy hanbok (traditional clothing) and bargain clothes…
…hanji (traditional paper) and Korean souvenirs…
…and other folk crafts around Insa-dong.
You can also try different kinds of drinks like Rice Punch.
You can also check out the different traditional art galleries…
…and the contemporary ones.
Make sure to pass by Ssamzigil, a multi-level, open courtyard mall with some hidden gems at the basement.
On weekends, there are pop-up stores like this caricature shop.
You can find unique and cheap places like the Uglydoll store.
The stairwell is vandalized with a giant rose installation art rising through the stairs.
The mall is designed in a zig zag manner so you won’t miss any shop as you explore it.
Don’t forget to visit the Hanging Gardens of Ssamzigil, which is a rooftop terrace garden.
You can put love messages on the wall…
…or have coffee while waiting for the sun to set.
Make sure you also visit the National Souvenir Center for high quality Korean-made products.
There are snack food vendors along the street…
Best to explore the different food shops as you walk down the street.
Check out these wooden samurai sword and bow and arrow toys for your kids.
Jipangi Ice Cream
As you continue walking, you’ll notice people eating this yellow ice cream.
There’s always a long line of people who want to try out this latest Jipangi Soft Ice Cream hit in Insa-dong.
It’s like kropek shaped into a stick with soft ice cream pumped into it from both ends.
The line is organized and fast. You just order how many ice creams you want for KRW 3,000/each.
They use a special pressurized tube to pump the soft serve ice cream.
So which end should you start eating this? 🙂
Next time, I’ll allot more time to explore the secrets of Insa-dong while eating Jipangi ice cream. 🙂
Check out more information about Insa-dong.
Awesome Korea Experience: Be Inspired Series
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P.S. Thank you to Korean Tourism Organization of Manila for the Asian On Air Program: Asia Power Bloggers Tour of South Korea! 감사합니다 Kamsahamnida!