A Unique Korean Art & Cafe Experience at Charming Samcheong-dong (삼청동)

Moving on from Tongin Market in Seochon (서촌), I continued eastwards in the direction of Gyeongbokgung Palace (경볼궁), passing by the important government administration district around the palace. There were military guards stationed along the road, making random checks of visitors. Compared to other parts of central Seoul, it was much quieter & I could feel the solemn mood while taking a walk here.

As I approached the North Gate (Sinmumun, 신무문) of the palace, I could see Cheong Wa Dae (청와대), which is the presidential residence in Seoul. It is commonly referred to as the Blue House because of its blue tiles. There are 4 guided 90-min tours every day except Sunday, Monday & public holidays in Cheong Wa Dae but I didn’t apply to join the tour. In case you are interested, here’s the link to go to apply to join the guided tour for foreigners: http://english1.president.go.kr/tours/information.php. Although I didn’t go in to the Blue House, it looks quite beautiful from the outside too, because its blue tiles & the smooth roof blend beautifully with Mt. Bugaksan in the background.

The "solemn" walk along Cheongwadae-ro ^-^

The “solemn” walk along Cheongwadae-ro ^-^

At the end of Cheongwadae-ro, is the charming Samcheong-dong (삼청동), where Korean traditions meet with modern art. According to feng-shui, Samcheong-dong is said to have the most ideal location, because it is surrounded by royal palaces of the Joseon Dynasty – Gyeongbokgung Palace to its left & Changdeokgung Palace to its right, as well as Cheong Wa Dae & Insadong to its north & south respectively. Its name (三溪洞) was derived from the 3 things it has plenty of: clean water, beautiful neighboring mountains & kind-hearted residents.

This lovely place is filled with pretty & cosy cafes, art galleries & shops in traditional Korean houses (or Hanok as they are called). In recent years, Samcheong-dong has become the hippy district to go to for visitors to Seoul, especially for art & cafe lovers. Indeed, I saw people everywhere I went, whether chilling out in 1 of the unique cafes or checking out the shops & art galleries.

Samcheong-dong 1

Samcheong-dong 2

Retrona Pie seems to be a hot cafe spot as I spotted a constant stream of customers visiting the cafe, guess it’s a haven for pie-lovers!

Samcheong-dong 3

Trendy street snacks like churros, bingsu etc can be found here, alongside fine Italian bistros, & all these are housed in traditional Hanoks. Beautiful!

I could see the similarity between Samcheong-dong & Buam-dong, except that the latter is smaller & not as crowded with visitors yet, so probably less commercialized too. Nonetheless, both are equally alluring to me, because they are great in their own ways! I didn’t try any cafes or street food here, due to time constraint + I was still quite full from the yummy lunch near Deoksugung Palace + the Giant Milkshake at Buam-dong. It’s a pity though, because some of the cafes really tempted me with their delicious-looking menus, such as the Retrona Pie that was packed with customers, O’Sulloc Tea House & Innisfree Jejuhouse etc.

Besides chilling out in the chic cafes, do take your time to admire the exquisite beauty of the Bukchon Hanok Village where several significant historical monuments sit. Don’t worry about getting lost here, because there are friendly guides in bright red vests who can speak fluent English and/or Chinese languages making their rounds here, in case you need to ask for help. To visit Samcheong-dong, alight at the nearest subway station – Anguk Station (Line 3, 안국역) exit 1 & walk for about 10 min towards Jeongdok Library (정독도서관). I shall end this post with a pic of the Bukchon Hanok Vilage signage alongside the serene alley planted with cherry trees. 🙂

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