The Insa-dong area in the Jongno-gu district of Seoul is one of the capital city's most popular tourist destinations. Packed with shops, cafes, restaurant and art galleries, Insa-dong is great to stroll and take in the pleasing mix of traditional and contemporary Korean culture.
Busy Insadong-gil is the area's main drag. The road is closed to traffic on Sundays, when it becomes an open-air venue for music and street performances.
Insadong-gil is lined with a multitude of shops selling traditional Korean souvenirs, antique stores, tearooms and both contemporary and traditional Korean and western art galleries. Insa-dong is also known for its antiquarian bookshops and traditional painting and calligraphy.
The small, dense alleys off to either side of Insadong-gil offer a number of excellent Korean dining possibilities. Walking south towards Tapgol Park, the trendy Ssamziegil building has a interesting rooftop market.
Noted art galleries in the area include the renowned Sun Art Center, Artside (with an emphasis on contemporary Chinese art), Insa Gallery, Ssamziegil and the Kyung-in Museum of Fine Art.
Other sights in the vicinity include Jogyesa Temple, west off Sambung-gil, a large, rather plain Korean temple dating from 1910 and the Unhyeongung Palace, near Anguk subway station, where the ill-fated Princess Myeongseong (aka Queen Min) married King Gojong. The historic Bosingak Bell Pavilion gives the area its name - Jongno means "bell street" - and the bell is the center of Korea's New Year celebrations, when the ringing of the bell 33 times (representing the 33 Buddhist heavens) is screened on national TV.
Insa-dong Access - Getting to Insa-dong
Take a Seoul subway Line 3 train to Anguk Station, which is four stops from Seoul Station, or a Line 1 train to Jonggak.
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