Insadong is one of the coolest places to visit in Seoul. For those traveling to Korea for the first time, Insadong is a must. Insadong Street is not very long but is well known for its traditional Korean food, tea houses, and Korean gifts/souvenirs. We selected 10 of the best gifts from Insadong to take back with you to remember South Korea. The area is one of Korea’s oldest and most culturally important neighborhoods. Most of the restaurants are family-run, and the shops are all locally run independent shops. Visit some of these shops along Insadong Street and look for some of these gifts and souvenirs highly recommended by locals.
10 Best Gifts from Insadong
Korean Pendants and Jewelry
In Korea, the culture of using gold and silver, as well as gems such as jade, pearls, and amber, dates back centuries. You can find many beautiful Korean pendants and jewelry in Insadong. A walk around the bustling Ssamziegil complex will show a variety of shops selling styles from traditional to contemporary jewelry. Visitors should also look out for stores selling tiny silk pendants. These are not only attractive but inexpensive souvenirs. You can get all Korean pendants and jewelry for under 20,000 won.
Korean Tea Sets
There is a wide range of tea sets in Insadong. Tea sets are the most popular purchases made by foreign tourists. The traditional Korean tea sets are made of porcelain and have plain, animal, or flowery patterns. To find the best tea sets, head to Insadong-gil and there you will find inexpensive tea sets. Those looking for higher-class designer tea sets head over to Yido Pottery, Kwang Ju Yo, or the Korea Culture and Design Foundation Gallery. A typical traditional Korean tea set will cost 100,000 won.
Traditional Korean Clothing (Hanbok)
For those looking to buy Hanbok, traditional Korean clothing (the national dress of Korea), Insadong is the perfect place for you. They are known for being colorful and are worn on special occasions and holidays. Koreans usually have them custom-made for these events. Insadong has several tailors who can make Hanboks; however, having one custom-made will be expensive. It will cost 200,000 to 500,000 won and will take a few weeks to make. Therefore, it is better to check out one of the stores in the area selling contemporary and modern Hanboks, which tend to be cheaper (around 100,000 won). Look for Sami, where there will be many wearable options for you to try on.
Those that want to dress up in Hanbok and take pictures can also do that at Insadong. Many Photoshop charge around 25,000 won for pictures of you wearing a traditional Korean hanbok. You can also rent hanboks for an hour for the same price.
Korean Name Stamps are called dojang. They have been used in South Korea since the 2nd century B.C. Some art-supplies shops in Insadong will sell name stamps. These are made from marble, jade, and other stones. However, they can also be made of wood. These are still used across East Asia today instead of a signature. If requested, these can be inscribed with foreign names in either Roman or Korean characters. The average cost of a Korean dojang ranges from 25,000 to 35,000 won.
Insadong’s area has long been a favorite with artists in Korea. Dozens of art supplies shops cater to their needs. Apart from high-quality paints and paper, these shops also sell a range of excellent brushes. We recommend Milim Art Supply. They have been selling art supplies and materials such as artist paint brushes and craft stationery for many years—an excellent gift for blood types in Korea that start with A.
Address: 11-1 Insadong-gil, Jongno
Korean Rice Cakes
Rice cakes play an important role in the life of many Koreans. They are key to many Korean meals and are used as table decorations during holidays and coming-of-age ceremonies. Bizeun sells some of the best ready-to-eat rice cakes in Korea. These make great takeaway souvenir packs. A nice gift set will cost around 50,000 won. However, many stores around Fraser Suites sell cheaper versions of similar rice cakes.
The most important Buddhist temple in the city is Jogyesa. It lies in the western part of the Insadong area. There is a cluster of shops near the temple selling traditional Buddhist regalia. However, these are intended for the benefit of worshipers. Tourists can still buy them with clothing, incense, and bronze ware.
Korean Handmade Paper
Koreans are very proud of their local paper. It is known as hanji and is typically made from mulberry leaves. You can buy entire rolls of this from the art supplies shops, but tourists will be more interested in buying items made from hanji. These items include hand fans, lanterns, calligraphic scrolls, and figurines.
Insadong has a lot of Korean art galleries. Some of these places offer tourists a chance to purchase local art. The most popular place is the basement of the Ssamziegil complex. However, make sure to check out the smaller areas that have more independent galleries.
Korean pottery has been admired since the time of the Three Kingdoms. A couple of shops just north of the main Insadong area are great places for pottery shopping. For example, Yido Pottery has a fantastic range of earthenware. In addition, it is worth checking out the smaller, classier Kwang Ju Yo shop down the road.