Seoul is a city that never fails to surprise us and that's exactly what we love about it. Even as the city is known as a modern metropolis with towering skyscrapers and high-tech gadgets, we like that there are still hidden gems which are a breath of fresh air ?
P.S. Plan your Seoul trip with our 5D4N Muslim-friendly itinerary below RM1800
If you're heading to Seoul and looking to avoid the crowds in Myeongdong,
Gyeongbokgung or Hongdae
, we've got the perfect place for you - Ikseon-dong! We visited this neighbourhood on our recent trip to Seoul. This enclave of traditional Korean houses or hanok might be located in the vicinity of Seoul's downtown area but it's still pretty much under the radar. You might have heard of Bukchon or Namsangeol Hanok Village but Ikseon-dong has a more unique and hipster vibe, which means that you won't have to jostle with hordes of tourists!
Ikseon-dong is known as one of Seoul's oldest neighbourhoods and the traditional houses here date back to 1920s. What we love is that although the area has been somewhat gentrified, many of the shops and cafes here still preserve the architecture of the hanok and it's really fascinating to see how they infuse modern and traditional decor.
To help you get acquainted with the neighbourhood, here's an all-in-one guide on what to see and do in Ikseon-dong ☺️
Getting to Ikseon-dong
As mentioned, Ikseon-dong is right in the heart of Seoul and near to major tourist spots like Insadong and Changdeok Palace so it's pretty straightforward to get to. Your main getaway to Ikseon-dong is the Jongno 3(sam)-ga station which is the interchange station for lines 1, 3 and 5. Take exit 4 (line 5 side), cross the narrow street and walk straight into a small alley. The area is pretty unassuming at first and you might not see the charm of Ikseon-dong right away but walk further into the alley and you'll start discovering hidden gems!
Wondering what you can buy at Ikseon-dong? Step into one of the many gorgeous boutiques and shops here and you'll find a range of interesting items.
1. Assi-bangagan (아씨방앗간)
If you're a fan of scents, candles and diffusers, then you'll love Assi-bangagan! The moment you step into the store, you'll get a whiff of fragrant smells.
Take your pick from various scents like rosemary, red freesia, clarysage & mint, lotus and more. If these pre-packaged scents don't suit your fancy, you can also choose to make your own custom diffuser and package it with your preferred scented stick too! Not only are these perfect to spruce up your room or home, but they make great souvenirs too ?
What we can't get enough of at Assi-bangagan is its antique furniture and carefully curated vintage knick-knacks that are in line with the whole vibe of Ikseon-dong. It certainly feels as though you've taken a step back in time!
Credit: @assi_bangagan on Instagram
Even if you don't usually buy diffusers or scents, it's still worth checking out this space.
47, Donhwamun-ro 11da-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Website | Instagram2. Ikseon Boutique
Here's your chance to play dress-up! If you've caught the K-drama bug and been binge-watching one of the recent hit Korean dramas, Hotel del Luna, you'd definitely notice the cast clad in retro and vintage fashion.
Credit: @ikseonboutique on Instagram
At Ikseon Boutique, you can evoke that sense of nostalgia and by dressing up in dresses and accessories from the early 20th century. Fun fact: this period was called the "gaehwagi" and it was Korea's start to westernisation. The fashion of this era also resembles America's "roaring twenties"!
Credit: @jamwang1198 on Instagram
Since the store opened in September 2018, it's been gaining a steady stream of customers and when we were at Ikseon-dong, we spotted a few people in these vintage wear and taking photos!
Interested to try on these costumes? Book a package on Klook for a fuss-free time
38, Donhwamun-ro, 11-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
P.S. Check out these 10 Insta-worthy spots in Seoul near halal food!3. The Shelf
Shop for the trendiest European footwear in a refurbished hanok at The Shelf! Definitely an interesting concept if you ask us.
Credit: @cushman_korea_retail_official on Instagram
Some of the notable brands that you can find here are Superga, Italy's most popular shoe brand, UK brand Gola, and Maian and Potomac from Spain. What's unique is that the shop will choose a specific theme and brand to showcase in different seasons so there's always something to look forward to ?
Credit: @the.shelf_ikseon on Instagram
Feeling tired and need a pick-me-up? They sell coffee here too and there's a rooftop seating area which overlooks Ikseon-dong.
Disclaimer: Do note that alcohol is served too so we recommend that you visit at your own discretion. Address:
33-1, Supyo-ro, 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Is a vacation in Korea ever complete without hanging out in cafes? The answer is no ? Lucky for us, there are plenty of cafes in Ikseon-dong!
4. Madang Flower Cafe
This is one cafe that you can't miss when in Ikseon-dong - Madang Flower Cafe! You'll be able to spot the cafe from afar thanks to the colourful umbrellas hung outside the cafe (more on that later ?).
The interior of the cafe will instantly captivate you with its flower decorations and greenery that's so pleasing to the eyes ?We loved the courtyard space of the cafe too where there's plenty of light for snapping flat lays of your coffee, tea or dessert!
What's more, if you're into flower-themed souvenirs and items, you might want to check out their collection lined up outside the cafe.
Madang serves only drinks and desserts and can't confirm the ingredients in the desserts. We recommend that you do your necessary checks and dine here at your own discretion.
33-12, Supyo-ro, 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Instagram5. Seoul Coffee 1945
Step into Seoul Coffee 1945 and you'd be brought back in time. The traditional architecture and layout of the hanok are still very much well-preserved till today.
We love that they added a glass ceiling so plenty of light can shine through the cafe, making it feel like we were outdoors instead. And of course, it's perfect for that coffee shot!
The cafe serves only coffee and desserts and we can't confirm the ingredients in the desserts. We recommend that you do your necessary checks and dine here at your own discretion.
33-3, Supyo-ro, 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Instagram6. Tteuran (뜰안)
After all that walking in Ikseon-dong, wind down at a Tteuran, a traditional and rustic tea house where you can recharge your batteries.
Credit: @aluk11 on Instagram
Here's where you can immerse yourself in the Korean culture of drinking tea infused with medicinal herbs which are supposed to treat certain ailments. Take your pick from various flavours of tea like their signature herbal tea, chrysanthemum, yuzu, green tea and more. There'll be some traditional snacks like rice crackers to go with your tea too.
Credit: @aluk11 on Instagram
This is definitely something you'd want to do if you're in need of something therapeutic and healing!
Tteuran only serves drinks and desserts and we can't confirm the ingredients in the desserts. We recommend that you do your necessary checks and dine here at your own discretion.
17-35, Supyo-ro, 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Tue-Sun, 11am-10pm (last order 9.30pm)
As you'd already know by now, almost everywhere you turn in Ikseon-dong, you'll be greeted with plenty of Instagrammable spots and it'll be a waste not to snap pictures with the gorgeous backdrops. Here are some suggestions on where to snap that picture-perfect shot!
7. In the middle of alleys
There's something about alley shots that make it so immersive and an alley shot is a must in Ikseon-dong! We took this shot in between Gamkkotdang Bakery and Zio Cucina Italian Restaurant along Donhwamun-ro 11da-gil. Don't the brick walls and wooden furnishings make a perfect backdrop for your feed?
8. Umbrellas outside Madang Flower Cafe
Need we say more? These colourful umbrellas outside Madang Flower Cafe are waiting to be photographed (with you in the photo of course ?) It's not hard to see why several Korean dramas like Black Knight have chosen Madang for their filming location. So remember to wear your best outfits for this!
9. Outside Gamkkotdang Bakery
Although Gamkkotdang Bakery is not a halal-certified establishment, who says you can't snap some pictures outside? ? From the outside, you can get a peek into the cafe's decorations of flowers and plants and there's even a platform where you can sit on to pose for photos! Perfect, isn't it?
Of course, we can go on and on about the various IG-worthy spots in Ikseon-dong but now, it's your turn to explore all of them ?
Halal food nearby
While there aren't any halal eateries in Ikseon-dong itself, we recommend heading over to Insadong which is nearby! There, you'll find a few halal eateries to fill your tummy!
Osegyehyang serves vegetarian fare in a traditional Korean setting. You’d need to take off your shoes and sit on the floor at this eatery, making the experience even more authentic. Perhaps many of you will put off the idea of eating vegetarian food but trust us, this place will take you by surprise!
One of the dishes we’d recommend is their Fried Dumpling (9,000 KRW)
. Dumplings are usually filled with meat but this one is made with starch noodles instead. We had this during our visit here and we loved how the dumpling skin was fried to a perfect crisp. Another dish that’s worth trying is their Grilled Soy Protein Stew (10,000 KRW).
This is unlike your usual kimchi stew as the meat is substituted with soy protein and is interesting, to say the least.
Only vegetarian ingredients used. As this isn't a halal-certified eatery, we recommend that you dine at your own discretion.
14-5 Insadong 12-gil, Gwanhun-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
11.30am – 9pm daily (break from 3.30pm – 5pm)
11. Little India Halal Restaurant
Get your fill of briyani, curries, naan and more at Little India Halal Restaurant in Insadong.
Credit: @twlovesh88 on Instagram
With the perfect ambience and beautiful plates, your dining experience here will be more than just about the food. The lamb curry, chicken curry and samosas are highly recommended! But do note that prices here are above average so be prepared to fork out more cash.
Halal ingredients used. Alcohol served in establishment. We recommend that you dine at your own discretion.
27-1, Insadong-gil, Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
P.S. Looking for more food options in Seoul? Here are 9 halal Korean eateries in Seoul!
Don't you just want to visit Ikseon-dong now? With plenty of enchanting shops, cafes and picturesque Instagram spots, it's time to visit Ikseon-dong before everyone else does! SHARE this with your travel buddies and add this to your Seoul itinerary ☺️