At Bukchon Hanok Village and Insa-dong in downtown Seoul, there are a number of coffee shops and tea houses in renovated hanok (traditional Korean house). These hanok cafés serve a variety of delicious drinks from coffee to traditional Korean tea, but what sets them apart from standard coffeehouses is their beautiful architecture. Some even have jangdokdae (traditional Korean earthenware pots), daecheong maru (wooden-floors) and giwa (traditional roof tiles), all of which come together to create a unique traditional ambiance. Read on to learn more about hanok coffee shops in downtown Seoul.
Photo: Café LN scenes and drinks (Credit: Café LN)
Close to Jeongdok Library is Café LN, housed in an elegant hanok. It has a traditional exterior façade, but the interior is distinctly modern. The name LN is an abbreviation of Luden Loquen, a combination of homo ludens (meaning "playing man") and homo loquens (meaning "talking man"). The building had originally been used as an office space but it was renovated into its current state and reopened in September 2010.
The courtyard, which resembles the box shape character of the Korean character "ㅁ", is the most popular space in the shop. It features a nice pine tree and several tables and chairs, creating an inviting ambiance for visitors.
Photo: Gahwadang views and menu
Meaning "a home with a beautiful picture," Gahwadang is a traditional Korean teahouse situated in a quiet alley off Samcheongdong-gil Road. From the moment you step inside through the stairway entrance, you are welcomed with Gahwadang's traditional feel thanks to its classic roof tiles and earthenware pots.
This small café is housed in a horseshoe shaped building that resembles the Korean alphabet character "ㄷ". Customers are required to take their shoes off before entering. The inside of the café is decorated with beautiful Korean items.
Photo: Entrance to Yeon (top) / Yeon interior and menu item (bottom)
Yeon is a popular hanok café in Samcheong-dong. It is housed in a hanok building that has retained its original structure through its renovation. Yeon offers a variety of traditional Korean teas and snacks, but you can also order coffee, Indian chai tea and lassi, and Thai banana pancakes, which give the place an international feel.
Photo: The Moonbird Only Thinks of the Moon entrance (left) / Interior scenes (right top & bottom)
Dalsaeneun Dalman Saenggakhanda (meaning "the moonbird only thinks of the moon") is a traditional teahouse in Insa-dong. Some people call the tea house by the name Dalsae (meaning "moonbird") for short. Opened in 1996, this establishment does not stand out as it is located in a small alley near the busy Ssamzie-gil. Nonetheless, it is popular among people who are attracted to the charms of traditional tea houses. Through word of mouth, the teahouse has also drawn a lot of international visitors. The interior is decorated with various masks, straw shoes, and paintings to enhance its traditional Korean style. It is fun to find messages or drawings on napkins left by visitors from all over the world.
The tea house offers teas made of a variety of homemade fermented ingredients. Order tea and you will be served with a Thermos flask so you can steep it yourself. The tea is also served with assorted Korean snacks.
Photo: Dawon Tea Garden scenery and omija tea
Walk through the streets of the bustling Insa-dong area until you come to a less populated alley on your right that is lined with small galleries. As you walk in this alley, you will see a sign for Kyung-in Museum of Fine Art to the left. Follow the sign and enter the museum. You will be greeted with earthenware pots followed by a wooden hanok building and a large tree-lined large courtyard.
Dawon (Traditional Tea Garden) is a tea house operated by the Kyung-in Museum of Fine Arts. The hanok building is in an "L" shape and visitors can either sit on the floor or sit at a table. It is also fun to browse the shelves of various colorful tea cups, the antique dressers and decorative folding screens.
☞ 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
* Café menus and language assistance subject to change.
* This column was last updated in August 2016, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.
<Last updated on August 22, 2016>