Everytime I visit South Korea, it’s mandatory to try on a hanbok and pretend to be a sophisticated lady from the Joseon period. Out of all my hanbok experiences in Seoul, the most recent one had to be my favorite. We usually just rent hanbok for free in tourist centers in Seoul, but I got offered the chance to roam around Seoul wearing the traditional clothing. It’s an experience that I just couldn’t pass up. I mean, how can you say no to wearing pretty traditional dresses, right?
Our Hanbok Rental Experience with Seohwa Hanbok
Seohwa Hanbok offers hanbok rental in Seoul for both men and women, and visitors can rent it for half a day, one day, or two days. What makes them different from the free hanbok rentals is that they allow you to roam around Seoul wearing a hanbok. You can visit tourist spots wearing the dress and not be confined with the studio’s four walls. It’s also just right across Gyeongbokgung and other tourist spots, making it the best choice for the cultural experience.
My sister and I arrived at around 9AM to make sure that we make the most out of it. We only planned for a half-day experience because I’m a clumsy person and I couldn’t imagine myself not ruining the dress while eating lunch.
We found Seohwa Hanbok easily as it was just right outside the Gyeongbokgung Station. There weren’t a lot of people when we got there, and the whole process was so easy and fast because we had a reservation. We were given plastic bags and lockers to place our clothes and bags. However, don’t be alarmed when they ask for your passport as a deposit. They’ll give it back to you once you return the hanbok you have rented.
Each of us was assigned an assistant for selecting and fitting a hanbok, which was awesome since I didn’t know how to wear one. They were incredibly nice and patient with us, and I am grateful for it.
Picking a hanbok was the hardest decision we made that day, because there were so many pretty ones.Everything was beautiful and it was not easy to pick just one. I honestly believe that the Korean hanbok is one of the prettiest national costumes. It’s so simple and elegant, and I have yet to see one that I didn’t like. Also, it seems to suit everyone no matter the body type. But of course, there are people who look specially good in it like Lee Young-Ae and Kim Yoo-Jung.
However, the moment I saw the white, pink, and gold hanbok, I knew I found the one for me. I made the decision in around five minutes, but I did consider the yellow one. My sister, on the other hand, took forever to decide. She’s always indecisive when it comes to clothes. Apparently, she’s the same with hanbok fitting because she just couldn’t decide. And when she finally chose which dress to wear (blue, black, white, and gold hanbok), it was one size too small for her but she forced herself in it. Hehe.
Once we finished our hanbok fitting, fixed our hair, and chose our accessories, it was time to go! I was both excited and nervous at the same time, because I was so terrified of ruining the dress. (But I’m happy to say that I didn’t even get a dirt in it. I was too terrified to touch anything, to sit anywhere, and even to go near walls.)
Exploring Gyeongbokgung in a Traditional Hanbok
From Seohwa Hanbok, we only needed to cross the street to reach Gyeongbokgung. And since we were wearing hanbok, we no longer had to pay the entrance fee. Yes, you can enter all the Seoul palaces for free when you’re wearing a hanbok.
I was pleasantly surprised to see so many palace visitors wearing a hanbok, which was a stark contrast from my previous visits. There were a handful of visitors wearing traditional clothing before, but I guess the sudden opening of nearby shops offering hanbok for rent lead to this.
But out of all the hanbok I saw that day, I am proud to say that the clothes from Seohwa Hanbok were the prettiest. The flower patterns and color combinations were definitely a standout compared to the others. But there were some dresses that were such head turners, too. Still, we were pretty happy with our choices.
We wanted to look pretty in our hanbok and tried our hardest to look feminine. Apparently, it wasn’t easy especially when you’re awkward like me. So out of all the hundreds of photos we took that day, the only decent ones are the photos you’ll see in this post. But I have to admit that my sister was a lot better than me in pretending to be dainty and feminine.
The grounds of Gyeongbokgung were a lot bigger than the other palaces, and pretty much every corner was photogenic. We spent a couple of hours taking photos in every beautiful spot that we had no time to visit other spots in Seoul wearing our hanbok. We were also thinking of visiting Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheong-dong, which I haven’t visited yet, but we ran out of time.
Good thing Gyeongbokgung was more than beautiful enough to compensate. There were hidden gardens, ponds, grounds, and different architectural structures. Looking at our photos, you’d think we were in different Seoul spots, but it’s just really Gyeongbok palace.
Since we started early, we ended up roaming the palace until 2 in the afternoon, and it meant the light in our photos ended up being too harsh sometimes. We also tanned a bit! I swear my forehead got two shades darker after our tour.
Thankfully, it was the spring season, and noontime still didn’t get hot. It was cold the past few days, and I was pleasantly surprised that the hanbok provided enough warmth throughout the day. But I think it would be freezing to just wear hanbok at night.
There are now tons of shops offering hanbok for rent in Seoul, but I believe that we made the right decision with Seohwa Hanbok. Of course, you can still go for the tourist centers offering free hanbok fitting like the one in the Korean Tourism Office near Cheonggyecheon Stream. But if you prefer exploring Seoul wearing one, then give this a try.
What to know before renting a hanbok:
- A deposit is required before you can rent one. They’ll ask for your passport (if you’re a foreigner) or an ID card (if you’re a local) and KRW 50,000 per hanbok. Groups are only required to submit one passport/ID.
- You can rent a hanbok for half a day (KRW 18,000), for a whole day (KRW 28,000), or for two days (KRW 38,000).
- If you end up returning your hanbok earlier than planned, refund will not be provided. However, there is a penalty for delayed returns.
- Though accessories are provided for free, there are no shoes for rent.
- Customers are allowed up to two fitting chances, so better make up your mind before fitting one.
- They allow hanbok rental for rainy and snowy days.
- They will not fix your hair and makeup for you, but hair styling necessities such as bobby pins, accessories, and curling irons are provided in the dressing room.
For more information about their hanbok rental, you can check out the FAQs on their website.
Tourist spots near Seohwa Hanbok:
Aside from Gyeongbokgung, there are tons of nearby tourist spots within walking distance that you can explore while wearing a hanbok. I highly recommend the following places:
- Changdok Palace
- Changgyeong Palace
- Gyeongbok Palace
- Gwanghwamun Square
- Bukchon Hanok Village
Directions to Seohwa Hanbok:
- Ride the Seoul subway and get off at Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3).
- Go out at Exit 4 and walk towards Gyeongbokgung Palace.
- Before crossing the street, look at the building to your right and you’ll see Seohwa Hanbok.
B1, 11 Jeokseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul or B1,
137 Sajik-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Opening Hour: 09:00~19:00