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Renting Hanbok in Seoul is one of the top 5 things visitors to Korea do. It’s a way to experience wearing beautiful traditional clothing and wandering through stunning architecture while appreciating a large part of Korean culture.
It’s a clothing style that you instantly recognise as Korean when you see it. It is often regarded as beautiful no matter what colours you see them in.
They look like the clothes that only royals and people of high importance would wear, but traditionally they were the everyday clothes of regular people throughout the country. They look much more interesting than the clothes traditionally found in my home country of the UK.
In Seoul, you can rent Hanbok as part of a tour or just for a photoshoot depending on what you’d prefer. Whether you opt to rent for 2 hours or an entire day, the possibilities are endless.
Planning on travelling around Seoul via public transportation? Don’t forget your T Money card.
|South Korea (Republic of Korea)
|South Korean Won / KRW
|Do you need a visa to visit as tourists?
Don’t forget to get travel insurance to cover you if something bad happens. One company I have personal experience with is Safety Wing. Not everyone needs the same coverage, so make sure you get a personalised quote that suits you and your trip plans.
When you need to transfer money or check exchange rates during your overseas trip, consider using Wise. They have competitive rates and make exchanging foreign funds easy. I’ve been using them since 2015.
What is Hanbok?
Hanbok is the name of the traditional clothing worn by Koreans and Chinese Koreans. The term “hanbok” translates to “Korean clothing” in English.
When the Western world started introducing their clothing styles to Korean nationals, the locals needed a term to differentiate their own clothes from the new. Until that point, the hanbok dress had been the main clothing style worn all throughout Korea as the everyday wear of the country.
There are multiple items of clothing that create the overall hanbok design. Following the old traditions, a female hanbok included a top (a jeogori) and an a-line skirt (a chima). Although known as a hanbok overall, they are often referred to as “chima jeogori” (치마저고리)
Interestingly, the equivalent male clothing is also named “hanbok” and includes a jeogori (top) and baji trousers (typically loose fitting).
Where to rent and wear Hanbok clothing in Seoul?
The majority of people who rent hanbok in Seoul want to wear them to a specific place rather than just wander the streets of the city. These can be traditional palaces, certain neighbourhoods or more. Some of the most popular locations to dress in hanbok in central Seoul are as follows:
Gyeongbokgung Palace is a beautiful traditional structure built back in 1395. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Seoul and is of course one of the best locations to be a backdrop to your hanbok experience. This is also a popular filming location for KDramas and traditional shows.
Changdeok Palace was built during the Joseon Dynasty and is another fantastic location to take photos while wearing traditional Hanbok. It’s a beautiful palace found in Seoul that will suit your experience perfectly.
Bukchon Hanok Village
This small neighbourhood is another place many people enjoy wearing their hanbok to. It’s a place Korean families have called home for over 600 years. It’s a small village located in Seoul between the Gyeongbok and Changdeok Palaces as well as the Jongmyo Royal Shrine. You’ll see many other visitors dressed the part in the narrow alleyways of the traditional village.
Namsangol Hanok Village
This is another traditional Hannok village located in the heart of the city. Found in the Pil-dong neighbourhood of Seoul, many people like to rent Hanbok and dress up while exploring the village. It’s an old-style village with many original-styled buildings and homes and they happen to make the perfect backdrop to your Hanbok.
Make sure you stay connected throughout your trip by getting an eSIM with a data plan. It’ll make it easier to contact tour providers offering hanbok experiences.
What to expect when Renting Hanbok in Seoul?
Choosing your outfit
The first thing you will do after arriving is put your items into a locker and then you’ll be shown to the long clothing rails bursting full of multicoloured designs.
The bottom rails will have the skirts and the top rails will have the shirts. Every single one is a different colour and print. It’s overwhelming trying to find the perfect fit to suit you when there are so many choices.
I found that the staff were happy to help us with colour and pattern recommendations, which also took some of the pressure off. So if you’re overwhelmed, ask for help!
Rent Hanbok: Getting into Your Outfit
When it’s time to get into the hanbok, the staff will give you a hand. You’ll start by stepping into a net hoop which has two shoulder traps (like suspenders) so it’ll stay up. This hoop gives the outfit its shape as it would remain flat without it. Next, you’ll need to put the coloured skirt over the top.
The skirt ends up taking on an A-line shape over the hoop and reaches almost to the floor. You won’t need to use a changing room as you will be putting the Hanbok clothing on over your normal clothes for the day. However, you do have the option if you would feel more comfortable inside the changing rooms.
From a Western country? You should call ahead to make sure they have Western sizing. Many Koreans are petite in size so if you are outside of this range, you may not fit in “standard” Korean sizes.
Getting your hair Done
Some Hanbok experiences will include this in the charge, and others will require you to pay extra, but you can often get your hair done when wearing Hanbok. You’ll be able to choose from a handful of common styles complete with hairclips and accessories that really bring the overall look together.
The place that I went to required an extra charge to do my hair but the cost was between 5,000 & 10,000 won.
After returning your Hanbok outfits you’ll still be able to keep your hair in the style you chose, they would just return the hair accessories of course before you leave the shop.
Enjoy the photography destination after renting your Hanbok
Once you are all made up in your full Hanbok, you’ll be ready to head out to your chosen destination to enjoy the photography half of your experience. You’ll get to experience wearing these clothes in some of the most extravagant architectural areas of Seoul.
Whether you choose to enjoy one of the palaces, the Hanok villages or somewhere else, you’re guaranteed to get some stunning photographs that you can cherish long after your trip is over,
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul & staying respectful
Many people might say that wearing the traditional clothing of a nation when you are not a local is cultural appropriation. However, all of the Korean people I have met during my work visa here have actually encouraged and recommended wearing their beautiful clothing as they enjoy seeing tourists appreciate their traditions.
If you do choose to wear the Hanbok or any other traditional clothing for that matter, always remain respectful.
Don’t damage, destroy or be disrespectful while wearing the clothing and you should have no problems.
Have you experienced wearing a traditional Hanbok? How did you enjoy it?