When I was planning my trip to Seoul I wasn’t sure at first if I should rent a hanbok (traditional Korean dress). I wanted to make sure that it was something that the locals would be okay with so I consulted my Korean friend. She explained that Koreans are very happy to see foreigners wearing hanboks. I was excited to hear this because it’s important to me that I show respect for the culture. It was an amazing day and I’m here to share my experience with renting a hanbok in Seoul.
Choosing a Hanbok Rental Shop
When walking around Seoul, you’ll notice many rental shops all over the city. There’s definitely no shortage of shops but they all offer something a little different. If you have a few days in Seoul I would recommend going into a couple of shops on your first day, before renting to get a peek at the styles that are offered. Also, ask what is included in each package. For example, I paid 24,000 won (about $24 U.S. dollars) for a four-hour rental period. I got to choose a hanbok from the premium selection. The less expensive package was limited and with this premium one I was able to select a more intricate skirt design and it included the petticoat to make my skirt fuller.
Some packages or rental places will also offer to style your hair and add hair accessories. My package included this which was awesome because I had no accessories in my hair and it definitely made a difference completing the look. And, I was able to use one of their handbags.
I went to a shop called Oneul Haru Hanbok
Korean name: 오늘 하루 한복(2호점)
They moved since I published this post and this is their new address:
40, Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea
Korean address: 서울특별시 종로구 인사동길 40
Some tips to keep in mind when renting a hanbok:
Consider the amount of time that you’ll want to wear the hanbok.
Make a list of where you want to go to while wearing the hanbok and take into account the time it will take to get to each place and back to the rental shop.
Wear comfortable shoes!
I wore comfortable sneakers since my skirt was floor-length. You can’t tell I’m wearing sneakers and I was able to walk all day with no problems.
Have your make-up done and ready to go.
Most shops don’t offer make-up and since you’ll have limited time think of what you can do to complete your look ahead of time.
Make sure to travel light or that your rental shop has lockers.
Some rental shops have lockers but may charge extra for using them. The one I went to included it in their price. Little things like locker rentals, hair accessories, handbags, etc. may be extra and can add up so consider that when shopping around.
Free Entrance to Palaces
While you’re in Seoul you’ll notice many foreigners and Koreans wearing hanboks especially when visiting palaces. In fact, it’s one of the perks for wearing one because you won’t have to pay the entrance fee. Although renting a hanbok will cost more than the entrance fee to all the places you plan on visiting it’s a great perk. And it’s nice to see so many people in hanboks in one place.
Visiting Palaces and Other Sights
If you have limited time and don’t plan on visiting all the palaces, Gyeongbokgung Palace should be on your list. Upon doing my research of places I wanted to see while wearing a hanbok I found that Gyeongbokgung Palace was a beautiful palace that was picturesque and had a lot to explore.
The Bukchon Hanok Village is the traditional Korean village in Seoul and was also the perfect spot to wander around while wearing a hanbok. It’s important to keep in mind that people do live in the village and to be respectful and quiet when visiting.
Temples and parks are also great places for visiting while wearing a hanbok. When visiting temples, make sure to be respectful especially if there is a service in session. Tourists are almost always welcome. Make sure you and whoever you’re traveling with is appropriately dressed. If you’re in a hanbok you’re already dressed fine.
Return Your Hanbok
When the time is approaching, return your hanbok to the rental shop. Some rental shops may have a grace period of 15-30 minutes while others may charge you for going past the agreed rental time. Return everything you borrowed including your hair accessories. A sales associate is likely yo help you with this so ask if you’re having any trouble.
Are you planning to visit Seoul or another part of South Korea? Hanbok rental shops are available throughout the country since locals also rent them. Yup, buying and cleaning a hanbok can be expensive so some locals also rent hanboks.
And if you’re heading to Seoul make sure to visit some of the cute cafes. The Pink Pool Cafe is an absolute must for anyone who loves an Instagrammable cafe.
Remember when wearing a hanbok, have fun and be respectful. I received many compliments from Koreans who were happy to see me in a hanbok. I wore mine proudly and with grace. I was truly honored to have the opportunity and can’t wait to visit Korea again and have another hanbok experience.
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