The colourful hanbok, a 1,600-year-old traditional Korean dress, is a common sight on the streets of Seoul with many visitors renting a hanbok and wandering through the city’s historic areas. Renting a hanbok is an awesome way to embrace Korean culture and make some unique memories in Seoul. Having spent a day exploring the city in colourful hanboks we’ve put together our guide on renting a hanbok in Seoul: it includes our recommendations and tips on renting a hanbok together with the best places to visit and take photos while wearing a hanbok.
What is a Hanbok?
A Hanbok is Korean traditional dress and refers to the traditional clothes worn by men, women and children. Hanboks are colourful and typically consist of a fitted jacket and a wide skirt for women and trousers for men. In the past, the hanbok was worn daily but now it is reserved for special occasions such as weddings and festival. Koreans and visitors are encouraged to dress in the celebratory outfit.
Renting a Hanbok is one of the most popular and fun things to do in Seoul! The city streets are full of Koreans and tourists visiting its palaces and historic areas dressed in hanboks. Wearing a hanbok is a unique way to experience Korea tradition and culture while visiting Seoul.
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul tip: We were concerned that wearing a hanbok as a tourist would be considered offensive or as cultural appropriation. This is not deemed to be the case in South Korea, where they enjoyed seeing tourists wearing traditional clothing.
Where to Stay in Seoul
Seoul is a massive city and choosing where to stay can be very confusing. To make the most of your time in Seoul we recommend staying as central as possible. The areas that are best to base yourself are Namdaemun, Myeong-dong and Insa-dong
- Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun – Where we chose to stay during our time in Seoul and this hotel didn’t disappoint. The Marriott Seoul Namdaemun is located right beside the lively Namdaemun market and is a short walk to most of the city sights. The executive lounge has stunning views across Seoul and the rooms are a true luxury. Did we mention that the breakfast buffet is incredible! – check prices now!
- Hotel28 Myeongdong – Located in the heart of Myeondong, Hotel 28 is a great budget choice and perfectly located for exploring the city. The hotel is close to the subway and a short walk from many great restaurants and sights – check prices now!
- Aloft Seoul Myeongdong – The Aloft Seoul is a great value, modern hotel with spacious rooms, a gym and 24-hour business centre. Plus the breakfast buffet is amazing with Western and Korean foods – check prices now!
- Orakai Insadong Suites – this is a great option in Insadong for anyone looking for an apartment style hotel. With on-site laundry, great breakfast buffet and fantastic location the Orakai Suites are a perfect base for exploring Seoul – check prices now!
We purchased Sim card on Klook and it was super-useful during our time in Seoul. Having mobile data while exploring the city was invaluable. We recommend the KT Olleh sim card provider which we used without any problems during our time in South Korea., plus it’s cheaper if you order in advance with Klook – click here to order now!
If you have more than one device and don’t want to get separate sim cards you should consider renting a 4G Wifi portable hotspot. They’re great if you need to connect more than just your phone while on the go – click here to order now!
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul
There are lots of Hanbok rental shops dotted around the city. It’s important to be aware that the quality and variety of the hanboks vary between stores. As we were keen to rent a high quality and vibrant hanbok we spent a lot of time researching the best hanbok rentals in Seoul.
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul tip: we recommend reserving a Hanbok online in advance as it is an incredibly popular activity in Seoul. Booking in advance means guaranteed availability and no waiting in long lines at the shop. Advance reservations also tend to be quite heavily discounted for many activities in Seoul so reserving in advance is also a great way to save money.
Best Hanbok Rental in Seoul
We used the Klook app to reserve our hanboks in Seoul and saved almost 50% on the in-store price. There are lots of stores offering hanbok rentals but we highly recommend both the Hanboknam Kyeonbokgung Store located in Gyeongbokgung and the Oneday Hanbok rental store located between the Gyeongbokgung & Changdeokgung Palaces
These are two of the best shops with the very best hanbok and accessory selections. Most importantly, both stores are located close to some of the best locations for taking photos in your hanbok.
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul tip: Hanbok rental shops rent by the hour, half day (4 hours) and full day (24 hours). As the photo locations and palaces are relatively spread out we recommend renting your hanbok for the full day. This will allow lots of time to explore the village and palaces.
Gyeongbokgung Store in Hanboknam: We chose to rent from this store as the location is perfect. It’s right beside the Bucheok Hanok village and between the two main palaces of Gyeongbokgung & Changdeokgung. They have a great selection of hanboks and accessories and hair styling is provided in the rental cost. Elaine loved getting her hair styled by the staff and there is also a studio there allowing you to do your own makeup before setting off to explore the city – Click here for prices!
Address: Hanboknam Kyeonbokgung Store, 109 Sogyeok-dong Jongno-gu, Seoul
- A choice of over 500 hanboks
- Selection of traditional or themed hanboks. We rented a themed hanbok.
- Hanbok Rental with inner skirt
- Hairstyling by shop staff
- Studio to prepare yourself in
One Day Banbok: this is one of the most popular hanbok rental stores in Seoul and for good reason. The selection here is massive and the location is fantastic. One of the benefits of One Day Bankok is that you can book same-day, 4 hour or 24-hour packages – Click here for prices!
Address: 2nd Floor, 4 Bukchonro5-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
- Hanbok Rental with inner skirt
- Hairstyling service
- Female hair accessories including hair-styling tools such as hair curlers, bobby pins and hair bands
- Studio to prepare yourself in
At the time of reserving your hanbok, some stores offer a choice of a traditional or themed Hanbok. A traditional hanbok has a simple design with a single coloured skirt. A themed hanbok has more elaborate detailing in the design. We rented a themed hanbok.
At the Hanbok store
Aim to arrive a few minutes before your pickup time. This will give you some time to browse the selection of hanboks and also allow for any queues at the shops. On busy days the rental shops can get very busy will long lines.
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul tip: we recommend reserving your Hanbok early in the morning when the store opens. As the day progress, the seleciton of Hanboks lessens as they are rented out.
Choosing your Hanbok
Most Hanbok rental shops allow customers to select two hanboks to try on. The staff are really helpful and will help size and fit your hanbok and show you how to wear the various pieces of clothing.
Women can choose from a variety of different dress styles and can also opt for accessories such as sun umbrellas, bags and hair clips.
Ladies also have the option of getting their hair braided in traditional styles. Elaine chose to do this and loved it.
Men can choose from a number of styles with waist, knee and ankle length jackets and a pair of loose pants underneath. Men can also decide whether to rent a hat or not. At the time I chose not to, however, I soon regretted it as they looked so awesome!
The two shops we recommend also have a small selection of children’s hanboks.
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul tip: Hanbok rentals for children are priced the same as adults so make sure to reserve online for the discounted price. We assumed J would be cheaper in the store but ended up having to quickly purchase his Hanbok rental on our Klook app in the store!
Make sure to bring your passport when renting a Hanbok. Most rental stores require a passport to be left as a deposit for the hanbok.
Changing and Storing your belongings
Changing rooms are provided in the rental shops and personal lockers are available for your belongings. This is super useful as you can store your clothes at the store. Obviously, it’s best not to leave valuables.
What to wear under your hanbok
We often get asked what to wear under a hanbok! Hanboks are essentially decorative traditional clothes so it’s best to wear some light clothing underneath.
For both men and women, we recommend wearing a light short-sleeved top with a pair of tight lycra shorts in the summer. In winter, when temperatures drop, some thermal layers will help keep you warm.
Renting a hanbok in Seoul tip: we suggest wearing sneakers or other comfortable shoes as you will be walking a lot. If you are of average height the Hanbok should cover your shoes. However, it’s best to take a pair of cute shoes for photos so as not to ruin the look!
Returning the Hanbok
When you leave the store you will be given a time by which the Hanbok needs to be returned. A late return or excessive dirt or damage to the Hanbok may incur an additional fee.
Free entry to the 5 grand palaces of Seoul
A visit to at least one of the five grand palaces is almost mandatory when sightseeing in Seoul! Visitors wearing a Hanbok receive free entry to the 5 grand palaces of Seoul with the entrance fee waived at Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Gyeonghuigung Palace, Deoksugung Palace and Changgyeonggung Palace.
Best days for renting Hanboks
If you can, avoid renting a hanbok on Monday or Tuesday. Instead, try to rent from Wednesday to Sunday.
On Monday’s four of the five grand palaces are closed with only Gyeongbokgung Palace open. Gyeongbokgung Palace, one of the best spots for capturing photos, is closed on Tuesday.
Best places for Hanbok photos in Seoul
Changdeokgung Palace, the Bukchon Hanok Village and Gyeongbokgung Palace are our favourite places to visit when wearing our hanboks.
Bukchon Hanok Village: a traditional Korean village in the heart of Seoul. the narrow streets are lined with traditional Korean house dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. Given its traditional setting, the picturesque village is one of the most popular areas to venture when renting hanboks.
Changdeokgung Palace: one of the five grand palaces of Seoul and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Changdeokgung Palace is home to the Secret Garden. The lush gardens are wonderful to explore and are home to a lotus pond as well as pavilions and pagodas. We recommend booking tickets to the Secret Garden on the day you rent your hanbok as it’s a beautiful and picturesque setting.
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul tip: the Secret Garden is only accessible by joining a tour and requires a separate ticket in addition to the palace entrance.
Gyeongbokgung Palace: another of the five grand palaces of Seoul. Gyeongbokgung is the biggest palace and was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty. The grounds are beautiful and we loved the traditional wooden buildings and the beautiful lakes.
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul tip: the Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed on Tuesdays while most of the other historical sites close on Monday. Make sure to catch the changing of the guards’ ceremony which takes place at 10am and 2pm at Gwanghwamun, the main gate of Gyeongbokgung.
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