The ONE thing Doc Sci told me we absolutely had to do while in Korea was take a picture with all four of us in hanbok, traditional Korean dress.
Today, hanbok is usually only worn on special occasions like weddings, funerals, first birthdays, etc. Some Koreans own it, but some do not. A custom hanbok can be upwards of $700 for an adult since it’s often made of real silk.
To rent hanbok and have a picture taken by a photographer can cost more than $100 for a family of four. No way was I going to pay that, especially knowing that we might not even get one shot with all four of us even looking at the camera.
I’m not sure why, but I found it extremely difficult to locate one resource online that listed all the places where a “hanbok experience” could be had. So, I’m going to consolidate my research here for the next mama who visits Korea with a hanbok-crazed husband. Ha!
- Korean Tourism Organization (main office near Jonggak Station, Subway Line 1, Exit 5). This hanbok experience only happens one week per month. Unfortunately, no website I found stated that, and our visit did not coincide with the October dates. Boo. Cost: free.
- Namsangol Hanok Village (Chungmuro Station, Subway Line 3 or 4 Exit 4). Though the Village opens at 9am, the hanbok experience doesn’t start until 11am (also nowhere to be found online). You need to pay for each person who wants to wear hanbok, and then show your receipt to the attendant. We got a very grumpy lady who was NOT keen on letting all four of us try out hanbok at the same time. After a lot of arguing and pressuring, she finally brought out a second boy’s outfit. The hanboks are in good condition and you can take pictures in several places in the small hanok (house) or on the porch. Be advised that you’ll have to compete with others to try on the hanbok you want and for space to take pictures. No photographer so make friends with other hanbok wearers. Cost: 3,000W per adult and 1,000W per child up to age 7.
- Lotte World Folk Museum (Jamsil Station, Subway Line 2 or 8). Though it was on the itinerary, we didn’t make it here. Since we had success at the Hanok Village (and our Korean friend borrowed hanbok for all four of us as well), it wasn’t worth the long subway ride (over 1 hour). I didn’t mind the admission fee since I think the rest of the folk museum would have been interesting for us and the boys. Cost: 5,000W per adult and 2,000W per child plus 10,000W admission fee for adults (our boys would have been free).
- Gyeongbokgung Palace (Gyeongbokgung Station, Subway Line 3). We had no time to test out the information I found regarding a hanbok experience at the palace. If you do have time, visit the Gyeonghoeru Pavilion from 9:30am to 5:00pm. Apparently, you can also pose here in hanbok with a palace guard. I did read of one or two other palaces offering hanbok, but the comments revealed that the hanbok were tattered and in poor condition. Cost: free.
- Incheon Airport. If you’ve got some time to kill before your flight, head over to the Traditional Korean Cultural Experience Zone. There’s a space on the main drag where you can make Korean crafts for free (or buy expensive ones if you don’t want to make them). But, if you go a little further up the west side of the concourse (we flew out of gate 40 and saw it on the way, but I believe the shop is close to gate 31), you’ll find a place where travelers can try on hanbok. Unfortunately, we didn’t know about this and didn’t leave enough time. Otherwise, we definitely would’ve squeezed in one more hanbok experience. Cost: free.
If you’ve tried on hanbok, leave a link to your picture!