Renting a hanbok in Seoul is one of the most unique and memorable ways to experience Korean culture. Just imagine wandering around historic sites, transformed into a Joseon-era princess, and you’ll understand exactly why the Korean Hanbok Experience in Seoul is so incredibly popular.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- what a traditional Korean hanbok is made up of
- where to rent hanboks near Gyeongbokgung Palace and other important sites in Seoul
- how to wear one properly
- how to get the best prices on a Seoul hanbok rental
- the most captivating spots to have a hanbok photo shoot in Seoul with itineraries
- a map of recommended hanbok rental shops and photo spots
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Jump to what you want.
- 1 What is a Korean hanbok?
- 2 Renting a Hanbok in Seoul
- 3 Where to rent a hanbok in Seoul
- 4 Renting a Hanbok in Seoul: What to Expect
- 5 Seoul Hanbok Rental Map
- 6 Best Places for a Korean Hanbok Photo Shoot
What is a Korean hanbok?
If you’re planning a hanbok rental in Seoul, you should know exactly what a hanbok actually is, right?
Well, simply put, a Korean hanbok is literally just translated as “Korean clothing.” It’s most typically associated with the Joseon Dynasty period from 1392 to 1910. Historically, there was a huge collection of hanbok, ranging from informal to formal. The style, colour and accessories worn with the hanbok would denote rank, marital status, and profession. And most Koreans wore them in their daily life, until just 100 years ago.
These days, you’ll likely only see Koreans wearing hanbok for special occasions or holidays like Chuseok, Lunar New Year, weddings, and birthdays. For me, a sighting is always kind of a special experience, simply because it’s so rare in modern life.
The Modern Hanbok
Hanbok have evolved as much as Korea’s culture and society. Today, modern hanbok are rooted in tradition, but adapted to the needs of living in modern civilization. Now, you can find hanbok with shorter lengths and contemporary design details, which are attracting a whole new class of customers, in Korea and around the world.
What does a Korean hanbok consist of?
Korean hanbok have graceful lines, are vibrantly coloured using natural dyes, and made for expressive motion. Try spinning around while wearing one and you’ll see exactly what I mean. The proportions of the hanbok make the wearer look as if they’re floating on air.
A woman’s hanbok is made up of a wide bell-like skirt called a chima, and a slim-fitting top or jacket called a jeogori. Traditionally, there’s also an undershirt and pantaloons to wear beneath the jeogori.
> Insider tip: If you’re renting a hanbok in Seoul, it won’t include the undershirt and pantaloons. Usually, you just wear the skirt and jacket on top of your regular clothes, so be sure to wear something cool and comfortable, especially during summer in Korea. Leggings or shorts, and a slim fitting t-shirt would be good options depending on the season. Wear good shoes for lots of walking!
A man’s hanbok consists of a vest, jeogori and loose fitting pair of pants called baji. Don’t make the mistake of thinking this is plain or simple though. Men’s hanboks can be just as dramatic and intricate as women’s.
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul
There are literally dozens of places to rent a hanbok in Seoul. Most are concentrated in the Jongno district, near the city’s most important historic attractions and sites for good reason. However, it IS possible to find hanbok rental at other places, like the N Seoul Tower, in Myeongdong and even at the Coex Aquarium (where a hanbok experience is included free with your ticket until the end of 2019).
If you’re visiting during a busy holiday season like Chuseok or Lunar New Year, be sure to reserve your hanbok in advance online. For the best selection, arrive at the hanbok rental store in Seoul as early in the morning as possible.
How to rent a hanbok in Seoul at the best prices
The best way to rent a hanbok in Seoul is undoubtedly by reserving one online. Prices are discounted and the whole process is easy and convenient. I’m not just saying this – I know from personal experience.
I’ve rented hanbok in Seoul, twice for my daughter. The first time we just walked from store to store, and the whole experience was chaotic, confusing and messy. The second time, I reserved my Seoul hanbok rental in advance at Hanboknam near Gyeongbokgung Palace via Klook, and the whole process was streamlined and peaceful, not to mention cheaper.
Where to rent a hanbok in Seoul
The following shops are the most well-known and popular places for renting a hanbok in Seoul.
Hanboknam has over 500 different hanbok to choose from, in both traditional and themed styles. There’s also a ton of accessories to borrow, like hairpieces, shoes or purses AND they offer free traditional hairstyling with every hanbok rental. Prices start as low as 8,000 won when you book online.
Hanboknam has multiple stores in Seoul to rent a hanbok. Choose the store that’s closest to your preferred photo shoot location to save time. If you’re not sure, you’ll find a map and itinerary ideas below.
- Rent a hanbok in Seoul at Hanboknam near Gyeongbokgung
- Reserve your hanbok at Hanboknam near Changdeokgung
- Get your hanbok rental voucher at Hanboknam’s Bukchon Location
Oneday Hanbok Rental is one of the most popular stores to rent a hanbok near Bukchon Hanok Village. It’s been booked almost 50,000 times on Klook alone. There, you can rent hanboks for either 4 or 24 hours, with prices starting at 17,400 won.
A big advantage of booking at Oneday Hanbok is that you can specify a particular time for your hanbok rental. That means you’ll bypass anyone who doesn’t already have a voucher.
Seohwa Hanbok has a slightly higher price point, but it’s known for having some of the most beautiful hanbok available for rent. You’ll also have access to hair bands, ribbons, and handbags for free, unlike at the other hanbok rental shops.
Hanbok 3355 offers hanbok rental in Seoul in several different styles, from Standard to Premium. Their Standard and Modern hanbok styles come in sizes ranging from small to 3XL.
Renting a Hanbok in Seoul: What to Expect
Each hanbok rental outlet in Seoul has slightly different opening hours and rules, so be sure to read the fine print when making your booking.Generally speaking though, this is what you can expect when renting a hanbok in Seoul.
- Find the hanbok store you made your reservation at.
- Present the voucher for your hanbok rental to the staff.
- You’ll be required to leave a valid passport or ID card, which you’ll get back when you return the hanbok.
- You can usually try on 2 different sets of hanbok, before deciding on the one you’ll rent for the day. There may be a time limit for doing this. Don’t be shy about asking the staff for help. They have tons of experience doing this and will be able to help you with getting the right fit.
- You put on the skirt or chima first, and the jacket or jeogori goes on top.
- Get your hair done if it’s included with your rental, and select any extra accessories you want to borrow.
- Most places have free lockers for you to leave any shoes or clothes you don’t need to take with you.
- If you return your hanbok late, there will be extra charges or fees levied, so be sure to book enough time when you make your reservation.
- Head out and make memorable photos of your hanbok experience in Seoul.
Seoul Hanbok Rental Map
The map below includes all the hanbok rental shops in Seoul I recommended in blue. The red markers show the locations of all the most captivating places to have a photo shoot in the city’s historic areas.
How much time do I need?
If you’ve rented your Korean hanbok for a full day, you could totally walk between all the places on this map and have a truly epic photo shoot. However, if your Seoul hanbok rental is just for a few hours, it’s probably wiser to concentrate on a few places only.
I’ve created some possible itineraries, based on the length of time you’ve rented your hanbok for.
Itineraries for a 1.5 to 2 hour Hanbok Rental in Seoul
If you’re really limited for time, it’s best to visit 1 or 2 locations maximum, provided they’re close to each other. You should also rent your hanbok from the store that’s closest to where you want to take pictures.
Renting a hanbok in Seoul for just 90 minutes is totally possible, but ONLY at the Hanboknam stores (there are multiple locations). 2 hour rentals are available at Seohwa Hanbok and Hanbok 3355.
Here’s a few potential itineraries to choose from:
- Get your Seoul hanbok rental from Hanboknam’s Gyeongbokgung location, then visit Gyeongbokgung, Gwanghwamun Gate and Gwanghwamun Square.
- Rent your hanbok from Hanbok 3355 near Bukchon, then head to Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheongdong-gil. FYI: Hanbok 3355’s Bukchon location is closed on Mondays.
- Visit Hanboknam’s Changdeokgung store, then continue onto nearby Changdeokgung Palace and the Secret Garden.
Itineraries for Renting a Hanbok in Seoul for 4 hours
If you’ve rented a hanbok in Seoul for 4 hours, you can range a bit further. Here are a few possible itineraries:
- Rent from Seohwa Hanbok, then visit Gwanghwamun Gate, Gyeongbokgung, Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheongdong-gil.
- Visit Hanboknam’s Changdeokgung store, then go to Insadong-gil, Cheonggyecheon Stream, and finish off at the Deoksugung Stone-wall Road.
Best Places for a Korean Hanbok Photo Shoot
After renting a hanbok in Seoul, you need to know where the best locations are for a photo shoot. To really work the whole Joseon-era princess thing, these are the locations I recommend. If you have time, try to mix it up by visiting 1 palace and at least one other non-palace location.
Seoul’s Joseon Dynasty Palaces
Seoul has 5 royal palaces from the Joseon Dynasty, each with a different character and unique features. The most popular palaces for a hanbok photo shoot are undoubtedly Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung.
> PRO TIP: Entrance into all of Seoul’s palaces is free if you’re wearing a Korean hanbok
Gwanghwamun Gate (광화문)
Gwanghwamun is Gyeongbokgung’s main gate. It’s huge, intricate and an amazing place to get the first photos of your hanbok rental in Seoul. If you time your visit for 10AM or 2PM any day, you can catch the Changing of the Royal Guards ceremony in front of the Gate as well.
> REMEMBER: Gyeongbokgung Palace is closed on Tuesdays, so there’s no Changing of the Guards Ceremony that day.
Gyeongbokgung is the most popular palace to visit because of its grandeur and scale. There’s tons of amazing spots to do a hanbok shoot and you’ll end up with truly memorable photos.
Changdeokgung Palace and Huwon
Changdeokgung is considered by many to be the most harmonious and lovely of all of Seoul’s palaces. It’s Huwon or Secret Garden is incredibly lush and picturesque. Choose this for your photo shoot if you want to avoid busyness and crowds. You’ll adore finding secluded spots in the Huwon to snap pics.
PRO TIP: The Huwon is quiet because the only way you can enter is via guided tour, which you can book here. Once you’re inside though, you don’t really have to stick with the tour. You can just wander around by yourself to take pictures. Keep in mind that Changdeokgung is closed on Mondays.
Deoksugung Stone-wall Road
This 1100 metre stone-wall next to Deoksugung Palace is incredibly stunning during autumn in Seoul, when its 130 trees sheds thousands of golden coloured leaves.
If you’ve got time, be sure to visit at least 1 non-palace location for some variety in your pics. Bukchon Hanok Village and Jogyesa Temple are particularly photogenic spots, but you could also check out the following locations. If you’re not sure of distances, be sure to check the map above.
- Gwanghwamun Square
- Cheonggyecheon Stream