While I was researching for my 3 days in Seoul trip, I somehow always stumbled upon one activity worth having: renting a hanbok in Seoul.
I guess I shouldn’t tell you that I’ve followed all the recommendations and did it. For one half-day, we were the perfect princesses strolling the streets of Seoul.
But I’ll give you all the information you need in order to make the right decision and choice. Both when it comes to the place you want to rent your hanbok from, but also when it comes to prices (the cost to travel in Korea might not be very low, but you can optimize).
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Renting a hanbok in Seoul – is it worth it?
Traditional Korean hanbok – a short introduction
If this is the first time you’ve heard about the hanbok, I won’t judge you, it was my first time as well. And I wasn’t aware you can rent one, and furthermore, walk on the streets of Seoul and take amazing pictures in it.
The Korean hanbok is a dress for semi-formal or formal attire during traditional occasions. The term literally means “Korean clothing”, but the term used today makes reference specifically to the clothing worn during the Joseon dynasty period.
The hanbok consists of a “jeogori” – the upper garment, which covers the arms and upper part of the body both for men and women; and a “chima” – the wrap-around skirt or “baji” – when it comes to the men’s costumes.
You will see that the men’s costumes have usually also a big hat (“gat“) made from horsehair.
Children’s hanbok usually consists of:
- Jeogori – a jacket
- Jokki – a vest
- Bokgeon – a peaked cloth hat
- Hogeon – peaked cloth hat with a tiger pattern
Nowadays, hanboks are classified based on their purpose:
- hanboks for everyday use
- ceremonial dresses – the ones people wear for special ceremonies and occasions
- special dresses – such as the ones for weddings
I can say that the hanboks we tried at Oneday Hanbok rental were two types: the more traditional kind with a straight skirt, and the more modern ones which would accentuate your waistline. Also, at this particular shop, we found mainly “cheaper” hanbok options.
After moving to Seoul, I took my husband for a photo shoot in a hanbok, and we chose to rent premium hanboks. They do cost a little bit more, but the fabric is much better, and the clothes look much nicer. Especially if you are going to pay for a professional photo shoot, you will want to choose the best hanboks, right?
Another fact I was not aware of is that the color of the hanbok symbolized social position and marital status. Engravings such as dragons, phoenixes, cranes, and tigers were only for royalty and high-ranking officials.
Is it socially acceptable to rent a hanbok?
This might be a question that comes to mind whenever you think about having a traditional experience someplace new.
And while in my head I was thinking it would feel a bit awkward wandering around on the streets of Seoul wearing such a dress, the experience was totally different.
Thus, I totally encourage you to look into this and actually rent a hanbok if only for a few hours. People won’t look at you strangely, and on the contrary, they will be happy to see you value their tradition.
Furthermore, you will get free access to some tourist attractions in Seoul, including all the 5 Seoul Palaces, when you will show up wearing a hanbok.
How much does it cost to rent a hanbok in Seoul?
We booked our 4 hours Oneday hanbok rental on Klook.com while I was planning our trip and paid around 30 USD for 2 costumes for 4 hours. This adds up to roughly 17.000 Won per costume, with all the accessories included (hair accessories and handbags).
If you want to rent it for the whole day and have more time to explore Seoul and take pictures, it will set you back 28,000 Korean Won (around 24 USD).
Of course, there are plenty of options and locations, and usually, if you book online you will get a discount.
After moving to Seoul, I had the same experience with my husband, and rented a more sophisticated hanbok, at Arang Hanbok. They have princess-like hanboks and can also offer 2-in-1 photoshoots and hanbok rental services. It is true that they are not a budget-friendly option, but this can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience worth spending a bit more on.
Since this place is usually booked way in advance, you can check out other premium hanbok options, at more affordable price ranges online. If you rent your princess dress from here, you will pay around 27 USD for 3 hours.
If you have decided that you want to have your pictures taken by a professional local photographer, you can book your session together with the hanbok. This is a combo and you won’t have to worry about finding a photographer, booking an available time slot, renting the hanbok separately, and more. See more about the experience here!
Where to rent a hanbok
When it comes to where to rent a hanbok in Seoul things are relatively simple:
- You either go directly to the most touristic areas of Seoul, where you will find plenty of options and shops. Especially in the Bukchon Hanok Village area
- Or, as we did, you rent your hanbok online ahead of time. This way you don’t have to wander around looking for places and have everything arranged ahead of time, with a potential discount.
Between the 2, I would always choose the second option. While there are plenty of options around Bukchon Hanok Village, the best ones, those that offer really nice hanboks, are usually hidden and sold out in advance.
We had to provide an ID for both hanboks and to pay 10.000 won as a deposit for each dress.
How was renting a hanbok like
Since we had booked the hanbok for 4 hours, we started the day directly by taking the dresses.
As I said, finding the place was really easy, and its location was close to the main picture-perfect spots we were going to visit later on.
After climbing a few steps and checking in at the reception, we were guided to the main room with hundreds of colorful hanboks hung in the wardrobes. Even though it was around 10 in the morning, and it was winter in Seoul, the room was still filled with women trying on different hanboks.
The ladies working there in charge of helping us dress, let us decide which 2 dresses we wanted to try on before choosing the final option. I must say this was the hardest part!
If you don’t decide after the 2nd option, you will have to pay an additional tax for further trying on other hanboks.
Having to choose between tens, if not hundreds of beautiful colorful hanboks, and wearing only one was a hard thing!
After trying on one traditional dress, my eyes lay on this modern baby blue hanbok, with one of the most beautiful pale pink embroideries. It was love at first sight!
Once we got to choose the accessories to wear in our hair and the purses, off we went to take some of the greatest pictures in Seoul.
Judging this based on my second experience of renting a hanbok in Seoul, I would say that going premium is worth it also for the accessories and attention you get. The second time around, the ladies did my hair and used really nice accessories. We even got to wear traditional shoes and the photographer brought props to use during the photo session.
Best picture spots for your hanbok photography
Since most hanbok rental places are conveniently located in one of the best picture spots you will find in Seoul, you can just step outside walk a few hundred meters, and start shooting.
However, we want it all and chose 4 locations for our pictures in a hanbok, all conveniently located close to one another, so that you can have an easy itinerary:
- Gyeongbokgung Palace
- National Folk Museum of Korea
- Bukchon Hanok Village
- The tea house in Bukchon Hanok
Get some other picture perfect spots in Seoul from my complete list of Instagrammable places!
Don’t stress out too much if you cannot make it to more palaces, they more or less all look the same, and the pictures will be lovely as long as you catch the right angle.
If, however, you don’t have all the best equipment to shoot, or you want couples’ pictures, the best way is to hire a professional photoshoot.
Not only will the person know the perfect places for taking pictures in a hanbok, but he or she will know how to make it happen. The right angle, the right light.
And you’ll have some beautiful pictures in a hanbok you will always remember.
Check out photoshoot options here and book your session in advance!
Is renting a hanbok in Seoul worth it in the end?
My final verdict: TOTALLY! Book your hanbok rental when you have enough time in Seoul.
Not only did we get to feel like princesses for a few hours, but we also had a lot of fun, and have some really great pictures to remind us of our trip to Seoul.
We somehow felt like celebrities because a lot of people took pictures of us, and wanted to take pictures with us. I guess it is something worth considering if you don’t like the attention.
Most importantly, we loved the dresses and we had a great time. In conclusion, I couldn’t recommend this experience when you visit Seoul.
Other South Korea Travel Resources
- Check out my perfect 3 days in Seoul itinerary, and you’ll fit in all the iconic Seoul places on a long weekend.
- Take the most Instagram-worthy pictures by following my ultimate list of Instagrammable places in Seoul
- Choose the best place to stay in Seoul no matter if you visit the city for the first or 10th time.
- Visit the best and most photo-worthy cafes in Seoul
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