We recently chose to stay to do a hanok homestay during our trip to South Korea. There are many things about it that make it a fantastic option for families traveling with small children. A hanok is a traditional Korean home. The homes can be hundreds of years old but the ones available for stays have been somewhat renovated with such features as indoor plumbing in order to make it a bit more convenient and safe for guests. Paper pasted walls, old-style furniture and traditional decor add to the ambiance (although most have a TV and wifi). Most of the homes still retain the traditional ondol method of heating which is a method used in South Korea to heat the home through the floor only. The ondol heating certainly makes the futon on the floor a cozy place to curl up after a cold day exploring Seoul. The hanok that we stayed at was called Gongsimga. We would certainly recommend it and there are many other fantastic ones in the area.
If your children already sleep with you then the bed in the hanok should be an easy transition. Miss C typically sleeps in her own room in our home in Bangkok, so it took a little while for her to fall asleep with us in the room. However, once she fell asleep she slept very well in the cozy bed. Even though the bed was designed for two guests, it was plenty roomy for two adults and a toddler. Miss C was so excited to see the room after being cooped up on the plane that she flopped down on the bed and kept rolling around. It was adorable! (It got less adorable an hour or so after her bedtime).
Fantastic Accommodating Hosts
Our hosts loved that we had a baby with us and totally fawned over her. They made her a special breakfast every morning and made sure she had a comfortable place to sleep. They also helped us find an open restaurant when we arrived late but hadn’t eaten dinner yet. Each morning the host family we stayed with made us a traditional Korean breakfast. We all ate together with the family and other guests in the hanok. One morning we were eating breakfast and Miss C was still asleep. The host heard her wake up and he just popped in our room and grabbed her. They really made it seem like were one big family.
Great Location Near Attractions
The list of tourist attractions in Seoul is huge and I realized after a day there that we would need many trips to see everything I had hoped to see. The city is seriously big and it takes a long time to travel from one side to the other.
However, the area where many of the hanoks are located is very close to two of the most popular palaces – Gyeonbokgung and Changdeokgung. The palaces are beautiful this time of year. The Bukchon Hanok Village itself is a popular tourist attraction for visitors who want to experience the traditional way of life. Many of the homes operate as guesthouses, but walking through the village you can also try your hand at some traditional arts and crafts or sit awhile at a teahouse. Other popular areas in Seoul such as Myeongdong and Namdaeman Market are only a few subway stops away as well. When traveling with kids, it is always nice to cut down on travel time to attractions and we found a hanok stay to do just that for our trip.
Some tips: We found a wide variety of room rates depending on what was included and the size of the accomodations. Our hanok stay was a great experience but it is not for everyone. If you place a high value on comfort and privacy, Seoul has many great hotels. However, if you are the type of traveler who is willing to sacrifice a bit of comfort for a fantastic cultural experience, then definitely look into a hanok stay!