Since I booked our SoKor tickets four months before the February travel dates, I already told my mom that no one from my big family (a group of 15 btw) who’s traveling with me can stop me from wearing a hanbok now. I missed it on our first trip back in 2015, missing it twice is like a slap in my face. Fast forward four months, I’m outside Incheon International Airport, slowly freezing to death in a negative 1 degree Celcius. “Oh sh*t, this weather’s gonna stop me from my hanbok bucket list,” slightly giving up. Good thing, I didn’t book any hanbok rental on Klook.
On our way to Gyeongbokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgung Palace is the most famous and largest palace in Seoul. Most of the k-dramas set in the dynasty period have shot here. So I thought it is the perfect place to wear their traditional dress hanbok. It will just be like your own historical Korean drama.
We went to the palace after we had lunch at Seoul Station and arrived already at past 2 pm. The sun was shining brightly at us, and somehow 8 degrees didn’t seem cold anymore. I didn’t know if my body had adjusted with the weather after four days, or maybe it was just not a windy day. So while we were standing in the middle of the entrance of the palace, I told my dad that I’d be renting a hanbok, and they can just wait for me inside. What surprised me is what happened next. My dad declared that we all should rent one, and some might react violently, but democracy won in the end. It turned out most of my family secretly wanted to rent one too!!
Renting our Hanboks
We rented our hanboks on Pink, near Gyeongbokgung Station Exit 4 just before you cross to the palace, suggested by a friend who went a week earlier. It was empty on a Monday afternoon, a lot different from the reviews and blogs I’ve read regarding how jam-packed hanbok rental shops are (esp. if you purchased via Klook).
As we entered Pink, the price was displayed already. It turned out, men’s hanbok was more expensive than the ladies’. I don’t know why. The owner went crazy when she saw how big our group was but ushered us politely. Since we were 15, we haggled down the 2-hour hanbok rental into 10,000KRW (500PHP) for both men and ladies. She agreed, and then at an instant, we were all over the shop, excitedly picking our hanboks.
TIP: It is better to rent in the mornings, the better designs and colors were rented already leaving the not so good quality ones in the afternoon.
But still, there’s a lot of choices to choose from. I ended up going on a baby pink since I don’t want anything that is so colorful and striking. The ahjumma helped me wear it outside my clothes (minus the coat) and made me sit in front of a vanity mirror to braid my hair. There was not much conversation, just a lot of pulling my arms and finger-pointing due to the language barrier.
We left our coats and bags in the rental shop and only brought our valuables. The hanbok seemed to be as effective as our coats. I thought I’ll freeze my a$$ off on wearing only my thermal, long sleeves, and hanbok but turned out it was just fine on 8-degree weather. Or maybe because the sun is shining brightly too and it is a different story when it’s rainy.
Hanbok Photoshoot in the Palace
While we were discussing random things at the entrance of the Gyeongbokgung Palace, a guard shouted at us “Hanbok! Free Entrance!”. I’ve read about it on other blogs before and Koreans were not much of scammers. We were spared of the 3,000KRW (~150PHP) entrance fee.
And, of course, if you’re wearing a traditional dress in a beautiful palace, you just need to take so many photos. Who knows when will I, we, be coming back?
At 4 PM, the wind was starting to get chilly, and the temperature was dropping. The cold was already getting on our skin, but it was also the time to bring back our rentals. We walked back to the shop with so much energy (and photos) from this experience. We talked about our different encounters with other tourists and laughing about all the crazy poses we did.
Who would have thought that this hanbok experience is an excellent family bonding?
So it is possible to wear hanbok in winter?
Well, yes, as long as it is not negative 5. The hanboks are thicker than you think it is. It got us through 5-8 degrees Celsius without coats and just two layers of clothes. This thing was more not tolerable in summer because you’ll surely sweat in it. But if its snowing and you wanted that hanbok photo and experience, well then you can always wear a coat and take it off in photo time. And I also heard they have winter hanboks (with fleece and everything) so better check on that.
If you have enough budget, you should try this hanbok photoshoot packages. I would definitely try this next time!
Have you ever tried a hanbok? Or planning to rent one soon? Let’s talk or compare notes on the comment section below!