Written by: Emily Creasman
Photos by Emily Creasman
Incheon’s Chinatown was established in 1884 following Incheon’s designation as a territory of Qing China in 1883. As waves of Qing Chinese settlers moved to the port in search of work, the town became a popular hub for Chinese culture and food. Nowadays, Chinatown is home to many 2nd and 3rd generation Chinese and attracts visitors from all over Korea with its historical status and preserved culture and remains as the only officially designated Chinatown in all of Korea! Visiting Chinatown makes for a perfect and easy day trip. Here are some of the things you can do:
1.) Visit the Jjajangmyeon Museum
The Jjajangmyeon Museum is a small museum detailing the history of Korea’s iconic dish Jjajangmyeon (black bean noodles). Jjajangmyeon, while now recognized as a distinctly Korean dish, was initially developed by Chinese immigrant Woo Hee-Gwang. Woo moved to Incheon to start a business feeding and lodging Chinese laborers and merchants. In 1912, he founded his restaurant Gonghwachun and it was there that he created the dish Jjajangmyeon based on the Chinese dish zhajiangmian. Jjajangmyeon became extremely popular among Koreans and is nowadays recognized as a staple of Korean cuisine. The restaurant was closed in 1983 and the building was later renovated into the Jjajangmyeon Museum!
Address: 56-14 China town-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon
Hours: Tues-Sun 9:00-6:00
2.) Eat at Gonghwachun and Simnihyang
As mentioned above, Gonghwachun is recognized as the birthplace of Jjajangmyeon. While the original Gonghwachun closed in 1983, it later reopened at a new location just a few buildings away! The new building is an impressive 4-stories tall with a bright red exterior. After building up your appetite for Jjajangmyeon at the museum, head over to Gonghwachun to try their Jjajangmyeon for yourself! You can also stop by Simnihyang, a popular frontside store selling brazier-baked dumplings made in a traditional Chinese pipkin cooked at 200 degrees!
Gonghwachun Address: 인천 중구 차이나타운로 43
Hours: Daily 10:00-9:30
Simnihyang Address: 인천 중구 차이나타운로 50-2
Hours: Daily 12:00-8:00
3.) Rent out 1900’s clothes at Jang Boutique
For a fun activity to do with friends or a partner, head over to Jang Boutique! At Jang’s, you can rent out both men’s and women’s 1900s vintage-inspired outfits including dresses, hats, bags, and accessories. Prices range from as little as 15,000 won for 1 hour to 50,000 won for 2 days. After getting dressed up, roam the streets of Chinatown and take fun pictures in your new looks! The boutique even has a 1900’s inspired decorated room for taking selfies and offers in-house photoshoots: 5,000 won for a black and white photo or 8,000 won for a colored photo.
Address: 인천광역시 중구 북성동2가 10-15
Hours: Sun-Mon 11:00-7:00; Fri-Sat 10:00-7:00
4.) Stroll around Jayu Park
Known as the first Western-style park in Korea, Jayu Park (or called Freedom Park) was built five years after the opening of Incheon Port in 1883. Leisurely walk along the paths full of trees and get an amazing view of Incheon’s harbor below.
At Jayo Park, visitors can also view the USA Centennial Monument and Douglas MacArthur statue. The USA Centennial Monument was built in 1982 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Korea and the U.S. following the Battle of Incheon. The Battle of Incheon, also known as Operation Chromite, was a strategic move done by the U.S. under the leadership of MacArther during the Korean War. While MacArthur was initially criticized for wanting to port at Incheon, the move ended in Seoul being recaptured from North Korea and turned the tides of the war back into the favor of the United Nations.
Address: 25, Jayugongwonnam-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon
Hours: Always open
5.) Walk along Samgukji Mural Street
Along the walls of Samgukji Mural Street, you can see 160 painted pictures depicting important moments from the Three Kingdoms Period in China. Popular stories depicted on the walls include tales of the Do Won Resolution and Jeokbyeok War.
Address: 인천 중구 제물량로 262-15
Hours: Always open
6.) Climb the steps of the Historical Cultural Street
After walking up the Samgukji Mural Street, turn the corner and head back down for yet another interesting piece of history. After Japan’s concession in 1883 and Qing China’s concession in 1884, a staircase was established as a border between the two settlements; Chinese-style buildings were made on the left side of the stairs while Japanese-style buildings were made on the right. The difference in styles can even be seen in the lanterns lining the path: the Chinese side has more geometrical designs while the Japanese side has more curved ones. At the top center of the steps you can also view a statue of Confucius.
Address: 106 Sinpo-ro 27beon-gil, Gwan-dong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Incheon
Hours: Always open
7.) Visit Uiseondang
Uiseondang is a small Chinese shrine initially established in the 1850’s by Chinese immigrants to bring them good luck and prosperity in the new foreign land. After the Korean War, the temple was turned into a shamanistic bagua educational center before being renovated in 2006 through the funding of the Chinese people and government.
There are five statues inside the shrine: a Guan Yin Bodhisattva statue looking out over those deceased; a Guan Yu statue that is supposed to help you earn money; a grandmother statue who answers prayers regarding offspring; a grandfather mountain spirit statue that protects those traveling and on mountain treks; and a dragon statue that watches over boats going to China. Uiseondang is easy to miss, so just be on the lookout for the mural outside its walls!
Address: 9-16 Gaho-dong, Jung-gu, Incheon
8.) Unwind with some tea and coffee at Café Akira
When you’re ready for a break, head on over to the trendy Café Akira for some tea, coffee, and dessert. Tucked away in a small side alley, Café Akira is a Japanese-style café that has been growing in popularity over the last couple of months. Featuring a simple and cozy but modern aesthetic, Café Akira is the perfect spot to relax and snap some insta-worthy photos. Furthermore, their drinks are delicious. Try out one of their special teas such as the Kyoto Iced Tea with a blend of apple, rooibos, and lemon, or the Tokyo Momo with blended hibiscus and peach.
Address: 16-24 China town-ro 44beon-gil, Jung-gu, Incheon
Hours: everyday 12:00-9:00
With good food, great sights, and a unique history, Incheon’s Chinatown makes for an exciting and easy day trip. After you’ve finished wandering Chinatown, head over to Incheon’s Fairytale Village or Gaehang-ro street for even more adventures! Happy travels!