Visit Seoul: Travel Guide to Myeongdong, Itaewon, & More
Maximize your trip to Seoul! Travel from one district to another via this hop on, hop off tour bus with a flexible ticket policy.
Travel like a local by visiting Seoul’s vibrant neighborhoods! This Seoul travel guide covers the things to do in Itaewon, Gangnam, Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Dongdaemun.
Are you going to take the subway or bus in Seoul? Make sure to purchase a stored-value transportation card to get some discount on your fares. Check the price here.
Info on the must-try restaurants and Instagrammable places in Seoul are also found below to help you build your Seoul itinerary.
Exploring the Neighborhoods of Seoul: Travel like a Local
Seoul. This is the first thing that usually comes to mind when one thinks of visiting Korea. The capital is widely known to be the it city, the North Star to those who live for Korean fashion, cuisine, pop culture, and technology. But while people’s perception of Seoul is already quite established, travelers may find that the area isn’t always consistent with what’s known. This megapolis that’s divided by the Han River sticks out in a myriad of ways — one corner delights in hipster exhibitions, street food, or drag shows, while another suits couples or shoppers who are unable to control themselves.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself well in Seoul, travel like a local by visiting each district or neighborhood. If you have plenty of time to fill in your Seoul itinerary (7 days or more), it’d be worth it to get lost in Itaewon, Gangnam, Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, and Hongdae. You’ll realize that the city’s neighborhoods are delightfully different from each other, which you may not appreciate if you’ll only visit the famous tourist landmarks and attractions in Seoul. By also checking out the low-key cafes, watering holes, restaurants, activity centers, and public spaces in these areas, you’ll sure to make the most out of your trip. (When I planned my Seoul itinerary around the city’s neighborhoods, I was also able to meet and make friends with locals who shared interesting stories and perspectives.)
Following below is our Seoul travel guide on the different neighborhoods that you can visit for a day or half. I also included a listing of stores, restaurants, and things to do that locals enjoy to hopefully enrich your Seoul itinerary (Feel free to share your own Seoul travel recommendations in the comments section below, if you have them!):
Oh, and to save on subway fares as you hop from neighborhood to another, make sure to purchase a T-Money transportation card here.
Seoul Travel Guide: Districts & Neighborhoods
This part of our Seoul travel guide covers points of interest and things to do in Myeongdong (명동 or 明洞), which is located in the district of Jung.
Seoul Travel Guide
Myeongdong is a place that will get you on a high on K-beauty products, trendy fashion items, and Korean streetfood. This is a major shopping area in Seoul that gets its appeal from its bustling crowd (more than a million visit per day!), narrow streets lined with food kiosks, and various sale events for Korean cosmetics. Myeongdong is described to be a mecca for travelers looking to shop, so if you’re a first-time visitor to Korea, expect a crazy fun time. Here’s what’s in store for you:
A. THINGS TO DO IN MYEONGDONG: WHERE TO SHOP
1. Lotte Department Store Myeongdong
If you want to buy clothes, perfumes, gadgets, and home essentials, add Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong to your list of things to do in Seoul. This mall has over fifteen (15) floors of combined shopping and dining areas (counting the basement).
Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong also houses the high-end store Avenuel, which is where you can find the latest from Valentino, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Bulgari, Dior, Givenchy, Roger Vivier, and other luxury brands.
Lotte Department Store Myeongdong address: 81 Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Lotte Department Store Myeongdong operating hours: 10:30am-8:30pm
2. Shinsegae Department Store
Shinsegae Department Store in Myeongdong is the flagship location of the brand. It has two buildings, which house over twenty (20) floors of shopping area. If you’re looking for some duty-free shopping, make your way up to the 8-12/F of Shinsegae Department Store’s New Building.
If you’ll add shopping in Shinsegae Department Store to your Seoul travel itinerary, you’re in luck! You can get a free voucher that may get you a complimentary admission ticket to N Seoul Tower and a free hanbok rental coupon. Terms and conditions apply.
Shinsegae Department Store Myeongdong address: 63 Sogong-ro, Myeongdong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Shinsegae Department Store Myeongdong operating hours: Mon-Thurs at 10:30am-8:00pm; Open til 8:30pm on Friday-Sunday and Public Holidays
3. Myeongdong Shopping Streets
If shopping for Korean skin care products, clothes, bags, and accessories is part of your Seoul itinerary, make sure to go to Myeongdong Shopping Streets. Some of the fashion outlets that you will find here are Guess, Forever 21, Uniqlo, H&M, New Balance, Zara, etc.
If you are looking to replenish your supply of Korean skin care products, you can also visit the Myeongdong branches of Missha, Innisfree, Nature Republic, The Face Shop, Holika Holika, Etude House, The Body Shop, Skin Food, and more similar stores. (Oh, there’s also a Daiso store for cool and cheap finds to bring home!)
How to get to Myeongdong Shopping Streets: Alight at Myeongdong station or Euljiro 1-ga station
Myeongdong Shopping Streets Operating Hours: Most shops are open from 10am-11pm daily
ARTBOX in Myeongdong isn’t as huge as the first three shopping locations in Seoul, but we recommend adding it in your Seoul itinerary for the reason that they sell really cute stuff!
Other nice places to shop in Myeongdong include Migliore Mall, M Plaza Myeongdong, Noon Square, and the Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center, which is a nice place to buy your souvenirs in Seoul.
B. THINGS TO DO IN MYEONGDONG: RESTAURANTS & CAFES
Here are the cafes and restaurants in Myeongdong that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Osulloc Tea House
Osulloc Tea House is a popular cafe in Seoul that’s known for their green tea food and drinks spread. If you’re looking to try premium tea variants in Korea, you should definitely pay this store a visit. The must-try items in Osulloc’s menu are their Green Tea Latte and Green Tea King O Fredo, which is a nice green tea shake topped with green tea ice cream, red bean paste, and pound cake.
Do note, however, that Osulloc is more on the high-side in terms of price range when compared to other cafes in Korea. You can see Osulloc Tea House Myeongdong’s menu here.
Osulloc Tea House Myeongdong address: 12 Myeongdong 7-gil, Myeongdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Osulloc Tea House Myeongdong operating hours: 10am-11pm
Migabon is a popular restaurant in Myeongdong that offers hearty Korean porridge (or juk) as well as Korean ginseng chicken soup (or samgyetang). These dishes are well-loved by local and foreign diners that they won’t mind waiting for 30 minutes or more during the restaurant’s peak hours (9am-1pm & 6-9pm).
The must-try item in Migabon’s menu is their Abalone Porridge. Average price per dish is ₩10,000 (around ₱450 or $8.6).
Migabon Myeongdong address: 2/F, 2-2, Myeongdong 2-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Migabon Myeongdong operating hours: 8am-9pm
3. Myeongdong Kyoja
If you want to insert an award-winning restaurant in your Seoul itinerary, you should definitely consider Myeongdong Kyoja (명동교자). This is a noodle restaurant that serves the best handmade kalguksu (noodle soup), mandu (Korean dumplings), and kongguksu (noodles in cold soybean soup!).
Average menu item price for Myeongdong Kyoja is ₩10,000 (around ₱450 or $8.6).
Myeongdong Kyoja address: 25-2 Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Myeongdong Kyoja operating hours: 10:30am-9:30pm
4.Myeongdong Street Food Market
Get your fill of yummy and budget-friendly treats at the food kiosks lining the Myeongdong Shopping Streets. Don’t miss out on the tornado potato, Korean fish cakes, spicy rice cakes, chicken-on-sticks, Korean pancakes, and more (otherwise your visit won’t be complete!).
Street food items at Myeongdong typically sell for ₩4,000 (around ₱180 or $3.5) on average. Having this on your list of things to do in Seoul will be worth it.
Other places in Myeongdong that will please your tastebuds are Isaac Toast (very busy Korean toast kiosk!), Geumgang Seokkeojjigae (makes the best spicy stew!), Two Two Fried Chicken, and YG Republique.
C. THINGS TO DO IN MYEONGDONG: ATTRACTIONS IN AND AROUND MYEONGDONG
Here are some of the Instagrammable places in Seoul and things to do in Myeongdong that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Style Nanda Hotel
Style Nanda Hotel is a trending concept make-up store in Seoul with a very Instagrammable cafe! Ladies and beauties will surely want to stay here. (You can’t check-in though; it’s a retail store despite the name!)
Style Nanda Hotel address: 37-8 Myeongdong 8-gil, Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Style Nanda Hotel operating hours: 11am-11pm
2. Nanta Show
Lonely Planet describes Nanta Show as Korea’s ‘most successful non-verbal performance.’ If you’re looking to add this thrilling Korean show into your things to do in Seoul, you can check the price of Nanta Show tickets below.
3. N Seoul Tower, Namsan Cable Car, Locks of Love
N Seoul Tower and Namsan Park are not exactly low-key places to visit in Seoul, but they’re both considered as must-visit places in Korea. The N Seoul Tower observatory, locks of love garden, and the cable car experience will definitely give you some good memories!
N Seoul Tower address: 105 Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
N Seoul Tower Observatory operating hours: 10am-11pm for Mon-Fri/Sun and 10am-12am on Sat.
4. Wongudan Altar (원구단)
This low-key attraction in Seoul is an altar built in 1897. This is where previous rulers offered sacrifices to the heavens. If you want to snap a photo that shows the harmony of modern and traditional architectures in Korea, add Wongudan Altar to your list of things to do in Seoul.
Wongudan Altar address: 112 Sogong-ro, Euljiro 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
5. Myeongdong Cathedral
This is the birthplace of the Roman Catholic community in Korea. (It’s also a low-key Instagrammable spot n Seoul!)
Myeongdong Cathedral address: 74 Myeongdong-gil, Jeodong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
6. Namdaemun Market
Namdaemun is the largest traditional market in Korea with approximately 10,000 stores! Here you’ll find all kinds of goods, like clothes, fabric, food, accessories, and toys. There are also some nice hole-in-the-wall restaurants and eateries in Namdaemun, so you should definitely include this market in your Seoul itinerary.
Namdaemun Market address: 21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Other things to do in Myeongdong include the Myeongdong Korean Spa for Women, Myeongdong Shooting Range (if you want to unleash your inner Kang Chul from W—Two Worlds Apart, add this to your Seoul travel itinerary!), and Seoul Museum of Art.
This part of our Seoul travel guide covers points of interest and things to in Dongdaemun (동대문), which is also located in the district of Jung.
Seoul Travel Guide
I entered a different dimension was what I thought as soon as I exited Dongdaemun History & Culture Park subway station. The sight of the undulating surfaces of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, which is considered as one of the top places to visit in Korea and an Instagrammable place in Seoul, transported me into a Korea that I never imagined. Perhaps I felt overwhelmed since I didn’t originally plan on visiting this attraction (I had no expectations whatsoever), but as soon as I started exploring the area by foot, I realized Dongdaemun is a must-add to any traveler’s Seoul itinerary, first-timer or otherwise. Here what you can find:
A. THINGS TO DO IN DONGDAEMUN: ATTRACTIONS
Here are the places to visit in and around Dongdaemun that you can add to your list of things to do in Seoul:
1. Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (or DDP) is a futuristic attraction in Korea that’s characterized by wave-like designs. This expansive landmark and urban development in Seoul hosts the country’s biggest fashion shows, events, conferences, and exhibitions. DDP is comprised of these five (5) major areas, which you can add to your Seoul travel itinerary:
DDP Art Hall - where most events are held
DDP Museum - where displays of contemporary local and international art works can be found
DDP Design Lab - creative hub for budding Korean designers and innovators
DDP Design Market - multi-purpose hall in Dongdaemun Design Plaza with interesting shopping finds
Dongdaemun History and Culture Park - top attraction in Seoul that seamlessly connects to Dongdaemun Design Plaza’s roof; its 25,000 LED roses make this park an Instagrammable place in Seoul
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) address: 281, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) operating hours:
Museum: opens at 10am (Closing time varies by exhibition)
Design Lab: Sunday-Thursday 10am-9pm; Friday-Saturday & Public holidays: 10am-10pm*
DDP Rose Garden Park lighting: Sunset - Midnight
2. Cheonggyecheon Stream
The very Instagrammable place in Seoul that’s Cheonggyecheon Stream flows from Jung and Jongno districts. Locals and travelers visit this area to take in the relaxing vibe of the place or use the sidewalks for cardio. The area is filled with nice water ornaments, murals, and more than 22 scenic bridges, so expect to want to spend more time here than expected. (I did.)
Cheonggyecheon Stream address: 3-minute walk from Dongdaemun Station, Exit 8
3. Heunginjimun (or Dongdaemun Gate)
Heunginjimun (or Dongdaemun Gate) is the largest gate in Seoul. It is set apart among other Seoul Fortress Gates by its notable semi-circular wall that was originally built for defense purposes. Its name evokes good energy, so make sure to add this historical attraction to your list of things to do in Seoul.
Heunginjimun (or Dongdaemun Gate) address: 288, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea (Walk approx. 2 min from Dongdaemun Station, Exit 7.)
Other places to visit in and around Dongdaemun include Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park (just a stone’s throw away from Heunginjimun), Dongdaemun Fashion Town Special Tourist Zone (this area’s basically a major shopping location in Seoul!), Dongdaemun Night Market or Sebit Market (pop-up market in Dongdaemun for cheap fashion and food finds!) Naksan Park, Ihwa Mural Village, and Seoul Fortress Wall.
B. THINGS DO IN DONGDAEMUN: RESTAURANTS & CAFES
Here are the restaurants in an around Dongdaemun that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari (진옥화할매원조닭한마리)
Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari is a restaurant in Seoul that’s famous for its boiled chicken dish and special marinade sauce. It has been featured in Korea’s Michelin guide, so make sure to experience their offerings. If you’ll inclue Dakhanmari in your Seoul itinerary, expect to pay around ₩20,000 (around ₱890 or $17.2) for the whole chicken.
Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari address: 18 Jong-ro 40ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Jinokhwa Halmae Wonjo Dakhanmari operating hours: 10:30am-1am
2. Honamjip (호남집)
If you’re in the mood for some grilled fish, there’s an alley near Dongdaemun Market called Dongdaemun Grilled Fish Street (동대문생선구이골목) that you can add to your Seoul itinerary. Here you can find the low-key Honamjip, which is the oldest restaurant in the area. Must-try food item in Honamjip’s menu is their grilled mackerel, which is priced at ₩7,000 (around ₱315 or $6.2)
Honamjip address: 5, Jong-ro 40ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Honamjip operating hours: 7am-9pm
3. Seoul Baking Company
Located at the basement of JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square, Seoul Baking Company offers the best sweet treats in town. If you’re a dessert-lover, you should add this in your things to do in Seoul for the reason that it ranks in the top 5 in the list of bakeries in Korea by TripAdvisor!
Must-try items in Seoul Baking Company are the brownies and carrot cake. Average menu price is ₩7,000 (around ₱315 or $6.2).
Seoul Baking Company address: 279, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu | LL, JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul, Seoul 03198, South Korea
Seoul Baking Company operating hours: 7am-9pm
4. Strawberry Dessert Buffet at JW Marriott Dongdaemun Hotel in Seoul
If you’re a fan of all things Barbie, strawberry, and pink, visit this Instagrammable place in Seoul that serves up pink burgers, pink cakes and pink macarons, among others. Many customers who have visited this restaurant in JW Marriott Dongdaemun loved the elegant setting, fresh strawberries, tea, and shakes. You can learn more and book your meal here.
Available only from 15 Dec 2018 to 31 May 2019 only
Strawberry Buffet in JW Marriott Dongdaemun address: JW Dongdaemun Marriott Hotel 1F, 289-3, Jongno 6-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울시 종로구 종로6가 289-3, JW메리어트동대문호텔 1층)
Strawberry Buffet in JW Marriott Dongdaemun operating hours: Weekends at 11am-1pm, 1-3:30pm, and 4-6pm.
If you’re looking for some coffeeshops in Seoul that’s in Dongdaemun Area, you may want to visit COFFEE PLANT. Other restaurants and bars that you can check out are The Lounge, The Griffin Bar, Kyochon Chicken Dongdaemun, and BLT Steak.
C. THINGS TO DO IN DONGDAEMUN: ACTIVITIES
Aside from shopping, here are other activities in Dongdaemun that you can add to your list of things to do in Seoul:
1. L'atelier Museum in Dongdaemun
L’atelier Museum is an interactive attraction in Dongdaemun where visitors can interact with moving art. This museum in Korea was also used as a filming location for the cute Korean show The Return of Superman. Add this into your list of things to do in Seoul especially if you’re traveling with the little ones! Tickets may be purchased here for ₱1,000 or $19.3, if not discounted.
L’Atelier Museum address: 11/F 20 Jangchungdan-ro, 13-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
L’Atelier Museum operating hours: 10am-9pm (Last admission is at 7pm)
2. The Belle Spa at Dongdaemun Hyundai City Outlet
Recover your energy at The Belle Spa after a tiring tour. Add this to your Seoul itinerary ideally on the tail-end of your trip. Their facial and body treatments will surely restore your worn-out soul.
The Belle Spa address: B1, Hyundai City Outlets, 20 Jangchungdan-ro 13-gil, Gwanghui-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
The Belle Spa operating hours: 11am-9:30pm
This part of our Seoul travel guide covers points of interest and things to in Itaewon (이태원), which is located in the district of Yongsan.
Seoul Travel Guide
Nightlife, diversity, and glocal. These words are easily associated with Itaewon, which is an upscale neighborhood in Seoul that’s popular among expats and foreign visitors. The sprawling area is filled with fusion restaurants, bars, and clubs, which come alive each night for the enjoyment of everyone. Many shopping outlets and entertainment facilities can also be spotted in the area, so if you’re looking for some great quality time, Itaewon should be in your Seoul itinerary.
Other notable things to do in Itaewon include the World Food Street and the Antique Furniture Street, which feature international and contemporary fusion cuisine and Korean artistry.
A. THINGS TO DO IN ITAEWON: RESTAURANTS TO TRY
Here are the must-try restaurants in Itaewon that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Nekkid Wings
Nekkid Wings is the go-to place for some chicken wings in Korea. Their homemade sauces (more than 10 of them!) excellently complement this greasy all-time favorite. Some of the crowd-favorite sauces include the Amazinger Xtra, Soy Wasabi, and Korean Glaze. Other must-try menu items are their Giant Onion Ring Croquette and their Itaewon Pale Ale (Draft Beer)!
For ₩16,500 (around ₱735 or $14.1), you can get 10 chicken wings, 1 dip, 1 side, and 1 pickled radish. You can check out the rest of Nekkid Wings’s menu and price list here.
Nekkid Wings Itaewon address: 174-11, Noksapyeong-daero, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Nekkid Wings Itaewon operating hours: Mon-Thurs at 4:30pm-10:50pm; Fri-Sun at 11:30am-10:50pm. Last order is at 10pm.
2. PLANT Cafe & Kitchen
PLANT in Itaewon is a vegan-friendly restaurant and a very Instagrammable place in Seoul. No matter your diet, you can enjoy PLANT’s burgers, pasta, salad, milkshake, and baked goodies! Must-try menu items in PLANT Itaewon are their Lentil Veggie Bowl, Hummus & Roasted Squash Salad, and Chili Cheeseburger. Menu items are priced at ₩13,000 (around ₱580 or $11.1) on average. You can check out PLANT Itaewon’s menu here. (Gluten-free options are also available.)
PLANT Cafe & Kitchen Itaewon address: 2nd Floor, Itaewon-dong 130-43, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
PLANT Itaewon operating hours: Mon-Sat 11am-10pm. Kitchen closes at 9pm.
3. Vatos Urban Tacos Itaewon
If you love the Vatos Urban Tacos branches in Manila and Singapore, you should definitely try their original branch in Seoul. This Korean-Mexican taco restaurant serves quality cocktails, margaritas, and craft beer. Aside from their tacos, must-try menu items are their Kimchi Fries and Burrito Bowls.
VATOS Urban Tacos Itaewon address: 181-8 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
VATOS Urban Tacos Itaewon operating hours: Sun-Thurs at 11:30am-11pm , with last Call at 10pm. Friday & Saturday at 11:30am-12am, with last call at 11pm.
Other notable restaurants to add to your list of things to do in Itaewon include Bua, Jonny Dumpling, Maple Tree House Itaewon, The Butcher’s Daughter, PIPE Itaewon, Makan Halal Korea Restaurant, and Sigol Bapsang (my personal favorite!). You’ll also find lots of tapas bars in the area.
B. THINGS TO DO IN ITAEWON: CLUBS & BARS
Here are the bars and clubs that you can add to your things-to-do-in-Itaewon list in your Seoul itinerary:
1. Southside Parlor
Having an unforgettable weekend a part of your Seoul travel bucket list? Then head on over to Southside Parlor in Itaewon, which serves artisanal drinks. (Make sure to order their Moscow Mule.) Drag shows are held here, though tickets sell out fast.
Southside Parlor itaewon address: Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-dong, 527 번지 4 층 Seoul, Korea
Southside Parlor itaewon operating hours: Open everyday except Monday at 6pm-12am
2. 232 Cafe and Bar Seoul
232 Cafe and Bar in Itaewon is a lounge and watering-hole in Korea. Old-fashioned this bar in Seoul may be, but fun is guaranteed by the DJs that play great music every weekend. Make sure to add this in your Seoul itinerary for a fun and classy time!
232 Bar Itaewon address: 232 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
232 Bar Itaewon operating hours: Mon-Thurs at 5:30pm-2:30am, Friday at 5:30pm-4am, Saturday at 1pm-4am, and Sunday at 1pm-2:30am
3. QUEEN Itaewon
Queen Itaewon is one of the best gay clubs in Seoul, South Korea. It is located on top of Homo Hill, which is an LGBT alley and party place in Korea. Indiscriminating folks are all welcome at Queen in Itaewon (straight men and women will surely have a great time dancing to the beat!). Expect to be carded since minors not allowed.
If you will add this club in Seoul to your list of things to do in Itaewon, know that some establishments in Homo Hill are quite chill, but expect things at QUEEN to get out of control at times. That’s my fair warning.
QUEEN Itaewon address: Itaewon, Youngsan-gu 136-42, Seoul, Korea
QUEEN Itaewon operating hours: Friday & Saturday at 10:30pm-5am
4. Seoul Pub Crawl
Experience Seoul's vibrant nightlife by joining the Itaewon Pub Crawl! This exciting activity lets you visit three (3) bars and one (1) club together with 40-100 fantastic people! To learn more and join Seoul Pub Crawl, purchase a ticket here, which sells for around ₱980 or $19, if not discounted.
Other fun bars and clubs that you can visit in Itaewon are Magpie Brewing Co., Trance (oldest gay club in Homo Hill), MMM Records Seoul, and Pistil Seoul.
This part of our Seoul travel guide covers points of interest and things to in Gangnam (강남구 or 江南區), which is a district found on the south of the river.
Seoul Travel Guide
If you want to see the luxurious side of Seoul, travel in and around Gangnam, which houses pretty skyscrapers, high-end malls, and colorful public spaces. A day in Gangnam is not complete without adding these things-to-do in the area: COEX Mall, Apgujeong Rodeo Street, Bongeunsa, and the Han River. (Throw in the K-Star Road if you dig Korean pop music!)
Similar to Itaewon, you’ll find many shopping outlets in this part of Seoul. You’ll also spot several plastic surgery clinics and hair salons here.
A. THINGS TO DO IN GANGNAM: ATTRACTIONS & TOURS
Here are some of the top attractions in Gangnam that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Seonjeongneung Park
Seonjeongneung Park is a historical site in Korea that houses the tombs of kings and queens from the Joseon dynasty. This attraction in Gangnam is a must-add to your list of things to do in Seoul if you’re interested in Korean history (or dramas with this theme!). This is a nice place where residents and employees would usually visit after having lunch or dinner (or probably when feeling a bit stressed!)
Seonjeongneung Park address: 1 Seolleung-ro 100-gil, Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
2. COEX Mall
Starfield COEX Mall is Asia’s largest underground shopping mall. Its design revolves around the concept of ‘the unfolding sky’, which is reflected by the way it receives optimal amount of sunlight, as noted by Korea Tourism Organization here.
Inside COEX Mall you will find the truly Instagrammable place in Seoul that’s Starfield Library, which has over 50,000 books on display. There’s also the SMTOWN@coexartium, which houses a nice theater, museum, cafe, and souvenir shop that are all dedicated to SM Entertainment artists like EXO, Super Junior, SHINee, TVXQ, Red Velvet, and more.
Starfield COEX Mall address: 513 Yeongdong-daero, Samseong 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Starfield COEX Mall operating hours: 10:30am-10pm
3. Apgujeong Rodeo Street
Why add Apgujeong Rodeo in your things to do in Seoul? This is the central hub of all the trends in Korea, as described here by Korea Tourism Organization Center (also comparable to Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles)!
Along Apgujeong Rodeo, you’ll also see lots of GangnamDol’s (wordplay for Gangnam, idol, and doll) since the area is home to the K-Star Road. Some GangnamDol’s to see here include those of BTS, SHINee, Block B, Kara, Infinite, EXO, and more!
If you’re looking to up your style (or copy that of your Korean idol’s), you can also visit any of the top hair salons and beauty clinics here as well.
Apgujeong Rodeo address: Apgujeong-ro South 35-gil, Seolleung-ro West 14-gil
B. THINGS TO DO IN GANGNAM: RESTAURANTS TO TRY
Here are some of the restaurants in Gangnam that you can add to your Seoul travel itinerary:
Ryunique in Gangnam is a top-notch Korean restaurant run by Chef Tae Hwan Ryu, who has gained his culinary flare and influences in UK, Australia, and Japan. This upscale dining location in Seoul is part of the prestigious Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants, making it worthy of your Seoul itinerary!
Multi-degustation for lunch and dinner at Ryunique Gangnam is priced at ₩170,000 (around ₱7,560 or $146). You can check out the rest of Ryunique’s menu here.
Ryunique Gangnam restaurant address: 40 Gangnam-daero 162-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Ryunique Gangnam restaurant operating hours: 12-3pm for lunch and 6-10:30pm for dinner
2. Yeontabal Korean BBQ (연타발)
Feasting on Korean BBQ should definitely be in your list of things to do in Seoul! Where best to have smoked meat than in Yeontabal, which is a Korean BBQ chain that’s considered one of the hottest food finds in town. Make sure to try their best-selling Grilled King Beef Ribs if you’ll have this in your Seoul itinerary!
Yeontabal Apgujeong Main Branch address: 629-32 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul (서울 강남구 신사동 629-32)
Yeontabal Apguejeong operating hours: 11:30am-12am
3. Cafe KULM
Cafe KULM is a dessert place and cafe in Seoul that’s made Instagrammable by its neat and modern interior. Their pressed juices and Flat White will surely leave you refreshed after exploring the Gangnam area. Average menu price for Cafe KULM is ₩4,000 (around ₱180 or $3.4).
Cafe KULM address: 33, Nonhyeon-ro 86-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06220 South Korea
Cafe KULM operating hours: Weekdays at 8:30am-9pm and weekends at 9am-5pm
4. Smile Noodles Gangnam
Whether your Seoul itinerary is for summer, winter, spring, or fall, you can head over to Smile Noodles in Gangnam to enjoy their exquisite noodle dishes. Some of the must-try menu items at Smile include their Premium Beef Brisket Noodles and Cold Noodle with Chicken Breast. Their dishes sell for ₩10,000 (around ₱445 or $8.6) on average. Soju and draft beer are also available. Happy slurping!
Smile Noodles Gangnam address: 442, Gangnam-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 06123 South Korea
Smile Noodles Gangnam operating hours: 11am-10pm
Other restaurants in Gangnam that you can add to your Seoul travel itinerary are Bean Brothers Gangnam, DOSA BY Back Seung Wook, Heukdonga, and Min’s Kitchen.
This part of our Seoul travel guide covers points of interest and things to in Hongdae (홍대 or 弘大), which is located in the district of Mapo/Seodaemun.
Seoul Travel Guide
Hongdae was a true pleasant surprise on my first visit. Perhaps it’s the fact that there were more locals than I expected, a bunch of neon-lit restaurants and shops appealed to my senses, or that awesome street performers were everywhere. But that Hongdae is oozing with youthful energy is really owed to the fact that it’s situated near Hongik University, Yonsei University, and Ehwa Womans University.
If ever you’ll add this neighborhood to your Seoul itinerary (Oh, you must!), make sure to add watching the street song and dance performances to your list of things to do in Hongdae before heading to the area’s various cafes, restaurants, K-beauty stores, and salons.
A. THINGS TO DO IN HONGDAE
Here are some of the things to do in Hongdae that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Serimama Salon
Want to refresh your hairstyle before taking snaps of yourself at the Instagrammable places in Seoul? Good idea! You can visit a hair salon in Korea and get serviced by locals.
If you’ll visit Hongdae, you can add Serimama Salon to your Seoul itinerary. This is a trusted beauty establishment with over 40 years of experience. They not only offer haircuts and perms, but also make-up, styling, and treatments. Cut and styling starts at ₱1,780 or $34.4, without the discount.
Serimama Salon address: 4/F AK& Hongdae Shopping Mall, 188 Yanghua Road, Mapo District, Seoul (서울특별시 마포구 양화로 188,4층).
Serimama Salon operating hours: 11am-9pm
2. Korean Skin Care Shopping at Hongdae Shopping Streets
If you want to have long-term supply of Korean skin care products, better to buy your stocks in Seoul! While many brands like Etude House or Innisfree have set up branches overseas (there’s probably one in your home country!), it’s still wise to get your beauty products in Korea. This is because they offer 1+1 sale events, which are most likely not available in your home city.
If you want to shop for Korean skin care products in Hongdae, you’ll find retail stores from brands like Missha, Innisfree, Skinfood, Etude House, and more. You’ll also be able to find other shops where you can get cellphone accessories, socks, souvenirs, and more for a much cheaper price.
Hongdae Shopping Street address: 365-8 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Hongdae Shopping Street operating hours: Most shops in Hongdae are open from 10am-11pm
3. VR Arcade
Can’t go to Everland or Lotte World? You can visit the VR Arcade inside L7 Lotte Hotel instead! This amusement zone in Korea lets you have a simulated experience of riding a roller coaster or a jet (and even fighting zombies!). If you and your partner have not tried any indoor VR games yet, make sure to add this couple-friendly activity into your Seoul travel itinerary.
VR Arcade Hongdae address: 2/F, L7 Lotte Hotel, 141 Yanghwa-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu,Seoul
VR Arcade Hongdae operating hours: Mon-Fri at 1pm-10pm (last entry at 9:00pm) and Sat-Sun at 1pm-12am (last entry at 11:00pm)
4. Cheongchun Cat Cafe or Y Cat Cafe (청춘고양이카페 홍대점)
Need some down time with pets? Go and drop by Cheongchun Cat Cafe in Seoul where you and your date can have some cuddly encounters with Korean cats. 😉This is definitely a must-add in your list of things to do in Hongdae if you love felines.
Cheongchun Cat Cafe address: 3 층, 358-92 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Cheongchun Cat Cafe operating hours: Mon-Fri at 12pm-10pm and Sat-Sun at 12pm-11pm
B. THINGS DO IN HONGDAE: RESTAURANTS & CAFES
This part of our Seoul travel guide lists the restaurants in Hongdae that you may add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. 943 King's Cross Harry Potter Cafe in Hongdae, Seoul
Relive your childhood by visiting this Harry Potter-themed cafe in Seoul! 943 King’s Cross Harry Potter Cafe has many corners and spots where you’ll be reminded of your favorite trio and their quest to defeat Voldemort (Fear of a name only increases the fear of the thing itself.). This a very unique and Instagrammable place in Seoul, and one that will be worth queuing up for. Average menu price for 943 King’s Cross Harry Potter Cafe in Hongdae is ₩5,000 (around ₱250 or $4.6).
943 King's Cross Harry Potter Cafe address: 417 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
943 King's Cross Harry Potter Cafe operating hours: Tues-Fri at 11:30am–9:30pm and Sat-Sun at 9:30am – 10pm. (They’re closed on Mondays. The house elves need to rest.)
2. Old House Charcoal Meat Restaurant in Hongdae
If you want to have an authentic samgyeopsal or pork belly grilling experience in Korea, pay a visit to Old House Charcoal Korean BBQ Restaurant in Hongdae. This low-key, unassuming restaurant will treat you to nice cuts of meat for you to grill in their oak charcoal stovetop. If you’d like to have some authentic Korean dining experience, make sure to add this restaurant in Seoul in your list of things to do in Hongdae! Their meats are priced really cheap at ₱535 or $10.3 per person, give or take. (When available, make sure to use a Klook promo code to get some discounts!)
Old House Charcoal Meat Restaurant address: 169-6, Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul (서울시 마포구 동교동 169-6)
Old House Charcoal Meat Restaurant operating hours: 4pm-5am daily
3. Choi Go Zip Hongdae (홍대최고집)
If you’re looking for some premium pork ribs and Wagyu beef to grill, head on over to Choi Go Zip in Hongdae! This must-visit restaurant in Seoul has the most tender beef and delectable melted cheese to enjoy. Meals here are best paired with makgeolli and soju. Average price for Choi Go Zip’s menu items is ₱750 or $14.5.
Choi Go Zip Hongdae address: 25, World Cup buk-ro 2-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul 121-898 South Korea
Choi Go Zip Hongdae operating hours: Mon-Sat at 12pm-12am and Sun at 12pm-10pm
4. Ttobogetji Tteokbokki
Ah, the famous tteokbokki or Korean rice cake. If you’re wondering where to have tteokbokki in Seoul, travel no further and head your way to Ttobogetji Tteokbokki. This restaurant in Hongdae is a must-try for those looking to satisfy their craving of Korean streetfood (but it will be served table-top-style as photographed). This dish will really fill you up, but if you’re looking to try more in Ttobogetji Tteokbokki’s menu, make sure to have their fish cakes, butter potatoes, and ramyeun.
Ttobogetji Tteokbokki address: 2/F, 34-5, Jandari-ro 6-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Ttobogetji Tteokbokki operating hours: Tues-Sun at 11:30am-10pm
Other restaurants in Seoul that you can add in your things to do in Hongdae are La Grillia, Samonim Dongaseu, Monster Pizza Hongdae, and Hongdae Maneul Ttoekbokki.
SEOUL TRAVEL GUIDE: TIPS!
Want to know the estimate costs of traveling to Seoul? Read this guide: Count the Cost: Budget Tips for Your South Korea Trip
Going to other cities like Busan, Daegu, or Daejeon? Good idea. You may buy the money-saving Korail Pass for unlimited intercity rides. Learn more about it here: Korail Pass: Enjoy Nonstop Trips in South Korea
Enjoy Your Korea Trip!
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