So you can figure out the best area to call your home away from home.
To most traveler’s surprise, Seoul is a massive city. Therefore, choosing which neighborhood to call your home away from home is key to prevent yourself from commuting between districts. Even if most areas are known for shopping, they can differ greatly in regards to ambiance and style. Out of twenty-five gu (districts) in Seoul, we’ve selected seven central ones that may interest you the most.
Style: Busy and affluent.
PSY’s song might have made Gangnam a household name, but for lovers of shopping and nightlife, this is where you’ll want to stay to be central to boutiques and restaurants. Gangnam is a 20-minute walk from Garosu-gil Road, where you’ll find many local shops and flagships of fashion and beauty brands. Think: Dr. Jart+, Gentle Monster…etc. If malls are more up your alley, then head to COEX Mall which exhibits Asia’s largest underground shopping center. For upscale restaurants, head to Jungsik and Mingles for modernized Korean cuisine. Or the legendary Woo Lae Oak serves up a great bowl of traditional buckwheat noodles.
Style: Expat hub, vibrant nightlife.
A massive hangout for tourists especially expats, Itaewon has made a name for itself as the epicenter of nightlife in Seoul. Once the sun sets, neon lights welcome bustling crowds ready for a chaotic night of debauchery. During the day, you can visit Antique Furniture Street for home decor inspirations. This so-called “Western Town” is where you can find worldwide cuisines: Indian, Chinese, German, Southeast Asian, British…and many more. They come in handy late into the night when you’ll be famished after a few drinks.
Style: Shopping, shopping, and shopping.
This may be repetitive for many neighborhoods in Seoul, but Myeongdong is TRULY a shopper’s paradise. So much so that it welcomes more than a million visitors on a daily basis. For travelers arriving to take advantage of the best beauty and skincare deals inside numerous tiny shops, staying in Myeongdong can give you the most access. We also love IC3’s Pink Hotel concept store for Instagrammable beauty buys, and a cat café filled with 45 felines isn’t too far away. You’ll find a mixture of local and international brands in this neighborhood. Make sure to stop for a steamy bowl of noodle soup at Myeongdong Kyoja.
Style: Old village up in the hill.
Home to Bukchon Hanok Village, the neighborhood of Samcheong-dong is ideal for travelers looking for throwback vibes. There are many guest houses you can find in this area that cater to backpackers and artists. The Old Village requires walking up and down windy streets up on hills, but the view and the atmosphere is serene and ultra calm. Possibly the most charming district in Seoul, Samcheong-dong is full of unique galleries and small boutiques that sell one of a kind handcrafted goods.
Style: Students, indie musicians and urban artists.
Since Hongdae is home to four universities, this area is made for anyone studying abroad or younger travelers under the age of 25. Catering to a crowd that never sleeps, Hongdae boasts numerous cafés highlighting urban art, cheap eateries, vintage shops, and a dynamic club scene that often features indie music. Hongdae used to be extremely budget-friendly due to an influx of starving and thriving artists. Through gentrification, however, Hongdae remains its eclectic vibes but prices have skyrocketed.
Style: 24-hour shopping.
Another shopping district that we must point out, Dongdaemun covers 20 malls and 30,000 markets and shops. In addition, the malls are open 24/7! For shopoholics looking to browse throughout the night, DDP (Dongdaemun Design Plaza) is a serious dream come true. Street food is a big hit here, so why not sit down for a bowl of ramen and sticky rice pancakes for the price of close to nothing. When in a hurry, sticks of freshly grilled fishcakes will be right at your fingertips.