When you're travelling, and especially if you are young and want some fun, you need to pay attention to this post. I am going to discuss some of the most young, fun and vibrant places / areas in Seoul city.
Seoul city is actually a massive city, not only in size but also in the number of people. However, compared to the size of the land, the population is crazy so it's mostly hectic and crowded wherever you go. Now we will be diving into some of the top crowded and vibrant areas in the city, mostly full of the young, fun and energetic vibes.
But before we get into it, take a look at the map of Seoul city so that you better understand which area is where.
Myeongdong, with the name of the city literally meaning 'bright cave', or 'bright tunnel', is sure a bright area of Seoul, day and night. Myeongdong is located in Jung-gu near Eulji-ro and Chungmu-ro and covers 0.99 km² with a popluation of 3,409.
The area attracts so many tourists visiting Seoul, especially those from Asian countries due to Hallyu influence.
*Hallyu : Literally translated as 'Korean wave' or 'Flow of Korea', referring to the increase in global popularity of South Korean culture since the 1990's.
Myeongdong is definitely one of the most commercial areas in Seoul. All of the streets and alleys are packed with shops such as souvenir shops, cosmetic shops and retail shops, making this area a complete shopper's heaven. You will see many tourists with their hands full with heaps of shopping bags.
There are food as well, of course, especially the street food. You will be surprised to see the incredible number of street food stalls aligned on the main street. The menus are so diverse as well, including dried calamari, buttered corns, chocolate dipped strawberries, beverages, and even steaks.
It's super fun to try all different tastes from each stall but in case you still want to sit inside and have a proper meal, there I give you some recommendations.
- Dumplings and hot noodle soups
- 29, 10-gil, Myeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
-Dakgalbi and fried rice
- 7-4, 10-gil, Myeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
Myeongdong is pretty bright and crowded in the night, too. However since the area is so commercial (which means no shoppers, no need to be open) and lacks in the number of bars, pubs or clubs, the brightness might go down relatively earlier. Don't you worry, it's usually still bright til the midnight.
How to get to Myeongdong
- Subway line number 4 → Myeongdong station
- Subway line number 2 → Euljiro-ipgu station
Hongdae is hands down one of the most vibrant and young areas in Seoul. The name 'Hongdae' came from Hongik University which is located just near. The area is located in Mapo-gu and covers Seogyo-dong and Hapjeong-dong.
The area is best recognized for its trendiness, being young and free, street styles / fashion and night lives. As you see the pictures of graffiti arts on street walls in Hongdae, you can kind of tell that it's one of those "hipster" towns.
Hongdae is perceived as an artistic area as well, which actually kind of makes sense because Hongik University (where the area "Hongdae" got its name from as mentioned above) near is renowned for its department / studies of art.
Art doesn't include painting works only. Big part of art and Hongdae is the music. There will be buskers everywhere in the area, singing, dancing, rapping and doing some magic tricks.
Lots of young Koreans interested in art / music want to move to the area because of that. You can just practice your art works on random street walls and sing in the middle of the streets cause that's what they do in Hongdae.
Being stylish is so important in Hongdae. Everyone seems to have some real good taste in fashion around the area and therefore tourists or young Korean people come to Hongdae to shop for clothes. Unlike Myeongdong, where most of the shops are cosmetic shops or gift shops, the majority of stores in Hongdae sells clothes, accessories, shoes and so on.
From massive stores of global retail brands to tiny stores in the basement of a building that sell vintage / handmade products, you will be able to find something regardless of your taste in fashion.
If you're planning to visit Hongdae and tell your Korean friend that you are, they might probably say "Are you going clubbing tonight?". There are heaps of cool night clubs in the area besides bars and pubs, and sometimes that's the main reason young and stylish people come to Hongdae.
It's beyond hectic in the weekends and the clubs are literally packed with people. Since there's so many young people who want to spend their night having fun in the area, most restaurants / bars are open for 24 hours or til morning and lots of shops are open til late, too.
How to get to Hongdae
- Subway line number 2 / A'REX line / Gyeongui-Jungang line → Hongik University station
- Subway line number 2 → Hapjeong station
- Subway line number 6 → Sangsu station
Itaewon is an area located in Yongsan-gu, not too far from Namsan Seoul Tower which is one of the landmarks of Seoul city. The area is known as the most multi-cultural area in Korea and famous for its nightlife, small but unique stores and good food.
The picture above is a Mosque located in Itaewon and it signifies that the area is happily open to embrace different cultures in contrast to the usual Korean culture which has a rather conservative stance towards "different". As a result, a lot of foreigners reside in Itaewon, creating this unique and multi-cultural vibe in the area.
It's definitely a plus to the area because most of the exotic restaurants are run by immigrant chefs that serve the original taste of the cuisine. They know what they're doing and they are doing it right! Itaewon has become a gourmet area because of that and now is full of restaurants and cafes which all offer the quality beyond average.
Itaewon is a comparatively small area. The alleys are small and narrow, shops and restaurants are not too big either. However, they might be small in size, they are still full of uniqueness. There are also many piercing shops and tattoo shops, which isn't very common to see in other areas of Seoul. Piercings and tattoos are not frowned upon in Itaewon because Itaewon embraces "different"!
Itaewon is chill in the day, and vibrant in the night. The popularity of clubs in Itaewon has risen dramatically for the last few years. Compared to the clubs in other areas of Seoul, clubs in Itaewon tend to have a broader range of genre, style and size. The club could be extra small with just a few people swinging to a deep house lounge music or it could be enormous with hundreds of people jumping crazy to trap / dub-step tunes.
Being multi-cultural has contributed to this part as well. Thanks to the immigrants / foreigners who brought their music tastes to the area, such as Reggae or Hip-Hop, Itaewon has become one of the best areas in Seoul to go clubbing to.
There are also a lot of bars, especially roof top bars cause the night view around Itaewon is actually pretty impressive. Namsan Seoul Tower creates an awesome night view around the area so enjoy your drink with the stunning view at a roof top bar in Itaewon!
How to get to Itaewon
- Subway line number 6 → Itaewon station or Hangangjin / Noksapyeong station
You probably don't know what "Gangnam" means, but you sure have heard of the word before. Yes, it's that "Gangnam" from the song "Gangnam Style". The term "Gangnam" is sometimes used in everyday conversations like an adjective which kind of implies that the area is greatly influential to people in the city. The area is perceived as the richest, the most luxurious area throughout the whole country and that's kind of why the singer named his song "Gangnam Style", to say that he's rich, luxurious and competent.
Gangnam originally refers to the area of three "gu"s ; Gangnam-gu, Seocho-gu and Songpa-gu, but now it's commonly used to refer to the area around Gangnam station. Anyhow, there's no doubt that Gangnam is the biggest metropolitan area in Korea.
It's hard to define the area in a word since it's a mixture of basically everything. For example, there are office buildings, company headquarters, retail shops, restaurants, academies, residential buildings and hospital / clinics. Which accordingly means the area is full of people with all different reasons of their own. You will see lots of business men / women, students, shoppers, tourists and sometimes buskers. All of the elements combined together make the area even more vibrant as a result.
Byulmadang Library located inside Coex Mall
The area is crammed with people, cars and buildings. Everyone seems to be super busy doing their own thing, stores are always full and there's people waiting outside to get in, and the traffic jam is unbelievable. Almost everything you come across in the area would probably be massive ; buildings, stores and the population. Even a library is gigantic as you can see from the picture above.
Gangnam gets pretty different day and night. At day times, the area is usually crowded with business men, office workers and students. However the area becomes the exact opposite at night and offers you a vibrant nightlife. Young people come out to have a drink at a bar and go clubbing. Business men and office workers join in after work.
It's often said that clubs in Gangnam might reject you for your appearance and be picky about how you look / how you dressed up, not like those in other areas, so don't dress too casual when you're hitting a club in Gangnam area. Gangnam's being Gangnam, all picky and luxurious.
How to get to Gangnam
- Subway line number 2 or Shinbundang line → Gangnam station