Seoul is a sprawling metropolis by any measure. It is one of the world’s largest cities and has the nightlife to match. These days it is a fast growing tourist destination as well as a popular layover city. With the increase in travellers it’s good to know the best night spots in Seoul to let your hair down. This post will lay out Seoul’s top 7 night spots. Some are quiet and beautiful others are heaving at the seams. So take your pick.
Namsan Tower is the best place in Seoul to take in the nighttime city view, bar none. Often called N Seoul Tower it sits atop Nam Mountain which is all but in the centre of the city, easily putting it on the list of Seoul’s top 7 night spots. Taking a bus from the train stations that sit around the foot of the mountain is the best way to make your way to the top. There is also a gondola that will give you a great view if you’re able to deal with the lines. Taxi’s are not allowed up the hill. Hiking is another option – Seoul is a very safe city at night, but it’s a bit of a walk. Once you get to the top you’ll have panoramic views of the city that spreads out as far as the eye can see. You can either buy tickets to go to the top of the tower or simply enjoy the view for the base. The spot is famous for being the cliche meeting point for romantics in Korean drama shows but it’s a cliche for a reason.
At the foot of Nam Mountain is the once quiet neighborhood of Haebangchon. It’s since been taken over by trendy 20-30 somethings and has a thriving foreigner population. The residents, from all over the world, have taken root and created cafes, bars and restaurants that cater to everyone. You’ll find back alley beer bars, late night boutique cheese shops and a great cigar bar. The food scene is great in this area, night and day. If you’re lucky enough to visit during the local festival you’ll be able to party all night listening to bands battle it out. The closest train station is Noksapyeong.
Itaewon has notoriously been foreigner town in Seoul since neighboring US military bases were set up. It has a long history of being a ‘trouble area’ but has since cleaned up it’s act. You’ll find a great mix of local Korean nightclubs, British sports bars and Italian restaurants. It essentially acts as the cultural melting pot of the city where locals and foreigners are both at home and party together. Taking the train to Itaewon will put you right in the middle of the action.
Coming back to the slightly quieter side of things Daehangno is a must go place. Surrounded by a few famous universities which churn out amazing theatre majors the streets are teeming with performances. There are theatres hosting plays and performances almost every night and you’ll see some of Korea’s best talent here. If you don’t have the time for a full show you’ll love the street performers, shopping and art that line the streets. When short on time and you only have time to take in one place go to Jazz Story (if you can find it). This is hands down the best live jazz bar you’ll find on this side of the world, if not anywhere. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
To see a bridge making the list of Seoul’s top 7 night spots may be a bit strange. But once you get there you’ll realise why. Banpo Bridge is a huge bridge spanning the Han River. It also happens to have a equally massive color fountain that runs the length of the bridge. The fountain starts up on a regular basis and puts on a great show. You’ll find more information and operating times here.
Ttukseom Resort Han River Park
Do you want to be a true local in Seoul? During the summer months Ttukseom Resort park next to the Han River is the place to be. Summers in Seoul are hot and muggy so the locals head to picnic next to the river to drink beer and soju. You’ll probably notice a lot of scooters zooming about the place. These are food delivery drivers. That’s right, you can have fried chicken delivered to your picnic spot! But if your Korean isn’t good enough to explain where your sitting head to one of the many convenience stores where you’ll find a huge selection of food and enough beer and soju to sink a ship.
If you’re young and you want to party. Hongdae. If you want to get lost in a mass of people. Hongdae. If you want to do some street shopping late night. Hongdae. If you want to party until your legs don’t work. Hongdae. Hongdae is the number one party spot in the city for 20 somethings. It’s next to Seoul’s top art and music university and the culture roars into life every night. The streets are rammed with a sea of young, trendy and beautiful people hopping from cheap restaurant to all you can drink beer bars to night clubs that are almost splitting at the seams. You’ll find amazing hip hop artists performing on the street, pop up stalls selling one of a kind fashion and anything you could ever want to eat. My advice, go.
Seoul can be a bit intimidating, especially if you’re there for a layover. Making sure that you get back to the airport in time is pretty important. If you are short on time and worried about getting lost stick to using the train system. You’ll find express trains from the airport into Seoul Station and from there you can catch a train just about anywhere. When Korea hosted the Olympics they did an amazing job making the trains in Seoul English speaker friendly. You’ll find announcements and screens all have English translations. The trains are super easy to navigate and generally stops are right in the middle of the place your heading to. You can find a Seoul subway map here.
If you have time (well if you have money really)
If you’re happy to spend some cash while in Seoul check out the Gangnam area for night clubs. There can be an entry fee which varies depending on the place and drinks can be steep. But if you want to party celebrities, international DJ’s and the son’s and daughters of Korea’s millionaires it’s the place to head to. Check out Club Octagon.
Verramente will be launching in Korea shortly. Keep an eye out!