Seoul is an exciting, vibrant, and fun city to be in, which can also make it a bit tricky to figure out what the best things to do and see first are. Using a Metro pass, we traveled around the city easily (though the language barrier was an issue at times) and were able to head to various districts throughout. Each neighborhood in Seoul offers visitors something different; from street food to art and cafes to shopping, this list of the top 5 neighborhoods you must visit in Seoul will help you map out your time in this great city!
I’m putting Hongdae first since this is where I stayed when I was in Seoul. There is a university in this neighborhood, so expect to see the streets filled with people in their 20s at all hours of the day. The shops throughout this area also cater to a younger crowd; there are plenty of cafes, vintage clothing and accessory stores, street food, clubs, an underground music scene, and restaurants that are open 24/7. This is a fun area that I recommend exploring in both the daytime and at night.
This neighborhood (essentially one main street with little alleyways branching out) is full of character; you’ll get a mix of the past and present cultures of this area as you walk down the street. The shops mainly sell various arts and crafts, antiques, and traditional stationary supplies. You will see plenty of other tourists in Insadong and if you’re lucky, you might even witness a calligraphy demonstration. This is a unique area of Seoul that is nice to spend a few hours walking along the street and checking out the shops (and food!).
If you’re wanting to empty your wallet and go on a shopping spree, Myeongdong is the perfect neighborhood to go to. This area is one of Seoul’s largest and most popular shopping districts, so you can expect to find many well-known stores (like H&M and Forever 21), as well as many boutique and smaller shops. Be warned: this area is not a cheap place to shop, so if you’re looking for a bargain you might want to go elsewhere.
This neighborhood is quite different than the previous three; Cheonggyecheon is a large recreational space in the core of Seoul. Head here if you’re looking for a refreshing break from the busy city life – walk along the stream and take in the artwork along the walls that pay tribute to Seoul’s past, traditions, and culture. It’s beautiful during the day, but you should also try to go at night to see all of the lights along the stream.
This is an obvious one – with all the hype surrounding “Gangnam Style”, your trip to Seoul wouldn’t be complete without visiting the neighborhood that put Psy in the spotlight (regardless of whether you like the song or want to rip your ears out when you hear it). To be honest, there’s really not much here for tourists since it is a business district, but you’ll be able to find lots of restaurants, cafes, and places to shop. It’s also pretty much obligatory to take a picture in front of this..