Hongdae picture
Conor Jen Fan Club/Flickr

Key Info

Donggyo-dong, Mapo-gu

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Entertainment and Nightlife, Shopping, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.3scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Food Scene
  • 4.5Atmosphere

The neighborhood surrounding Hongik University in west-central Seoul is a hub for Korean youth culture. Hongdae beckons to college students and other young adults with its propensity for self-expression and all-around alternative atmosphere, not to mention its plethora of bars, clubs, shops, restaurants and cafes. And because Hongik University is especially renowned for its arts programs, Hongdae is a noticeably creative area. You don't have to stroll far to find art galleries, walls adorned with street art and students singing or selling their craft on the sidewalks. Join the throngs of college students and tourists to hunt for unique souvenirs at Hongdae's two weekend markets, both held in the playground near the university's entrance. The "Free" Market takes place on Saturdays and the "Hope" Market on Sundays, both from about 1 to 7 p.m.

Night owls should head to Hongdae on "Club Day" – the last Friday of each month. On this day, revelers can club-hop among the neighborhood's hottest spots for only 15,000 won (about $14). Also, since Hongdae sits at the epicenter of Seoul's burgeoning underground and indie music scene, make sure to stop by one of the many live music venues that participates in Club Day as well.

Travelers had a blast at Hongdae and say the neighborhood is well worth a visit during both the day and night. Visitors loved the fun, bustling atmosphere and enjoyed watching the creative passersby and street performers that permeate the area. Travelers strongly suggested taking advantage of the local establishments that anchor this neighborhood, especially the cool cafes and cheap retail shops. Try Coffee Lab for a futuristic take on caffeinated beverages or Handmade World, a cafe-craft hybrid that sells coffee along with handicrafts.

To reach Hongdae, take the subway and get off at University Station on Line 2, exit 8 or 9. If you're planning on a night of clubbing, remember that the subway closes at midnight, so you'll want to find a cab if you don't want to stay out until 5:30 a.m. when trains start running again. For more information about Hongdae, visit the Korea Tourism Organization's official website.

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#1 Namsan Park and N Seoul Tower

Home to five warning beacons and a protective city wall during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), Mount Namsan now hosts a park and a smattering of tourism sites like an aquarium, a library and a bevy of beautiful walking trails.

But most people visit Namsan Park for its panoramic views of Seoul. To scope it out for free, visit Palgakjeong, an octagon-shaped viewing pavilion that boasts alluring vistas of the city. For an even more breathtaking sight, shell out a few won to get to the observation platform atop N Seoul Tower, Namsan Park's real showstopper. Recent visitors said that on clear days, the view from 1,574 feet up is spectacular. Out on the sky deck, you can't miss the thousands of padlocks attached to the fence; couples lock them there as symbols of everlasting love (bring your own lock if you're feeling romantic). For an extra-special experience, reserve a table for dinner in the rotating French restaurant, n.GRILL, on the tower's top floor. 

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