This Seoul travel guide lists things to do and must-visit restaurants in the megacity, just like On21 in Itaewon that you can check out here.
- Travel like a local by visiting Seoul’s vibrant neighborhoods! This Seoul travel guide covers the things to do in Hongdae, Itaewon, Gangnam, Myeongdong, and Dongdaemun.
- Also included in this Seoul travel guide are the Instagrammable places to visit!
- If you need to buy a SIM card for Korea, you may book one at a discount here.
- Don’t have WAUG on your phone yet? Go ahead and download it here!
Seoul Travel Guide
Seoul. This is the first thing that usually comes to mind when one thinks of visiting Korea. The capital is widely known to be the it city, the North Star to those who live for Korean fashion, cuisine, pop culture, and technology. But while people’s perception of Seoul is already quite established, travelers may find that the area isn’t always consistent with what’s known. This megalopolis that’s divided by the Han River sticks out in a myriad of ways — one corner delights in hipster exhibitions, street food, or drag shows, while another suits couples, bar hoppers, and shoppers who are looking to make the most of their stay.
If you’re looking to immerse yourself in Seoul, travel like a local by exploring each district or neighborhood. If you have plenty of time to fill in your Seoul itinerary (7 days or more), it’d be worth it to get lost in Itaewon, Gangnam, Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, and Hongdae. You’ll realize that the neighborhoods are delightfully different from each other, something that you may not appreciate if you’ll only visit the famous tourist landmarks and attractions in Seoul.
Following below is a Seoul travel guide that covers the different neighborhoods that you can visit for a day or half. I also included a listing of stores, restaurants, and things to do that locals enjoy to hopefully enrich your Seoul itinerary. Oh, and to save on entrance fees for the top attractions, purchase a mobile Discover Seoul Pass here.
Myeongdong is a place that will get you on a high on K-beauty products, trendy fashion items, and Korean streetfood. This is a major shopping area in Seoul that gets its appeal from its bustling crowd (more than a million visit per day!), narrow streets lined with food kiosks, and various sale events for Korean cosmetics. Myeongdong is described to be a mecca for travelers looking to shop, so if you’re a first-time visitor to Korea, expect a crazy fun time. Here’s what’s in store for you:
A. Things to Do in Myeongdong: Where to Shop
1. Lotte Department Store Myeongdong
If you want to buy clothes, perfumes, gadgets, and home essentials, add Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong to your list of things to do in Seoul. This mall has over fifteen (15) floors of combined shopping and dining areas (counting the basement). Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong also houses the high-end store Avenuel, which is where you can find the latest from Valentino, Cartier, Vacheron Constantin, Bulgari, Dior, Givenchy, Roger Vivier, and other luxury brands.
Lotte Department Store Myeongdong is located at 81 Namdaemun-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea. They are open from 10:30am-8:30pm.
2. Shinsegae Department Store
Shinsegae Department Store in Myeongdong is the flagship location of the brand. It has two buildings, which house over twenty (20) floors of shopping area. If you’re looking to do some duty-free shopping, make your way to Shinsegae Department Store’s New Building.
Shinsegae Department Store Myeongdong’s address is 63 Sogong-ro, Myeongdong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea. They are open on Mon-Thurs at 10:30am-8:00pm and on Fri-Sun and public holidays at 10:30am-8:30pm.
3. Myeongdong Shopping Streets
If shopping for Korean skin care products, affordable clothes, bags, and accessories is part of your Seoul itinerary, make sure to go to Myeongdong Shopping Streets. Some of the fashion outlets that you will find here are Guess, Forever 21, Uniqlo, H&M, New Balance, and Zara, among others.
If you are looking to replenish your supply of Korean skin care products, you can also visit the Myeongdong branches of Missha, Innisfree, Nature Republic, The Face Shop, Holika Holika, Etude House, The Body Shop, Skin Food, and others. There’s also a Daiso store for cool and cheap finds to bring home!
To get to Myeongdong market and shopping streets, alight at Myeongdong station or Euljiro 1-ga station. Most shops are open from 10am-11pm daily.
ARTBOX in Myeongdong isn’t as huge as the first three shopping locations in Seoul, but I recommend adding it in your Seoul itinerary for the reason that they sell really cute stuff! You can check out their offers on Instagram here.
Other nice places to shop in Myeongdong include M Plaza Myeongdong, Noon Square, and the Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center, which is a nice place to buy your souvenirs in Seoul.
B. Things to do in Myeongdong: Restaurants & Cafes
Here are the cafes and restaurants in Myeongdong to include in your Seoul itinerary:
1. Le Bar
Located at the 19th floor of Ibis Ambassador Myeongdong, Le Bar will treat you to a marvelous view of the city. The bar area is perfect for foreign visitors who want to experience nightlife in this part of Seoul. When you visit, make sure to get the representative cocktails to get a taste of the capital! You can find out more about Le Bar in Ibis Ambassador Myeongdong on WAUG here.
2. Osulloc Tea House
Osulloc Tea House is a popular cafe in Seoul that’s known for their green tea food and drinks spread. If you’re looking to try premium tea variants in Korea, you should definitely pay this store a visit. The must-try items in Osulloc’s menu are their Green Tea Latte and Green Tea King O Fredo, which is a nice green tea shake topped with green tea ice cream, red bean paste, and pound cake. You can find Osulloc Tea House Myeongdong’s menu here.
Migabon is a popular restaurant in Myeongdong that offers hearty Korean porridge (or juk) as well as Korean ginseng chicken soup (or samgyetang). These dishes are so popular that local and foreign diners won’t mind waiting for 30 minutes or more during the restaurant’s peak hours (9am-1pm & 6-9pm). The must-try item on Migabon’s menu is their Abalone Porridge. Average price per dish is ₩10,000 (around ₱450 or $8.6).
4. Myeongdong Kyoja
If you want to insert an award-winning restaurant in your Seoul itinerary, you should definitely consider Myeongdong Kyoja (명동교자). This is a noodle restaurant that serves the best handmade kalguksu (noodle soup), mandu (Korean dumplings), and kongguksu (noodles in cold soybean soup!). Average menu item price for Myeongdong Kyoja is ₩10,000 (around $8.6). See tagged posts on Instagram here.
5. Myeongdong Street Food Market
Get your fill of yummy and budget-friendly treats at the food kiosks lining the Myeongdong Shopping Streets. Don’t miss out on the tornado potato, Korean fish cakes, spicy rice cakes, chicken-on-sticks, Korean pancakes, and more (otherwise your visit won’t be complete!). On average street food items at Myeongdong typically cost ₩4,000 (around $3.5). Having this on your list of things to do in Seoul is a must!
C. Things to do in Myeongdong: Attractions in and around the hood
Here are some of the Instagrammable places in Seoul and things to do in Myeongdong that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Style Nanda Hotel
Style Nanda Hotel is a trending concept lifestyle store in Seoul with a very Instagrammable cafe! Ladies and beauties will surely want to stay here. (You can’t check-in though; it’s a retail store despite the name!) Explore more on Instagram here.
2. Nanta Show
Lonely Planet describes Nanta Show as Korea’s ‘most successful non-verbal performance.’ If you’re looking to add this thrilling family-friendly activity into your things to do in Seoul, you can check out the price of Nanta Show tickets below:
3. N Seoul Tower, Namsan Cable Car, & Locks of Love
N Seoul Tower and Namsan Park are not low-key places to visit in Seoul, but they’re both considered as must-visit places in Korea. The N Seoul Tower observatory, locks of love garden, and the cable car experience will definitely give you some good memories! Admission tickets to N Seoul Tower may be purchased at a discount here. If you want to read more about this attraction, check out this guide: 7 Tips for N Seoul Tower Visitors: Observatory Tickets, Hours, & More
4. Wongudan Altar (원구단)
This small attraction in Seoul is an altar built in 1897. This is where previous rulers offered sacrifices to the heavens. If you want to snap a photo that shows the harmony of modern and traditional architectures in Korea, add Wongudan Altar to your list of things to do in Seoul.
5. Myeongdong Cathedral
This is the birthplace of the Roman Catholic community in Korea. (It’s also a low-key Instagrammable spot in Seoul, as you may find here!)
6. Namdaemun Market
Namdaemun is the largest traditional market in Korea with approximately 10,000 stores! Here you’ll find all kinds of goods, like clothes, fabric, food, accessories, and toys. There are also some nice hole-in-the-wall restaurants and eateries in Namdaemun, so you should definitely include this market in your Seoul itinerary.
I entered a different dimension was what I thought as soon as I exited Dongdaemun History & Culture Park subway station. The sight of the undulating surfaces of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), which is considered as one of the top places to visit in Korea and an Instagrammable place in Seoul, transported me into a Korea that I never imagined. Perhaps I felt overwhelmed since I didn’t originally plan on visiting this attraction (I had no expectations whatsoever), but as soon as I started exploring the area by foot, I realized Dongdaemun is a must-add to any traveler’s Seoul itinerary, first-timer or otherwise. Here’s what you can find:
A. Things to Do in Dongdaemun: Attractions
Some places to visit in and around Dongdaemun that you can add to your list of things to do in Seoul:
1. Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (or DDP) is a futuristic attraction in Korea that’s characterized by wave-like designs. This expansive landmark and urban development in Seoul hosts the country’s biggest fashion shows, events, conferences, and exhibitions. DDP is comprised of these five (5) major areas, which you can add to your Seoul travel itinerary:
- DDP Art Hall – where most events are held
- DDP Museum – where displays of contemporary local and international art works can be found
- DDP Design Lab – creative hub for budding Korean designers and innovators
- DDP Design Market – multi-purpose hall in Dongdaemun Design Plaza with interesting shopping finds
- Dongdaemun History and Culture Park – top attraction in Seoul that seamlessly connects to Dongdaemun Design Plaza’s roof; its 25,000 LED roses make this park an Instagrammable place in Seoul
2. Cheonggyecheon Stream
The very Instagrammable place in Seoul that’s Cheonggyecheon Stream flows from Jung and Jongno districts. Locals and travelers visit this area to take in the relaxing vibe of the place or use the sidewalks to do some cardio. The area is filled with nice water ornaments, murals, and more than 22 scenic bridges, so expect to want to spend more time here than expected. (I did.).
3. Dongdaemun Gate
Heunginjimun (or Dongdaemun Gate) is the largest gate in Seoul. Its semi-circular wall that was originally built for defense purposes set it apart from other Seoul Fortress Gates. Its name evokes good energy, so make sure to add this historical attraction to your list of things to do in Seoul.
Other places to visit in and around Dongdaemun include Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park (just a stone’s throw away from Heunginjimun), Dongdaemun Fashion Town Special Tourist Zone (this area’s basically another shopping location in Seoul!), Dongdaemun Night Market or Sebit Market (pop-up market in Dongdaemun for cheap fashion and food finds!) Naksan Park, Ihwa Mural Village, and Seoul Fortress Wall.
B. Things to Do in Dongdaemun: Restaurants & Cafes
Here are the restaurants in and around Dongdaemun that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Manjok Ohyang Jokbal (Michelin Guide)
If you want to try two of Korea’s comfort food, visit Manjok Ohywang and try their pig trotters (jokbal) and boiled pork (bossam). The restaurant is considered as one of the three best jokbal restaurants in Seoul and received a Bib Gourmand award from the Michelin Guide. If you’re curious how award-winning Korean dishes taste like, book the restaurant’s set meal below (By the way, New WAUG members get a discount coupon worth $3 for their first booking!):
If you’re in the mood for some grilled fish, there’s an alley near Dongdaemun Market called Dongdaemun Grilled Fish Street (동대문생선구이골목) that you can add to your Seoul travel itinerary. Here you can find the low-key Honamjip, which is the oldest restaurant in the area. Must-try food item in the menu is their grilled mackerel, which is priced at ₩7,000 or $6.2.
3. Seoul Baking Company
Located at the basement of JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square, Seoul Baking Company offers the best sweet treats in town. If you’re a dessert-lover, you should add this in your things to do in Seoul and order their brownies and carrot cake. Average menu price is ₩7,000 or $6.2 as well.
If you’re looking for some coffeeshops in Seoul that’s in Dongdaemun Area, you may want to visit COFFEE PLANT. Other restaurants and bars that you can check out are The Lounge, The Griffin Bar, Kyochon Chicken Dongdaemun, and BLT Steak.
C. Things to Do in Dongdaemun: Activities
Aside from shopping, here are other activities in Dongdaemun that you can add to your list of things to do in Seoul:
1. Hanbok & Wedding Cafe
If you’re looking for a place where you can rent a hanbok in Seoul, visit the Hanbok & Wedding Cafe in Dongdaemun. Here you can rent hanbok and wedding dresses, as well as do a photoshoot with a professional photographer. Japanese costumes may be rented here as well. You can check out WAUG’s offer for hanbok rental here.
2. Oxy Zen Capsule
One exciting way to get rid of fatigue and stress is through an oxygen capsule — a unique wellness method that’s offered at Dongdaemun Ramada Encore. Here you’ll be given high-quality oxygen to inhale, which will make you sleep soundly, heal wounds, and activate brain cells. If you have not yet experienced this activity before, make sure to do so when you visit Dongdaemun!
Nightlife, diversity, and glocal. These words are easily associated with Itaewon, which is an upscale neighborhood in Seoul that’s popular among expats and foreign visitors. The sprawling area is filled with fusion restaurants, bars, and clubs, which come alive at night for the enjoyment of everyone. Many shopping outlets and entertainment facilities can also be spotted in the area, so if you’re looking for some great quality time, Itaewon should be in your Seoul itinerary.
Other notable things to do in Itaewon include the World Food Street and the Antique Furniture Street, which feature international and contemporary fusion cuisine and Korean artistry.
A. Things to Do in Itaewon: Restaurants to Try
Here are the must-try restaurants in Itaewon that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
Owned by K-pop star Lumin of M.Pire, On21 is a cafe and pasta restaurant in Itaewon that turns into a chill soju pub at night. If you’re dropping by for a meal, try their Hot Pot Pasta (it’s got a Korean twist!) or their Grilled Webfoot Octopus with Pork Belly. Their Korean Beef tenderloin steak and Aglio e Olio are also excellent choices especially if you’re in the mood for wine. You can view On21’s menu and book your discounted voucher on WAUG by clicking below:
2. Plus 84
Vietnamese food is quite popular in South Korea, so it’s just right to include Plus 84 in this Seoul travel guide (not to mention that Itaewon is a melting pot of international cuisine and culture!). This restaurant is one of the dining spots that you can visit if you want to take a quick break from Korean food or love fresh spring rolls and phở. Experience this restaurant by booking your cash coupon on WAUG below:
3. PLANT Cafe & Kitchen
PLANT in Itaewon is a vegan-friendly restaurant and a very Instagrammable place in Seoul. No matter your food preference is, you can enjoy PLANT’s burgers, pasta, salad, milkshake, and baked goodies! The must-try menu items in PLANT Itaewon are their Lentil Veggie Bowl, Hummus & Roasted Squash Salad, Chili Cheeseburger, and other gluten-free options. You can check out PLANT Itaewon’s menu here. (Gluten-free options are also available.)
B. Things to Do in Itaewon: Nightlife Spots
Here are the bars and clubs that you can add to your things-to-do when visiting Itaewon:
1. 232 Cafe and Bar Seoul
232 Cafe and Bar in Itaewon is a lounge and watering-hole in Korea. Old-fashioned this bar in Seoul may be, but fun is guaranteed by the DJs that play great music every weekend. Make sure to add this in your Seoul itinerary for a fun and classy time!
2. Southside Parlor
Is having an unforgettable weekend a part of your Seoul travel bucket list? Then head on over to Southside Parlor in Itaewon, which serves artisanal drinks. Drag shows are also held here, and tickets sell out fast.
If you want to see the luxurious side of Seoul, travel in and around Gangnam, which houses pretty skyscrapers, high-end malls, and colorful public spaces. A day in Gangnam is not complete without adding these things-to-do in the area: COEX Mall, Apgujeong Rodeo Street, Bongeunsa, and the Han River. (Throw in the K-Star Road if you dig Korean pop music!)
Similar to Itaewon, you’ll find many shopping outlets in this part of Seoul. You’ll also spot several plastic surgery clinics and hair salons here.
A. Things to Do in Gangnam: Attraction & Tours
Here are some of the top attractions in Gangnam that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Seonjeongneung Park
Seonjeongneung Park is a historical site in Korea that houses the tombs of kings and queens from the Joseon dynasty. This attraction in Gangnam is a must-add to your list of things to do in Seoul if you’re interested in Korean history (or dramas with this theme!). This is a nice place where residents and employees would usually visit after having lunch or dinner (or probably when feeling a bit stressed!)
2. COEX Mall
Starfield COEX Mall is Asia’s largest underground shopping mall. Its design revolves around the concept of ‘the unfolding sky’, which is reflected by the way it receives optimal amount of sunlight, as noted by Korea Tourism Organization here.
Inside COEX Mall you will find Starfield Library, which has over 50,000 books on display. There’s also the SMTOWN@coexartium, which houses a nice theater, museum, cafe, and souvenir shop that are all dedicated to SM Entertainment artists like EXO, Super Junior, SHINee, TVXQ, Red Velvet, and more.
3. Apgujeong Rodeo Street
Why add Apgujeong Rodeo in your things to do in Seoul? Simple. This is the central hub of all the trends in Korea, as described here by Korea Tourism Organization Center (also comparable to Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles)!
Along Apgujeong Rodeo, you’ll also see lots of GangnamDol’s (wordplay for Gangnam, idol, and doll) since the area is home to the K-Star Road. Some GangnamDol’s to see here include those of BTS, SHINee, Block B, Kara, Infinite, EXO, and more!
If you’re looking to up your style (or copy that of your Korean idol’s), you can also visit any of the top hair salons and beauty clinics here as well.
Other notable attractions to visit include Bongeunsa, Han River, Hannam Bridge, and Garosu-gil Road.
B. Things to Do in Gangnam: Restaurants to Try
Ryunique in Gangnam is a top-notch Korean restaurant run by Chef Tae Hwan Ryu, who has gained his culinary flare and influences in the UK, Australia, and Japan. This upscale dining location in Seoul is part of the prestigious Asia’s Best 50 Restaurants, making it worthy of your Seoul itinerary!
Multi-degustation for lunch and dinner at Ryunique Gangnam is priced at ₩170,000 (around $146). You can check out the rest of Ryunique’s menu here.
2. Picky Papa
If there’s one place in Gangnam that you should visit, it must be Picky Papa. Well-documented on Instagram, this cafe and restaurant brings together foodies, groups of friends, four-legged friends, and fans of Kang Daniel. If you’d like to kill some time, eat pizza, meet dogs from the ‘hood, and have bingsu, come over to this place. Of course, if you want to take part in the Danity Tour, Picky Papa Cafe will be your last stop.
3. Bistro Spark
One of the busiest restaurants in Seoul is Bistro Spark in Apgujeong, which is praised for their pasta, seafood, rancini, and wagyu steak. The bistro is run by a locally-known chef, who has put together an irresistible menu that keeps diners coming back for more. WAUG offers Bistro Spark’s lunch set at a 25% discount, and it comes with Grilled Octopus, Vongole Pasta, and wine.
4. Smile Noodles Gangnam
Whether your Seoul itinerary is for summer, winter, spring, or fall, you can head over to Smile Noodles in Gangnam to enjoy their exquisite noodle dishes. Some of the must-try menu items at Smile include their Premium Beef Brisket Noodles and Cold Noodle with Chicken Breast. Their dishes sell for ₩10,000 or $8.6 on average. Soju and draft beer are also available.
Hongdae was a true pleasant surprise on my first visit. Perhaps it’s the fact that there were more locals than I expected, a bunch of neon-lit restaurants and shops appealed to my senses, or that awesome street performers were everywhere. But that Hongdae is oozing with youthful energy is really owed to the fact that it’s situated near Hongik University.
If you’ll add this neighborhood to your Seoul itinerary (you must!), make sure to add watching the street song and dance performances to your list of things to do in Hongdae before heading to the area’s various cafes, restaurants, K-beauty stores, and salons.
A. Things to Do in Hongdae
Here are some of the things to do in Hongdae that you can add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. Korean Skin Care Shopping at Hongdae Shopping Streets
If you need a long-term supply of Korean skin care products, better to buy your stocks in Seoul! While many brands like Etude House or Innisfree have set up branches overseas (there’s probably one in your home country!), it’s still wise to get your beauty products in Korea. This is because they offer 1+1 sale events, which are most likely not available in your home city.
If you want to shop for Korean skin care products in Hongdae, you’ll find retail stores from brands like Missha, Innisfree, Skinfood, Etude House, and more. You’ll also be able to find other shops where you can get cellphone accessories, socks, souvenirs, and more for a much cheaper price.
2. Cheongchun Cat Cafe or Y Cat Cafe (청춘고양이카페 홍대점)
Need some down time with pets? Go and drop by Cheongchun Cat Cafe in Seoul where you and your date can have some cuddly encounters with Korean cats. 😉 This is definitely a must-add in your list of things to do in Hongdae if you love felines.
3. Museum of Fruit
Ditch the hanbok for once and put on a colorful fruit costume at Hongdae’s Museum of Fruit! This is an interactive visual art space that allows visitors to become one with really cute fruit-themed artworks. After visiting this attraction, find a stall in Hongdae that sells strawberry sticks that’s covered with melted sugar or chocolate to complete the experience.
B. Things to Do in Hongdae: Restaurants & Cafes
This part of our Seoul travel guide lists the restaurants in Hongdae that you may add to your Seoul itinerary:
1. 943 King’s Cross Harry Potter Cafe in Hongdae, Seoul
Relive your childhood by visiting this Harry Potter-themed cafe in Seoul! 943 King’s Cross Cafe has many corners and spots where you’ll be reminded of your favorite trio and their quest to defeat Voldemort (yes, I dare say hiss name). This a very unique and Instagrammable place in Seoul, and one that will be worth queuing up for. Book a discounted voucher for 943 King’s Cross Cafe in Hongdae below:
2. The Grid
If there are two things that The Grid does right, that’s their thin-crust pizza and creamy pasta. I know, tons of places make the same kind of food, but this restaurant in Hongdae mastered their technique and created true signatures! But don’t just take my word for it; check out some photos and reviews from customers who booked on WAUG here.
Enjoy your Korea trip
I hope you enjoy your upcoming visit to Korea! Don’t forget to share with us your own Seoul itinerary, videos, tips, photos, and/or stories. We’d love to feature your Seoul travel guide and recommendations to help other travelers!