May 16, 2016

Ultimate Guide to Seoul's Best Neighborhoods

Who needs a guidebook when Seoul Searching gives you the most comprehensive, up-to-date guide to Seoul's neighborhoods on the Internet?!

Whether you're looking for the perfect neighborhood to stay in during your trip, or simply want to explore a new part of town, you can find what you are looking for here.

I'll continue to update this list as new content is published. Stay tuned!

Apgujeong & Cheongdam-dong 

Apgujeong boasts a niumber of specialty shops that offer unique, one-of-a-kind items at rather affordable prices. The vibe of the area is a youthful one and storefronts and cafes are decorated with colorful, funky designs and signage, a nice contrast from Gangnam's other neighborhoods. 

The Galleria Shopping Mall should not be missed and those with a sweet tooth should try the area’s premiere dessert cafe. Further down in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul’s go-to for luxury items, is the Horim Art Center, which boasts a number of galleries that include more than 10,000 Korean ceramics, paintings and metal art pieces. 

There are also a number of beauty salons that are frequented by the country's most celebrated celebrities but also cater to foreigners, as their employees speak a range of languages. 

Best For: Shopaholics, Hallyu Fans, Fashionistas 

Don’t Miss: Dessertree, Galleria, Apgujeong Rodeo Street, Cheongdamdong Fashion Street, Hallyu entertainment companies Horim Art Center, CGV Cheongdam City, Doosan Park, Pierrot Strike, Le Chambre


Nestled between Inwang and Bugak mountains, Buam-dong is a peaceful residential neighborhood located in the center of Seoul, shielded by nature from the neon and concrete that drench the remainder of the metropolis. 

Buam-dong is most cherished for its small but detail-oriented galleries, mom-and-pop eateries and high-end coffee shops. It is also home to a famous filming location of the famous K-drama Coffee Prince. 

The gem of the area is Baeksa Valley, which dates back to the Joseon Dynasty. With easy trails and plenty of places to rest, Baeksashil is the perfect spot for a private picnic or a family outing. 

Best For: Nature Lovers, Hallyu Fans, Art Aficionados 

Don’t Miss: Seoul Fortress Wall, Club Espresso, Sanmootonge, Baeksa Valley, Jaha Sonmandu, Seoul Museum 

Related Links: Afternoons in Buamdong

Bukchon Hanok Village 

Adjacent to Samcheong-dong lie Gaehoedong and Wonseodong, residential neighborhoods of twisting alleys dotted with hanoks, once homes to the capital's nobility and most influential families. 

This area is particularly popular for its impressive views, beautiful homes and traditional workshops, which are owned and operated by the descendants of former dynastic artisans. Visitors can tour these workshops and experience the traditional arts of the country, which are becoming endangered with each passing year. 

Best For: Art Afficiandos, History Buffs, Couples 

Don’t Miss: Changdeokgung Palace, The Barn Cafe and Home Bakery, Bukchon Cultural Center, Gahoe Museum, Geumbagyeon Han Sangsoo Embroidery Workshop, Simsimheon private home, Cha Masineun Tteul tea house, Coffee Bangatgan caricature cafe, Jeongdok Public Library, Seoul Education Museum 

City Center 

The city center of Seoul is concentrated in a business district, but provides enough culture to make it a must-visit stop on your travel itinerary. 

Best For: History Buffs, Culture Vultures, Foodies, First-Time Tourists 

Don’t Miss: Gwanghwamun, Cheonggyechon, Hangul Museum, Kyobo Book Store, City Hall, Burger B, School Food, Deoksugung, JoyKolon

Related Links: Coming soon!


Shopping fanatics can easily spend a full afternoon (or night, considering most of this district’s shopping venues stay open well into the early morning hours) exploring the wares of local designers in multi-story shopping complexes and markets. 

The recently built Dongdaemun Design Plaza is an architectural feat whose futuristic appearance is a stark contrast to the neighboring Dongdaemun Gate, constructed during dynastic times. 

There are a number of markets serving up tasty Korean street fare in addition to a variety of Indian and Russian restaurants. 

Best For: Shopaholics, Budget Travelers, History Buffs, Foodies 

Don’t Miss: Everest, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Cheonggyechon, Migliore, Hello APM, Doota Mall, Mukja Golmok food street, JW Marriot Dongdaemun Square The Lounge 


Although Seoul is abundant with must-see destinations and attractions, few of them provide an authentic glimpse into Korean culture as well as the city’s traditional streets. Cramped alleys, gasoline-stained streets and the unmistakable sounds of metal-on-metal give this district an industrial feel and little has changed here since the 1970s. 

Best For: History Buffs, Foodies, Culture Vultures 

Don’t Miss: Cheonggyechon, Chuncheon Makguksu, Gwangjang Market, Market Streets 

Ewha & Sinchon 

These two neighboring areas are home to some of Seoul’s most prestigious universities and, as such, are popular with students and younger generations. 

These areas are great places to find inexpensive clothing and accessories and to taste all the latest in the country’s food trends. Street performers, live music and crowds of fashionistas make it one of the more vibrant areas of the city. 

Best For: Shopaholics, Budget Travelers, Party Animals 

Don’t Miss: Ewha Woman’s University, Tea Angpang, Ewha clothing alley, Hello aPm, Princess Diary, Izakaya Musa, Pop Container 

Gangnam Station 

Made popular by Psy’s famous horse dance, Gangnam Station is as popular as ever for its shopping facilities, nightlife, restaurants and, of course, beautiful people. Towering skyscrapers, boasting unique facades and architectural styles give the neighborhood a city vibe that is evident at all hours of the day. 

Best For: Night Owls, Party Animals, Shopaholics 

Don’t Miss: Kyobo Book Store, Butterfinger Pancakes, Oktoberfest, Rainbow Hookah Bar, Gangnam Underground Shopping Center, Whanchan Chicken, The Hive Building 

Gyeongnidan & Haebangchon 

Very recently, Gyeongnidan and Haebangchon have become the trendiest neighborhoods in all of Seoul. The past few years have seen the neighborhoods transform into residential areas of foreigners, but still maintain a Korean feel. 

Trendy restaurants, bars, cafes and boutiques have since sprung up all over the place, and surprises can be found in just about every alley. 

Best For: Trendsetters, Hipsters, Foodies, Couples, Party Animals 

Don’t Miss: Our Commune, Baker’s Table, The Booth, Haebangchon Art Valley, Casablanca, Southside Parlor, Coreanos, Robot Kimbap, Radio Eyes

Related Links: Coming soon!

Han River 

The Han River is one of the best places to soak up the city’s impressive skyline while at the same time soaking up nature. On any given day, locals can be found in the parks that dot the river shooting hoops, riding bikes and picnicking under sun shades. 

In the evenings, a musical fountain show is held at Banpo Bridge, which is especially beautiful when experienced via one of the river’s many evening cruises. In warmer months, free concerts are held and movies are shown on stages around the river. The 63 Building, which offers impressive views, a wax museum and aquarium, is also a popular destination. 

Best For: Outdoorsmen, Couples, Families 

Don’t Miss: Some Sevit, Han River bridge cafes, Banpo Bridge, Han River Cruise, Yeouido Park, 63 Building, Noryangjin Fish Market 


Once a neglected hilltop community just a stone’s throw from the Han River in central Seoul, Hannam-dong has recently developed into a neighborhood of culture and creativity, thanks to a new wave of young artists and creative thinkers. 

It is also the latest hangout for all of Seoul’s top stars; therefore, celebrity spotting is a favorite activity of those visiting the neighborhood. 

Best For: Trendsetters, Shopaholics, Foodies 

Don’t Miss: Champ Coffee, Madame de 20th Century Salon, Entropy Coffee, Soul Ink, Pancake Original Story, Paris Croissant, Valut +82, Decleor, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Takeout Drawing 

Related Links: Coming soon!

Hapjeong & Sangsu 

Like Yeonnam-dong, the areas of Hapjeong and Sangsu have developed into popular hangouts of artists and musicians and has become a hotspot for those seeking underground culture. These streets offer quirky cafes, live music halls and plenty of shopping and entertainment. 

Best For: Trendsetters, Hipsters, Music Lovers, Hallyu Fans 

Don’t Miss: YG Entertainment, Mecentopolis, Rolling Hall, Yogiga, BauHaus, Standing Coffee, Sangsu Cafe Street

Heyri Art Village

Less than an hour's drive north of Seoul sits an enchanting community of artists. Envisioned and created by a well-known book publisher, Heyri Art Village is now home to over 370 artists. 

Not only does its proximity to Seoul make it a great day trip option, but its unique ambiance and ability to converge the old with the new in a natural environment make it a memorable destination. The fact that it is a popular filming location for dramas and movies also makes it popular with Hallyu fans. 

Best For: Hallyu Fans, Families, Art Aficionados 

Don’t Miss: Farmer's Table, Artists' residences, Gallery White Block, Chocolate Design Gallery, Toy Museum, Elvis Museum, The Step, Museum of Modern History of Korea


Hongdae is a vibrant neighborhood known for being the creative hub of the country. Boasting a number of design shops, art galleries, indie music bars and fashion studios, the district is the perfect place to soak up the city's youth culture and up-and-coming trends. 

Visitors will enjoy checking out unique (and sometimes bizarre) themed coffee shops and restaurants, snapping photos of the colorful street art and chowing down on gimmicky street snacks like nitrogen ice cream. After the sun sets, Hongdae really comes alive as thousands flock to the area's bars, dance clubs and noraebangs (private karaoke rooms) for round after round of Seoul’s wild nightlife. 

Best For: Music Lovers, Trendsetters, Night Owls, Party Animals, The Alternative Crowd 

Don’t Miss: Sangsangmadang Art Complex, Thanks Nature Café, Mimine, Busker Square, Luxury Su Noraebang, Tarot Card Row, Hongdae Trick Eye Museum 


Hyehwa remains off the radar to most tourists and is even overlooked by locals. Nevertheless, it thrives as Seoul's theater district and brims with diverse, inexpensive eateries, eye-catching cafes and green spaces to boot. 

One that has garnered recent attention is its Iwha Art Village, a dilapidated residential district that has been given a facelift through the instalment of sculptures and the addition of murals. 

Furthermore, the presence of a number of jazz bars and artisanal cocktail bars make Hyehwa a great destination for a night out on the town. 

Best For: Couples, Hallyu Fans, Music Lovers, Art Aficionados 

Don’t Miss: Iwha Art Village, Jazz Story, Mix & Malt, b2project cafe, Naksan Park, Hello Kitty Cafe, Filipino Market, 10x10, Hakrim Dabang 


Insadong is a charming area of the city which consists of ceramic stores, art galleries, various restaurants and souvenir stores. Special performances and traditional music can be enjoyed by all each weekend, when the streets are closed off to vehicles. 

Although Insadong may be considered a touristy neighborhood, there are plenty of back alleys which boast off-the-radar galleries, outdoor dining tents, craft shops and hidden tea houses. 

Best For: Shopaholics, History Buffs, Culture Vultures, Foodies, Couples 

Don’t Miss: Gukje Embroidery, O'Sulloc, Ssamzigil, Gana Art Gallery, Moon Bird Thinks Only of the Moon, Sanchon, Bukchon Mandu, Blue Star, Insadong Sujebi, Miss Lee Café 


Over the years, Itaewon—once a popular hangout for American army soldiers—has developed into a cultural mecca popular with both foreigners and locals alike. It is a favorite district in Seoul to sample international cuisine, shop for everything from funky accessories to antiques and to experience the city’s vibrant nightlife. 

Best For: Night Owls, Foodies, Party Animals 

Don’t Miss: Bastille, Prost, Guilty Pleasure, B1, Antique Street, Linus’ Bama Style Barbeque, What the Book, MowMow, Glam, The Bungalow, High Street Market, Seoul Mosque, Salam Bakery, Ways of Seeing, War Museum of Korea, Itaewon Global Village Center, Two Bros 

Related Links: Coming soon!


Although not centrally located, Jamsil is still very much worth a visit. Consisting of a number of green spaces, including the expansive Olympic Park and Seokchon Lake, it is a great area for visitors to get a breath of fresh air. 

Additionally, kids (and kids at heart) will love spending a day at Lotte World Adventure & Magic Island, an indoor and outdoor theme park that boasts roller coasters, parades and children’s rides. No visit to Jamsil is complete without a visit to Jamsil Stadium, the city’s most popular spot to watch Korea’s favorite pastime…baseball. 

Best For: Outdoorsmen, Sports Fans, Families 

Don’t Miss: Jamsil Underground Shopping Mall, Lotte Department Store, Charlotte Theater, Olympic Park, Jamsil Stadium, Lotte World Adventure & Magic Island 

Related Links: Coming soon!


Although Myeongdong is one of the more crowded districts of the city, it is still a favorite of tourists for shopping the country’s best brands, in addition to international ones. After shopping for Asia’s hottest trends, there’s plenty to do, eat and experience. 

For instance, visitors can admire the beautiful architecture of the local cathedral and City Hall buildings or women can shop for Korea’s best beauty products on Cosmeroad. 

Best For: Hallyu Fans, Shopaholics, Foodies 

Don’t Miss: Seoul Global Culture and Tourism Center, Cosmeroad, Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral, Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center, Lotte Department Store, Avenue L Theater, Lotte Young Plaza, Myeongdong NOON Square, O’Sulloc Tea House, Yooksam Naengmyeon, Skinspa, Seoul City Hall 

Related Links: Coming soon!

Nami Island 

Located just a 40 minutes' bus ride from Seoul, Nami Island is the ideal place to get away from the city for a day.

An oasis of culture and tranquillity, the small island has something for everyone, from art galleries to water sports activities to regular outdoor concerts and performances. 

Best For: Couples, Families, Outdoorsmen, Hallyu Fans 

Don’t Miss: Unchi Garden, Sky Bike, Bike Center, Herb World, UNICEF Hall, The Song Museum, Raison Gallery, Recycling Workshop, Outdoor Music Stage, Pyunghwarang Restaurant, The Cafe Amuse 

Namsan Area 

Located in the heart of Seoul, Namsan Mountain is home to a number of upscale restaurants, boutiques, design shops and the well known Seoul Tower, which overlooks the entirety of the city. The tower can be accessed by bus, cable car (as noted on many popular K-dramas) or by hiking one of the mountain’s trails. 

Namsan-gol Hanok Village is at the foot of the mountain and offers visitors a glimpse into what Korea was like during dynastic times through an aesthetic display of traditional homes and daily performances. 

Best For: Hallyu Fans, Nature Lovers, History Buffs 

Don’t Miss: THE PLACE Dining, THE BEST BURGER IN SEOUL, N'Seoul Tower, Namsan Park, Seoul Animation Museum, Namsangol Hanok Village, Korea House


Located on the eastern border of Gyeongbok Palace, Samcheongdong is a quaint neighborhood of boutiques, cafes and restaurants housed in hanoks, traditional Korean homes. 

Visitors can enjoy an afternoon wandering the districts streets and exploring the shops which offer an eclectic mix of modern and Korean-inspired wares. Additionally, it boasts a number of small galleries. 

Best For: Art Aficionados, Culture Vultures, History Buffs, Couples, Hallyu Fans 

Don’t Miss: Samcheongdong-gil, Bukmakgol, Samcheongdong Sujebi, Yeon Traveler's Hangout, Cafe Yung, La Cle Jazz Bar, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Tea Therapy

Related Links:


Bordering the western wall of Gyeongbok Palace, Seochondong is an oft-overlooked neighborhood and is still relatively unknown, even to locals. 1970s-era buildings and markets are contrasted by modern design spaces, art galleries and stationery shops. 

This is one of the best places in Seoul to get a feeling for what the neighborhood was like during the mid to late 20th century. 

Best For: Couples, Foodies, History Buffs, Art Aficionados 

Don’t Miss: Gyeongbokgung, Tosokchon, Goyangyi Moonbanggu, Tongin Market, Doshirak Cafe, Armdri, Wonjo Halmeoni Tteokbokki, Hyoja Bakery, Barcelona, Flower & Cafe, Dae-o Bookstore Cafe, Aux Petits Verres, Tongui-dong Hanok Village 


Few places in Seoul combine elements of nature, history, culture and religion as well as the neighborhood of Seodaemun. 

Situated in northern Seoul, Inwang Mountain is made up of some impressive trails, many of which follow along the Seoul Fortress Wall. Also scattered throughout the mountain are Buddhist temples and shamanist shrines where exorcism rites and healing services are still held today. The shamans' spiritual chants create an eerie mood, as do the giant rock formations that resemble skulls and goblins. 

Other highlights of the neighborhood include the historical Independence Park and the Prison History Hall. Once a jail for Korean independence activists during the Japanese colonial rule, it's now a history museum and a monument that celebrates Korea's fight for independence. 

Best For: History Buffs, Outdoorsmen, Culture Vultures 

Don’t Miss: Inwangsan, Seodaemun Prison History Hall, Independence Park 

Seolleung, Bongeunsa & COEX 

Seolleung is a place where visitors can follow in the footsteps of royalty and historical figures of the Joseon Dynasty by exploring the impressive tombs of former kings. 

Nearby, the temple of Bongeunsa offers a glimpse into the lives of Buddhist monks and boasts beautiful structures and statues. Just down the road, visitors can explore COEX mall and convention center and all of its facilities, which include an aquarium, a movie theater and a casino. 

Best For: Culture Vultures, Shopaholics, Hallyu Fans 

Don’t Miss: Seolleung Tombs, Jeongneung Tombs, Bongeunsa Temple, COEX, Seven Luck Casino, Aquarium, Megabox

Related Links: Coming soon!

Seorae Maeul (French Village) 

After the establishment of a French school in the 1980s, Seorae Village has become home to around 600 French people, roughly 40 percent of Korea’s total French population. Here, there are exquisite French cafes, French and Italian restaurants, wine bars, cheese shops, bakeries, and quaint boutiques. 

French flags (along with Korean ones) line the streets, giving one the feeling he or she has traveled across the world to Europe. After exploring the streets, visitors can relax in Monmartre Park, which has nice views of the district. 

Best For: Couples, Foodies, Families 

Don’t Miss: Express Bus Terminal underground shopping center, Cheese N, Lycee Francais de Seoul, Montmartre Park, Paris Croissant, Hotel Douce, Maison de Paris, Seorae Global Village Center, Napkin Please 

Related Links: Coming soon!

Seoul Grand Park 

Covering a vast area, Seoul Grand Park consists of themed facilities for education, nature, and amusement. The park is known for its scenic beauty, which changes with each season. It’s a particularly great destination for families, as it boasts an amusement park and a rather large zoo. 

Best For: Families, Outdoorsmen, Nature Lovers 

Don’t Miss: Seoul Grand Park Zoo, Rose Garden, Nature Camping Site, Botanical Garden, National Museum of Contemporary Art, SeoulLand Amusement Park


Sinsa-dong is a quaint neighborhood that has become increasingly popular over the past couple years. Perhaps the best known street in the area is Garosu-gil, which is often brimming with models, celebrities, amateur photographers and fashion bloggers. 

Fashion lovers will adore the neighborhood’s vintage shops, handbag museum and accessory stalls that take over every block. 

When shopping becomes too tiring, visitors can pamper themselves with some of the massages and beauty treatments in the city or relax at one of the many saunas. Restaurants serve up just about every kind of cuisine imaginable and many of them are owned and operated by Korea’s top stars. 

Best For: Trendsetters, Foodies, Shopaholics, Hallyu Fans 

Don’t Miss: Garosu-gil, Spicy Color, 9 Owls, Simone Handbag Museum, Coffee Chu, Cafe Oui, Bloom & Goute Cafe, Spa Lei, Pier 17, Dore Dore 


Yeonnam-dong is the quieter, albeit cooler cousin of Hongdae. Situated not far from Seoul’s biggest nightlife district, Yeonnam-dong is an up-and-coming community of artists. 

Traditionally a Chinese-Korean area, it has begun to gentrify and despite the old world feel that the neighborhood exudes, it is indeed a hot spot of raved-about restaurants, quaint cafes and tiny galleries. It is special in that these small businesses are mixed in among residential buildings and it feels worlds apart from the bustling metropolis of Seoul. 

Best For: Art Afficionados, Couples, Hipsters, Foodies 

Don’t Miss: Yunnam Salon, Wangchang Sanghoe, Be New, Ipum Bunsik, Pinokio Bookstore, Lie Lie Lie, Cafe Libre, Place Mak

Related Links: Coming soon!

Which neighborhoods did I miss? Leave them in the comments below and I'll be sure to share them with you in the future!

Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.


  1. What a fantastic read.. you had me there mismie. For a good 15 minutes my soul was back in Seoul.. great journey.. thanks. P.s. looking forward to your next masterpiece on Busan :)
    Alexandre Levy
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    1. Thanks for the comments Alexandre. I'll definitely work on putting something together about Busan for you. Take care til then. :)

  2. Alexandre you summed it up well.

    A little smile played around my face as I read the list and for a moment I felt a little less Seoul-sick for Korea. Thanks =)

  3. I think the area near Konkuk University is pretty happening too.

  4. Your blog (and Instagram account) is great!!! I used to live in Seoul about 7 years ago, it's amazing how much it has changed! It's so trendy now, I'd say perhaps even trendier than Tokyo, where I currently live. I'm craving a trip to Seoul so badly, and taking notes from your blog! Can't wait to re-discover this wonderful, vibrant city. Thanks for the memories:)

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  7. I really enjoyed this place and you can definitely find me here for more events. I didn't eat anything when on my recent visit to venues Chicago, but those around me had truffle fries, pizza, and wings all seemed to enjoy.

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