Seoul Neighbourhoods: Gangnam, Hongdae, Itaewon

Hongdae

Has won the award for the neighbourhood I’ve enjoyed the most. Because it’s location close the Hongik University, it has become  a vibrant, exciting place with street stalls and games, lots of reasonably priced restaurants and beer haunts, pumping clubs, streets of roadside shops and the the impromptu street performers! We watched a dance battle between some youths! Great to end off the day with a hearty dinner, stroll through the streets, or just people watch!

Places to go in Hongdae:

  • Trickeye Museum (which we skipped as we had already been to something similar).
  • Check out Cat cafe Hongdae info (12-6 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea/ 서울시 마포구 서교동 358-92번지 3층으로 do note that kids under 12 not allowed due to safety issues with cat scratching – to our disappointment)
  • or the Thanks Nature Cafe Thanks Nature Sheep Cafe (서울시 마포구 서교동 486 B1 Seoul, Mapo-gu, Seogyo-dong 486 B1)
  • If you’re feeling artsy, why not have a coffee while painting your own mini me at the Mustoy Cafe 2F 336-6, Seogyo-dong , Mapo-gu)

Traveller’s tip: If you’re there on a Sunday, Hongdae has a weekly bazaar. Also, do keep a look out for cafes in the basement or second / third floors. It might be a slight challange to find cafes so no harm doing a little pre-planning on google maps!

Your usual western coffee joints and Korean skin care shops.

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Pretty cheap eats, we tried to order less but had no idea the dishes were this big!

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We found a delicious tiramisu cafe in one of the basements! Better than many touristy restaurants in Italy. The top is a sesame flavoured one!

Gangnam, Garosu-gil and Coex mall

Apparently the hang-out for the rich, famous and beautiful. Gangnam neighbourhood features a looonngg main street called Garosu-gil meaning “tree lined street” is truly lined with Ginko trees and extends from Sinsa station to Hyeondae high school. With surrounding maze of streets filled with designer and boutique stores, cafes and restaurants. Keep a lookout for the plastic surgery spots as well as lots of dressed up Koreans! Good place to go for some food or a light stroll. Although Coex mall is in the same area, it’s a little hard to get to with the trains (requires a few transfers) so we took a taxi in-between. Coex mall is an upmarket mall – full of branded goods, restaurants and of course, the Coex aquarium. Best thing about Coex mall was their supermarket where you can try many interesting korean food!

Places to go in Garosu-gil:

Traveller tip: If you’re short on time, Gangnam and Coex mall could probably be scrapped from your list. Gangnam is quite similar to Itaewon and Myeongdong’s neighbourhoods of shops and restaurants. Coex mall is pretty much similar to any other large mall in Asia.

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Some interesting seaweed samples in Coex supermarket.
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Coex mall’s supermarket

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Gangnam back streets.
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European styled shop in Gangnam
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Another delicious bibibmap at some random restaurant in Gangnam.
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Line cafe
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Line cafe’s macrons!
Line’s kiddie bags!

Capture

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Itaewon

A fabulous district at night, with a mixed foreigner, touristy, local crowd. Lots of upmarket cafes, bars and restaurants. Pretty close to the US army base so you’d see plenty of American military around. It’s a pretty long street to walk so might be handy catching a cab if you’re tired. Plenty of international and Korean fusion food!

Places to go in Itaewon:

  • Hyundai record library which doubles up as a club (great to see from the outside, unfortunately you’d need to be a Hyundai credit card member of some sort to go in 😦 )
  • Passion 5 dessert cafe won’t disappoint! (272, Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu)
  • Parc korean fusion food – book in advance!
  • Octagon club go before 11pm for discounted entry fee.
  • Leeum museum of art

Traveller’s tip: Again Itaewon is similar to Garosu-gil as it has many cafes, restaurants, but less upmarket shops (I did pick up really cheap North Face jacket at an outlet there!) and more bars and clubs. It also requires plenty of walking and probably not as kid-friendly as Garosu-gil. It’s also not immediately near a train station so may be more convenient to catch a cab or Uber there. As it is a long street, the cafes or shops of interest might be up to 20 min walk apart!

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Hyundai record library!
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American military off duty
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Passion 5 dessert cafe
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Delicious millecrepe
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Fig tart!

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