Locals and foreigners in Korea have always been saying that the nightlife in Seoul is this vibrant, can’t-miss thing. There are plenty of bars, clubs, and 24-hour restaurants to hit. You can also visit some shopping streets and markets that are open all day and all night.
However, there would be certain neighbourhoods that would make you doubt that nightlife in Korea is really abuzz with energy. There are certain spots in Seoul that feel like zombie land when you walk through them past midnight. If you’re a clueless guy or girl, you might wonder, “Where exactly is that thriving nightlife in Seoul that those blogs are raving about?”
When the subway trains and buses will stop running, and you hate the idea of paying more than 10,000 won for a taxi, why not try these activities instead? Each of them beats that biting cold wind when you have no choice but to walk home at 2 a.m., we promise.
1. Shopping at Dongdaemun
If you have a lot of cash to spend and maybe a list of winter layering essentials you’ve still yet to buy, find everything you need at the largest shopping complex in Seoul: Dongdaemun.
Some alleys can be quieter than others, but a lot of the stores are still eager to sell (and some might even be willing to haggle). Enjoy, and tick off each item in your shopping list!
Alternatives: Hongdae and Sinchon’s clubs are more affordable, while the clubs in Itaewon will let you party with more foreigners.
3. Sports Bars or Pubs in Itaewon
If you’re not a fan of the whole club scene, but you want to grab a drink with friends, make your way to Itaewon. Whether you’re on the lookout for a good old American-style sports bar, a European pub, or a even some cigar lounges, this is where you’ll find it.
Itaewon-dong has plenty of solid choices already, but the adjacent Haebangchon and Gyeongnidan areas are also home to popular establishments.
4. Noraebang (노래방) in Hongdae
Belt your heart out to your favourite K-Pop songs and international chart-toppers. Some noraebangs like the Luxury Su in Hongdae even have songs from other countries (like Japan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, and Russia).
Rates range from 2,000-20,000KRW per hour, depending on the time you’re going and the room you’re getting. Snack bars are also available. There are plenty of these Korean karaoke places in Hongdae, but you’ll also see many others all around Seoul.
If you or your group wants to do more than karaoke, then a multi-bang just might be what you’re looking for. Head to Sinchon, which is home to a lot of these establishments. You can also look for others in Hongdae and other areas near universities.
Play games on Nintendo Wii or a PC, or maybe watch a movie or a TV show together. You can also just spend the night by sobering up with ice cream and some music videos for entertainment or by simply taking a nap.
The jjimjilbang is a foolproof way to relax and pamper yourself while waiting for the public transport systems to start operating. You can spot many jjimjilbang around Seoul, such as the Dragon Hill Spa in Yongsan, The Spa in Garden5 at Songpa-gu, Spa Lei (women only) and The Medi Spa by Riverside Hotel (men only) in Jamwon-dong, and Itaewon Land in Itaewon-dong.
The Siloam Spa in the area behind Seoul Station would be a great choice for the clean and complete facilities and for the many services you can get there. Plus, their in-house restaurant is pretty great with yummy (and big servings of) hangover soup and other meals.
7. 24-Hour Cafes
(Image from Dal.komm Coffee)
Hang out at one of the countless cafes around Seoul for some good coffee and a pleasant vibe. For example, Dal.komm’s several branches throughout the city pairs your cup of Joe with carefully curated playlists to fit your mood.
There are also themed cafes (especially in neighbourhoods close to universities like Sinchon and Hongdae) that are open all night.
How about reading Korean comic books to your heart’s content with a cup of coffee or some snacks? Pay a visit to the Flower-Scented Cartoon Cafe in Sinchon (Trivia: it was a filming site of the famous K-Drama, My Love from the Star).
8. Coffee or Soju by the Han River
View of the Han River (Image from Pixabay)
Buy bottles of coffee or soju and snacks from any convenience store, and have a late-night “picnic” in any Hangang Park around Seoul. The ones in Yeouido, Ttukseom, or Jamsil are attractive for locals and tourists because of the plenty of seating options, sights, and the various stores (and some cafes) in each area.
No matter where you go. it will be nice, pleasant way to pass the time and exchange stories over your fave drinks. That’s if you can stand the cold, of course.
9. Food Trip in Seoul
You’ll never run out of food options in Seoul, even in the dead of night. You can count on the major fast food chains like the Lotteria and McDonald’s for your greasy cravings. You can also spot countless Korean restaurants, street food stalls, and chicken and beer joints that are open 24/7.
There are also several Korean barbecue grills all around Seoul, which can give you servings of quality meat and lots of side dishes. Try the busy areas like Hongdae, Myeongdong, Gangnam, and Eujilro.