Nightlife in Seoul – Where To Be In Seoul At Night
One of the defining characteristics of the nightlife in Seoul, in my opinion, would be that you can always find something to eat, drink or do. And, another great thing is that the city is pretty safe to walk around when it’s past midnight.
It is safe to claim that Seoul has definitely a more vibrant vibe and energy at night than in the daytime. If you know where to be that is. Below are some suggestions as to where you can experience the Korean nightlife.
Do not expect to see every shop and restaurant open all night, but many restaurants are open very late, past midnight. Certain restaurants, “Noraebangs” and “Jjimjilbangs” are open for business 24 hours.
The Korean karoke rooms known as the “Noraebang” (which means Song Room in Korean) pay a massive role in Korean night life since singing is a favorite entertainment for many Koreans. The Noraebang fee would depend on the quality of the accommodation, the room capacity and the hours you choose to stay singing. Alcohol drinks and snacks are often available. You can also order additional fast food from elsewhere and sing the hours away with your friends or even by yourself. Under the age of 18 must have their parent’s permission to be in a Noraebang after 10:00 p.m. Noreabangs are open practically all night as most Korean pubs are open for 24 hours.
“Jjimjilbangs” are like public dry sauna houses in Korea. It’s not just a great place to recover from fatigue and revive the body and mind, it often works as a great place for dating and hanging out with family and friends. Jjimjilbangs are usually open all night. For people who need affordable places to sleep and rest, are all welcome and should be comfortable there, since the environment accommodates you to take showers, use gym facilities, watch TV and take a nap there.
Hongdae – The Hongik University area being famous for its artsy, unique bars is a place you can watch indie bands performing underground or in the streets. Hongdae is known for its artsy, fun fashion shops, art galleries and overall, it’s a great place to browse at night.
Shincheon, which is only a street away from the Hongdae area mentioned above, is well known for being the spot for Universities like Ewha Woman’s Uni, Yonsei Uni and Sogang Uni. This region is famous for its number of popular bars, restaurants and Noraebangs all quite vibrantly packed at night.
Itaewon would offer you a global cultural experience you will not get any where else in Korea. Numerous foreign restaurants like Greek, Turkish, Indian and European restaurants are located in Itaewon. Most shops and stores accept U.S. dollars when you purchase something, even if it is something sold in the streets. Most of all, Itaewon is notorious for being loud and bright during the night due to its many night clubs crowded with people from all parts of the world. You can find unique clubs for latin music, Hip Hop, house music and so on. You need to be 19 or over to be admitted inside the club legally in Korea. Clubs will, normally check your ID before letting you in. (The legal drinking age is 20, for Korean age, 21)
The place I would personally recommend you visit at night is Gwanghwamun, City Hall and the nearby Myeongdong shopping area. These places are in the Central area of Seoul, all located within walking distance.
It might just be my imagination, but the air feels fresher at night in Gwanghwamun, the lit-up statue of “Sejong the Great” who created the Hangeul and the canal called “Chunggaechun” that runs through the downtown and connects to the River Han is worth seeing. The recreated canal was a $900 million dollar project completed in 2005, which is currently a very highly visited tourist destination. The canal decorates “itself” differently every season, holds festivals and various kinds of events, concerts and public shows there.
Night outdoor activities are not unique in Korea, due to the nation’s abundant and climbable mountains, its rivers and lakes that have links to the sea. 70 percent of the land in Korea is mountainous, so hiking is a very popular hobby for a large population, many take their hobby to the extreme and camp out in the mountains at night. Both the metropolitan area and the other rural regions have parks and for hiking, running and all kinds of sports.
Overall, Korea is at its peek at night and there is always something to do or see. Why not visit or re-visit soon.
— J. Chung