9 Non-Traditional Places to Visit in Seoul

Non Traditional Seoul

The city of Seoul, South Korea is comprised of a number of different areas and neighborhoods, many with their own charm and character. Many visitors to Seoul opt for visiting the more traditional cultural sites such as Bukchon Hanok Village, Gyeongbok and Changdeok Palaces, and Namdaemun Market, however there is much more to Seoul than that!

French Town (Seorae Village – 서래마을)

Unbeknownst to many visitors, Seoul had a large influx of French expatriates in the 1980s. Those expats moved to an area now known in English as ‘French Town’ or ‘Little France’ and in Korean as Seorae Maul (‘Seorae Village’).

The village is a small neighborhood in Seoul that makes you feel like you have transported out of Asia and into Europe. It has a lot of French restaurants, cafes, and street signs written in both French and English.

You can read more about Seorae Village on the website of SEOUL Magazine.

Getting There: (Metro) Sinbanpo Station – Line 9

[신반포역, 9 호선])

Hyehwa & University Street (혜화 & 대학로)

Hyehwa is an area known for all of the nearby universities and young people, Hyehwa has a lot of cafes, restaurants, and most notably: the theaters.

To get an in-depth look at the Hywewha area, visit Seoul Suburban’s blog.

Getting There: (Metro)  Hyehwa Station – Line 4, Exit 2 [혜화역, 4 호선]; 2출구)

Insadong (인사동)

Insadong Ssamji-gil

Ssamji-gil in Insadong

While Insadong is known for being a place to buy souvenirs for your loved ones or seeing ‘traditional’ Korean things like tea-houses, it is also a neighborhood with a lot of good food, interesting people, and fun shopping.

My favorite place in Insadong is Ssamji-gil (쌈지길), an indoor-outdoor shopping center with over 50 shops. To learn more about Insadong,visit Seoulistic’s website.  

Getting There: Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, Exit 3) or Anguk Station (Seoul Subway line 3), Exit 6.

Sindang-Dong Ddeokbokki Town (신당동떡볶이골목)

Ddeokbokki, one of the most famous street foods in all of South Korea is definitely worth trying in Sindang-Dong’s Ddeokbokki Town. This ‘town’ is an entire street dedicated to ddeokbokki.

Getting There: (Metro Stop)  Sindang – Line 6, Exit 8 [신당역, 6호선, 8출구]

Hongdae (홍대)

Hongdae (the Hongik University area) is where you go if you are young and you like to party. There are numerous venues that have music to match anyone’s taste from house to hip-hop. In addition to the clubs, there are also cute cafes, noraebangs, restaurants, and there is even a Trick Eye Art Museum!

For an in-depth look at the Hongdae night scene, check out Seoulistic’s website.

Getting There: (Metro) Hongik University Station, Line 2

Gangnam (강남 +  강남지하상가)

Shopping Gangnam

Shopping in Gangnam’s underground shopping mall

While you will not see people dancing down the street to the song ‘Gangnam Style’, you will find a plethora of restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. There is even an underground shopping center in the Gangnam metro station where you can find many stores selling Korean clothing!

Getting There: (Metro) Take Line 6 or Line 3 to Gangnam Station (강남역)

Myeongdong (명동)


Do some shopping in Myeongdong

Myeongdong is Seoul’s ultimate shopping area with over 1 million visitors a day. Myeongdong has department stores, international stores, and smaller Korean clothing stores, in addition to beauty shops and street food stalls. A trip to Seoul would definitely be incomplete without visiting Myeongdong.

Getting There: (Metro) Myeongdong Station, Line 4 or Euljiro Il Ga Station, Line 2

Gwangjang Market (광장시장)

Gwangjang Market is located in Jongno near Dongdaemun. As my Korean friend put it, it is a ‘paradise for street foods’. Gwangjang Market is very popular with tourists and is also Korea’s first market, making it a great place to visit during your trip to Seoul to buy street food and traditional Korean fabrics.

Metro Stop: Jongno 5-ga – Line 1, Exit 8 [종로5가역, 1호선, 8출구] or Euljiro 4-ga, Line 2 or 5, Exit 4 [을지로4가역, 2/5호선, 4출구]

Noryangjin Fish Market (노량진수산시장)

Noryangjin Fish Market

Noryangjin Fish Market

wrote about my experience at Noryangjin Fish Market, a daily market that sells fresh fish and sea creatures.

Address13-8, 노량진동, 동작구, 서울시 – Metro: Noryangjin Station, Line 1, Exit 1 [노량진역, 1호선, 1출구]

This post was part of the weekly Sunday Traveler series.

Have you ever visited any of these places in Seoul? What other non-traditional places can you recommend?
By |2017-07-30T01:10:08+00:00August 8th, 2014|South Korea|24 Comments


  1. Alyson Aug 9, 2014 at 10:01 am - Reply

    So that’s what Gangnam means! I just told the kids, they were impressed. S Korea is somewhere we’d love to go after hosting a Korean student and meeting so many lovely S Koreans on our travels. I’ll never forget kayaking down the Nam Song River in Laos with the kids dancing to Gangnam style standing up on the kayaks, Koreans singing it for them. So cool!

    • Chanel Aug 10, 2014 at 2:13 am - Reply

      It is a wonderful place Alyson! It sounds like the river experience with the kids was so fun! Enjoy 😀

  2. Katie Aug 10, 2014 at 10:05 am - Reply

    Gwangjang Market sounds right up my alley, I love street food! 🙂

    • Chanel Aug 10, 2014 at 1:48 pm - Reply

      It is a great market to check out in Seoul!

  3. Sabina @GirlvsGlobe Aug 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm - Reply

    I’d love to go to Gangnam, just to be able to say I’ve been. That’s an awful reason to go someplace and I realise that, but damn it I can’t help myself. It’s all Psy’s fault 😛

    • Chanel Aug 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm - Reply

      Haha, definitely do it! Even if it is to say you’ve got Gangnam style 😉

  4. Amy Lynne Hayes Aug 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    Great guide to Seoul!! It’s always nice to get local knowledge on places, beyond the usual things you’d find in guidebooks. 🙂

    • Chanel Aug 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm - Reply

      Agreed! It is the best way to visit any place 😀

  5. Helen Anne Travis Aug 10, 2014 at 5:31 pm - Reply

    Great tips. I’ve always wanted to visit Seoul. The fish market looks fantastic!

  6. Cory Lee Aug 10, 2014 at 5:33 pm - Reply

    Seoul looks like a fantastic place to visit! I am a seafood fanatic so I’m sure I’d love the fish market. Will definitely check it out when I visit. Great post!

  7. Tamara (Globe Guide) Aug 10, 2014 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    Oh man, the cheesy photos/videos I would take were I in Gangnam are overwhelming… 😉 Thanks for the post!

  8. Penny @ Travelling Penster Aug 10, 2014 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    Ooooh great article!! I’m thinking of teaching English in Korea next year maybe. Lots of great tips, thank you! 🙂

  9. Raphael Alexander Zoren Aug 11, 2014 at 2:51 am - Reply

    Great photos! I totally love this off-the beaten path articles of yours, always something new to discover!

  10. Ryan Zieman Aug 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    I’ve never traveled to Seoul, but the ‘paradise for street foods’ sounds particularly tempting. I absolutely love the cover photo!

  11. Maria from Nerd Nomads Aug 12, 2014 at 3:56 am - Reply

    Would love to visit Korea and Seoul some day! Seems like such a great country! We actually met a nice guy on the train here in Japan the other day, who told us a lot about his country, so it is high up on our bucket list. He also spoke perfect english. Do people in Korea speak good english? Hardly anybody here in Japan speaks english, so it can be a bit frustrating at times :). The Myeongdong and the Gwangjang Market seems perfect for me, as I love shopping and street food! 🙂

    • Chanel Aug 14, 2014 at 6:58 am - Reply

      It depends on how much exposure they have. Those who have gone to private academies generally tend to be much more fluent however I find that a good majority of young people speak well 🙂

  12. Laura Aug 12, 2014 at 8:04 pm - Reply

    I had no idea there was a french town in Seoul! There’s some great things on this lost that I didn’t know about! Thanks for sharing!

  13. Adelina // Pack Me To Aug 12, 2014 at 10:56 pm - Reply

    Great list of under the radar places to visit in Seoul! I haven’t been yet, but one day. I would totally want to go to Gangnam if only to just take a cheesy photo with a sign 😛

  14. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} Aug 13, 2014 at 12:23 am - Reply

    How many tourists were in Gangnum doing the Psy horsey dance? I like this round-up of some of the alternative places to visit in Seoul. I think I’d like to hit up some of the shopping places you mentioned.

    • Chanel Aug 14, 2014 at 6:59 am - Reply

      Haha none that I saw but I am sure people do it 🙂 Enjoy the shopping!

  15. Audrey Aug 13, 2014 at 2:41 am - Reply

    Ahhh, this makes me miss Seoul! Insadong and Ewha were 2 of my favourite neighbours. 😀

  16. Dave Cole Aug 14, 2014 at 4:58 am - Reply

    Little Paris sounds like a very fascinating part of the city. I love exploring expat enclaves like that when I travel, it really helps one appreciate the diversity of a place. And Gangnam looks ideal for some shopping. I hope to get to S. Korea soon!

  17. SJ @ Chasing the Donkey Aug 16, 2014 at 9:44 am - Reply

    Now this is what you call a super hot list!!! I have never been, but think I’d like to go. I love how you also added the characters to the names. Nice touch. Thanks for linking up to #SundayTraveler with us again.

    • Chanel Aug 16, 2014 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome! I figured it might come in helpful if people are showing the name to a Korean 😀

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