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 ex-pats 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.
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.
Address: 혜화 | Getting There: (Metro) Hyehwa Station – Line 4, Exit 2 [혜화역, 4 호선]; 2출구)
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.
Address: 인사동 | 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.
Address: 신당동떡볶이골목 | Getting There: (Metro Stop) Sindang – Line 6, Exit 8 [신당역, 6호선, 8출구]
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.
Address: 홍대 | Getting There: (Metro) Hongik University Station, Line 2
Gangnam (강남 + 강남지하상가)
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!
Address: 강남 | Getting There: (Metro) Take Line 6 or Line 3 to Gangnam Station (강남역)
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.
Address: 명동 | 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.
Address: 광장시장 | 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)
I wrote about my experience at Noryangjin Fish Market, a daily market that sells fresh fish and sea creatures.
Address: NEW LOCATION | Metro: Noryangjin Station, Line 1, Exit 1 [노량진역, 1호선, 1출구]
Have you ever visited any of these places in Seoul? What other non-traditional places can you recommend?