Seoul Neighborhood Guide
The Han River cuts Seoul in two, and the vibrant South Korean capital is further divided into two dozen districts, each with its own flavor and character. Whether you’re stepping back into Joseon dynasty history or finding your Gangnam style, be sure to explore these fascinating neighborhoods.
Gangnam has become South Korea’s most famous neighborhood in recent years. This upscale district, known for its K-pop connections, is also home to designer boutiques, high-end restaurants, and the massive COEX mall. It’s not all modern flash, though: To learn more about Korean Buddhism, consider a temple stay at Bongeunsa Temple.
The historic heart of Seoul is home to the city’s five grand Joseon dynasty palaces (including the Changdeokgung Palace UNESCO World Heritage Site), as well as the traditional Korean houses of Bukchon Hanok Village. Cheonggyecheon Stream, which runs to the south of the neighborhood, is a popular spot for a stroll.
Part of the larger Jung-gu District, Myeongdong is the go-to neighborhood for shoppers and foodies. This busy district has a little bit of everything, from small local boutiques to big department stores, as well as street-food stalls and numerous restaurants serving both Korean and international cuisine.
Thanks to its location near the US Army base, Itaewon is one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in Seoul. Come in the evenings or on weekends to mingle with locals and foreigners over dinner at an international restaurant or drinks at a bar or club. Nearby Yongsan is home to one of the biggest electronics markets in the world.
Home to Hongik University, Hongdae ranks among Seoul’s most youthful and energetic neighborhoods. By day, visitors can browse art galleries, watch street performers, and sip coffee at trendy cafés. Once the sun goes down, Hongdae transforms into one of the city’s nightlife hubs, known for its live music and dance clubs that stay open long into the night.
Known as the Manhattan of Seoul, this island on the Han River features some of the city’s tallest buildings and landmarks, including the 63 Building. Stroll through Han River Park for a breath of fresh air (or a view of cherry blossoms in spring), or duck into the 63 Building to visit the aquarium or catch a show at the IMAX theater.