Seoul Nightlife — Your Guide to Nightlife in Seoul
If you’re only here for one week, the Seoul nightlife scene can be a bit overwhelming. You could even spend a year partying in Seoul and still leave areas unexplored. This city offers some of the best nightlife in Asia, but if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up wandering in the dark — and that’s what we’re here for. We’re going to give you what will (hopefully) be a comprehensive guide to Seoul nightlife, so you can figure out where to go, what to see, and what to do.
[Before we start, if you're looking for casinos in Seoul, you should check out our Seoul casino page. Likewise, if you're interested in clubbing, you should check out our guide to clubs in Seoul. And if you're primarily interested in partying to meet Korean girls, you'll want to check out my friend Dan's guide to dating Korean women. If you're just interested in a general overview of Seoul nightlife, then read on.]
If you’re new to Seoul, Itaewon is probably where you’ll want to start. This is the most foreign-friendly district, and the streets are lined with international restaurants and bars. A lot of the Koreans who frequent here can speak English, so if you don’t speak Korean yet (we recommend you start learning!), then you’ll find yourself at home.
Itaewon really has a healthy mix of different venues. From cheap western pubs to classy tapas bars and lounges, it pretty much has it all. It is also home to some of the more popular clubs in Seoul, both electronic and hip-hop. If it’s your first Friday night in Seoul, it’s hard to go wrong roaming the streets of Itaewon.
If Itaewon’s a bit too similar to back home for your tastes and you’re looking for a more distinctly “Korean” nightlife experience, then you should check out Hongdae. Hongdae is basically a college town filled with cheap restaurants, bars, and clubs. On any given weekend night, it’s bound to be packed with people — mostly Korean college students — and next to Itaewon this is the area where you’ll find the most foreigners.
The vibe in Hongdae is usually friendly. Drinks are cheap, and there are literally hundreds of bars and dozens of clubs to choose from. Club cover charges are typically cheaper as well, at around 10,000 won. However, on the last Friday of every month, Hongdae is home to “club day”, where you just pay one cover and gain access to around two dozen clubs. This is a great way to sample the Hongdae club scene, but there will also be longer lines outside the more popular clubs on club day.
Gangnam and Apgujeong Nightlife
If you’re looking for an even more Korean nightlife experience, you can try out Gangnam and Apgujeong. The venues are classier, the cocktails are more expensive, and foreigners are a rare sight.
The area around Gangnam station has plenty of affordable Korean-style restaurants and bars to choose from, but also has nicer, more expensive places thrown in the mix. It’s also bustling with people all night, and definitely a site to see before you leave Korea. Come out Gangnam station, either exit 6 or 7, and if you wander one or two alleys behind the main street, you’ll find dozens of venues to choose from. There are also a few clubs in this area.
Apgujeong is a much classier neighborhood than any of the other areas, and likewise prices are more expensive. However, it is home to some of the nicest lounge bars and clubs in Seoul. If you haven’t been out for a night of clubbing in Apgujeong, you haven’t fully experienced Seoul nightlife! Afterclubs in this area go until after the sun comes up, so if it’s your last night partying and you don’t want to miss your flight, you can party all night here.
All in all, there are many faces of Seoul nightlife. Ideally you’d want to experience all of them at least once, but if that’s not possible, then you’ll have to choose based on your preference. Here’s a summary of what each area has to offer:
- Itaewon – The most popular area for foreigners to hang out. Tons of western-style bars and cheap clubs.
- Hongdae – Seoul’s biggest college town. A sprawling grid with hundreds of clubs and dozens of bars, you can easily spend a few weeks here and still not cover half of what it has to offer.
- Gangnam Station – A bit classier than the other two areas, but still popular with younger Koreans. You’ll see a lot less foreigners here.
- Apgujeong – Home to Seoul’s mega club scene, and the classiest and priciest region. If you’re stingy with money, don’t bother coming here, because you probably won’t have a good time. But if you’re willing to spring for a night out, it will be a night you won’t forget!