Known for its odd combinations and unique products, Seoul has no shortage of strange offerings to visitors and residents alike. The largest city in South Korea, Seoul melds Korean influences with foreign ones like no other city. These uniquely Korean takes on marketable ideas often produce puzzling, yet wonderful, results. There are endless possibilities in Seoul for finding odd attractions, but we wanted to share our list of go-to strange and unique things to do in Seoul.
The lifeblood of a city is its ability to satisfy every proclivity and personality and Seoul has this covered in spades. From great food to awesome night life, Seoul is an amazing city, but in this guide we want to share some of the more obscure but equally wonderful attractions this city has to offer.
While cafes might not seem an oddity to most, Seoul famously has some of the strangest ones you’ll probably ever experience. With such a high concentration of confounding coffee shops and cafes, you’d be foolish not to opt for an animal or themed cafe. As we’ve covered before, animal cafes can be found in most cities across the country, but the capital is understandably more adventurous with its forays with animal variations. Most of these cafes you’ll find are going to be cat cafes and almost any sign in Korea with a cat on it has a 80% chance of advertising a nearby cat cafe, but you can also find dog, sheep, and raccoon variants. Hongdae, a young collegiate area of the city, is notorious for its cafes with its younger student customers always demanding the newest, most unique, cafe concepts.
Tom’s Cat Hongdae
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Other than animals, there are many other strangely themed cafes to be explored in Seoul. Insa-dong has a toilet/poop themed cafe where your coffee mug is actually a miniature toilet. If drinking the brown stuff out off a toilet (I mean coffee, of course) doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are Hello Kitty, VW campervan/road trip, princess, and dress up cafes to relax in and enjoy your beverage of choice. These shops tend to cost a little bit more than your typical Starbucks or Tom ‘n’ Toms, but have the possibility of being both entertaining and providing ample Instagram opportunities!
Poop Cafe in Insadong
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Singing Rooms (Norebang/노래방)
During a night on the town in Seoul, there are endless options for people looking to extend the evening toward the sunrise. The most common way for a group of people to add fuel to the fire and keep a night alive is to visit a Noraebang, or song room. Known to most people as karaoke rooms, these rooms allow patrons to sing their hearts out while copious amounts of beer and soju abound. While some chains have more English songs available, even the smaller noraebangs offer an English selection at the back of their song book. One of those “Can’t Miss” activities in South Korea, noraebangs are just shy of mandatory for anyone wanting to see where a normal night out with friends in Korea ends.
Alternately, for people wanting to play games but unfamiliar with PC gaming, there are the ambiguously named “Multi Bang.” These rent-able rooms combine singing rooms, PC Bangs, board games, and unlimited ice cream into a very entertaining package. You change activities at will to satisfy everyone in your party and there is something for just about anyone. We loved visiting Multi Rooms while living in Seoul for the variety and snacks alone. You can play games on the Nintendo Wii and other consoles (depending on the multi space) as well as many other activities to keep you occupied. These Multi Rooms charge by the hour (usually not too expensive), so be careful of getting into heated competitions that last late into the night.
Intentionally quirky, the Trick Eye Museum is an irreverent twist on the traditional museum experience. This interactive museum encourages visitors to touch, photograph, and interact with the installments. Ranging from funny to awkward; confusing to risque, the Trick Eye museum is perfect afternoon escape from the crowded streets of Hongdae. Additionally, the museum ticket is coupled with admittance to an indoor ice slide, an action figure painting station, and an area to dress in stage costumes and pose for photos in front of exciting backdrops.
Hongdae Trick Eye Museum
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While the Trick Eye Museum may be a staple among oddities in Korea, a new entrant to the arena of strange cultural experiences is the Love Museum. Our friends Scott and Megan of Bobo and Chichi (NSFW!) recently visited this museum and made a hilarious video. This overly sexual museum is for adults only and, like the TEM, encourages interaction with the exhibits. As an added bonus, these interactive museums are in the same building. We recommend saving the Love Museum for last so that you can exit the building awkwardly after you finish for some much needed fresh air.
A more traditional museum that still offers uniquely strange displays is the Museum of Modern Art. From moving mechanical alien bugs to high brow paintings, MoMA in Seoul is a well designed and enjoyable museum that departs from the traditional offerings of many Korean museums with unique and strange installments. We found many works of art that completely befuddled us and excited wild speculations regarding what we actually looking at. This museum located near the Royal Palace, Gyeongbokgung, is a perfect side trip from summer heat in Inclement weather as well as being an all-around good museum.
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If art isn’t your cup of tea and you’d like to dabble in a bit more of the macabre, then we’ve got the perfect option for you! While not funny in the way our previous entries are, the Seodaemun Prison Museum is a dark look at Korea’s history with this unique museum. Paying tribute to imprisoned political prisoners and oppositional Koreans during the Japanese occupation, this museum is guaranteed to be as heart-wrenching as it is awkward. Children gleefully climbing into torture devices while their parents snap pictures is a common occurrence, as are terribly stereotypical life-sized Japanese guard mannequins resembling Micky Rooney in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
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A relaxing spa treatment to unwind after a long day in the city? This might not sound all to strange, but the wonderful fact remains that there are several cafes and spas around Korea that have Dr. Fish. Whether at a spa or coffee shop, these unicorns of Seoul allow you to dip your feet into a small pool of water filled with ravenous fish to eat your dead skin cells. These places are always moving and changing, but you can find our most recent confirmed location HERE.
Hiking and camping are no longer just for the older generation in Korea as more and more younger people take to the outdoors. And recently, camping themed restaurants have been popping up all over the country. Our favorite one, however is the teepee BBQ restaurant at the foot of the most famous national park in Korea, Bukhansan. The name of the restaurant is Indian Soul and you can sit beneath a teepee or tent and BBQ all kinds of meat and veggies after spending a bit of time in the national park.
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Yongma Land is an abandoned amusement park that has yet to be cleared away for more development. The old rides and video games are all still there for anyone to explore. Many Kpop songs and modeling photo shoots have been set in this location, including the very famous Crayon Pop song, Bar Bar Bar. To gain entrance, you will need to pay the park owner 5,000 won per person, but it is worth it for a fun afternoon exploring the old rides.
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