Often one of the biggest hassles of travel is finding a comfortable and perfectly located place to hang your hat. With all the difficulties we’ve had through the years finding accommodations we were happy with, we thought we’d shed some light on where to stay in Seoul on your next visit! Seoul is a massive city with a multitude of different and unique neighborhoods. For people visiting this amazing city for the first time, figuring out where to stay in Seoul can be a daunting task. For this reason, we’re excited to share with all travelers our recommended hotels and guesthouses to make their trip to Seoul a little bit easier.


SEOUL Neighborhood Guide // Where to STAY


It should also be said that the majority of our recommendations for hotels are skewed toward affordable options. It’s very expensive to travel the world, and as cheap as Korea can be, it doesn’t hurt to save when able. Most of these neighborhoods have very nice and very expensive options, but we have very little experience with these types of establishments. We’re assuming that people with the money to afford top of the line hotels don’t need our help finding lodgings.

Trendy: Hongdae

SEOUL Neighborhood Guide // Where to STAY

Located in the northwestern quadrant of Seoul, but still very central, Hongdae is the perfect location for young crowds, experimental food, and art. Serving as the off-campus stomping grounds for several nearby universities, this neighborhood is a great location for getting a feel for “Young Korea.” In Hongdae visitors are treated with experimental and creative businesses and restaurants as well as community-driven areas where busking musicians will croon the night away. This trendy neighborhood has a lot going on and has something exiting for most anyone.

Places we recommend in Hongdae:

(Hover over the images for the names!)


Cultural: Insadong

SEOUL Neighborhood Guide // Where to STAY

For visitors wanting accommodations that are centrally located, Insadong is nearly perfect. Found within walking distance of Seoul’s many historical landmarks (notably: Gyeongbokgung, Gwangwamun, Jogyesa, Changdeonkgung, and Cheonggyechyeon), this neighborhood is the traditional art capital of Seoul. Famous for its main shopping street, Insadong has every souvenir you can imagine. Apart from the kitsch stores and street food vendors, this is the best place to be in Seoul for purchasing Hanji (Korean paper), traditional calligraphy brushes, and handmade inks. Apart from ink-craft, Insadong also hosts many tea houses and many stores sell tea sets. This neighborhood is always busy. Its location in the heart of Seoul’s cultural Jongno district means that there are always things to do or see in/around Insadong whether you’re wanting traditional or modern.

Places we recommend in Insadong:

(Hover over the images for the names!)


Foreigner Friendly: Itaewon

SEOUL Neighborhood Guide // Where to STAY

Decidedly the most un-Korean place in South Korea, Itaewon is a foreign country surrounded by Seoul. Located near a US military garrison in Yongsan, this neighborhood has long served the city’s foreign population as a home away from home. Foodies and people missing the comfort of hearing English in public will surely spend some time in Itaewon. There are few better places in South Korea for culinary diversity and ethnic diversity than Itaewon. On many of our trips to Seoul we find ourselves in this very district “getting our fix” and taking a mini vacation from Korea. We can’t say that Itaewon (particularly at night) is for the feint of heart, but a must see/stay for anyone in need of foreign vibes.

Places we recommend in Itaewon:

(Hover over the images for the names!)


Traditional: Bukchon

SEOUL Neighborhood Guide // Where to STAY

Located northeast of Insadong, this neighborhood is also very central to the more cultural areas of the city. Along with its sightseeing opportunities, Bukchon is probably the best possible place a visitor wanting a taste of “Old Korea” could stay the night. Famous for its neighborhood of traditional hanok houses in the middle of an ultra-modern Seoul, Bukchon Hanok village is a beautiful juxtaposition for the skyscrapers you can see a mere few locks away. This neighborhood has many “Homestay” properties where visitors can stay in accommodations reminiscent of Joseon era Korea. This area is endlessly photogenic and a great place to get lost in alleyways between tea breaks.

Places we recommend in Bukchon:

Since this is a living, breathing neighborhood without many hotels, see our post on Booking a Hanok for staying in a traditional house or visit Airbnb for private listings! (Be warned, Korean listings on Airbnb can be “available” when they aren’t. Book in advance in case the host denies your request which will give you time to find a new place to stay)


Family Fun: Jamsil

SEOUL Neighborhood Guide // Where to STAY

While the north side of the Han River in Seoul holds the majority of the city’s culture, there are a few places on the south side which are worth mentioning. Jamsil is especially noteworthy for its large and beautiful parks, which are as varied as they are numerous. Staying in Jamsil gives access to ballparks, Hangang River parks, the 1988 Olympic Park, and Lotte World Amusement Park, and the new Team Lab World interactive museum. For traveling families, Jamsil is quite possibly the best possible location for choosing a hotel with easy access to group activities.

Places we recommend in Jamsil:

(Hover over the images for the names!)


Night Life: Gangnam

SEOUL Neighborhood Guide // Where to STAY

Few people are left on our humble planet uninitiated with the PSY’s musical phenomena “Gangnam Style.” While the song pokes fun of the decadence and affluence of the Gangnam neighborhood around Gangnam Station, this area is worth noting for anyone wanting to venture south of the river. While probably best for single people or couples, this district is we;; known for its vibrant night life. For anyone lookking to stay up all night and enjoy their trip to Seoul for 24 hours a day, Gangnam might be the most immersive location you could find yourself in. The main drag of Gangnam is a wonderland of after-dark activities as well as having some really great restaurants and architectural fixtures to explore during the day, as well as Bongeunsa Temple that has dramatic views of this decadent neighborhood from a Buddhist temple north of the World Trade Center Seoul. There is a lot to do in Gangnam, but we all know who is looking at information about this part of Seoul, and they won’t be disappointed. Nigh clubs overfloweth in Gangnam, and people looking to stay up until dawn need look no further.

Place we recommend in Gangnam:

(Hover over the images for the names!)


Did we miss anything?

Seoul is an ever-changing city that is rarely the same from week-to-week. If any of our information is no longer correct, or needs to be updated, please let us know. Additionally, if you have recommendations for where to stay in Seoul, please let us know in the comments below so that others can consider your suggestions.

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SEOUL Neighborhood Guide // Where to STAY

 

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