The best areas to stay in Seoul are Jongno-gu, Jung-gu, Hongdae, Sinchon, Itaewon and Gangnam-gu.each has its own peculiarities.we’ll tell you about each area so that you can make an informed decision.
All of Seoul seems to have agreed to reinvent itself every day.Creative, functional, striking… the avant-garde architecture of the capital of South Korea , the latest trends in technology, its urban culture or its most geeky fashion designs have been among the first in the milestones of global Asia.
A vibrant reality that clashes -in the same place, almost door to door- with a pride in traditions reminiscent of the Japanese.This relationship between modernity and tradition is the attraction of a city that the curious traveller has to solve with all his sensibility, that is the challenge to really feel what is special about Seoul.
The best places to stay in Seoul
In Seoul, there are 25 districts and 522 neighborhoods, all with an identity worth discovering.Either because they are centrally located in the city near or very close to what is to be visited, or because their accommodations offer added value to the visitor.
These reference districts for the foreign traveler are Jongno-gu, Jung-gu , Hongdae , Sinchon-dong , Itaewon and the popular Gangnam-gu .Let’s see below what each one offers, recommended places to visit, transportation combinations, and places to sleep in Seoul.
Let’s start with the Jongno-gu district.
Jongno-gu is the district of downtown Seoul , the historical center, a key place for its political, economic and cultural importance.The district includes part of the Bukhasan National Park, one of the green lungs of the Korean capital.
The name of the district is derived from Jongno, one of the main roads in the neighborhood, the ‘Bell Street’ .Jongno-gu has been the seat of Korean royalty since ancient times, , as evidenced by the palaces in the area that were built by the various monarchs of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897).
Palaces that can be visited, such as Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Unhyeongung , and even today the president of the Republic of Korea has his residence at Cheong Wa Dae Palace (Blue House).
For the most curious, for those who love the traditional, there is a highly recommended visit, the traditional Korean neighborhood of Insa-dong where it is possible to find, between alley and alley, some tea shop, some art gallery.In Insa-dong, the biggest antique market in South Korea takes place.
Not far away you can admire the Jongmyo Shrine , the oldest of the royal shrines, which is Unesco World Heritage Site , the ancestral rite of its music is intangible heritage.
Two museums, Art Center Nabi (digital art and new technologies) and Gahoe (traditional Korean paintings), are a must for any visitor with a strong cultural, orthodox, or alternative profile.
The best way to get around in downtown Seoul is definitely the subway (in the area, line 3, orange).Bus stops on lines 272, 470 and e.g. also line 606 provide access to the center.
From the nearby Seoul Train Station , it is possible to take a direct express train to Incheon International Airport.
In Seoul there are two cards available for combined transport (bus, subway and train), the T-Money and the M-Pass, whose use must be evaluated according to the use that will be given to them to be really profitable.
Jongno-gu is without a doubt one of the best areas to stay in Seoul It is an ideal area for all types of travelers.Jung-gu
Jung-gu is another district in central Seoul, north of the Han River and immediately south of Jongno-gu.
This is a district with a administrative, residential and commercial profile and is often described as quiet compared to others in the city center with commercial activities.In Jung-gu, the Bank of Korea Museum, the Seoul Museum of Art, and the National Theater are not to be missed.
The Bank of Korea Exhibition contains a collection of numismatic and economic items, and the building in which it is located was erected in 1912 and is notable for its eclectic architecture (at 110 Namdaemunno 3-ga).
The Seoul Museum of Art is a contemporary exhibition space located in the Gyeonghuigung Palace building, which features six exhibition halls and an outdoor sculpture area.
The Seoul National Theater is a cultural space that offers works by both Korean and international composers.
The National Theater may be a good choice for those who want to see unusual performances. The theater is located in Jangchung-dong neighborhood.
Seoul Catholic Cathedral (Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception) may also be a good choice for .It is located in the Myeongdong district and has a Neo-Renaissance style, with a 23-meter high tower that is a symbol of Korean political dissidence.
A peculiar activity in the area is to leave a lock as a seal of love and commitment on the Seoul Tower .
And one last shocking image is Seoul City Hall , the old stone and eclectic architectural style, and the new, ultramodern profile glazing, the latter can be seen behind the former and we stand in the beautiful City Hall Square in front.
The reference subway line in Jung-gu to move from the district and around the district is 1, the blue one, the bus lines with stops in the area are 6707A (brown) and 3300 (blue).
The Seoul Train Station to move to Incheon International Airport is less than 20 minutes by subway from Jung-gu and 15 minutes by taxi outside rush hour.
If you want to sleep in Seoul close to all the important things to visit in the capital and be well connected with transportation , this district is also ideal for staying in Seoul.
– Accommodation ne Jung-gu
The Hongdae district is another area of downtown of Seoul city also located north of the Han River, but west of Jung-gu.It is a very dynamic district , mainly because of the existence of a floating student population that goes to Hongik University.
The name of the district comes from the acronym of the university (Hongik Daehakgyo).Hongdae is popularly known for its fresh urban art, current and for its indie culture very American style and underground music (area around Hapjeong Station).
The district was redeveloped in the 1990s, has a multicultural social profile and over time has become a residential area with luxury homes and apartments .
The alternative atmosphere of the neighborhood is evident in the cultural activities that are part of the official and unofficial calendar of events in the city, such as the Live Club Day , in which different leisure clubs in the area turn their stages into a joint event (last Friday of each month).
Also of interest are the street art exhibitions, Zandari Festa (in the fall), and the Free Market , which is set up in front of the university’s main entrance, and features a variety of clubs and entertainment venues, as well as fast food and other restaurants that serve authentic Korean food.
Speaking of Korean food , in these restaurants you should not miss out on ordering bibim guksu, fine cold noodles, bulgogi, marinated beef, and a classic green tea ice cream for dessert.
The accommodation offer in Seoul in this area includes small hostels at affordable prices with fair amenities.
– Hongdae Accommodation
Sinchon-dong is a district of Seoul located in the northwest of the central district and is known for its nightlife establishments , bars and western style restaurants.Like Hongdae, it is a good place to sleep in Seoul for young people and people who are looking for a young nightlife
There are also a number of themed hofs , typical Korean bars, and a number of services for the local student population (there are five universities in the district and many colleges).
This sector of the city is full of shopping malls, cinemas, karaoke bars, online game centers and a brightly lit billboard that turns every corner, every building or every block into part of a futuristic Blade Runner-style theme park.
One of the most common activities in the district is the department store shopping of international and Korean chains .To get to the area and to connect with other areas in Seoul, it is best to use the subway line 2 which has several stops in Sinchon-dong, or the bus line 110A (Hyundai stores)
Sinchon train station allows you to connect with other cities near Seoul, from there you can reach the Demilitarized Zone and Dorasan Station .The latter is a symbolic railway station with no movement of passengers from the other side of the border, which aims to highlight the determination of South Korea to bring its railway transport to North Korea.
This university district has a fairly affordable accommodation offer in Seoul , particularly small hotels and apartments. It is an area to consider for accommodation in Seoul that allows you to save a little.
– Accommodation in Sinchon-dong
Itaewon is a multicultural neighborhood in downtown Seoul where a large colony of U.S. citizens (especially military stationed on the Korean peninsula) and European live.The neighborhood is located in the northeast of the central district.
In Itaewon, you can find restaurants serving international cuisine .Ironically, the district is known as Seoul’s Chinatown, and the paradox is that the area is home to shops selling top brand counterfeit goods and others selling genuine Korean items that cannot be found even outside the country.
The industry specializes in custom-made clothing.The shopping street to find all this and more is Gyeongnidan At the beginning of November, don’t miss the Hallowen celebration in the district, and the Global Village Festival in mid-October.
To get around in the area, it’s best to use the subway line 6, which has stops in Itaewon.There is a wide range of medium sized hotels and aparthotels for to stay in Seoul in this area without having to spend large amounts of money.
– Accommodation in Itaewon
Gangnam-gu is a district located southeast of Seoul City.Its name literally means ‘South of the River’ because of its position in relation to the Han. It is an eminently commercial and residential area and there are a number of important leisure and commercial spaces (such as Apgujeon or COEX Mall).
The Teheranno Business District (on Tehran Street) is a good reference for finding good urban hotels in which to sleep comfortably in Seoul.
The extraordinary offer of quality higher education in Gangnam schools makes this district one of the most prestigious in South Korea.
In the area, we recommend visits to the Pucca Theme Park , especially if you are travelling to South Korea with your family and children, and the Kimchi Museum , a permanent exhibition specializing in the Korean food , its history and traditions.Recommended for lovers of exotic cuisine and gastronomy to Western eyes
You can also visit Seonjeongneung Tombs , where two kings of the Joseon Dynasty are buried Unesco World Heritage Site .To go to and from downtown Seoul, the best option is to take the subway line 2 (circular).
Gangnam is one of the most expensive areas of the city and the hotels to stay in Seoul here are more exclusive.medium and high ranges, but with extra services and comfort assured.
– Accommodation in Gangnam-gu
The best area to stay in Seoul
Seoul is a huge city with a population of more than 10 million people in the city and more than 25 million if we count its metropolitan area.the city is divided into 25 “gu” (districts) which at the same time are divided into dong (neighborhoods) which makes it have more than 522 neighborhoods.If we want to stay in the most touristic part of Seoul we will have to stay in the district of Jongno-gu or in the Jung-gu .
Jongno-gu has many points of historical interest that make it a center of attraction for tourists.These include the palaces of ancient rulers Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Unhyeongung, Jongmyo Shrine, the traditional Insa-dong neighborhood, and the Cheonggyecheon Canal.
Jung-gu is the historical center of the city, as its name literally implies in Korean, which now combines the traditional with the new, and includes modern shopping centers and historical sites such as Deoksugung and Namdaemun, as well as Myeong-dong Cathedral, the Bank of Korea Museum, N Tower, and Namsan Mountain.The Myeong-dong neighborhood is also the main shopping area in Seoul and a must-see for all tourists.
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Jongno-gu and Jung-gu the most touristy districts of Seoul
Jongno-gu is one of the most touristy areas of the huge Asian city, and it brings together a number of historical sites that make it a center of attraction for visitors.This district is home to numerous palaces where the rulers of the city used to reside and work, such as Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, and Unhyeongung, as well as the residence of South Korea’s president, the conservative Park Geun-hye.
With 600 years of history, Gyeongbokgung is one of the city’s five palaces, including the spectacular Changdeokgung, a palace complex within a large park in Seoul that was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, and which houses the Jogyesa, the main temple of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.Also worth a visit are Changgyeonggung, which was severely affected during the Japanese occupation of the early 20th century, and Unhyeongung, a former royal palace of the 14th century.
Jongno-gu is also home to Jongmyo Shrine, the oldest and most authentic of the Confucianist royal shrines that have been preserved, declared a World Heritage Site in 1995, and the Insa-dong neighborhood, a typical Korean traditional neighborhood in all its magnitude (food, antiques, gifts…) that attracts masses of tourists for its authenticity.
Hotels in Jongno-gu
Jung-gu is the other hub of this vast South Korean city. This district combines the traditional with the new, making it a major tourist attraction for visitors of all kinds.’, ‘Among its historical monuments are Deoksugung Palace and the monumental Namdaemun Gate, whose original function was to receive ambassadors.
Other points of interest include Myeong-dong Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, a prominent Gothic-style Catholic church that serves as the seat of the archbishop of Seoul.Dedicated to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the patron saint of Korea, the cathedral is a place of community interest and a symbol of Catholicism in Korea.Located in the popular Namsan Park, whose mountain can be reached by cable car or by climbing up a steep path, the N Tower is a communications tower that was opened to the public more than three decades ago, in 1980, and is a symbol of Seoul today.
You can round out your visit to Jung-gu’s landmarks with a stroll through the Myeong-dong neighborhood, which is Seoul’s premier shopping area and home to a number of traditional restaurants that remain true to their essence despite the passage of time.
Hotels in Jung-gu
Other neighborhoods to sleep in Seoul
Other recommended areas to sleep in Seoul
Located south of downtown Seoul, the Gangnam , much better known for the past couple of years thanks to the musical bombast of rapper PSY, is a very cool neighborhood reserved for the most demanding tourists and with greater purchasing power, since it is the most expensive area of the city.In its well-cared for and charming streets you’ll find the most luxurious brand shops, the most exclusive art galleries, the most fashionable restaurants and the most chic cafés.there’s also the Simone Bag Museum, which exhibits 300 historical pieces of this essential accessory.of course, this 10-storey museum is shaped like a handbag. Gangnam also houses other important buildings, such as the Convention and Exhibition Center (COEX), the World Trade Center, and the Seoul Aquarium.
Hotels in Gangnam-gu
Another neighborhood to stay in during your stay in the South Korean capital is Sinchon-dong , where the 3 major universities in Seoul are located (Yonsei University, Sogang University and Hongik University).This is a university district whose streets are lined with cafes, movie theaters, restaurants and shops, as well as many nightclubs and karaoke bars that attract the attention of late-nighters, and the well-known Hyundai shopping mall, a popular meeting place.