It can be quite a headache deciding where to stay in Seoul, as it is a large city with many prominent districts, each with their own distinct styles and attractions. Most tourists choose to stay at Myeongdong, a super popular area that’s great for the usual shopping and eating. However, there are many other areas in Seoul that are interesting to stay at too. Below are brief descriptions of the respective areas. I have also included a map of Seoul at the end of the article for you to get a better sense of the locations.
If you are planning to stay at an Airbnb, you can click here to redeem a $50 Airbnb discount coupon. If you prefer to stay at a hotel, I highly recommend that you check out the reviews and best prices of hotels in Seoul on TripAdvisor. This is a good site for hotels because it has authentic guest reviews that give me a good idea of the hotel quality. I also like the feature where it compares room prices from all the booking partners (Agoda, Expedia, etc) and automatically selects the lowest price for me. After some research, we decided to stay at The Plaza Hotel Seoul which is a pretty boutique hotel.
Myeongdong is arguably the most popular choice for tourists to stay at. This is because the area has loads of great food and modern shopping malls, and you can’t really go wrong with staying here. However, this bustling district remains vibrant late into the night, so it might disturb your sleep a little. You can click here to see the reviews and best prices of Myeongdong hotels. I would highly recommend staying at the Aloft Seoul Myeongdong, a new and modern hotel located conveniently near Myeongdong shopping street. Read more: 6 Things to Eat in Myeongdong
We stayed at Seoul Station, which is just two stops away from Myeongdong station. Above is the picture of our pretty Airbnb, you can check out our review of it. This is an ideal area for people who prefer an area that is more peaceful at night but still within close proximity of Myeongdong. Seoul Station is also an interchange that conveniently links to various other subway and bus lines. The huge convenience store Lotte Mart is located here, which ensured that we never went hungry at night. We bought loads of Korean snacks here too to bring back to Singapore!
Yes, this is the same “Gangnam” as the one in the song “Gangnam Style”. This is an upscale district where you will find various high-end hotels. A popular area in Gangnam is Garosugil, which is home to an eclectic mix of retail stores, art galleries and artisan cafes. There are lots of awesome cafes here and we had a wonderful time cafe-hopping. If you are planning to stay in Garosugil, a great option would be Dormy Inn Premium Seoul Garosugil. The hotel location is perfect as it is just round the corner from Garosugil, and a short walk away from Sinsa subway station. The hotel rooms are a little small, but it makes up for this with free spa and sauna facilities.
5 Things to Do at Gangnam
8 Best Cafes in Garosugil
Insadong / Samcheong-dong
Insadong and Samcheong-dong were home to the elite aristocratic families during the Joseon Dynasty. Therefore, these two areas are rich in culture and you will find an interesting amalgamation of charming Korean traditional houses, Korean art galleries, restaurants, teahouses, fashion boutiques, majestic palaces, artisan cafes, and fashion boutiques. A good place to stay in this area would be CenterMark Hotel, which is a nice basic hotel located conveniently near the majestic palaces and Bukchon Hanok Village.
Itaewon is a culturally diverse district in Seoul where you can find a variety of international retail shops and restaurants. This is because the area developed around the American military bases situated here. As a result, many of the people staying or working here speak good English, and you will have a good chance of socializing with them if you stay in this area. The nightlife scene here is very vibrant, with many of the pubs and clubs located behind Hamilton Hotel. This is a decent hotel in a perfect location to enjoy the restaurants, bars and shops of Itaewon.
Read more: 8 Things to Do in Itaewon
Namdaemun / Dongdaemun
Fancy late night shopping? Then perhaps you should consider staying at Dongdaemun, where the malls and stores operate well past midnight. Raevian had a great time shopping here, and we only went back to our hotel at about 1 am! If you love shopping, you can stay here at the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul, a hotel with excellent rooms and service. More importantly, it is located just minutes away from Dongdaemun Station and all the shopping malls.
Namdaemun Market is a huge local market with over a thousand stalls selling a large variety of items such as clothes, art, ginseng, fishing equipment, etc. However, we found it to be more of an interesting locale than a good shopping location. There are no major shopping malls here; there is an open air market and buildings with many small shops inside.
Sinchon / Hongdae
The Sinchon and Hongdae districts are known collectively as the University Quarter. This is because these two districts house two elite universities respectively: Ewha Womans University in Sinchon, and Hongik University in Hongdae. Consequently, this is a youthful area with many businesses catered to the young students, which makes it a great place to shop and eat. We managed to find many bargain buys here as the prices are catered to the budget-conscious student population. The University Quarter is also famous for its vibrant nightlife, and you will have no problem finding nightclubs and pubs here.
Yeouido is home to the Yeouido Hangang Park, which is famous for its gorgeous Cherry Blossoms in spring. However, you will find mainly the office crowd here as Yeouido is the financial district of Seoul. It is enjoyable to visit this area (especially during spring to see the Cherry Blossoms), but I wouldn’t recommend staying here as there are mainly just parks, government buildings, and corporate buildings.
This article is part of our completely free and fantastic Ultimate Seoul Travel Guide. Why spend days researching when all your holiday information is simply a click away? 🙂
Map of Seoul
Hopefully this map will give you a better idea of where to stay in Seoul!