They say New York is the city that never sleeps, well, we think another city can also say that very same line: Seoul! There’s so much to do at night time in Seoul and it’s not only partying! Some districts are open nearly 24/7 and you can never have nowhere to go at any given hour of the day.
So, let’s talk about what things you can do if you’re planning to burn the midnight oil in Seoul and keep you entertained until the sun shines. Yes, that’s true! You can literally stay up all night doing fun things and meet the sunrise, that is, if you’re up for the challenge!
Dance the night away in Hongdae, Itaewon and Gangnam
Let’s be honest here, when it comes to nightlife, we all think of getting your dancing shoes on and dance the night away in a club! The three main places to go for clubbing are Hongdae, Itaewon and Gangnam and the three are very different and distinct based on the kind of clubbing fun you want for the night.
Hongdae is the biggest university district and this is where you want to go for chill and fun at a cheaper price! It’s a district full of every little thing and you can see live entertainment or dancers on your way to the clubs. A little tip is if you go in before 11pm, you either get in for free or half price! Most clubs offer a free drink voucher with their entrance fees. There are various bars and hofs (Korean-style pub if you may) that are either themed or specialise in certain drinks like makgeolli, soju cocktails and chimaek (chicken and beer). Some bars have a drink-all-you-can from 8pm-11pm at 10,000-15,000won per person.
And of course the social elites can be found in Gangnam. If you fancy yourself a more Korean, classier nightlife experience, head on to Gangnam. Fret not! It’s not as expensive as most people think. There are still cheaper bars and restaurants in Gangnam but they know to add a few cheeky, expensive drinks on the menu if you prefer so. As soon as you get off Gangnam station the street is mostly bars, clubs and restaurants that there’s so many to choose from! Gangnam has a stricter dress code as opposed to Hongdae and Itaewon.
After clubs are well known in Gangnam so when your favourite bar or club closes at 4am, head to one of the after clubs that basically open until 9am. That is, if you can keep your eyes open from dancing all night.
Eat your heart and “Seoul” out in the City
There is no question, every single area in Seoul has restaurants, fast-food places or cafes open 24/7. You can see students hunched over on their studies in cafes in university areas. McDonalds and other fast-food joints are also open 24/7 if anyone is up for a fry up at 3am (try their Korean burgers, they’re really good!).
Sinchon and Hongdae have Korean BBQ places amongst other types of restaurant that open 24/7 as well if you start fancying grilling meat in the middle of the night. Honestly, no one will judge you it’s just so good!
Itaewon will have a massive offer of western food available all day and all night. If you want to have the classic kebab after a drink or two, Itaewon has stalls all lined up of kebabs for your choosing. If you’re up for a curry night or fish and chips, Itaewon has it on offer too, you won’t have to miss your favourite foods from home!
Convenience stores are also always open for when a quick snack is needed and for any other needs which you may come upon in the middle of the night. There is definitely no problem if you suddenly ran out of ramyun and you need a quick fix of it.
And if all else fails and you don’t even feel like stepping a toe out of the door, because who wants to leave their cozy bed at 2am, you’ve always got delivery to save your grumbling tummy. There are various apps that have a list of different Korean or Western food and deliver until the wee hours of the morning. So if you’re ever having that midnight craving, you’ll always be saved by food delivery.
Shop til you drop at Dongdaemun
Imagine you’re on your bed and you realise you forgot to buy shoes for an important event tomorrow! Oh no! How on earth can you get your outfit ready on time?! Well, you’re lucky if you’re in Seoul. There are actually department stores and shops that only open during the night time!
Dongdaemun is known for its night market that opens from 10pm-3am, boasting its various styles and apparels in the height of fashion. Your usual store brands that you see in the day, are also opened 24/7 in this area. Dongdaemun really comes alive during this time as there are many shopping complexes and department stores open at these hours, as if the sun has never set! You might even find better sales and haggling success during night shopping.
There are also food carts and street foods you can enjoy whilst shopping as well as restaurants and cafes for late-night snacking. Afterwards, if you still feel the buzz from shopping, you’d be glad to know that there are cinemas opened for your convenience as well, especially when you want to avoid the crowd for a very popular movie at the time. Dongdaemun really is the epitome of “shop til you drop”…. in your bed.
Belt out those tunes at Noraebang
You think you’ve got what it takes to rival a Korean idol? Or maybe you memorise the lyrics to that favourite Kdrama OST you watch every week?
Noraebangs are almost never closed anywhere in Seoul. Some streets are just lined up with noraebangs of your choosing. A few of the noraebangs seem very posh and popular like Su Noraebang where the rooms are massive with glass walls overlooking the street and there are some that may be smaller but have its own unique style. If anything, the not-so-popular noraebangs give you a ton of free extra time and it can even get to a point where you can get a whole hour free!Other places offer free ice cream while using the room too, yum!
No matter what time of day it is, you bet you can always have your time to shine when you’re in one of these singing rooms, just remember to share the mic.
Relaxation at Jjimjilbang
If you find yourself in a tight deadline and all your rage and frustration is not helping in the middle of the night or maybe you just had an amazing night out and want to rest, then head on to a jjimjilbang instead and release some stress, relax your body and pamper yourself. I’m pretty sure you deserve it.
Although the jjimjilbang is mostly known as a public bath, there are so many more amenities in a jjimjilbang that will help you release all those toxins from your body that will not only improve your health but also relax your body and mind.
You have various choices on what you want to do in a jjimjilbang but mostly having a soak in the hot tubs are essential to relax. Sure, some might feel hesitant about going commando but the hot baths are same-sex and it’s such a norm in Korea that no one will bat an eyelash at you, so just go ahead and soak away in the warm water.
There are also different treatment rooms that one can enjoy after a soak or if you want, just head to these straight away. Among those are saunas, steam rooms and ice rooms. Massages are also available in some jjimjilbang as well as other amenities like game rooms, restaurants and arcades. There are also sleeping rooms that you can rent if you want to stay overnight and is sometimes considered a cheaper accommodation hack for travellers.
Having all these amenities really makes a jjimjilbang cater to your way of relaxation and self-pampering that no one will question you if you say you’re going out for a soak in a public bath at 4am.
Seoul is definitely a different world during the night so if you find yourself in the city, challenge yourself to a night full of food, fun and wonder and stay up until you see the sunrise. How about you try and do all these things in one night? Experience another city that never sleeps – Seoul, and see the beauty it can only offer during the night time.
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