Hongdae is everything you expect from Seoul. It’s one of the most popular areas for tourists and young Seoulites alike. When people ask me where they should stay, its usually the place I suggest.
Located in West Seoul, it is vibrant, loud, busy, and exciting. If you find yourself in Seoul, I would highly suggest an afternoon exploring what Hongdae and Hapjeong had to offer.
Hongdae is most famous for being the home of Hongik University Any area with a student population is usually particularly fun and creative, and Hongdae is no exception. I have been to Seoul a few times and have never been to the university!
But you will almost certainly encounter myriad students. There is stalls, music, and students working studiously in cafes. It’s also a great place to people watch, as students are always the best dressed!
One of the main things to do in Hongdae is SHOP. While Gangnam is where you will find the high-end designers, Hongdae has far more affordable fashion. You can find all the big brands here, such as Forever 21, H&M, Zara, and Bershka.
Wandering around, you will find a number of smaller shops and boutiques selling Korean fashion. As you will explore, you will begin to realise that the top you loved is in about ten different shops! The stuff can get repetitive but it means you can haggle a bit. It’s not the most well-made stuff, but you can get some great stuff here. Especially if you love pastel colours!
If you visit in early evening, make sure you wander down the central street. Down this road there are small stages built into the ground. hese then get occupied by various performance students. These are usually students from Hongik University practicing their performance skills. It’s not uncommon to find dancers, singers, and musicians all performing at the same time. It’s a great way to see some of Seoul’s up and coming stars!
If you are looking to try Korean food, Hongdae is a safe bet! The beauty of Hongdae is it has both food stalls and restaurants. As it caters to a more student cliental, the restaurants tend to be far more affordable than other areas of Seoul.
This are is particularly good for traditional Korean BBQ and dak galbi. Unless you’re vegetarian, these must be on your Seoul to-do lists! Some of the street food is fantastic, especially the traditional pancakes and egg bread! I will be dreaming of these back in England.
The main reason I ever visit Hongdae is the nightlife. A walk around the area during the evening will really show you how much Koreans love to party! You can find bars, pubs, clubs, and karaoke (Noribang). Prices are generally good, so you can party late into the night on a low budget. My favourites include Vent (offers g&ts for 2000won!) FFs (a club that plays Britpop), and Thursday Party (a slight messy place but popular with young Koreans).
No trip to Seoul is complete without a day exploring Hongdae. It lacks the shine of other areas but more than makes up for that with sass and charm. You will find most hostels here, so it’s a great place to centre your stay.