Are you planning a trip to South Korea soon? Discover our selection of the best areas to stay in Seoul.
A sprawling city, Seoul is South Korea’s capital and largest city. With 10,140,000 inhabitants living in Seoul and 25,620,000 people throughout the urban area, it is the third largest metropolitan area in the world after Tokyo and Mexico City. Since the 1990s, Seoul has benefited from a dynamic industrialization process, generating rapid economic development. As you land on Korean soil, finding accommodation in Seoul the first thing on your mind.
Though places to stay in Seoul are usually expensive, you’ll come across a wide range of accommodation options, from hotels and youth hostels to guesthouses, private accommodations, villas, and traditional Korean houses (hanoks). As usual, we recommend the central districts – gu in Korean – to avoid getting lost in the vastness of the city. Here is our selection of the best places to stay in Seoul.
Photo credit: Flickr – Yulin Lu
Jongno-gu is Seoul’s historic district. It houses the majority of the city’s historic and institutional landmarks, including the former royal palaces of Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, and Changgyeonggung, as well the Unhyeongung Royal Residence, the statue of Admiral Lee Sun-Shin and the Blue House (the residence of Korean Heads of State). Don’t miss Insadong, the district’s main pedestrian shopping street, packed with an array of antique dealers and local craft shops. Very touristy, Jongno District boasts a unique blend of tradition, history, and modernity: many cafés and restaurants line the streets, and sit alongside Buddhist temples (Joggyesa for example) and shrines (Jongmyo). If you want to go out in the evening and discover interesting cultural sites during the day, Jongno-gu is an excellent place to stay in Seoul. However, be careful: it is huge!
Photo credit: Flickr – Kent Kanouse
Looking for a place to shop? Jung-gu is definitely your best place to stay in Seoul: you will find dozens of pedestrian alleys lined with a myriad of shops of all kinds. Not only will you come across an eyeful of treasures, but these are also cheap and affordable ones! Namsam Mountain is yet another gem of this district: don’t miss climbing up to the peak of this 262-meter high hill overlooked by the N Seoul Tower to enjoy a panoramic view the city, a picturesque delight on its own. To the northwest of the district, the Deoksugung Palace and the Sungnyemun Gate are both must-sees in Seoul. In the evening, wander through the narrow alleyways of the Namdaemun market, a famous pedestrian area where people come to eat delicious filled pancakes called hotteok, a popular Korean street food specialty.
Photo credit: Flickr – Victor Villanueva
If you’re a night owl or an active partygoer, this neighborhood has everything you’re looking for. This is Seoul’s fashion district par excellence. A very central district, it offers a seamless blend of modernity and tradition with a disconcerting charm. While fashion, design, and ready-to-wear are in full swing in the Dongdaemun market, other markets such as Gwangjang, Bangsan, and Pyeonghwahave have preserved a taste of tradition, withstanding the onslaught of modernity. A word of advice to fashion lovers: look no further for a place to stay in Seoul, this is it!
Photo credit: Flickr – dconvertini
The Gangnam district is Seoul’s wealthiest area. Younger and more recent than the northern neighborhoods, it is home to wide western-style avenues and towering high-end buildings. A natural haunt for tech companies and start-ups, it attracts many young people who come to work and to enjoy the area’s bustling nightlife. Reminiscent of Bangkok or New York, the neighborhood’s streets are packed with crowded bars and restaurants. With its shops open 24 hours a day, its whirlwind of neon lights, and crowds of people at all hours of the day or the night, the Gangnam district never seems to sleep. A festive place to stay in Seoul.
Main photo credit : Flickr – Isaac Lee