Located near Hongik University, Hongdae has a quintessential college-town air about it. The indie art and music scene lend the nightlife a modern feel, and plenty of bars and clubs make a point of channeling this youthful vibe.
Get started with a take-out beverage at Vinyl Street Bar, where drinks like Fuzzy Navels and Gin & Tonics are served in plastic bags with a straw—think of it as an adult Capri Sun.
Next, absorb some local flavor in the form of soju, Korea’s favorite liquor, at the Alcohol Selling Flower Shop (yes, that is the literal translation of the bar’s name). A romantic setting and fruity cocktails like sangria soju—what more could one ask for in a beverage?
If you’re looking for a standard bar/club crawl, plenty of establishments are on hand in Hongdae to make this wish come true: dance club DD, Club Freebird disco pub, and Hooper western-style bar all fit the bill.
Vinyl Street Bar, 411-1, Seokyo-dong, Mapo-gu
Alcohol Selling Flower Shop, 358-51 Seokyo-dong, Mapo-gu
DD, 363-1 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu
Club Freebird, 364-22 Seokyo-dong, Mapo-gu
Hooper, 407-2 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu
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Fell + Cole Gastronomic Ice Cream
If the name of Seoul’s favorite new ice cream shop sounds familiar, maybe it’s because the moniker is gleaned from an intersection in San Francisco where the owner used to live. This small-batch parlor serves up imaginative flavors of ice cream, sorbet, and sherbet made with all natural ingredients.
Although you can buy a flavor called Just Boring Vanilla, most options are more quixotic such as Xtra Virgin Olive Oil, Banana Cotton Candy, and Guinness Milk Chocolate. As you lick your cone, soak up the San Francisco vibes—Fell + Cole is decked out in prints of iconic Bay Area haunts like Alcatraz and the Presidio.
310-11, Sangsudong, Mapogu,
Also Located at the Galleria in Apgujeong’s Rodeo Drive.
The super-cool Seoul hangout of Hongdae is no longer just a chill district for university students. Now cats, dogs and even sheep have marked their territory, with a collection of trendy pet cafes.
Not only can you grab a coffee and surround yourself with cuddly new friends, but if you take your own pet you’ll find upmarket pet boutiques, as well as, that’s right, pet hotels.
Koreans are all about their accessories, but a fancy Gucci bag is no longer enough. In the pet cafes of Hongdae, you’ll still find the designer handbags, but chances are it will contain a tiny Chihuahua.
Wausan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul Subway Line 2
At night, the streets of Hongdae are flooded with bright lights from the boutiques, street stalls and bars, and with university students from nearby Hongik University. You can update your fashion to Korean standards on a student budget, or just bask in the glitter.
Hongdae feels like a carnival most nights, but especially on the weekends. This area is great for date night, when caricature artists, musicians, and game stalls set up along the pedestrian boulevard after dinnertime.