If you’re traveling to Seoul, Hongdae is a must not miss. From the cheap Korean food, live entertainment, and crazy parties to the incredible Hongdae shopping and street food it really has something for all types of travelers. After living in Korea for over 5 years we have come up with the top 12 things to do in Hongdae on your first trip to Seoul.
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How to get to Hongdae
Hongdae is actually a subdistrict in Seoul, which is an abbreviation of Hongik Daehakgyo or Hongik University – a premier art school in Seoul. Hongdae Seoul is located in Mapo-gu on the western side the city. It’s a tourist hotspot and is very easily accessed by taking the subway (line 2) to Hong-ik University station. In order to get to the walking street area which is referred to as one of the most happening areas of Seoul, you can easily get out of the subway station at Exit 9. You will see KFC on the left-hand side, then you can just walk down the street next to it.
Where to stay in Hongdae
Hongdae is known for having budget-friendly accommodation compared to other touristy neighborhood. You can also find plenty of backpacker hostels in Hongdae as well as some incredible Airbnb’s. Most of the time when we travel we stay in Airbnb but Booking.com has some great options to choose from. We can only personally suggest one hotel in Hongdae and that is:
YOLO House in Hongdae – They offer mini apartments which were perfect for us. If we were to stay in a hostel it would have cost us almost the same price for the two of us and this property is very modern with Subway access very near. This allows you to not only be close to Hongdae but get to other parts of the city very easily.
Top 12 things to do in Hongdae
Check out street art and Graffiti
Hongdae is famous for its artsy, creativity, and hipster vibe, hence; this is the neighborhood that you can spot some of the best street art in Seoul. You can find amazing spots to take pictures almost but the best spot for Graffiti is an alleyway next to Hongik University front gate, which you can find street art painted all over the wall and it’s being redone constantly as well.
Sing Karaoke (Noraebang)
This is not only one of the top things to do in Seoul, Korea but as Hongdae is such a hot spot you can find Noraebang places all over. They have tons of different options depending on how many people you have. Don’t worry you can find single rooms for just you or two-story rooms for that big party you have always wanted to throw.
Address: 367-39 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Street shopping in Hongdae
Just like Myeongdong, Hongdae is filled with a shopping alley. You can find plenty of cheap clothes, knickknacks, and food. The most common deal we found is “buy 1 get 1 free” for cosmetic and skincare related items or clothes cost as low as $5 USD. Some of the popular stores in Hongdae is Artbox – which sells miscellaneous goodies from electronics item to stationary or even cute souvenir. You can also buy handmade souvenirs here. The good thing about shopping in Seoul is that some places offer a tax refund if your bill is over 30,000 Korean Won.
Some of the best things to buy in Hongdae are
- Cute Stationery
- Souvenirs made by local artists
- Trendy clothes and accessories
- Cosmetics and skincare
Live entertainment in Hongdae
One of the best Seoul tourist attractions is all the live music everywhere in Hongdae. Hongdae is not only a great location for all art including handmade items like clothes, jewelry drawings but a great place to see some of the best live entertainment like Kpop performances and Magicians. We had such a fun time walking the streets with some incredible street snacks and watching the live performances for hours. The best time to see these are in the late evening till late night on Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays when the weather is nice. If the weather isn’t nice that’s ok they still have things to do.
Catch a movie at Lotte Cinema Hongdae
If you are in Seoul and you happen to get some unwanted bad weather don’t worry they have some amazing movie theaters. Hongdae’s main theater is Lotte Cinema and offers views of the top new released movies. If you’re interested in grabbing a drink as well don’t worry you can grab some beer and wine at the theater to enjoy during your movie.
** If you plan on exploring all of Seoul make sure you check out the full 7 day itinerary for all the top attractions in the city.**
University Street in Hongdae
This is another one of the top Seoul tourist attractions, University street. This is where you will see most of the crowds in Hongdae. It’s where all the action is and where most of the shops and bars are. Spending time walking down University Street is nothing short of fun and entertaining, you never know what you will see. If you are here late at night it’s most likely going to be full of all the people looking to party the night away and if you are here during the day you may see that but you will mostly see people wandering the streets trying all the unique food and enjoying the amazing street shopping.
Grab a cup of coffee at the crazy cafes in Hongdae
Korea not only has some of the fastest internet in the world but also some of the coolest coffee shops. No matter where you go in Seoul you will see tons of amazing and diverse coffee places, especially in Myeongdong and Hongdae and Gangnam. Now most blogs you will read will tell you to try all the crazy animal cafes. We don’t suggest that or support that so the top coffee shops we really liked in Hongdae are:
Best Cafes in Hongdae
Thanks Nature Cafe
Address: 10 Hongik-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
King’s Cross Harry Potter Cafe
Address: 417 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Cafe De One Piece
Address: 343-10 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
**They have a lot of strange and interesting cafes in Seoul so make sure you do your research prior to the trip.**
Hongdae Free Market
Opening in 2002 Hongdae is home to the Free Art Market. Only open from the month of March to November, this is where you can find some of the most unique and handmade items all designed and created by locals. Everything from jewelry and clothing to accessories to help you decorate your apartment you are sure to find what you are looking for while enjoying some local live entertainment.
When is Hongdae free market open?
- Only on Saturday from 1 pm to 6 pm from March to November
This is a place many people don’t know about. Although it’s also the name of a clothing store on University Street it’s actually a local hangout spot for street food, drinking, and live entertainment. It’s the most happening hang out spot for all the local college students to drink cheap before heading out to all the bars and clubs. We only know about this because Tah used to go here when she went to school in Korea. When all the college kids ask “where to go in Seoul?”, Everyone always says they’re going to eat, drink and hang out here. If you are interested in submerging yourself into the young generation drinking culture this is a great place to start.
- Most happening on Friday and Saturday nights from 7 pm-12 am
Best place to drink in Hongdae
We all know Hongdae is known for its drinking, with that being said there is no shortage of places to hang out and grab a cold one in Hongdae. You are sure to find all kinds of places from small hidden bars to the top nightclubs in Seoul our favorite places for a night out are:
Seoul’s most Popular Clubs are in Hongdae
Address: 407-12 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Address: 94-13 Eoulmadang-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Address: 364-24 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Address: Seoul, Mapo-gu, Seokyo-Dong 367-11. (B1 of OHOO Building)
Try all the best food in Hongdae
With Hongdae being a major Seoul tourist attraction they have really packed these places with every type of food imaginable. From Korean and Japanese to western and Italian, Hongdae has tons of places to eat. Our favorite places to grab a bite are below. We have made sure to include all types of dishes, so you have plenty of choices so you can experience the Korean food culture .
Address: 367-1 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
I am a burger
Address: 5-78 Changjeon-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Address: South Korea, Seoul, Mapo-gu, Seogyo-dong, Jandari-ro 6-gil, 34-5 2층
Hongdae Maneul (Garlic) Ttoekbokki
Address: 355-25, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Soojung Okdol Saengsogeum Guyi Piggy Bank
Address: 331-1 Seokyo-Dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea.
Witch’s Curry Cream Chicken
Address: 337-15 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Best dessert in Hongdae
Although Hongdae had tons of desserts to choose from one of our favorites was the 32CM tall ice cream cone for only 2,000 KRW! Not only is it a tasty treat but it’s a great way to cool off as you are walking around the main strip!
This is only the top 12 things to do in Hongdae, the more ally’s you explore the more you find. That’s one of the best things about Korea, we were always running into incredible things to do and eat while roaming the streets. You should really take your time in Seoul and explore all the amazing areas like Insadong, Myeongdong, and Jongno-gu. If we missed something or you think we should add something please let us know below so we can add it. Also please feel free to ask any questions we are always here to help you! We have loved our time in Korea and have tons of content in Seoul, including full guides and travel tips.
Thank you so much for reading!