Where To Stay In Seoul 2024: District Guide For Tourists

Choosing where to stay in Seoul during your trip to the Korean capital can be an overwhelming decision with so many vibrant locales beckoning. How do you find the right district in Seoul for your needs? How do you choose an area that meets your budget, introduces you to Korean culture, and won’t leave you walking for miles to see the sights or get dinner?

Seoul is a really diverse city with lots of distinctive districts, each offering up the chance to embrace their charms and offer you a home during your stay. From the busy streets of metropolitan Myeongdong, to hip Hongdae, glamorous Gangnam, and beyond. Discover the best areas to stay in Seoul for traditional or modern culture, authentic experiences, entertainment, shopping, sightseeing, and more.

This guide will cover the best areas in Seoul that shouldn’t be missed so you can best experience this fascinating capital based on what speaks to you. There’s a Seoul neighbourhood that will suit your travel style, whether you’re a first-time traveller, travelling as a solo traveller or family, travelling to experience the best of Seoul’s iconic street food, or you want to immerse yourself in Korea’s culture.

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Summary: Where To Stay In Seoul 2024

Various places to stay in Seoul Korea

The purpose of this Seoul district guide is to help you figure out where you want to stay in Seoul and show you some hotels in Seoul that will fit your budget. I’ve got dedicated articles about these districts with more information about what to see and do in each neighbourhood, as well as a more complete list of the best hotels in each of those areas. You’ll find links to those articles within this guide.

To help you make your decision about where to stay in Seoul, I’ve narrowed this article down to just 9 neighbourhoods in Seoul that cover the most popular, tourist friendly, and convenient parts of Seoul to stay in. The table below shows you those 9 districts and a brief summary about each area. You can click the district names to jump straight to the section about that area in this article.

There’s also a (poorly made) visual guide to these Seoul neighbourhoods so you can see where they are in relation to each other and some of the famous attractions nearby.

DistrictWhat’s Good About It?
MyeongdongVibrant shopping district with food and entertainment. Convenient and walkable.
HongdaeYouthful, artsy college district with indie boutiques, live music, and nightlife.
GangnamWealthy district with dining, nightclubs and K-Pop culture. Glitzy atmosphere.
InsadongCharming historical area with temples, galleries, and street food. Atmospheric.
DongdaemunMajor 24-hour shopping and design district. Lively and modern.
JamsilHome to Lotte attractions. Family-friendly area with events and performances.
ItaewonMulticultural area with diverse dining and bars for foreigners. Centrally located.
YongsanCommercial area near the Han River, War Memorial and Museum of Korea.
YeouidoBusiness hub on an island with parks. Local atmosphere with international hotels.
Map Of Where To Stay In Seoul
Map of Where To Stay In Seoul

Which Area Of Seoul Is Best For Me?

Foodies find nirvana wandering the night markets of buzzing Myeongdong or Dongdaemun, while traditional culture insights unfold in Insadong. The indie art galleries, live music venues, and hidden cocktail bars of Hongdae cater to night owls and hipsters. Itaewon reflects Seoul’s diversity through its globetrotting cuisine and fashion. And the luxurious high-rises of Gangnam evoke ultra-modern sheen.

I don’t think there is a ‘wrong’ area of Seoul to stay in as Seoul is very safe, ranking as the 8th safest city in the world in 2019. There are certainly areas that are inconvenient for tourists to stay in though, usually because these are far from sightseeing locations, don’t cater to foreign tourists, are mostly residential areas without hotels, or might not have a lot going on to keep you entertained at night.

Everyone has different requirements and expectations when they visit this mega city of 10 million people. Whether you seek historic sights or designer shops, flashing neon lights or quiet hanok houses, stay where your passions lie. Of course, there are usually options for all of these travellers in each of Seoul’s neighbourhoods, but these districts excel at catering to these types of travellers.

Not sure which district is right for you? Here’s a handy breakdown of the best neighbourhoods in Seoul for different types of travellers and a hotel recommendation for each. Check out the section later on about the best district in Seoul by traveller type for more detailed insights.

Traveller TypeBest District In SeoulHotel Recommendation
Best for First-TimersMyeongdong | Hongdae | InsadongL7 Myeongdong by Lotte (Myeongdong)
Best for Budget HotelsMyeongdong | Insadong | HongdaeGrid Inn (Insadong)
Best for FamiliesMyeongdong | Gangnam | JamsilLotte Hotel Seoul (Myeongdong)
Best for Luxury HotelsGangnam | Jamsil | YongsanPark Hyatt Seoul (Gangnam)
Best for Modern CultureHongdae | Yeouido | JamsilRYSE, Autograph Collection (Hongdae)
Best for Traditional CultureInsadong | Dongdaemun | YongsanMOXY Seoul Insadong (Insadong)
Best for Food LoversHongdae | Gangnam | ItaewonMercure Ambassador Seoul (Hongdae)
Best for Shopping TripsJamsil | Dongdaemun | GangnamNovotel Ambassador Seoul (Dongdaemun)
Best districts in Seoul by traveller type

Why You Should Stay In Seoul

Seoul is Korea’s capital, home to a large portion of it’s population, the heart of the economy, the birthplace of K-pop and the setting for many famous K-dramas and movies. It’s also one of the must-see places to visit when you travel to Korea. If you’re a first-time traveller to Korea, then you definitely don’t want to miss out on Seoul as it’s a really useful place to get used to Korea’s unique charms.

What makes Seoul such a great area to stay in, besides the abundant traditional and modern sights, amazing food options, cool culture, numerous attractions and fantastic shopping, is that it’s a great place to base yourself to see more of Korea. There are lots of day tours from Seoul, such as Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm, and Suwon, that depart from Myeongdong, Hongdae, or Gangnam.

With a distinctive written language, called hangul, that’s nothing like English or other languages, Korea might seem a daunting place for travellers to visit. Fortunately, Seoul is an international city that caters to foreign tourists really well, much more so than other cities in Korea. You can find translations across Seoul in English, as well as Chinese, Japanese, and various other languages.

For these reasons, and many more, Seoul is the ideal place to stay in Korea for tourists. Areas like Myeongdong, Hongdae, Insadong, and Gangnam are especially accommodating for tourists, which is why they’re the first 4 places I recommend in this Seoul district guide. Wherever you decide to stay in Seoul, I’m sure you’ll have an eye-opening experience if you stay in one of these neighbourhoods.

My Favourite Place To Stay In Seoul

I don’t live in Seoul, but I travel there many times each year to see Korean festivals, cherry blossoms, autumn foliage, Christmas sights, or just to enjoy the atmosphere and sights of a big city. I’ve stayed in many different districts in Seoul, but I find myself coming back to Myeongdong the most due to the wide selection of hotels, the convenient location, and a good selection of shops and street food.

Regular visitors to Seoul might scoff at this choice, saying that Myeongdong is too touristy and not ‘authentic’, which is certainly true, but it’s a great place to base yourself in the capital and all the ‘authentic’ places are just a short subway ride away. There are hotels in Myeongdong for all budgets and you can find everything from cheap guesthouses for quick trips to luxury hotels for special occasions.

I like to stay at the L7 Myeongdong by Lotte, which offers the views you can see in the pictures below. There’s a rooftop bar and foot spa where you can have a drink or dip your toes while looking out over the city and taking in the sights of the N Seoul Tower and beyond. It’s located right next to Myeongdong Station, which means you can zoom across the city to other places really easily, too.

Myeongdong Cathedral and Myeongdong District in Seoul
View from L7 Myeongdong Hotel
View of N Seoul Tower from Myeongdong
View from L7 Myeongdong Rooftop Bar

Planning to visit Korea? These travel essentials will help you plan your trip, get the best deals, and save you time and money before and during your Korean adventure.

Visas & K-ETA: Some travellers to Korea need a Tourist Visa, but most can travel with a Korean Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA). Currently 22 Countries don’t need either one.

How To Stay Connected: Pre-order a Korean Sim Card or a WiFi Router to collect on-arrival at Incheon Airport (desks open 24-hours). Alternatively, download a Korean eSIM for you travels.

Where To Stay: For Seoul, I recommend Myeongdong (convenient), Hongdae (cool culture) or Gangnam (shopping). For Busan, Haeundae (Beach) or Seomyeon (Downtown).

Incheon Airport To Seoul: Take the Airport Express (AREX) to Seoul Station or a Limo Bus across Seoul. Book an Incheon Airport Private Transfer and relax to or from the airport.

Korean Tour Operators: Tour companies that have a big presence in Korea include Klook, Trazy, Viator, and Get Your Guide. These sites offer discounted entry tickets for top attractions.

Seoul City Passes: Visit Seoul’s top attractions for free with a Discover Seoul Pass or Go City Seoul Pass. These passes are great for families and couples visiting Seoul – you can save lots.

How To Get Around: For public transport, grab a T-Money Card. Save money on Korea’s high speed trains with a Korea Rail Pass. To see more of Korea, there are many rental car options from Klook, EconomyBookings, and RentalCars.

Travel Money: Use money exchanges near Myeongdong and Hongdae subway stations for the best exchange rates. Order a Wise Card or WOWPASS to pay by card across Korea.

Flights To Korea: I use flight comparison sites such as Expedia and Skyscanner to find the best flights to Korea from any country. Air Asia is a good option for budget flights from Asia.

Travel Insurance: It is important to insure your trips to protect yourself against the unexpected. World Nomad is a specialized travel insurance provider with options for different coverage for travellers from around the world. You can also purchase cover when you are already travelling.

How To Learn Korean: The language course from 90 Day Korean or Korean Class 101 both have well-structured lessons and lots of useful resources to help you learn Korean.

Where To Stay In Myeongdong (Shops And Convenience)

Myeongdong District Shops And Street Stalls

When friends ask me where to stay in Seoul, I usually direct them to Myeongdong. Conveniently located a couple of stops from Seoul Station, this is a great location for those arriving from Incheon Airport or from other cities in South Korea. Sample the delicious street food that is on sale in the markets – you’ll find all sorts here, from traditional Korean foods, to weird and wonderful modern treats.

Tourist support staff wander the streets, English is widely used, it’s the start point for tours, and you can find street food and souvenirs in the night markets throughout this area. Myeongdong is the perfect base for travellers of all kinds and all budgets, with accommodation options that range from cosy guesthouses and hostels to luxurious high-rise hotels that offer stunning views across the city.

Myeongdong, like Seoul in general, is a melting pot of foreigners, hard working Koreans, shopping addicts, cafe lovers, and all in between. It’s a real microcosm of Korean life – which is fast paced and on the go 24 hours a day. That’s what makes it one of the best neighbourhoods in Seoul. There are markets you can wander through until late at night and practice haggling for bargains.

Location Overview: Located in central Seoul, Myeongdong is perfect for tourists seeking convenience and well connected for transport. Nearby neighbourhoods like Chungmuro offer plenty to explore on foot.

What’s Myeongdong Like: Vibrant retail and commercial district catering heavily to tourists. Bustling atmosphere with bright signs, street vendors, and crowds visiting cosmetics shops and food stalls.

Key Attractions & Sights: Myeongdong Shopping Street, Lotte Department Store, Korean cosmetics stores, street food stalls, Myeongdong Cathedral, Nanta performance arts theatre.

Dining & Nightlife Options: Quick-service restaurants and casual eateries focused on to-go shoppers. Known for street food skewers and dumplings. Limited nightlife, more cafes and dessert shops.

Budget Estimate: Anything from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. You can find mid-range hotels for great prices in this area, especially in off-peak season.

Foreigner Friendliness: Very foreigner-friendly area. Shops and restaurants cater to tourists with English menus readily available. Easy district for non-Korean speakers to stay in.

Main Subway Station: Myeongdong Station

Lobster Tails in Myeongdong Food Street
Street food in Myeongdong
Night market in Myeongdong
Night markets in Myeongdong

Best Hotels In Myeongdong

Myeongdong has one of the widest selections of hotels in all of Seoul’s districts and there is a hotel to suit any budget. Here are three of the best hotels in Myeongdong to suit different budgets.

$$$ The Westin Josun Seoul (★★★★★):
The Westin Josun Seoul is a luxurious 5-star hotel situated in the popular Myeongdong shopping district, offering well-appointed rooms with views of the city or mountains, exceptional service, multiple dining options, a swimming pool, and convenient access to top attractions like Gyeongbokgung Palace.

$$ Four Points by Sheraton Josun (★★★★):
The Four Points by Sheraton Josun is a comfortable hotel located right in the heart of vibrant Myeongdong, placing you steps from the area’s world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment. Contemporary rooms, an indoor pool, and 24-hour fitness centre ensure an enjoyable Seoul stay.

$$ Henn-na Hotel Seoul Myeongdong (★★★★) (BONUS):
This Henn-na Hotel is one of the weird and wonderful hotels you can find in Seoul. Featuring Robots for receptionists and T-Rex for bellboys, this is truly one of the more unique lobbies of a hotel you’ll experience. Fortunately, things resume to normality beyond the lobby.

$ Philstay Myeongdong Station (★★):
Philstay Myeongdong Station is a modern budget hotel situated right next to the Myeongdong subway station, providing easy accessibility around Seoul. Its clean, compact rooms coupled with friendly service offer great value in the prime location of Myeongdong – the famous fashion and foodie district.

Learn more: For a full breakdown of where to stay in Myeongdong, including the best budget, mid-range, and luxury accommodation options, check out my guide to the best hotels in Myeongdong. It also includes a more detailed guide about visiting Myeongdong and what to see and do in the area.

Where To Stay In Hongdae (Culture And Entertainment)

Street performers in Hongdae district

When I travel to Seoul for a day trip or weekend stay, I usually come to Hongdae to eat, drink, shop, or party. There are so many great places to dine, including foreign-food restaurants, traditional Korean dishes like BBQ, and funky bistros located in the side streets. Hongdae is the best neighbourhood in Seoul for those who want to experience Korea’s youth culture, eat well, and buy modern Korean fashion.

Hongdae is Seoul’s answer to Harajuku in Tokyo, with lots of unique fashion styles, cafes and stores. The streets are packed with clothes shops (boutique or mainstream), artsy goods, souvenirs, and, best of all, lots of Korean snacks to sample! There’s a strong art influence here from nearby Hongik University (Hong-ik Dae-hakkyo), which gives the area its name and culture (it’s an art uni).

The energetic college district packs an explosion of experiences into a few blocks, perfect for the traveller craving the excitement and modern vibe Korea has become famous for. Accommodation is reasonably priced with homely guesthouses and hostels, as well as artistic hotels and smart business hotels for travellers. This is another great place to base yourself to see other parts of Seoul.

Location Overview: Hongdae is just west of central Seoul and close to the Han River. It’s a lively college neighbourhood that’s directly connected to the Airport Expressway.

What’s Hongdae Like: Artsy ambience catering to university students. Young creative vibe with street art, indie galleries, quirky boutiques, and music halls hosting underground performers.

Key Attractions & Sights: Hongdae Playground for street performances, concert venues, Korean crafts and fashion at Free Market, quirky cafes. Popular nightlife clubs.

Dining & Nightlife Options: Casual dining, foreign foods, quirky cafes, and lots of quick bites and street food. Iconic for its club scene – DJs, dance clubs, lively late night entertainment.

Budget Estimate: As this is a student area, there are plenty of lower-budget places to stay in, as well as mid-range hotels and shops. Foreign food and clubs can be expensive.

Foreigner Friendliness: Very open neighbourhood for foreigners. Lots of Western comforts. The high number of younger Koreans means more chance people can speak English.

Main Subway Station: Hongik University Station

Shops in Seoul's Hongdae District
Shops in Hongdae Shopping Street
Gyeongui Line Book Street In Hongdae
Gyeongui Book Street in Hongdae

Best Hotels In Hongdae

Hongdae’s hotel options aren’t as wide as other tourist areas like Myeongdong or Gangnam, but this district has some of the coolest, most unique hotels in Seoul. Here are some of the best hotels in Hongdae for different budgets.

$$$ RYSE, Autograph Collection (★★★★):
RYSEm Autograph Collection is a stylishly designed hotel in the heart of Hongdae, Seoul’s youth culture and nightlife hub. Its chic rooms with city views, rooftop lounge, and easy access to the area’s countless cafes, galleries, shops, and clubs make it the perfect base to experience this vibrant neighbourhood.

$$ Amanti Hotel Seoul (★★★★):
Nestled in the popular Hongdae area, Amanti Hotel Seoul is a cozy boutique property which affords easy access to all of Hongdae’s attractions while still maintaining tranquility and privacy. With a free-style open lobby, restaurants, a fitness centre, and warm, natural room decor to welcome you.

$ DW Design Residence (★★★):
DW Design Residence is a stylish boutique hotel located in Hongdae. Its chic, modern rooms with city views provide a quiet escape while still being walking distance to Hongdae’s famous shops, clubs, cafes, and street art, making it the perfect base to explore this youthful, artistic neighbourhood.

Learn more: For a full breakdown of where to stay in Hongdae, including the best budget, mid-range, and luxury accommodation options, check out my guide to the best hotels in Hongdae. It also includes a more detailed guide about visiting Hongdae and what to see and do in the area.

Where To Stay In Gangnam (Shopping And Nightlife)

Gangnam Statue In Gangnam Area Seoul

Under the glitzy high-rises lies the opulent heart of Seoul in Gangnam. If you envision the Korean high life of fashion boutiques, Michelin star dining, and pulsing nightclub exclusivity — this is your ideal base. Its reputation as Korea’s Beverly Hills spans well beyond the viral pop song to the district’s extravagant reality. Shop flagship stores carrying luxury labels and ultra-modern Korean goods.

Taste creative fine dining fusing Korean cuisine with other global flavours. Then sip expertly-crafted cocktails at a rooftop bar with city views before you finish off the night at Korea’s most prestigious dance clubs. While the usual Gangnam bucket list caters to those seeking indulgence, there are plenty of wallet-friendly experiences like people-watching in style, riverside walks, and grabbing a Korean dessert.

There’s more to Gangnam than shopping and fancy hotels, though. There’s the historic Bongeunsa Temple, Royal Tombs, and a load of cool art galleries and museums to check out. Fans of K-pop will definitely love the K-Star Road where you can see statues dedicated to Korea’s biggest music stars. You might even bump into your favourite idols in this area if you’re really lucky!

Location Overview: Gangnam is south of the Han River, known as a modern wealthy business district. Well-connected to transit. Nearby Apgujeong is a popular high-end shopping area.

What’s Gangnam Like: Fashionable, elite ambience as Korea’s Beverly Hills. Luxury brand flagships, high-rise corporate offices, refined cafes, glitzy nightlife attract sophisticated crowds.

Key Attractions & Sights: COEX Mall, Starfield Library, Bongeunsa Temple, Gangnam Style K-pop Statue, Gaon Art Centre, K-Star Road, K-pop themed exhibitions.

Dining & Nightlife Options: Michelin-starred restaurants from Japan and Korea. Exceptional fine dining. Trendsetting cocktail bars and exclusive nightclubs with A-list clientele.

Budget Estimate: Most hotels, shops, and restaurants cater to Seoul’s elites, selling designer goods at high prices. However, there are also plenty of budget options in quieter side streets.

Foreigner Friendliness: This area attracts lots of expats who work and live in the area, as well as foreign tourists, making it quite foreigner friendly with some foreign food options.

Main Subway Station: Gangnam Station

Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam District
Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam
Starfield Library in Gangnam Seoul
Starfield Library in COEX Mall, Gangnam

Best Hotels In Gangnam

Gangnam boasts the largest collection of upmarket hotels in Seoul and is perfect for travellers who are looking for the finer things when they travel. There are also plenty of mid-range and budget options, too. Here are some hotel recommendations in Gangnam for each budget type.

$$$ Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas (★★★★★):
Overlooking the COEX Mall, the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas is a luxurious 5-star hotel in the heart of Gangnam. With well-appointed rooms boasting panoramic city views, exceptional service, Michelin-starred dining, an indoor pool, and a prime location near top shopping and attractions.

$$ Dormy Inn Seoul Gangnam (★★★):
Dormy Inn Seoul Gangnam is a comfortable hotel situated minutes from Gangnam’s central station, providing easy access to the fashionable district. Clean Japanese-style rooms, therapeutic onsen hot spring baths, saunas, a 24-hour gym, and breakfast buffet offer great value in an ideal location.

$ Toyoko Inn Gangnam Seoul (★★★):
The Toyoko Inn Gangnam Seoul is an affordable hotel in the heart of Gangnam, Seoul’s most stylish district. Its compact rooms offer essential amenities and free Wi-Fi while its prime location places you steps from mega malls, nightlife, K-Pop labels, and easy transportation for exploring Seoul.

Where To Stay In Insadong (Sights And Culture)

Shop window in Insadong Seoul

For an authentic taste of historic Korean aesthetics, make the charming district of Insadong your Seoul neighbourhood base. Just steps from modern buildings lies this preserved world of hanok houses, tea rooms, and winding alleys that represent Korea of yesterday and still today. Stop into a gallery to admire works by local artisans preserving longtime crafts like handmade hanji paper.

Pop into a tea shop to sip traditional tea while sampling delicate Korean desserts. Wander Insadong’s roads lined with shops offering antiques, traditional attire like hanbok, and quirky souvenirs you won’t find in mass retailers. Yet it’s the ability to take a peaceful break from the hurry of the modern city a few blocks away that makes this a great area to stay in Seoul.

Insadong continues on quietly with locals visiting decades-old restaurants and partaking in cultural experiences unique to Korea. Immerse yourself here in the historic heart of Seoul as a contrast to the gleaming towers surrounding this protected view into the past. There are lots of traditional sights nearby, including Jogyesa Temple, royal palaces, and the charming Bukchon Hanok Village.

Location Overview: Insadong is in central Seoul, known for traditional teahouses, galleries, and antique shops between Anguk Station and Jongno.

What’s Insadong Like: Historic charm with preserved Korean architecture alongside street food stands and peaceful teahouses frequented by locals. Known for traditional ambience.

Key Attractions & Sights: Ssamziegil arts complex housing traditional handicrafts shops, paintings and galleries, Tapgol Park, Jogyesa Buddhist temple, folk museum, and the Dynamic Maze.

Dining & Nightlife Options: Casual local eateries specializing in rice cakes, dumplings and sweet pancakes. Evening entertainment limited but nearby Jongno has plenty of options.

Budget Estimate: Despite the central location to historic sights, this area has many budget options for accommodation, dining, entertainment, and shopping.

Foreigner Friendliness: Historic area has information readily available in other languages. Known for an authentic Korean experience that caters to tourists.

Main Subway Station: Anguk Station

Jogyesa Temple In Insadong Neighbourhood
Jogyesa Temple in Insadong
Ssamzigil in Insadong Neighbourhood
Ssamziegil arts complex in Insadong

Best Hotels In Insadong

As this is a historic area of Seoul, there aren’t many high-rises. Instead hotels are typically smaller and more dated. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of good accommodation options in Insadong. Here are some hotel recommendations in Insadong for each budget type.

$$$ Orakai Insadong Suites (★★★★):
Orakai Insadong Suites is a charming boutique hotel situated in central Insadong. Spacious suites with traditional décor, an Italian restaurant, and roof terrace provide comfort and style, while its unbeatable location grants easy access to Insadong’s cafés, galleries, shops, and historic sights.

$$ Nine Tree Premier Hotel Insadong (★★★★):
Nine Tree Premier Hotel Insadong is a modern, design-centric hotel nestled in the heart of Insadong. Contemporary rooms, exceptional service, a lounge bar, and rooftop garden integrate style and comfort, while its coveted location connects you to Insadong’s galleries, teahouses, shopping, and historic charm.

$ Yehadoye Guesthouse (★):
Yehadoye Guesthouse is a charming budget guesthouse located in the heart of Insadong, Seoul’s culture and arts district. It offers comfortable rooms with traditional Korean décor and friendly staff who can recommend the best galleries, teahouses, and restaurants in the lively neighbourhood.

Where To Stay In Dongdaemun (Shopping And Culture)

Dongdaemun District In Seoul With DDP

For shoppers seeking the ultimate retail therapy, make vibrant Dongdaemun your Seoul base. This is a prime spot to indulge in the city’s famous shopping culture. The district thrums with immense wholesale and retail complexes like Doota and Migliore catering to Korean fashion wholesalers and trendy shoppers alike. Storefronts crammed with glittering goods and clothing stay open all day and night.

Outside the shops, food stalls pump out snacks and coffee to fuel indulgent shopping sprees. You’ll certainly need it with so many places to shop in Dongdaemun, both in traditional markets and modern department stores. Dongdaemun satisfies more than retail desires though with its futuristic architecture like the sleek curve of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza and lively Dongdaemun History and Culture Park.

From browsing chic boutiques under the bright lights at 3am to strolling the park amid historic sights from the daytime, Dongdaemun’s around-the-clock energy delivers an intoxicating urban vibe unique to Seoul that visitors won’t soon forget. This is definitely one of the best areas in Seoul for those who want to bring home a lot of souvenirs and be well connected with access to other parts of Seoul.

Location Overview: Dongdaemun is northeast Seoul, known for enormous wholesale and retail shopping complexes open 24/7. Adjacent to the historic area of Jongno.

What’s Dongdaemun Like: Vibrant commercial district with futuristic and eclectic architecture. Caters heavily to fashion trade and retail with camera-ready styling displays attracting youth.

Key Attractions & Sights: Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Dongdaemun History Culture Park, Shopping complexes like Migliore mall and Hello APM. Best area in Seoul for shopping.

Dining & Nightlife Options: Street food snacks late into the evening outside major malls. More casual local eateries than fine dining. Nightlife not a main draw.

Budget Estimate: Very wide range in terms of fashion and market pricing as well as food stall options. Easy to find low budget to moderate accommodations as well as 5-star hotels.

Foreigner Friendliness: Not as much English used but still an accessible location in Seoul that’s used to tourists. Known more for Korean fashion than traditional culture.

Main Subway Station: Dongdaemun Station

Traditional Market in Dongdaemun Seoul
Street food in Gwangjang Market near Dongdaemun
Hanbok for sale in Dongdaemun District
Korean hanbok for sale in Dongdaemun

Best Hotels In Dongdaemun

Dongdaemun is a shopping district that has a lot of tall department stores with smaller hotels squeezed in between them, as well as small guesthouses in the quieter side streets. You can find hotels with nice views of Seoul. Here are some hotel recommendations in Dongdaemun for each budget type.

$$$ JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul (★★★★★):
The JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square is a luxurious, 5-star hotel centrally located in Dongdaemun, steps from high-end malls and markets that stay open until the wee hours. Conveniently placed with spacious, well-appointed rooms, it serves as an ideal base to explore all that Seoul has to offer.

$$ Hotel Skypark Kingstown Dongdaemun (★★★★):
Hotel Skypark Kingstown is a modern hotel situated next to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station, providing easy access to Dongdaemun’s famous markets and shopping centres. Its comfortable, contemporary rooms, free breakfast, and prime location offer convenience and value in dynamic Seoul.

$ Mangrove Dongdaemun (★★★):
Mangrove Dongdaemun is a cozy boutique hotel nestled near the buzzing Dongdaemun shopping district. Its chic, nature-inspired rooms with city views, friendly service, lounge bar, and walking distance to late-night markets, malls, and attractions make it a unique Seoul stay with style and convenience.

Learn more: Check out my review of the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square and learn about the Korean trend called ‘hocance‘, which is a combination of ‘hotel’ and ‘vacance’, meaning to vacation inside a hotel. It’s a lovely hotel and I really enjoyed my stay and exploring the sights of Dongdaemun.

Where To Stay In Jamsil (Nature And Shopping)

Jamsil Neighbourhood With Lotte World Tower

For travellers seeking to experience Seoul’s sporting spirit and family-friendly recreation, the athletic district of Jamsil has lots of Seoul accommodation options for you. As a hub of huge stadium event energy and Olympic legacy by the picturesque Han River, visitors can access major concerts and events one day then partake in thrills at the massive Lotte World amusement park the next.

Cheer on Korea’s beloved baseball team at Jamsil Baseball Stadium or visit music festivals and more at Olympic Park while staying steps from the fan action. The surrounding Jamsil and Songpa districts also offer scenic riverside parks such as Seokchon Lake, the landmark Jamsilsa Temple, and access to Lotte World Tower’s soaring views—all balancing culture with modern conveniences.

Jamsil offers a slower-paced stay in Seoul than the fast-paced touristy districts like Myeongdong and Hongdae, along with scenic views, extensive shopping, fine dining, and the best views of Seoul from the Seoul Sky Observatory. This Seoul neighbourhood allows immersion in events and culture only Seoul can offer while still catering to family travellers seeking flexible fun east of the city centre.

Location Overview: Jamsil is a district in southeastern Seoul, known for sports venues and the Olympic Park. There are also many Lotte attractions, including the Lotte World Tower.

What’s Jamsil Like: A family-friendly neighbourhood with athletic ambience. Home to the Olympic Stadium and Arena where concerts / matches are held. More nature than central Seoul.

Key Attractions & Sights: Olympic Park, Lotte World theme park, Seoul Sports Complex (baseball / football), Jamsilsa Buddhist temple, Jamsil Naru Park along the Han River.

Dining & Nightlife Options: Casual restaurants and cafes near Lotte World. Street food stands clustered around the stadium. Nightlife not a main draw but some quiet bars around.

Budget Estimate: Jamsil is a rich neighbourhood in Seoul and attracts wealthy tourists and Seoulites alike to its shopping and attractions. Expect slightly higher prices here, but still bargains around.

Foreigner Friendliness: English less common than other central Seoul districts as popular with locals, but major attractions and shopping centres will be foreigner friendly.

Main Subway Station: Jamsil Station

Lotte World Tower in Jamsil District
Lotte World Tower in Jamsil
Lotte World Adventure In Jamsil
Lotte World Adventure in Jamsil

Best Hotels In Jamsil

Jamsil has the charm and opulence of Gangnam, but in a more peaceful, greener district of Seoul that has a more laid back pace of life. This is a great area in Seoul to have fun, shop, eat well, and spend the evening enjoying the sights. Here are some hotel recommendations in Jamsil for each budget type.

$$$ Signiel Seoul (★★★★★):
Overlooking the Han River, the landmark Signiel Seoul occupies the top floors of the Lotte World Tower in Jamsil. Luxury rooms with panoramic views, exceptional dining, an urban forest, infinity pools, and proximity to attractions like Lotte World make it one of Seoul’s premier hotels.

$$ Rosana Tourist Hotel (★★★★):
The Rosana Tourist Hotel is a comfortable budget hotel located in Jamsil, convenient for those visiting Seoul’s famous amusement park, Lotte World, and the 1988 Olympic sites. With cozy, modern rooms, friendly service, buffet breakfast and easy transportation access, it makes an affordable Seoul stay.

$ Pharos Hotel (★★★):
Pharos Hotel is an affordable guesthouse conveniently situated in the bustling Jamsil district. Its cozy, boutique-style rooms, shared lounges and rooftop garden offer a quiet, budget-friendly respite while still being walking distance to Jamsil’s major attractions.

Where To Stay In Itaewon (Food And Entertainment)

Itaewon neighbourhood with N Seoul Tower

Known as the foreigner district due to its history as a home to American soldiers, Itaewon is the most multicultural place in Seoul and home to many expats. English is more widely spoken here and shops cater to foreigner sizes. Brimming with global flair and nonstop excitement, the lively Itaewon district offers visitors an ideal launchpad for exploring Seoul’s vibrant culture and nightlife.

With lanes packed with diverse cuisines from across the globe, travellers can dine their way around the world without leaving the neighbourhood. After dark, Itaewon’s neon-lit cocktail bars and thumping dance clubs keep the party going into the early morning hours. And thanks to Itaewon’s central location near the Han River, tourists can easily immerse themselves in Seoul’s tradition and modernity.

For guests eager to experience one of Asia’s most dynamic cities, Itaewon’s cosmopolitan vibe and energetic entertainment make it the perfect home base for a Seoul adventure. If you’re worried about getting lost in translation, Itaewon’s international charms can make visiting Korea easier. Muslim travellers to Korea will appreciate the wide selection of Halal food and the Itaewon mosque.

Location Overview: Itaewon is centrally located, close to the Han River and N Seoul Tower and adjacent to the Yongsan district. Known for expat culture and international diversity.

What’s Itaewon Like: Multicultural district with global cuisine, nightlife and shopping. Caters to an international mix from US Army ties. Blend of modern amenities with street food stands.

Key Attractions & Sights: Itaewon Global Village Centre showcases cultural diversity. Also popular for energetic nightclubs, casual lounges with foreign comfort food, and theatres.

Dining & Nightlife Options: Halal, Kosher and vegetarian restaurants indicative of Itaewon’s worldwide options. Find foreign foods from tacos to curries. Bars open late with DJs and themes.

Budget Estimate: Prices typically range from lower budget to mid-range for food, shopping and hotel rates. Itaewon draws all types of traveller, from digital nomads to budget backpackers.

Foreigner Friendliness: Extremely open and welcoming neighbourhood to foreigners with English-language menus and services readily available.

Main Subway Station: Itaewon Station

Backstreets of Itaewon in Seoul
Backstreets in Itaewon
Mosque in Itaewon
Seoul Central Mosque in Itaewon

Best Hotels In Itaewon

The Itaewon district spreads across the slopes of Namsan Mountain with views of the N Seoul Tower possible from many places. That also means that some hotels can be uphill, so be careful when choosing your place. Here are some hotel recommendations in Itaewon for each budget type.

$$$ Grand Hyatt Seoul (★★★★★):
The Grand Hyatt Seoul is an iconic luxury hotel situated on Namsan Mountain in the Itaewon district, featuring well-appointed rooms with city views, exceptional dining options, a spa, fitness centre, outdoor pool, and convenient proximity to top attractions like N Seoul Tower and the War Memorial of Korea.

$$ Mondrian Seoul Itaewon (★★★★★):
Nestled at the foot of Namsan Mountain, the stylish Mondrian Seoul Itaewon offers chic, contemporary accommodations steps from the vibrant Itaewon neighbourhood. Its sleek rooms with city views, eclectic dining, and a rooftop lounge put guests in the heart of this multicultural hub.

$ Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel Itaewon (★★★):
Imperial Palace Boutique Hotel Itaewon is an affordable, design-centric hotel in the lively Itaewon district. Contemporary rooms, exemplary service, rooftop lounge with city views, and walking distance to global cuisine, nightlife, N Seoul Tower, and subway, make it a stylish, convenient base to explore Seoul.

Where To Stay In Yongsan (Convenience And Culture)

Hotel in Yongsan District in Seoul Korea

This is where to stay in Seoul if your priority is good value and getting around easily. You’ll find plenty of the city’s traditional charm in this mostly residential area, as well as some of the best prices and peace & quiet. Located close to Hongdae, Myeongdong, Itaewon, and even Gangnam, this is certainly a convenient location for those who plan to move around a lot and see all the sights.

Situated near the centre of Seoul, the Yongsan district gives visitors prime access to the historic and ultra-modern attractions of this fast-paced capital. With cultural sites like the National Museum of Korea and the War Memorial of Korea within its borders, travellers have centuries of Korean history and artwork at their fingertips. The Itaewon shopping and nightlife district is also just a short ride away.

For relaxation amid the bustling metropolis, Yongsan boasts expansive green spaces including the sprawling Hangang Park along the riverfront. With its museums, monuments, restaurants, and natural escapes, Yongsan lets tourists dive into Seoul’s unique layers of tradition and innovation while enjoying comfortable accommodations. Expect great views of the N Seoul Tower from hotels in this area, too.

Location Overview: Yongsan stretches south of the Han River near central Seoul. Home to the enormous Yongsan Electronics Market and War Memorial of Korea.

What’s Yongsan Like: Lively commercial district centred around the dense electronics shopping complex. Also residential in some areas with older architecture and a mix of income levels.

Key Attractions & Sights: Yongsan Electronics Market for tech and gadgets. War Memorial and Museum spans vast grounds honouring military history. Smaller museums in the area too.

Dining & Nightlife Options: More casual everyday eateries and takeout catering to electronics market shoppers and residents. Limited nightlife but good rooftops towards Namsan Mountain.

Budget Estimate: Room rates and dining very inexpensive around the market and residential sections compared to higher-end options around the War Memorial and Yongsan Station.

Foreigner Friendliness: Tourists won’t have any problems in the large malls, hotels, and stations, but the smaller back streets of Yongsan cater more to locals.

Main Subway Station: Yongsan Station

National Museum of Korea In Yongsan District
National Museum of Korea in Yongsan
War Memorial of Korea In Yongsan Seoul
War Memorial of Korea in Yongsan

Best Hotels In Yongsan

The Yongsan area stretches out around the Yongsan area up to Seoul Station and down to the Han River and is set to be the future hot place to visit in Seoul with the area set to become Seoul’s tech hub from 2025. Here are some hotel recommendations in Yongsan for each budget type.

$$$ Grand Mercure Ambassador Seoul Yongsan (★★★★):
Luxurious apartments and hotel rooms blend seamlessly at Grand Mercure Ambassador in central Yongsan. Minutes from the river and public transportation, facilities include an executive lounge, a swimming pool, multiple restaurants, and guests enjoy easy access to Yongsan parks.

$$ Nine Tree Premier ROKAUS Hotel Seoul Yongsan (★★★★):
The Nine Tree Premier Hotel is a stylish, design-oriented hotel near Yongsan Station, providing easy transit access around Seoul. Contemporary rooms, exceptional service, lounge bar, and walking distance to the riverside parks, War Memorial, and Itaewon’s global dining make it an ideal base.

$ Hotel WO Yongsan Station (★★★):
Hotel WO Yongsan Station is a sleek, modern hotel located next to Yongsan Station, offering quick access around Seoul and beyond. Its vibrant, artsy rooms feature contemporary decor, while onsite dining, a fitness centre and convenient transport links cater to both leisure and business travellers.

Where To Stay In Yeouido (Nature And Culture)

Hotels in Yeouido District in Seoul Korea

Sitting on an island in the Han River, Yeouido offers visitors a refreshing oasis in the middle of bustling Seoul. Travellers will enjoy strolling the lush public parks and gardens dotting this “Island of Yeoui” while skyscrapers glitter in the background. During April, the area is home to one of the biggest cherry blossom festivals in all of South Korea, with thousands of cherry trees to walk under.

The National Assembly, Seoul’s stock exchange, and major media outlets call Yeouido home – making it a fascinating destination for witnessing South Korea’s economic and political engines up close. Expect to find upmarket attractions and eateries in this area. Hopping over to the mainland via subway or footbridge leads straight to key sites like Gwanghwamun Plaza and Gangnam.

With its balancing act of nature, commerce and city attractions, Yeouido’s prime location enables tourists to move between serene escapes and urban energy. And sampling Seoul’s celebrated food scene is effortless with local eateries and traditional markets abounding nearby. Stay in Yeouido and enjoy a peaceful stay with bike rides by the river, picnics, and strolls through a quieter part of Seoul.

Location Overview: Yeouido is an island district southwest of central Seoul, connected by bridges and home to the National Assembly Building. Plenty of nearby natural attractions.

What’s Yeouido Like: Mix of financial high-rises and cultural spots like Yeouido Park. Draws business professionals but also outdoorsy families with green spaces, festivals along the Han River.

Key Attractions & Sights: 63 City skyscraper has an observation deck. Yeouido Park local favourite to bike, picnic or see spring cherry blossoms. National Assembly offers free tours.

Dining & Nightlife Options: Casual business area dining like noodles stands popular with lunch crowds. Limited evening entertainment options compared to Hongdae and Gangnam.

Budget Estimate: Mid-range for hotels, meals and attractions. Higher-end lodging also available for executive business clients if needed. Easy to utilise low budget transportation.

Foreigner Friendliness: English less common away from hotel business centres but access to and from Yeouido conveniently English-friendly overall via transit options.

Main Subway Station: Yeouido Station

Picnic by the Han River in Yeouido
Yeouido Hangang River Park
Cherry Blossoms in Yeouido Neighbourhood
Cherry blossoms in Yeouido

Best Hotels In Yeouido

As Yeouido is a commerce and political centre, there are more hotels catering to business and luxury travellers than budget travellers. High costs, but expect beautiful views of Seoul and the Han River. Here are some hotel recommendations in Yeouido for each budget type.

$$$ Conrad Seoul (★★★★★):
Overlooking the Han River, the luxurious Conrad Seoul on Yeouido Island is a stylish oasis in Seoul’s financial district, offering well-appointed rooms with stunning views, multiple dining options including Michelin-starred dining, an outdoor pool, spa, and close access to the National Assembly Building.

$$ Glad Yeouido (★★★★):
Glad Yeouido is a sleek, contemporary hotel situated on Yeouido Island in Seoul’s business district. Chic rooms with panoramic city views, an international buffet, fitness centre, and walking distance to the National Assembly and riverside parks make it an ideal base for business and leisure travellers.

$ The Connoisseur Residence Hotel (★★★):
The Connoisseur Residence Hotel is a cozy boutique hotel located in Yeouido. Its stylish, apartment-style rooms with river views, shared kitchen and convenient location provide a quiet escape, while remaining close to corporate offices, cultural sights and the Han River greenway.

Best Districts In Seoul By Traveller Type

Residential district in central Seoul

There are so many options for places to stay in Seoul that it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which is right for your particular travel needs. A family is likely to want a different area than a backpacker out to party or a couple after a romantic weekend. Everyone has their own needs and this section will help recommend some neighbourhoods that I think will be most suitable for you.

Where To Stay In Seoul For First-Timers

For your first visit to Seoul, the most convenient and tourist-friendly districts to stay in are Myeongdong, Insadong, Dongdaemun, Hongdae or Itaewon. Myeongdong’s mix of traditional sights, mega shopping malls and street food provides easy access to top attractions like Gyeongbokgung Palace and the charming alleyways of Insadong.

The vibrant, creative youth culture of Hongdae, along with Itaewon’s international dining scene should also be on your list. Dongdaemun’s famous market and shopping centres that stay open all night offers a more local experience. Each area has accommodation options fitting any budget.

Where To Stay In Seoul For Solo Travellers

For those visiting Seoul alone, the most engaging districts to stay in are trendy Hongdae, multicultural Itaewon, or the central downtown (Myeongdong / Insadong / Dongdaemun). Hongdae’s indie arts scene and clubs make it easy to mingle with locals and fellow travellers. Itaewon’s international cuisine and bars fosters social interaction.

Central Seoul’s downtown districts like Myeongdong, Insadong and Dongdaemun place you amidst the action with boutique shops, teahouses and night markets to explore. Hostels here also organise activities. Getting around via transit is seamless, though walking these areas alone is also perfectly safe given Seoul’s low crime rate.

Where To Stay In Seoul For Families

When traveling to Seoul with kids, consider staying in family-friendly districts like Hongdae, Jamsil or near City Hall. Hongdae has playgrounds and cafes, while Jamsil is home to major amusement parks like Lotte World. Areas around City Hall and Euljiro are close to child-friendly museums, Namsan Park, and the expansive Seoul Children’s Grand Park.

Myeongdong also has plenty of malls and food options for picky eaters. Multi-room accommodation is easy to find, though advance booking is recommended as family rooms fill fast. Most districts are very safe for families day or night.

Where To Stay In Seoul For Budget Travellers

For an affordable visit to Seoul, consider staying in Hongdae, Dongdaemun or areas near universities, which cater well to the backpacking crowd. Hostels here can cost under $10/night, or opt for guesthouses for cheap private rooms. Hongdae offers both budget digs and lively nightlife.

Dongdaemun has 24/7 shopping bargains while being metro-close to major sights. Other lower-cost neighbourhoods like Mapo and Seongsu are on the artsy side with cafes and clubs. With public transit connectivity, most places are still conveniently accessible to top attractions on a budget.

Where To Stay In Seoul For Luxury Travellers

For an ultra-indulgent trip to Seoul, consider staying in the opulent Gangnam district, including the stylish Apgujeong / Cheongdam area, or conveniently located Jongno between Myeongdong and Insadong. Gangnam is renowned for its glittering high-rise hotels with Michelin-starred restaurants, chic cocktail bars, luxury shopping at COEX, and Bongeunsa Temple.

The Apgujeong and Cheongdam neighbourhoods of northern Gangnam also offer exclusive boutiques alongside five-star hospitality. For history buffs, Jongno’s heritage hotels situate you among Gyeongbokgung Palace and the traditional hanok village of Bukchon while providing first-class amenities and service.

Where To Stay In Seoul For Business Travellers

For those visiting Seoul on business, the most convenient areas to stay in are Gangnam, Yeouido, or Yongsan districts. Gangnam houses the COEX business hub along with corporate offices and Trade Tower’s exhibition centres, pairing modern accommodations with dining and nightlife options.

Yeouido’s high-rise hotels neighbour Seoul’s key financial institutions and the National Assembly. Yongsan’s proximity to Yongsan Station and Seoul Station provides speedy airport connections and travel to other parts of Seoul. All offer work-friendly amenities from conference rooms to copying services, located only a short cab ride from destinations like Namsan and Myeongdong.

Best Areas In Seoul For Korean Culture

For an authentic taste of Korean culture, opt to stay in areas like Insadong, Bukchon Hanok Village or Jongno. Insadong’s streets are lined with galleries exhibiting works by local artists, traditional teahouses and shops selling handicrafts, allowing you to immerse in old Seoul.

The Bukchon Hanok neighbourhood places you right among preserved hanok houses while Jongno juxtaposes historic palaces, temples and the new Seoul City Hall. Trying the Korean cuisine, soju, noraebang karaoke and catching a K-pop show can happen in most districts however. Booking a hanok guesthouse also lets you experience traditional accommodation.

Best Areas In Seoul For Shopping

For shopaholics, the best home bases in Seoul are Myeongdong, Dongdaemun or the Apgujeong / Cheongdam areas in Gangnam. Myeongdong offers over 400 local boutiques alongside retail giants like Shinsegae along brightly-lit pedestrian lanes. Dongdaemun’s expansive 24-hour malls and markets offer everything from designer knock-offs to craft supplies at incredibly low rates.

Known as Korea’s Champs-Élysées, Cheongdam and Apgujeong in Gangnam flaunt posh department stores like Galleria alongside luxury flagship boutiques from brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Whichever retail wonderland suits your tastes, staying central allows you to conveniently drop your bags after long shopping adventures.

Best Areas In Seoul For Entertainment

For easy access to Seoul’s buzzing nightlife scene, Hongdae, Itaewon and Gangnam are ideal areas to stay. Hongdae is the city’s epicentre for indie music clubs, hidden bars and late night street food alongside art markets and cafes. Itaewon caters to party-goers with its vast array of lounges and nightclubs spinning hip hop and EDM among burger joints and craft beer pubs.

Upscale Gangnam is renowned for posh clubs playing K-pop and electronic while mega-clubs like Octagon fuel Seoul’s after-dark energy. Myeongdong also stays lively late with its brightly-lit shopping streets and food stalls. If you want somewhere to stay in Seoul that doesn’t sleep, Myeongdong is a great answer.

Best Districts In Seoul For Short Stays

With just a few days to spare, you’ll want to base yourself in Seoul’s most popular central districts like Myeongdong, Hongdae or Dongdaemun. Myeongdong will place you right in the thick of the action with traditional and modern shopping options and street food, along with cultural sights like Deoksugung Palace in walkable distance.

Also centrally located, Hongdae offers a youthful vibe with endless cafes, clubs and entertainment. Dongdaemun gives you 24/7 access to sprawling markets and malls in an inherently local scene. With so much packed into one area, these dynamic locales let you maximise a quick trip.

Best Districts In Seoul For 1-Week Stays

With a full week to explore Seoul, basing yourself in neighbourhoods like Hongdae, Myeongdong and Insadong will enable you to fully experience both historical sights and local colour. Hongdae provides quick access to trendy yet traditional sites along the Han River as well as boutique shops and galleries.

Myeongdong and Insadong places you among top attractions including Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and Bukchon Hanok Village while also having restaurants, cafes and nightlife within close proximity. With an extensive transit system, all corners of Seoul will still remain at your fingertips from these centrally located districts.

Best Districts In Seoul For Month-long Stays

With 30 days to unpack Seoul, slower-paced residential districts like Euljiro, Seongdong or Mapo allow you to live like a local. Home to universities and hanoks, Euljiro offers budget eats with cultural sights nearby. Seongdong’s parks, family-run shops and library cafés exude neighbourhood charm.

Bordering the Han River, Mapo blends nature trails with an indie arts scene. Staying outside the usual tourist centres grants a richer, community-centric experience. Yet with Seoul’s efficient subway system, iconic attractions are only ever a short ride away at your desire.

Seoul Accommodation Searching Tips

Figuring out where to stay in Seoul is a serious concern and finding the right place at the right time of year for the right price can certainly impact the overall experience of your holiday. As well as providing a Seoul district guide that has covered what I consider the best neighbourhoods to stay in, I want to offer some of my personal tips from decades of travelling in Seoul, Korea, and beyond.

Location is key: Pick a neighbourhood that aligns with your interests, whether that be shopping in Myeongdong, culture in Insadong, or nightlife in Hongdae. This way top attractions will be walkable and you won’t find yourself travelling a long way each day. A central location that’s well connected is better than staying next to one particular attraction you want to visit.

Compare rates: Hotel prices can fluctuate dramatically. Each of the major hotel booking sites have their own deals with hotels and you might find cheaper prices for the same hotel and the same dates from different sites. I always find the hotel I want to stay in and then compare sites like agoda.com, hotels.com, and booking.com to see which has the best price for my stay.

Book early: Reserve at least 2 or 3 months out, especially for peak times like cherry blossom season (April), summer holidays (August), and autumn leaves (October), to avoid disappointment and higher prices. Rooms fill fast in Seoul and you can save a lot of money if you book in advance, so plan ahead.

Seek out guesthouses: For an authentic Korean stay, hanok guesthouses offer traditional charm at budget prices. In Seoul, you can find hanok houses in Bukchon Hanok Village where you can experience life in Joseon-era Korea, but with modern comforts.

Splurge on views: If your budget allows, rooms facing landmarks like N Seoul Tower or Bukchon Hanok Village enhance your stay exponentially. Large hotels generally have better views as they’re taller and places in Myeongdong and Insadong have rooftop bars where you can take in the views at night.

Airport connections: If you’re visiting Seoul for a short time and need to get to and from Incheon Airport conveniently, then staying in Hongdae is a great option as it’s connected to the airport by subway. It’s also connected to Gimpo Airport, which is Seoul’s main airport that flies to Jeju Island. There are also limo buses that travel from Incheon Airport to most major neighbourhoods in Seoul.

I hope these tips help you figure out where to stay in Seoul and start planning your ideal trip to Korea. Remember to check out my South Korea Travel Guide for more tips about travelling to Korea, including details about staying connected, travel money, seasons, attractions, and lots more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about where to stay in Seoul. These answers are based on my own experience and from research conducted to write this article.

Where’s the best place to stay in Seoul for first-timers?

For first-time travellers to Seoul, Myeongdong, Hongdae, or Insadong are perfect places to stay to see the sights, experience Korean culture, and be conveniently located to travel across Seoul. These Seoul neighbourhoods are used to tourists and you’ll find tourist-support staff walking the streets, tourist information centres, and plenty of translated signs and menus.

Which Neighbourhood in Seoul is best for tourists?

The best neighbourhood in Seoul for tourists is Myeongdong or Hongdae. Myeongdong is a tourist-friendly district that caters to tourists with plenty of retail stores, restaurants, and Seoul’s best selection of hotels. Hongdae is Korea’s youth culture centre and a great place to check out to immerse yourself in Korean culture.

Which district of Seoul has good budget accommodation?

Hongdae has a good selection of budget accommodation, including guesthouses and hostels with very low prices. Myeongdong also has many cheaper hotels and guesthouses that are slightly more expensive, but offer private rooms in a central location.

Which is the best area to stay in Seoul?

The best area to stay in Seoul is the one that suits your travel requirements and budget. Myeongdong has the widest range of hotels that cater to budgets of all size and is conveniently located close to attractions, major transportation hubs like Seoul Station, and has lots of shops and restaurants that cater to tourists with more English-speaking staff. However, if you’re a regular traveller to Seoul, you may find somewhere like Jamsil or Yongsan better places to stay as you can explore less tourists districts and try more authentic Korean restaurants.

Which area in Seoul has the best nightlife?

The best areas in Seoul for nightlife are Hongdae, Itaewon, and Gangnam. There are bars and clubs in all of these areas, with Hongdae and Gangnam both offering world-class nightclubs. If you prefer to try Korean singing rooms and quieter bars, then try Hongdae or Itaewon, as well as the Jonggak area near Insadong.

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About the author

Hi! My name is Joel, I'm the author of In My Korea and writer of this article. I've lived, worked and travelled in Korea since 2015 and want to share my insights, stories and tips to help you have the best experience during your trip to Korea.

I love learning more about Korean culture, hiking the many mountains, and visiting all the coolest places in Korea, both modern and traditional. If you want to know more about my story, check out the 'about me' section to learn why I love living in Korea.

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