Best areas to stay in Seoul

What are the best locations to stay in Seoul?

Seoul is by far the largest city in South Korea and is one of the biggest on the planet, which feels like a world away from any other. Even being one of the largest of its kind it is very easy to get around with the amazing public transportation. Seoul is full of Korean culture and is home to many major attractions in the whole country, which blends and mixes ancient traditions with modern ones. One of the ideal factors about Seoul, and indeed the nation, is how friendly the people are here, who will go out of their way to help you.


The best areas to stay in Seoul are the districts of Jongno-gu and Jung-gu, as they are both very popular for consisting of historic attractions including palaces, shrines and government buildings. There are antique streets, numerous traditional Korean houses, theatres, cinemas, ample shopping centres and markets and many art galleries.


These two districts also have stacks of traditional authentic Korean restaurants as well as American and European cuisines. Bars, pubs and clubs can be seen anywhere you go and these areas have the highest concentration of accommodation between them.

Hotel   Price per night
5-5, Donhwamun-ro
51€ - 57$
Hotel   Price per night
Hotel Manu Seoul
1-1 Namsan-dong 2-ga
67€ - 75$
14, Myeongdong 9ga-Gil
71€ - 80$
The Grand Hotel Myeongdong
38, Myeongdong 8ga-gil
103€ - 115$
Hotel   Price per night
Hotel PJ
71, Mareunnae-ro
80€ - 90$
Hotel   Price per night
119 Sogong-ro
163€ - 183$
The Westin Chosun Seoul
87 Sogong-dong
233€ - 261$
JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul
279, Cheonggyecheon-ro
271€ - 304$


If you are interested in where to stay in Seoul, you may also be interested in where to stay in Busanwhere to stay in Tokyo, where to stay in Kyoto and where to stay in Osaka.

Jongno-gu and Jung-gu, the best areas to stay in Seoul


(Tourists, a week, shopping, culture, sightseeing, family)


It’s hard to know where to begin in this area though the Grand Palaces are a decent start. The palaces are located in the district, which were originally from the Joseon Dynasty, however the Japanese and Chinese have burnt them down numerous times. The grandest is the Gyeongbok-gung and was the first palace, which has been beautifully restored to its original standing. The other palaces include Changdeok-gung, Changgyeong-gung and Gyeonghui-gung and all of them were used as the seat of power and temporary homes for the King from the 13th century through to the 19th.


The Seoul History Museum is also found on the grounds and although was burnt down on more than one occasion by the Japanese, it was reopened in 1985 and managed to save a considerable number of artefacts of the palaces as well as the general city. The Jongmyo Shrine is one of the most famous shrines in the city and possibly the country, which commemorates past royal family members and nearby the shrine is one of the most important Buddhism temples in the country, being Jogyesa Temple. Another fascinating place to have a look see is Bukchon, which is its own village and is where a lot of relatives of the royal family and important officials lived for over half a millennium.


This area has the traditional ‘hanok’ Korean houses and many art galleries and you will see many people taking photos of these. For shopping, head to Insa-dong, which is a picturesque shopping street with various antique, souvenir, clothing, food and café shops. Even though it is popular between tourists and locals, the place never seems to get too busy and all along it there are also many authentic Korean shops and art galleries that boast Korean artists, regional and international.


At night have a look at the Sejong Center, which is one of the largest multi-purpose theatres and has productions and plays all week long. There are numerous restaurants to pick from with a good percentage being vegetarian though Korean food certainly favours vegetarians anyway. There is an excellent range of luxury hotels and traditional ‘love motels’, and the majority have outstanding views of the palaces and surroundings.



(Traditional, palace, market, one night, first time)


Jung-gu is another district that has plenty of historic attractions, which include the Deoksu-gung and is another palace but has some amazing architecture that has influences from both Korean and the Western world. The old historic gates of Namdaemun and Dongdaemun are very impressive and many people come to see them at night when they are lit up, which is a great sight.


Another reason to visit the gates are the markets and shopping centres, which are exceptionally close by and Namdaemun is one of the largest traditional Korean markets in the country. This market sells traditional children’s toys, electronics and paintings, with Dongdaemun being more modern and busier and concentrating more on fashion and the biggest shop is Migliore, which has 24 floors of garments. Another popular tourist area to shop is Myeongdong, with all the streets teeming with shopping departments and centres that are mostly focused on fashion and has famous Korean and international brands like Adidas, GAP and Gucci.


At night there are various cinemas and theatres in the area and there is the N Seoul Tower. Be it day or night this tower has the best panoramic views of the city, which is situated on top of Namsam Mountain and can pretty much be seen from anywhere in the city. There is also a restaurant at the top of the tower, which is extremely romantic and has a great mix of Korean and European cuisine. However, Jung-gu has a great selection of restaurants and the same goes for the amount of top quality hotels.

Other neighbourhoods to stay in Seoul



(Nightlife, shopping, café, restaurants, leisure, couples)


If you want an area where you can take a stroll through calm streets and cozy parks during the day and experience the vibrant night live that Seoul is so famous for, Mapo-gu is the district that has it all, both day and night. The area around Hongik University located in Mapo-gu, near Hongdae station and Hapjeong station, is known for great shopping. You can find Korean skincare, makeup and the most up to date fashion pieces. This is also where you find a lot of unique theme-cafes. Perhaps you want to make a DIY phone case or have a snack with fluffy companions such as cats, dogs or racoons, either options accompanied with coffee and other refreshments. If you are looking for something more casual, this area also offers many pretty flower cafes such as Blute café.


The area around Hongik University is equally famous for its vibrant night-life where the streets are filled with people looking for a place to dance, enjoy good food, drinks or watch the various street performances.


nother hot spot in Mapo-gu is the restaurant-filled Yeonnam-dong, as well as the Food Street in Yonggang-dong which are a must see for foodies and connoisseurs alike. The market is the place to try authentic Mapo’s dishes, such as marinated grilled meat and charcoal-grilled ribs. If you want to have a calm picnic during the sunny summer evenings, you should head to “Yeontral Park”, the central park located in the heart of Yeonnam-dong.


Yongsan gu

(Heritage, museums, food, international, relaxation)


“The dragon hill” or more known as Yongsan district is where history meets present. If you are interested in Korean culture, Yongsan is the area for you. Here, you find one of the oldest neighborhoods in Seoul, Haebangchon. Haebangchon is located close to Namsan tower, a world recognized landmark, and the park surrounding the tower just a step away. Youngsan-gu is filled with museums of Korean history. If you find yourself in Yongsan area on a rainy day or just wish to learn more, you can find The National Museum of Korea and War Memorial Museum, where important cultural and historical artifacts are displayed, and information can be explored.


If you don’t mind walking uphill too much, walking through this neighborhood on your way to the tower is a great way to enjoy this quiet and cozy area, and there are plenty of cafes and restaurants on the way.


In the unlikely event that you get tired of Korean food, Itaewon is the place to go to find authentic food from the West and Middle East as well as a variety of vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants. This area that is very international and foreigner friendly as most staff at stores, cafés and restaurants speak fluent English.


A great place to stay and relax after sightseeing Seoul is the Dragon Hill Spa and Resort. This is a Korean style bathhouse, or jjimjilbang as it is called in Korean, and it is an experience that everyone visiting should try at least once. Here you can find everything you could ever need: a variety of saunas, heated sleeping rooms, game-rooms, swimming pools, food court and much more.



(Shopping, luxury, food, nightlife)


Known as one of the richest areas in Seoul, Gangnam is the home to many high-end brand stores such as Chanel and Luis Vuitton, as well as classy department stores and malls. The most famous area to shop-until-you-drop in Gangnam-district is the one around Gangnam station, but the areas Garousgil and Apguejong are just as worth visiting. In these areas you can also find really good restaurants and cafes and while they are on the pricier side, they offer the top-quality restaurants and taste of Seoul. If somehow these places are not enough, head to the COEX Shopping mall. This place has it all: shopping, movie theatre, variety of restaurants and cafes, and even a large aquarium!


If you are looking to enjoy Seoul’s crazy nightlife in an EDM or hip-hop clubs, Gangnam is the place for that.


Gangnam is also where the big Korean entertainment companies such as SM, YG and JYP have their headquarters and studios. If you are lucky, you might get a glimpse of an idol or even a whole idol-group while you are there. All those swept by the Korean wave should head here to perhaps your favorite artist or maybe just see the building they spend hours training.



(River park, boat tour, bars, restaurants)


This district is found in the northwest of the city and is located by the lovely Han River, which flows right through the city. There are a few tour companies that offer boat trips up and down the river, which is a popular thing to do at night as you can see the lights of Seoul in all its might. The Seodaemun Prison is quite a haunting place that is well known for its history, which was used by the Japanese to torture and execute Korean political prisoners. It is set out like a museum but everything is original and therefore can be very moving and sensitive.


As well as the prison, the area is very famous for its drinking areas and the best places are Hongdae and Sinchon, where there are university students everywhere and therefore lots of pubs, bars and clubs that even offer “baggy cocktails”. There is a huge amount of accommodation in the area but not really in terms of hotels but plenty of guesthouses and hostels.