One of my favourite neighbourhoods in Seoul is Hongdae. It’s exciting both day and night, there is always something going on and the shopping, foodie treats and party levels are high. In short, there are plenty of things to do in Hongdae and here are my top 20.
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Need more Seoul Travel Tips?
More tips for your visit to Hongdae, further down below. You can jump to the specific section in the table of contents above.
Top 20 Attractions in Seoul Hongdae
1. Korean Beauty Experience
South Korea is well known for ity beauty products and its beauty products are super popular around the world. There are always new products with interesting ingredients (like snail slime).
I personally really love beauty products like Tony Moly Makeup or Etude House. Both can be found in Hongdae’s beauty shops, of course but maybe you want to go a bit further.
Especially after an extensive sightseeing tour around Hongdae in particular and Seoul in general, you deserve to be pampered.
You can book a professional photoshoot in the style of typical Korean stars, including professional makeup and styling. The makeup in Korea is definitely different than in Europe.
2. Live K Pop Performances
Are you into K Pop at all? You might stumble upon the next big idols here on the streets of Hongdae. Along the main shopping mile you don’t find the regular type of buskers.
These are proper singer songwriters, performers and group dancers. Just like a K Pop idol needs to be a quintuple threat, these ambitious wannabes deliver.
One after the other will do their performances solo or with speakers and a group. Performers are hard to miss as curious onlookers are magnetically drawn around them. The best spot, by the way, is from the first floor windows of nearby restaurants and cafes.
3. Trick Eye Museum
Optical illustrations can be fun – especially if you can be part of them! Mess with your own and your friends’ heads by standing in tilted corners and towering over them. Ride a unicorn, be a mermaid, surf on sharks and do plenty other quirky things.
Use the Trickeye app for augmented reality effects and even cooler photos. Entrance to the Trick Eye Museum* (서울 트릭아이미술관) is 15,000 WON ($13.50).
Address: Mapo-gu, Seogyo-dong, 홍익로 3길 20 (서울특별시 마포구 서교동 홍익로 3길 20)
4. Love Museum
Are you an adult? Good, well then you’re allowed to enter the Love Museum (8,000 WON/$7.20).
It’s special part of the Trick Eye Museum, the adult edition so to say. The museum advertises itself as “Sensual Eroticism & Art” and specifically encourages touching the objects.
It’s a little bit like a low key version of Jeju island’s honeymoon Sex Ed theme parks. Yes, back when arranged marriages were still a thing, newlyweds were encouraged to get a little education and inspiration on what to do with one another this way.
While the culture is still very much repressed and PDA definitely not socially approved, such a love museum is seen as a fun couple pastime. Get your tickets here*.
Address: Mapo-gu, Seogyo-dong, 홍익로 3길 20 (서울특별시 마포구 서교동 홍익로 3길 20)
5. The Beauty Inside Exhibition
One of the most instagrammable places in Hongdae certainly is the fantastic and colourful exhibition The Beauty Inside. It’s made for everyone who appreciates all things pretty and loves a good portrait shot.
You can post in front of digital worlds; each rooms comes with different mesmerising projections, such as a mirror room or a jungle room. The space is not huge, but exciting nonetheless.
Even if you come here solo, there will be tons of other people and surely they would help you out if a selfie doesn’t surfice.
Of course, it’s best to team up with a friend or find a travel buddy for the day. There are always ways to make a new travel friend – through facebook groups or when staying in a hostel, for instance.
Snatch your ticket here* to avoid the crowds at the door.
Address: 30 (Novellia Seogyo), Hogik-ro 5-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
6. Print Socks
If you haven’t bought a pair of socks when in South Korea, have you even been? Seriously, wherever I went on Hongdae’s shopping streets, colourful socks with the cutest prints would stare at me.
Granted, sizes were rather small but they make for excellent travel gits in case you have bigfoot feet like I do. Plus, there was a great variety of motifs, such as K Pop idols, Japanese manga characters and animals.
7. Noeul Park
Noeul Park is also known as the World Cup Park as it was built for the Korea-Japan World Cup in 2002. The site used to be a landfill but today, it’s a welcome eco park.
If you are looking for respite and want to relax in nature but not head into the mountains or outside of Seoul, then this park is worth a visit. It’s 30km away from the Hongik metro station, so it’s a bit of a walk to get there.
What’s more: It’s not just one big park, but actually a combination of five different parks named Pyeonghwa (Peace) Park, Haneul (Sky) Park, Noeul (Sunset) Park, Nanjicheon Park and Hangang Riverside Park.
Adresse: Seongsan-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
8. Try Pajeonyaki
Have you ever heard of okonomiyaki? It’s a Japanese kinda pancake made from noodles and cabbage and it’s absolutely divine! (Here’s a receipe.)
You can eat those in Hongdae but if you want to tune it up a notch, try the Korean-Japanese fusion version. It’s called pajeonyaki and comes with seafood.
Note that the Hello Kitty Café Hongdae has permanently closed. Also, I want to say that there are quite a few animal cafés in the area. However, since I find keeping (wild) animals – including meerkat and sheep – in small indoor spaces to be entertainment for guests unethical, I will not cover them.
9. Have Ziplocked Cocktails
If you want to stay relevant as a restaurant, you gotta be creative and the Hongdae café Vinyl ( 비닐) definitely is.
Grab a cocktail in primary colours and watch it being served in a ziplock bag. Some are already hanging around as decoration – or inspiration for your cocktail choice.
Address: 411-1 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
10. Shop at Daiso
Ok, this chain is Japanese but it’s everything and I love it to bits and always have to go in. Daiso is basically like a Dollar Store only so much better!
Everything is super cute, really good quality and affordable. Stock up on stationary, key chains, food and even cosmetics. I cannot ever pass by a Daiso store without entering. It’s one of the best places for Japanese souvenirs.
Address: 134-1 퇴계로 Jung-gu, Seoul, Südkorea
11. Snatch a Super Soft Serve
Soft serve never fails to please and it is particularly a must have in South Korea. Not sure why but no matter the weather or time of the year, there is always a queue at a soft serve shop.
Even during my visit to Seoraksan National Park on a chilly day, Korean tourists were lining up to take their soft serve up the mountain top.
The ice cream in Seoul, however is a little special. It’s mega tall. 32cm to be precise. There is another stall serving this tall ice cream in Insa-dong but why not try it while you’re already in Hongdae?
12. Nanta Theatre
Have you ever heard of the Nanta Show in which making food comes with song and dance. The story centres around three cooks who are training their boss’s nephew.
The show goes for 90 minutes and since it’s non verbal, there is no language barrier. Get your tickets here*.
13. Shopping Street
Besides fun socks and live street music, there are tons of other shops to look up. Find cute keychains, sample adorable print purses and stock up on Koran beauty products at Etude House or Tony Moly.
Be curious and stroll away from the main road, which is Hongik Street, to check out smaller Indie stores in side alleys.
Vending machine like a giant Gameboy. Stars from Super Mario hanging from the ceiling. Figurines at the bar between cocktail glasses. Playing retro table games and old arcade games.
This is what you get at this small bar in Hongdae.This is perfect for all retro adventure andjump n run game nostalgics.
Address: 7, Jandari-ro, Mapo-gu, 3f, Seoul 0404
15. Isaac Toast Hongdae
You’ve probably been to a sandwhich bar. But have you been to a toast bar? Hongdae has its very own toast joint. Apparently, the hash brown toast is particularly tasty.
As you can guess, this isn’t Korean food at all but if you love continental breakfast, this is delicious breakfast.
Address: 93, Wausan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul 04040
16. Devour Giant Waffles
One of the most popular dessert stalls was the waffle house. You can easily see why because what you get is an extra large waffle filled with giant helpings of cream and pastel coloured sprinkles and sauces.
But here’s the thing: the waffles don’t just taste as sweet as they look. They taste a whole lot sweeter – and not pleasantly so. So unless you have a high tolerance for sugar levels, maybe reign yourself in and try the next dessert.
17. Hongdae Free Market
On Saturdays between 1PM and 6PM (March to November), you can stop by Hongdae’s Free Market for some extra special shopping.
It is then that local artists exhibit their creative work and you can chat to them about the arts.
Address: 19-3 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Karaoke isn’t just a big deal in Japan, Korean love it too! If you are going on a first date, it’s a very big thing. Look for local noraebang and then dust off your singing voice. A super cute karaoke bar is Luxury Su with its shiny pink singing rooms.
You can choose between Korean and English pop songs and then pick “예약“ to reserve that song. Plus, there is free ice cream and popcorn, which isn’t exactly the best for treating your vocal chords but it makes for a great evening out!
Address: 367-39 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea (서울특별시 마포구 서교동 367-39)
19. Escape Room
Seoul is totally in on the Escape Room craze and you can get to solving puzzles in this popular Hongdae activity.
The Escape Room here has two different scenarios to choose between. The first “The Terror on Air”, where you enter a race against time to avoid explosive blowing up everything.
The second, called „Inception“ needs you to save Seoul from a master criminal. Both rooms come with Korean and English instructions. You can get your ticket here*.
20. Hongik University
This isn’t necessarily a great attraction in Hongdae but Gongik University is the biggest reason for this are to be this popular. With the campus so close by, students are dominating the area. This youthful vibe in turn attracts hip cafes, restaurants and clubs.
However, in case you do want to study in Seoul, Hongik University is where you might want to check out the orientation programs and open days.
Hongdae Travel Tips
Where is Hongdae Seoul?
Now that you know what to do in Hongdae, you need to know where to find it.
Hongdae isn’t a district (gu, 구; 區), it’s a smaller neighbourhood along Hongik University Street in Seoul, South Korea. With so many students about, the area has a youthful and energetic vibe.
Tips on how to get there are further below.
Best Time to Visit Hongdae, Seoul
Basically anytime of the year is great for a visit to Hongdae. This district never sleeps. That being said, the students bring the neighbourhood to live. So if you visit during university breaks, such as between June to September.
However, Korean universities keeping their students busy, there are always prepping courses, graduation ceremonies and registrations going on. Hongdae won’t be a ghost town.
How to Get to Hongdae in Seoul
Not all taxi drivers speak English well, so it’s a good idea if you choose to take a taxi to have a Google Maps screenshot with Korean signage. Or a Korean address (서울특별시 마포구 홍익로 (서교동)).
Alternatively, you can show a photo of the Hongik University (홍익대학교) entrance gate and get dropped off there. From Seoul Station to Hongdae the price is roughly between 6,000 and 8,000 WON.
The most convenient choice is taking the Sightseeing Tour Bus in Seoul.
Regarding local buses, there are various buses going to Hongdae Street (서울시). You can check public transportation times here.
Hongdae has its own station, which is Hongik University. You can easily get a day or a single ticket. Seoul metro is quick, safe and affordable.
Where to Stay in Hongdae, Seoul
If you are looking for budget yet luxurious stays, there are many deals on hotels to be had.
If you are backpacking Seoul, try the colourful UWA Guesthouse. It has dorms – mixed and female – starting from 13 USD a night. There is free wifi, BBQ facilities and breakfast (toast, coffee and tea) is included. Check room availability here*.
Would cute accommodation in Seoul be your thing? Imagine a white doll-like house with pink highlights. And it’s a hostel and super affordable! Try Orbit Cafe & Guesthouse. Breakfast is included. Make a reservation now* – dates can typically be adjusted later on Booking if need be.
Want to treat yourself? Try the South Korean brand LOTTE and its high class hotels. L7 Hongdae by LOTTE is a sleek sky high 4-star hotel with super comfy beds. There are a lot of restaurants nearby and free wifi. Reserve a room here*.
What to Pack for Seoul
Don’t forget to pack your camera or phone to capture all the crazy cool things in Hongdae.
Also, when you are out and about taking all these pictures (and look at your map), your phone battery will die faster. So pack a charging cable and external battery. To stay connected, order a high-speed 4G unlimited data sim card* to pick up at Inchon Airport.
To shop a few bites and souvenirs from the street vendors, I recommend bringing lose change and cash along. Many shops accept credit cards, but cash is always a good idea.
When you’re abroad, a must is having travel insurance*. You never know what things might go wrong, and accidents can cost quite a lot. This way your health as well as your luggage is covered.
Is Visiting Hongdae for an Afternoon Worth It?
If you are on a short trip through the country, you gotta include at least a brief visit. There are quite a few things to see in Hongdae and they’re quirky and fun. Definitely something for all kinds of visitors, be it solo travellers or families.
The vibe of Seoul’s Hongdae is just electric and you can get pretty much everthing done – shopping, food and party wise here. Plus, you might spot (up and coming) celebrities while you do it.