Your Guide to the Secrets of Seoul Nightlife

By OptiLingo • 9 minutes read

Seoul nightlife is exciting and full of adventure.

How to Have the Best Night of Your Life in Seoul

South Korea is a wonderful country, but Seoul is the jewel of Korean nightlife. And if you want to enjoy a night out in the Korean capital to the fullest, then you need to know what the locals know. Use these tips, advice, and recommendations to have a truly authentic and incredibly enjoyable night on the town. Are you ready to party like the locals? Then get ready to soju to loosen up your Korean fluency and discover everything this city has to offer.

Where Can Visitors Go to Experience Seoul Nightlife?

If it’s your first time visiting Seoul, consider spending a couple of nights in Itaewon. There are plenty of international bars and restaurants that make this neighborhood an ideal district for foreigners. You can ease into Korean, as there are plenty of people who speak English, and can correct you if you need it.

If you are visiting Seoul with family, stay at Insadong. Other than being an ideal place for families, this place is rich with history. You can spot plenty of shrines, palaces, and temples here. There are also options to shop for traditional Korean artifacts in this neighborhood.

seoul districts

Where Do the Locals Party in Seoul?

If you are looking for an affordable yet memorable experience, consider staying at Hongdae. There are many young people in this area because of its liveliness at night and you can spot locals dressed in the latest fashion trends for some style inspiration.

One of Seoul’s popular neighborhoods is Gangnam. It inspired Psy’s popular Kpop song, Gangnam Style. It’s among the city’s upscale areas with numerous high-end restaurants, eateries, and bars. Gangnam is a great place to party if you’re not worried about the price. But if you are on a tight budget, there are plenty of Airbnbs in the area to choose from too. Either way, Gangnam’s an interesting place for first-time travelers to Korea.

Top 10 Seoul Nightlife Activities to Explore

The Seoul nightlife has activities for everyone. Whether you like, drinking, clubbing, or Korean cultural experiences, Seoul nightlife has an event for you. And not just on the weekend. You can enjoy a traditional experience any day of the week. Here are 10 awesome things you need to try when you’re out on the town in Seoul.

1. Experience Cha, Cha, Cha

This is how Korean locals party. Experience Seoul nightlife through the traditional cha, cha, cha. No, this isn’t a type of Latin American dance. A “cha” is a party round in Korea. Each round of cha takes place at a different establishment. Bars, clubs, and restaurants are the most common three cha. A typical night out would include three cha, but special occasions (like a birthday) can even have five cha. Enjoy Seoul nightlife until the wee hours in the morning with the traditional cha cha cha.

2. Grab a Drink in a Bar

Whether you want to listen to live music, sip on cocktails, or drink in a tight budget, Seoul has a bar for you. You always have plenty of choices when you’re on a night out. An interesting concept in Korea is “self-bars”. These establishments let you grab a beer from a refrigerator, and pay when you leave. Don’t be shy to join fun drinking games and party activities in Seoul. It’s a great way to socialize and talk to locals.

Soju is a traditional drink at seoul nightlife

3. Dance in a Club

The clubbing scene is certainly big in Seoul nightlife. There are many big, interesting and flashy clubs in the city. People in their twenties or thirties prefer doing at least one round of cha in a club or a lounge. The clubs and lounges have a variety of music to satisfy the preference of most revelers.

The majority of the clubs have a cover charge of around 10,000 to 30,000 won ($10 to $30) while some of the clubs require you to reserve a table before going. It’s advisable that you do your research before going to the clubs.

Clubs are important in Korean nightlife in Seoul

4. Try Korean BBQ Restaurants

Try something that the Korean locals do. Before a drinking spree, Koreans have a meal together in a “gogi jib” or simply a barbecue restaurant. The common meal is usually the pork belly, which is ideal in preparing the body for a drinking spree. The pork belly is normally paired with “somaek“, a beautiful popular cocktail in Korea. And don’t forget to try ordering in Korean to practice your pronunciation!

5. Hike the Seoul Fortress Wall

Hiking isn’t a typical nighttime activity, but I promise you it’s the perfect local event in Seoul. If you love hiking, the Seoul Fortress Wall awaits you, even at night. There are many points where you can start your hike from. Mount Bugaskan area is generally the most popular. This hike can take you in the forest and up to an observation point, where you can take in the twinkling lights of the city. Watch Seoul nightlife from this gorgeous viewpoint.

visit the bugaksan wall when you're exploring korean nightlife

6. Roam the Night Food Markets

South Korean cuisine is marvelous. And there’s no better place to be a foodie than the night markets of Seoul. Apart from food, this activity also gives you a great chance to socialize with locals and try regional favorite dishes.  If you have a guide, ask them to take you on a Seoul night dining tour. Go “food hopping” around for restaurants, eateries, and buffets. And sample the best of Korean cuisine.

If you feel more adventurous, try Korean street food. It’s much cheaper than dining in a restaurant, and it tastes even better on a night out. Night markets are a great spot for Korean street food nightlife. Seoul has some of the largest and most vibrant night markets in Asia including Dongdaemun Night Market, Namdaemun Night Market, and Gwangjang Market.

7. Sing Noraebang

This is the Korean version of karaoke, and it’s immensely popular in Korea. Many locals participate in noraebang on a night out. That means you can find these establishments all across Seoul. Noraebang starts with you booking a private room for your party. You get access to a lot of Kpop and Western pop songs to sing. In most places, you can also order food and drinks. What better opportunity is there to show off those Kpop songs you used to help you learn Korean!


Lotte World has many fireworks to start your Seoul nightlife experience

8. Watch Lotte World’s Fireworks

Did somebody say theme park? This Korean amusement park wonderful nightlife activities in Seoul. Lotte World offers a brilliant firework show and light display. There’s also a “Let’s Dream Night Parade” at the same time. These events run at Lotte World from 8 pm every day for 30 minutes.

9. VIP Party Experience in Seoul

If you want to have a first-class experience at a club, consider buying VIP access to some of the city’s hotspots. With VIP access, you will gain free entry to at least three bars and a club. You will also get a free drink and three free shots.

10. Go Shopping

Fashion lovers can rejoice in Korea. Dongdaemun Market is the shopping mecca of Seoul with both traditional markets and trendy shopping complexes. The best thing about Dongdaemun Market is that this place never sleeps – which means you can enjoy shopping until 5 am in the morning!

How Expensive Is Seoul?

Seoul is affordable compared to most big cities around the world including New York and Amsterdam. While it’s certainly pricier than other Korean cities, you can still dine and wine on a budget. Restaurants charge around 10,000 South Korean won (around $8.50) for a decent and delicious meal.

Do You Need to Book a Club in Seoul?

There are a number of conventional clubs in Seoul. You can just walk into these clubs and have a good time. However, there are some exclusive clubs that you’ll need to book first. It’s vital that you do your research first to know which clubs require you to have a booking before proceeding.

Is Seoul Safe at Night?

Seoul is a very safe city and that doesn’t change during the night. Reported crime rates in the city are very low in comparison to big US cities and almost similar to crime rates in European cities and towns. Everyone including foreigners and tourists can comfortably walk at night without the fear of any forms of attacks or muggings.

This is the traditional hangover cure after Seoul nightlife

How to Cure a Hangover in Seoul

After a night out in Seoul with many cha’s and more soju than you can count, you probably need a good hangover cure. Luckily, this city has the perfect medicine for that. Koreans have also perfected hangover cures. It’s a special hangover soup called haejangguk. It’s made of cabbage, vegetables, and beef broth. 

South Korean locals often consider haejangguk as the last cha of the night. Restaurants specializing in this traditional Korean hangover cure also serve drinks, so you can have one last soju before you turn in.

Remember to be Mindful of the Korean Culture

When you’re on a night out in Korea, it’s best to observe the rules of Korean etiquette. Give respect to Korea’s rich and distinct culture. Especially if you’re partying with locals. Some Korean cultural customs include the youngest person at the table serving everyone else and accepting a drink with both hands.

It’s also vital to note that some establishments are only open to citizens of Korea. Avoid these places if you can.

And one last quick note: South Korea has strict laws against any form of drugs. If you are caught with drugs, you can be deported or sentenced to jail for up to five years.

Learn Korean to Fully Enjoy Seoul Nightlife

The best way to enjoy the nightlife of Seoul like a local is to speak Korean. When you’re preparing for a trip to Korea, speaking the language can help in countless ways. Navigate a foreign city better, receive better customer service, and find out more opportunities from locals. Speaking Korean can open doors for you in Seoul, so why not learn a bit before your trip? The fastest way to pick up Korean is with the help of OptiLingo.

OptiLingo is a language learning app that brings you results. It’s built on the best language learning methods, so you’ll surely learn Korean effectively. By showing you high-frequency phrases, this app helps you speak like a local.

Prepare for an amazing vacation in Korea by trying OptiLingo today!

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