What to do in Seoul at night? A lot. Toooooo many. Which means I always end up going home way past midnight. And I don’t even party. I don’t have to. The arrival in Incheon itself is already a riot of lights and colors, a great prelude to the wonderful nights ahead.
Of course there are plenty of things to do around Seoul during the day, but it is always the nights that I look forward to – beautiful, magical, and ironically in this busy city, peaceful. Everything slows down as the lights color the night and drown your mind with bliss.
If you’re looking for the most recommended party spots, feel free to leave. I don’t know any. But if you’re in search for the best destinations to spend a slow and breezy night, I got you covered.
It’s a 5.8 km stream that spans from Dongdaemun to Gwanghwamun area. There are plenty of entry points along its length, but the best spots would be the two end points. It could get a bit dark at some points, but there are always plenty of lovers, joggers and loners along the way, so don’t worry if you have to walk alone. My favorite? Sitting on the banks of the Gwanghwamun end, listening to the endless flow of the man-made falls, and thinking about nothing. BLISS.
Voted as among the most scenic places in Seoul, residents and tourists flock to Han River day and night. But because of its length, you can always find a spot that suits whatever mood you’re in. My best pick is hands down the Banpo Bridge, with or without the Rainbow Fountain. Once you’ve had your fill, don’t forget to drop by Some Sevit (formerly Floating Islands) just beside the bridge. Another area, Yeouido Han Gang Park, offers more variety, and seems to be the favorite spot for family night outs.
With a height of 262 meters, Namsan is one of the most accessible spots to get a bird’s eyeview of the city. You can easily reach it via cable car (expensive), bus (practical), or walking (free). I’ve tried all and I think walking is definitely the best! Although we did it downhill and only because we missed the last bus going down haha! So take note of bus and cable car times if you’re allergic to walking!
Once at the top, you could check out the increasing number of shops and cafes at the park, take a selfie with the iconic tower, add a love lock to the thousands already weighing down the hill, go further up the observatory for a 360-degree view of Seoul, or just chill at one of the many balconies overlooking the city.
This one’s located outside Seoul but it’s a tourist favorite so I decided to include it as well. Many go to Everland on a packaged tour, which includes transfers from and back to Seoul. But last time I checked, that requires you to be on your way back by 6pm, forcing you to miss out on its mystical beauty once the sun goes down. I got to experience it one winter night and though it was freezing, it was also unbelievably beautiful. My heart was trembling the whole time – just not sure if it was because of the overwhelming joy or the biting cold.
Myeongdong Shopping Street
Gotta admit, I often spend my late nights boutique-hopping in Myeongdong, collecting freebies haha! There’s something very calming about going along with the throng of people and occasionally getting free face masks from beauty stores. Myeongdong is open the whole day, but it’s at night when it really comes alive. It becomes a pedestrian-only area as street vendors flock the roads selling all kinds of goods – from bags and clothes to the most seductive Korean street foods. I think Myeongdong has the most variety of goods in Seoul so whether you’re in search for the best make-up or looking for a tasty foodtrip, this is the place to be.
Bonus, a 24-hour convenience store (nope, this is not a paid advertorial)
Myeongdong was always so alive in my mind that I never realized that of course, it shuts down too. By midnight, nothing but cleaners. In my most recent visit, my sister and I decided to spend her last night in Seoul watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones in a cafe. But no luck. Every cafe we saw was closed. We were almost losing hope until I remembered a curious building we’ve seen several times. Every time we passed by it, I wondered why a convenience store needs three floors. Well, here’s why. On the first floor, it’s your regular convenience store, with all the goods you could buy elsewhere. But it gets so much better as you go up.
The 2nd is a self-service honesty store where you can get what you need – from coffee and ramen to all other cooked and non-cook meals, then pay at the un-manned counter. On the 3rd floor is a sleek space to enjoy everything you bought below. And, who’d have thought, it even has a rooftop, which overlooks the streets below and the nearby Namsan Tower.
For just W2,600 each, we got to enjoy coffee and bread at this balcony, and finished an entire GoT episode without any distraction. Such a practical and beautiful way to cap off your night, don’t you think?
I have plenty more on my list – Hongdae with its buskers, Dongdaemun and its impressive Design Plaza, Insadong with its traditional goods – are also great for a nighttime stroll. Every district has its own personality, and it’s up to you to find which one suits yours.