Where to Stay in Seoul – Best Neighborhoods, Hotels, & City Guide

Where to Stay in Seoul

It can be overwhelming to figure out which part of this mega city to stay. Whether you are coming for work or pleasure, we have the ultimate guide for where to stay in Seoul and Seoul accommodation for you.

Only have a short amount of time in the city and want to be walking distance to the most attractions? Or do you want to stay somewhere close to great shopping or would you rather stick strictly to business and stay near where you’ll work? Regardless of your needs this complete guide for where to stay in Seoul will help you out on the best hotels in Seoul!

We lived in Seoul for over 2.5 years and know each of these neighborhoods very well. This guide will help you pick out the best place to stay in Seoul and best Seoul accommodation for your trip.

Be sure to check out 99 Fantastic Things to do in Seoul.

Table of Contents
    1. Jogno Gu (Bukchon, Insadong, Gwanghwamun, Ikseon dong)
    2. Mapo Gu (Hongdae, Sinchon, Edae)
    3. Jung Gu (Myeongdong, Dongdaemun)
    4. Yongsan Gu (Itaewon)
    5. Yeongdeungpo Gu (Yeouido, Mullae)
    6. Gangnam Gu (Gangnam, Apujeong, COEX)
    7. Songpa Gu (Jamsil)
    8. Getting Around Seoul
    9. Best Time to Visit Seoul
    10. Seoul Travel Tips
    11. What to Pack for Seoul

Where to Stay in Seoul by Neighborhood

Jogno Gu (Bukchon, Insadong, Gwanghwamun, Ikseon dong)

Where to Stay in Seoul

Bukchon

Bobo and Chichi

The Scene

Bukchon Hanok Village is the perfect place to stay in Seoul if you love history and want to see what traditional Korean homes look like. Set in the heart of Seoul, this hanok village is still occupied by residents and is a must see while visiting Seoul, and even if you just have one day in Seoul to explore, this would be our number one pick.

Walk through the winding roads and you’ll discover it’s a quiet residential area. Visitors are asked to keep the noise down to not disturb the locals. You can’t beat the view here, once you’re on the hill you can look down at the entire village and see Namsan Tower across the city pierce the sky.

Who it’s for

This is where the best hotels in Seoul are for travelers who are interested in local traditions and customs and want to feel immersed in the culture as well as be centrally located in Seoul.

Nearby Attractions

Bukchon Hanok Village is an attraction of its own, but if you’re staying here you will be very happy with its location as it’s situated a short walking distance between both Seoul’s main palace, Gyeongbokgung, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Changdeokgung Palace.

You’re also next to Samcheong-dong, a cute neighborhood great for shopping, eating, and tons of cafes and Insadong, a tourist hotspot and mecca for cute shops, souvenirs, food, and museums.

Seoul Subway

Anguk Station, line 3

Recommended Hotel

$ Haemil Hanok Guesthouse is one of the best hotels in Seoul if you’re wanting to experience a traditional Korean style home. Hanok homes are especially cozy in the winter months when you get to sleep in the traditional Korean-style ondol floor bed on the heated floors. For those not used to floor beds, these are surprisingly comfortable.

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$$ Chiwoonjung is another best place to stay in Seoul if you want to experience Korean tradition in a stay in a traditional Korean home known as a hanok. This hanok stay is a more luxurious option where you get to experience first class Korean hospitality in a prime location.

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Insadong

Ssamziegil Insadong

The Scene

Insadong is a great, centrally located hot spot for where to stay in Seoul. This main street is full of traditional shops, boutiques, accessory stores, tea houses, and cafes.

This is the perfect place to shop for souvenirs and you’ll find the streets packed with tourists every day, especially on the weekends.

As you walk down the crowded street you’ll see an occasional street entertainer and plenty of food and snack vendors. Walk through the alleyways to find more tea houses and restaurants tucked away in the nooks and crannies of Insadong.

Who it’s for

This is the best place to stay in Seoul for travelers looking for a central location, someone who is short on time in Seoul as it’s walking distance to most tourist attractions, business travelers.

Nearby Attractions

Insadong is located to many of Seoul’s top attractions like Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Jogyesa Buddhist Temple, and Gwanghwamun Square. Insadong is also an attraction itself with its famed shopping center Ssamziegil and dozens of other boutiques and museums.

Seoul Subway

Anguk Station, line 3 -or- Jonggak Station, line 1

Recommended Hotel

$ Hotel Aventree  is located in the heart of Insadong just steps away from the main shopping street. The rooms are modern, clean, and are around $60 per night and a great option for Seoul accommodation during your trip.

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Gwanghwamun

Admiral Yi Statue

The Scene

Gwanghwamun is the heart of Seoul and one of the most recognized areas of the city. This is where you’ll find many government buildings like the main palace, the presidential house, and different nation’s embassies.

Events are always taking place in Gwanghwamun Square where the iconic King Sejong and Admiral Yi Sun Shin statues are. This is also the area of protests, so be aware of any current political issues as this is not a place you want to be during one of Seoul’s organized protests filling up with millions of people.

Who it’s for

This is a great location for where to stay in Seoul for business travelers, travelers who have a short period of time in the city and want to see the most within walking distance.

Nearby Attractions

Gwanghwamun dead ends into Gyeongbokgung Palace, the main palace of Seoul.  You’re also steps away from Cheonggyecheon stream a popular walking spot and a great area to sit and rest while soaking your toes in the stream.

You’re also located a few blocks away from Insadong and just a few minutes walk to Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheongdong.

Seoul Subway

Gwanghwamun Station, line 5 – or – Jonggak Station line 1 – or – Gyeongbokgung Station, line 3

Recommended Hotel

$ Shilla Stay Gwanghwamun is one of the best places to stay in Seoul if you want to be centrally located next to the city’s most iconic spots. The rooms are clean and rooms overlook Gwanghwamun Square for under $100 per night.

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Ikseon dong

Ikseon Dong Hanok Village from Ibis

The Scene

A more quiet, central location in the heart of Seoul that’s an up and coming trendy neighborhood. This area is where old meets the new, there are high rises and clusters of traditional Korean homes in this area that are far less crowded than nearby Bukchon Hanok village. Tucked away are tiny cafes and restaurants.

Who it’s for

This is a great location for where to stay in Seoul for business travelers looking to be centrally located but a bit removed from the hustle and bustle of Gwanghwamun and Insadong.

Nearby Attractions

Ikseondong is home to Seoul’s hidden hanok island, a cluster of traditional Korean homes that look like their own island from one of the nearby highrises.

You’re also located extremely close to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Changdeokgung Palace, and Jongmyo Shrine. Namsangol Hanok Village is also near and on the other end of Namsangol is the iconic Namsan Tower.

Being in Jongno-gu you’re also very close to Gwanghwamun, Gyeongbokgung, Bukchon, and Insadong.

Seoul Subway

Jogno 3 (sam) ga Station, lines 1 & 3

Recommended Hotel

$ Ibis Ambassador Seoul is one of the best places to stay in Seoul thanks to its location and gorgeous views from the rooftop terrace. Overlook Gyeongbokgung Palace, Namsan Tower, and Ikseondong from the rooftop. The rooms are clean, modern, and around $80 per night and one of our picks for best hotels in Seoul because of the incredible view.

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Mapo Gu (Hongdae, Sinchon, Edae)

Where to Stay in Seoul

Hongdae

Where to stay in Seoul and Seoul accommodation in Hongdae

Photo courtesy of There She Goes Again

The Scene

Hongdae is one of the best places to stay in Seoul thanks to it’s younger scene. This area in Mapo-gu is surrounded by university students thanks to it being home to Hongik University. This area never sleeps and is known for its late night partying and food at all hours. This area is chocked full of restaurants, cafes, and plenty of shopping.

Who it’s for

Hongdae is where to stay in Seoul for backpackers, younger travelers, and a traveler who is looking for a party scene.

Nearby Attractions

Hongdae is full of shopping, fun museums like the Trick Eye Museum and the x rated, “love museum.” You’re also walking distance to the Han River where you can picnic or enjoy outdoor activities near your Seoul accommodation.

The nearest mall is Mecenatpolis Mall and is only one subway stop away at Hapjeong Station. Check out our post on the Best Things to do in Hongdae to find out more.

Seoul Subway

Hongik University Station, line 2

Recommended Hotel

$ Amanti Hotel Seoul has a great location just minutes away from Hongik University subway station with clean and modern rooms for under $100 per night for 4-star Seoul accommodation.

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$ Nine Brick Boutique Hotel is a great option for where to stay in Seoul in the Hongdae neighborhood. This modern hotel gives you all the western comforts and rooms are sleek and comfortable, you can’t ask for a better location either.

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Sinchon

Sinchon

The Scene

Sinchon is another best place to stay in Seoul if you are a party goer. Located just a subway stop away from Hongdae, Sinchon is also a small area that contains a university giving it a younger crowd and lively scene.

Again, the nightlife in this area is also big and there are plenty of entertainment options. If you’re on a tighter budget you’ll find the prices for Seoul accommodation to be lower here than in Hongdae.

Who it’s for

This is where to stay in Seoul if you’re a younger traveler, party-goers, or backpacker traveler.

Nearby Attractions

Sinchon is located next to Hongdae. This means many of the same attractions and hotels overlap between these two neighborhoods. There’s also a great, newly renovated CGV movie theater here.

Seoul Subway

Sinchon Station, line 2

Recommended Hotel

$ Ever8 Serviced Residence is a high-rise building offering great city views from its garden terrace, centrally located in the University hub of Seoul, and around $70 per night.

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Edae

Campus d'Ewha

The Scene

Edae is home to Ewha Women’s University and is located next to Sinchon and Hongdae. This is another energetic spot in Seoul full of younger, university-age students but with less nightlife.

If you’re looking to go clubbing you’ll have to hit up Hongdae nearby. Edae is the perfect spot and one of the best places to stay in Seoul if you love shopping, specifically women’s apparel, and accessories. The streets are lined full of shops, restaurants, and cafes and a great choice for where to stay in Seoul.

Who it’s for

This spot is where to stay in Seoul especially for younger travelers trying to stay close to the party scene, backpackers, and great for solo female travelers.

Nearby Attractions

You’re close to both Hongdae and Sinchon giving you access to all the same attractions. Ewha Women’s University is located here and has a beautiful campus to explore. If you’ve always dreamt of being a princess then you can visit the Princess Diary Cafe where anyone can dress up in a girly dress while sipping on a latte.

Seoul Subway

Ewha Women’s University Station, line 2

Recommended Hotel

$ 24 Guesthouse Edae is more like a hostel accommodation that offers dormitory rooms, some shared and some with small kitchenettes with a convenient location next to the subway station for around $40 per night.

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Jung Gu (Myeongdong, Dongdaemun)

Where to Stay in Seoul

Myeongdong

myeongdong Seoul

PHOTO BY GROOVE64

The Scene

The shopping capital of Seoul and one of the most popular and best places to stay in Seoul for visitors. The crowded streets of Myeongdong are a shopaholic’s dream. Streets lined with store after store from small boutiques to large department stores.

There’s also street food galore here as well as restaurant options. Expect large crowds all the time, especially on the weekends and evenings.

This is where you can find some of the best hotels in Seoul as well.

Who it’s for

This is a great spot for where to stay in Seoul if you’re a shopping tourist, business traveler, or anyone who wants to be located near the heart of Seoul.

Nearby Attractions

Myeongdong is it’s own attraction and tourists flock here for unbeatable shopping deals. Other than the shopping and eating scene Myeongdong is near Namdaemun Gate and Deoksugung Palace.

You’re also at the most popular entryway for Namsan Tower, the iconic needle-shaped tower in Seoul where people go for epic views of the city, food, and walking.

You can also catch one of the most popular live theater performances Nanta, a nonverbal comedy making it a hit among international guests.

Seoul Subway

Myeongdong Station, line 4 -or- Eujilro (1)il ga, line 2

Recommended Hotel

$ Savoy Hotel is the perfect place in Myeongdong and Seoul accommodation to stay at thanks to its central location in the heart of this shopping area. The hotel has a convenience store connected to it making it easy to get anything you may need from snacks to drinks. The rooms are modern and clean and around $100 per night.

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$$ Aloft Seoul Myeongdong is in the heart of Myeongdong and the perfect place for where to stay in Seoul in one of the most popular places to visit. The rooms are modern and cozy in a gorgeous high rise building this 4-star hotel is worth checking out for Seoul accommodation.

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Dongdaemun

Dongdaemun Deisgn Plaza Seoul

The Scene

Another shopper’s paradise and a hot spot to stay in Seoul. Dongdaemun is full of traditional shopping markets, department stores, and shopping centers.

The streets are busy and lined with shopping, street food, and tucked away are restaurants. This area boasts itself as the fashion center of Seoul and hosts the annual Seoul Fashion Week at Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), a modern design center designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid.

This area is full of energy and really comes to life in the evenings when DDP is illuminated and gives you the sensation that you are on another planet.

Who it’s for

This is a great place for where to stay in Seoul for serious shoppers, business travelers, and general travelers.

Nearby Attractions

Dongdaemun is a shopping mecca and DDP is an attraction all of its own offering different art exhibits, shopping, eating, and just walking through and admiring the architectural details is an activity many enjoy doing in Seoul. Dongdaemun Gate is another highlight as well as Ihwa Mural Village and Naksan Park.

Seoul Subway

Dongdaemun Design Plaza: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station, lines 2, 4, & 5

Dongdaemun Shopping Markets: Dongdaemun Station, lines 1 & 4

Recommended Hotel

$ KY-Heritage Hotel has contemporary, clean rooms and offers breathtaking views overlooking Dongdaemun Design Plaza. The view alone helps make this one of the best hotels in Seoul for around $100 per night.

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Yongsan Gu (Itaewon)

Where to Stay in Seoul

Itaewon

namsan tower

The Scene

Itaewon is Seoul’s most diverse neighborhood being a hotspot for foreigners and expats. You can find international cuisine and shopping in this area as well as a bustling nightlife.

There are trendy and hip restaurants in the area making it a great spot to check out if you’re a foodie. You’ll notice the US servicemen here as this is also where one of the US military bases is located in Korea.

There are also plenty of Seoul accommodation options in this area and is one of the best places to stay in Seoul if you’re looking for a central location near alot of the best activities in the city.

Who it’s for

This is where to stay in Seoul for general travelers and tourists looking for a nice central location in the city.

Nearby Attractions

Itaewon is close to Namsan Tower and several museums. Some of the museums include the D Museum, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, War Memorial of Korea, and the National Museum of Korea.

Seoul Subway

Itaewon Station, line 6 -or- Noksapyeong Station, line 6

Recommended Hotel

$ Hamilton Hotel has comfortable rooms and a great location right outside of Itaewon subway stop. The highlight of this Seoul accommodation would be the rooftop pool to enjoy in the summer months. Rooms here range around the $70 price point.

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Yeongdeungpo Gu (Yeouido, Mullae)

Where to Stay in Seoul

Yeouido

Yeouido Cherry Blossom Festival

The Scene

Yeouido is an island located in the Han River and offers a beautiful park, a great place for people to enjoy riverside activities like picnics, bicycle rentals, and flying kites to name a few.

This area is also the most popular spot to see cherry blossoms in the spring and where Seoul’s banking district thrives making it where some of the best hotels in Seoul and Seoul accommodation for luxury travelers can be found.

Who it’s for

This is where to stay in Seoul for business travelers, luxury travelers, and travelers coming with family because its a nice quiet neighborhood.

Nearby Attractions

Yeouido Park offers great views and bicycle rentals for outdoor enthusiasts, people love gathering by the Han River in this area and playing in the water fountain, there are Han River Cruises with meals that take you through Seoul’s scenic river.

Nearby is Building 63, once Seoul’s tallest building until the construction of the new Lotte World Tower. Inside Building 63 there is shopping, aquarium, movie theater, and an impressive observation deck offering epic views of the city. Yeouido is also home to the underground IFC Shopping Mall.

Seoul Subway

Yeouido Station, lines 5 & 9 -or- Yeouinaru Station, line 5

Recommended Hotel

$$ Conrad is a 5-star hotel with the prime location in Yeouido and one of the best places to stay in Seoul. You can expect the finest quality rooms and enjoy shopping in the IFC Shopping Mall located in the underground levels of this building.

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Mullae

MullaeDong_20150204_08

The Scene

A quiet neighborhood that is said to be an up and coming spot in Seoul. This area is mostly industrial but if you walk through the streets you’ll find a small amount of street art tucked away and hidden like easter eggs to be found.

Nearby malls make this area great for shopping and give options for eating. Since it’s not centrally located you can find some deals on places to stay if you’re looking for more budget-friendly Seoul accommodation, but with a small subway, commute to get to touristy attractions.

Who it’s for

This is where to stay in Seoul for budget travelers or anyone who wants a more quiet place in the city including families.

Nearby Attractions

Mullae has it’s own street art to find, but what most people really come to this area for would be the massive Times Square Mall. This mall is impressive in size and fairly new.

The CGV Starium movie theater is also here home to the world’s largest 35mm screen. You’re also a hop and skip away from D-Cube City, another shopping mega-complex, and mall.

Seoul Subway

Mullae Station, line 2

Recommended Hotel

$ Maru Hotel is a great affordable Seoul accommodation option at around $60 a night.

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Gangnam Gu (Gangnam, Apujeong, COEX)

Where to Stay in Seoul

Gangnam

Gangnam

The Scene

Notoriously known worldwide thanks to PSY’s international hit, “Gangnam Style,” this business district is where the wealthy live and where you can find more of the best hotels in Seoul with a great location.

In the heart of Gangnam, you can expect high rise buildings with advertisements on giant LCD screens on the sides of buildings, think of Times Square in NYC. There’s tons of shopping, incredible restaurant choices, and known for it’s posh and insane nightlife.

It’s often during the morning you’ll see people just then leaving the club after daybreak. This is a great area for where to stay in Seoul if you fancy the finer things in life and are looking for great nightlife.

This is also an area where people flock to for medical tourism, whether it be plastic surgery or any other procedure. This is where I had my LASEK eye surgery at a state of the art eye clinic.

Who it’s for

This is one of the best places to stay in Seoul for serious party-goers thanks to the vigorous nightlife scene, business travelers, luxury travelers, and anyone traveling for medical tourism.

Nearby Attractions

Gangnam itself will keep you busy with its stores, eateries, and nightclubs. Don’t miss the incredible underground shopping at the Gangnam subway stop.

Many of the tourist activities just outside of Seoul’s city center like Everland Resort and the Korean Folk Village have direct bus stops here.

You’re also just a few subway stops away from COEX Mall and Convention Center as well as Bonguensa Buddhist Temple with it’s famed standing Buddha.

While you’re in this area be sure to check out Seonjeongneung, the ancient burial grounds from the Joseon Dynasty with an epic view of Lotte World Tower.

Seoul Subway

Gangnam Station, lines 2 & Shinbundang Line -or- Yeoksam Station, line 2

Recommended Hotel

$ Mercure Seoul Ambassador Hotel is the perfect location for Seoul accommodation if you’re looking for nightlife and to be centrally located in Gangnam with a nice, modern room without paying a steep price. The rooms are very reasonable around the $80 price range and are located right outside Yeoksam Station.

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Apgujeong

Remicone

The Scene

Known as the Rodeo Drive of Seoul. This high-end area is full of designer stores and luxury car dealers, as a matter of fact, you’re going to see tons of luxury sports cars driving up and down the streets as you stroll through this area.

This is also the cosmetic surgery capital of Seoul and you may even spot a K-pop star if you know your local celebrities. Expect to be paying premium prices compared to other areas of the city to enjoy designer cafes, upscale restaurants, and swanky pubs. 

Who it’s for

This is where to stay in Seoul for luxury travelers, serious shoppers, and if you’re traveling to Seoul for medical tourism.

Nearby Attractions

Apgujeong is full of luxury shopping, but if you don’t have a millionaire’s wallet you can still enjoy the shopping around Sinsa Station where there are more affordable stores.

You can also visit Garosugil which is a cute, tree-lined street full of shops, fancy dessert shops, and more eateries.

Another attractive neighborhood would be Seorae Village, Seoul’s French quarter, where you will find bakeries, restaurants, small shops, and a cute park that has friendly rabbits that hop around.

You’re also not too far from Banpo Bridge where there’s a park and every night there is a rainbow water show that comes from the bridge.

Seoul Subway

Apgujeong Station, line 3 -or- Sinsa Station, line 3

Recommended Hotel

$ La Casa Hotel Seoul is an incredible 4-star hotel with comfortable, modern rooms. Check out the hotel bar on the top floor where you will get to see beautiful views of the city. This hotel costs around $120 per night making it one of the best hotels in Seoul in this ritzy neighborhood.

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COEX

COEX Bonguensa Temple Seoul

The Scene

One of the more pricey areas to stay in Seoul and located directly next to COEX Mall and Convention and Exhibition Center. The mall is massive and you could easily spend an entire day shopping.

Due to its price and location, I only recommend staying here if you are in Seoul for business at COEX.

Who it’s for

This is a great place for where to stay in Seoul for business or luxury travelers. 

Nearby Attractions

COEX Mall which has it’s own aquarium inside and tons of shops will eat up a lot of your time in this area. Don’t miss Bonguensa Temple just across the street, one of two major Buddhist temples located within the city of Seoul.

You’re also not far from Seonjeongneung, the ancient burial grounds from the Joseon Dynasty with an epic view of Lotte World Tower. Not much further over towards Jamsil is Lotte World, a huge indoor/outdoor amusement park.

Seoul Subway

Samseong Station, line 2 -or- Bonguensa Station, line 9

Recommended Hotel

$$ Oakwood Premier Coex Center is a 5-star resort located directly at COEX center and a beautiful Seoul accommodation option. You can expect your room to be large, comfortable, and have its own kitchenette. Rooms range just under $200 making it the most inexpensive 5-star resort in the area.

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Songpa Gu (Jamsil)

Where to Stay in Seoul

Jamsil

Lotte Tower from namsan tower

The Scene

Great for anyone who loves amusement parks all year long. Lotte World Amusement Park has both indoor and outdoor rides, a majority of the rollercoasters are indoor making it perfect to visit even during the cold winter months.

There’s also a giant indoor ice rink and a shopping mall at Lotte World. Walk around Lake Park that surrounds Lotte World in the spring to witness gorgeous cherry blossoms.

The newest addition to Seoul’s skyline is also here, Lotte World Tower. This huge building towers so much more than any other building in Seoul it clearly sticks out even miles away. Inside Lotte World Tower is Seoul’s newest shopping mall offering a great selection of stores and restaurants.

Who it’s for

This is where to stay in Seoul for families, general travel, and shoppers.

Nearby Attractions

Lotte World is right under your nose and the perfect place to take kids. Seokchon Lake Park is perfect for walking or a picnic with a beautiful view.

Lotte World Tower offers and incredible shopping mall and lots of restaurant choices.

You’re not too far from the ancient burial grounds from the Joseon Dynasty at Seonjeongneung. If you have time check out Olympic Park where the 1988 Summer Olympic games were held.

Seoul Subway

Jamsil Station, lines 2 & 8

Recommended Hotel

$ Hotel Lake is the best place to stay in Seoul in Jamsil with a gorgeous view of Seokchon Park and Lake. Rooms are under $100 giving you more money to spend on shopping and Lotte World!

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Getting Around Seoul

Seoul is one of the easiest cities to get around thanks to the incredible public transportation infrastructure. The most common ways to get around are via the Seoul subway, bus, taxi, and in some cases walking!

First and foremost, if you plan on using any modes of public transportation during your trip you will want to purchase a T Money Card at any convenience store where you can ask them to load it with money with a predetermined amount or you can load in the subway.

You can use a T Money card to pay for the subway, bus, and even Seoul taxi rides! 

The other option is to buy single tickets, which you can do with cash in the subway station at the ticket stations. We personally don’t recommend this unless you really only are in Seoul for a day.

Also, be aware the Google Maps is helpful anywhere you travel in the world but not 100% reliable in Korea as they have their own maps run by Naver. Unless you know Korean, Naver isn’t going to be your first choice for navigating.

Google Maps does a pretty decent job, but be prepared for a few hiccups as it’s not what the locals use and isn’t 100% reliable, I’d say its pretty darn close though. We lived in Korea for almost 3 years and still used Google Maps and only ran into a few issues here and there. 

If you get lost, don’t worry. You can always call a cab or ask a local, Koreans are SUPER friendly and most speak English and can help.

Seoul Subway

There are over 20 subway lines connecting you from where you stay in Seoul to where you want to go in the city and even to the outskirts of the city where some amazing countryside is! This is our favorite way of getting around Seoul because their subways are NICE, fast, reliable, and convenient.

The fares are incredibly reasonable making Seoul one of the cheapest cities to get around in.

Single Journey Ticket Fares T-Money Card Fares
Adult Ticket (19 & Up) ₩1,350 ₩1,250  
Youth Ticket (13 – 18 )  ₩1,350 ₩720  
Child Ticket (7 – 12)  ₩450 ₩450  

Note that the Airport Railroad Line & Sinbundang Line have slightly higher fares!

The Seoul subway operates from 5:30 am to 1:00 am the next day – closing in the wee hours of the morning. However, some close even earlier, so we recommend if you’re planning a late night out not to rely on the subway and get a Seoul taxi!

Also, rush hour in from 4:30 pm to around 8:00 pm, if you’re scared of crowds you might feel a little crammed! However, taking a taxi might be even slower, so just be prepared for heavy congestion during these hours!

Most subway stations have lockers you can pay to use as well as elevators for travelers who need accessibility friendly entrances/exits.

Also, if your transportation route combines subway & bus, you will get a free transfer within 30 minutes of using your T Money card!

Seoul Bus

This mode of transportation is great if you’re a savvy explorer, but it also can be a bit more difficult for most travelers as there are a ton of busses and a lot of time the bus routes are in Korean, so if you’re not familiar with hearing Korean words it could be harder for some and easy to miss stops.

There are a ton of different bus routes and this is another extremely affordable option. If you plug in where you want to go in Google maps, you’ll get some bus route options. Decide if you want to try this, its really not that hard but more difficult than the subway.

Double-check you’re at the right direction of the platform and just watch your stops and be sure to get off at your stop. Luckily, if you miss your bus stop on most center of Seoul busses, you’ll only have a very short walk to get back to where you were supposed to be!

To pay you will need either exact cash or that handy T Money Card we mentioned earlier! If you’re transfering to/from a subway you get a free transfer within 30 minutes. Using a T Money card also gives you fare discounts, much like the subway.

If you want to pay for more than one person with your T Money Card, signal to the driver with your hands how many people and then tap your card.

There are a few different types of buses in Seoul:

  • Blue Buses – Run on the main lines within the entire city of Seoul. Single rides cost ₩1,300 
  • Green Buses –  These are short routes between major stations and blue bus routes. Single rides cost ₩1,300 
  • Yellow Buses – Run through the heart and center of Seoul. Single rides cost ₩1,200
  • Red Buses – Run to the outskirts of the city and satellite neighborhoods of Seoul. Single rides cost ₩2,400
  • Night Routes “N” –  Regular routes that run at night, you’ll see an “N” on the bus
Seoul Taxi

One thing to keep in mind when traveling in Seoul is that while there’s quite a large English speaking population, not all older generations speak English and that goes for taxi drivers as well.

That’s okay though, if you know the name of where you’re going they will get you there. Or, if you want to get dropped off at the nearest subway station that also is the easiest way to communicate. You can also show the location on a map if all else fails.

The taxis are very affordable, we’ve gotten all over Seoul in a taxi and rarely spent over $10-15. Meaning you’ll probably spend much less depending on how far of a drive it is. Better yet, they do accept your T Money card for payment in taxis too!

Just note, that during peak rush hour sometimes this isn’t the fastest way to get places as you’ll be stuck in traffic. The subway can be the quickest option during peak traffic hours.

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Best Time to Visit Seoul

There is no wrong time to visit Seoul, but there definitely are more ‘comfortable’ times to visit Seoul. Believe it or not Seoul does have all four seasons, however, they are dramatic. From cold and chilly winters to hot and humid summers plus a monsoon season – if you’re finicky with weather or just want the most ideal conditions you’ll want to plan ahead.

  • Summer – (July – August) This is actually one of the most difficult times to travel in Seoul and throughout Korea, but a very popular time people book vacations, as its the monsoon season. Expect heavy rains and very hot and humid weather!
  • Fall – (September – November) This is one of our favorite times in Seoul and throughout Korea as the weather is very mild, pleasant, and you get to experience the changing of the leaves!
  • Winter – December – Mid March) Winter can get VERY cold in Korea but don’t let that fool you, while it ‘can’ get cold, some of the weather isn’t THAT cold and is still manageable. Better yet, this is when you can experience some of the most popular attractions and places without crowds. We loved exploring Seoul and Korea in the winter because of this reason!
  • Spring – (Mid March – early June) this is a pretty pleasant time to visit Korea as you are coming out of the coldest months and transitioning into the warmer months. This shoulder season is also when you can experience the splendid cherry blossoms all throughout the country! You’ll want to look at the cherry blossom forecast though as its different dates depending in what part of the country you’re at!

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Seoul Travel Tips

One of the best Seoul travel tips is currency exchange! We recommend having a travel credit card and an ATM card that you can withdraw cash easily at foreign ATMs. This will require you, if you’re not already a frequent traveler, to let your bank know your travel plans so they don’t block transactions while you’re abroad.

The local currency is Korean Won, KRW and the best way to get cash is via ATM. We recommend using bank ATMs only though like Citi, KEB, KB, and Woori are the most common.

If you prefer to go to a money changer we recommend doing this only in Myeongdong as this area has the best rates! Do not, I repeat DO NOT exchange money at the airport, you’ll get the worst exchange rates! Save your money for some of the best things to do in Seoul instead.

This next travel tip is important if you want to be connected 100% of the time you’re in Seoul! While you can find wifi all over the city, there are places where the wifi just isn’t great or you won’t be able to find it! What’s great is that Korea has really affordable SIM card options!

Choose from a SIM card that will connect you from as little as a one day visit to a 30 day visit! We actually miss how affordable and FAST Korean service is! You can buy SIM cards in advance here for as little as $5.

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What to Pack for Seoul

While Seoul is really safe and crime rates are low, it’s always nice to have This Pacsafe Shoulder Bagfor your travels which slings over your body and is the perfect size to carry your day essentials while exploring Seoul. This lightweight bag has anti-theft features so you can enjoy Seoul with ease of mind with Pacsafe’s anti-theft patent products whether you’re in a crowded area or on the subway.

This Pacsafe Anti-theft Backpack is another essential any city trip. This backpack has a patented anti-theft design with lockable zippers and slash-proof material in this sleek and comfortable designed backpack.

Avoid high tech thieves with this 15 pack of RFID blocking sleeves that doesn’t require you to buy a special travel wallet, you can carry your favorite purse, wallet, or backpack by simply putting your credit cards and sensitive information in these RFID blocking sleeves.

Upgrade your wallet with this RFID Blocking Wallet by Pacsafe is the perfect pick. Always have your identification, bank cards, and credit cards protected from high tech thieves with this RFID blocking wallet in this sleek and slim design.

One of the best ways to keep valuables safe when you travel is this Portable Safe by Pacsafe. This is ideal when you’re hotel has a safe that is too small for your belongings, with it’s sleek and compact design so it doesn’t take up much space in your luggage offering maximum security with its stainless steel wire mesh covered in a piece of cut-resistant canvas fabric. You simply lock this portable safe to a secure fixture in your hotel room when you leave. This is great for travel in general.

This iPhone crossbody case is perfect for sightseeing as you can easily grab your phone for that perfect photo moment on the fly as well as keep your phone secured to your body.

We recommend Allbirds Women’s Wool Runner as well as the Allbirds Men’s Wool Runner for an everyday walking shoe that’s breathable, comfortable, and feels like you’re walking on clouds. Your back and feet will thank you later, plus they are really popular currently!

A good reusable water bottle is one of the best things you can have in your day bag or on you at all times – cut back on single-use plastic and have a good reusable water bottle for your trip.

Don’t leave on a trip without a good power bank. Don’t spoil your fun exploring all the fun neighborhoods and things to see in Seoul by having your battery die on you. If you’re anything like me you’ll be using your phone to take photos, navigate, and post to social media while you’re exploring.

When it comes to the city, this weather is not forgiving and you don’t want to get caught out and about in the rain without an umbrella, especially in monsoon season. That’s why we recommend this compact wind resistant travel umbrella for what to pack for Seoul.

Are you a sensitive sleeper?  A good pair of earplugs are essential for your Seoul or city trip, especially if you’re not from a big city or staying in a more party centric place from our guide picks for where to stay in Seoul.

Travel Insurance is one of the most important things travelers can get. If you’re traveling over 100 miles away from home, you should get travel insurance. We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance because you can buy anytime before or during your trip no matter where you are. (See our travel insurance review guide)

Covering everything from lost or stolen documents, electronics, or if you get sick unexpectedly, don’t leave home without it!

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There you have it! These are the top areas of where to stay in Seoul and best hotels in Seoul guide. We hope this helps you decide where to spend your time in Seoul.


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Where to Stay in Seoul