When preparing for a wild night out in Seoul, the first thing to contemplate is which party scene to tackle. There are 3 major nightlife hotspots in Seoul (Gangnam, Hongdae, and Itaewon). All three areas are distinctly different in terms of atmosphere, age range, price range and music.
Gangnam is the land of EDM music, flashing lights, and wild nights. Some of the most high profile, and well-known clubs are in this neighborhood. It is the most expensive neighborhood in terms of bars and nightclubs.This area is also the pickiest, in terms of entry for non-Korean tourists. If you are a traveler without a Korean identification card, the large clubs might require a passport. It’s also best to play it safe with the dress code, and dress to impress. For the basics, no sneakers, open toe shoes, or sweats.
Some clubs in Gangnam are known for not admitting foreigners at all. They may have a “no foreigners” sign posted outside or a “must speak Korean to enter” sign. Some of the larger clubs may be picky when admitting people in terms of race, the nationality on your passport, clothing style or weight. You won’t know until you get to the door, and it may depend on the specific bouncer. Some large clubs have an entry fee (for foreigners, or for everyone in general), so it’s best to find out the details before you arrive. Entry into certain places may be free before 11 pm, and there is free entry on certain dates if you’re in touch with a promoter. Showing up before 11 pm will be the easiest way to ensure entry into a club, or entry with low or no cost.
Hongdae is the most liberal area, and most of the local crowd consists of University students, or recent graduates. This is where you’ll find the largest hip hop scene. The Hongdae fashion style is the most diverse, so most establishments have no dress code. In fact, you will see most of the clubbers wearing sportswear, or hip hop style clothing. Most locations are easy to get into with no fee at all, or at least free entry for girls. If it’s a slow day, the free entry may come with a free drink. To catch the deals, you’ll have to pay attention to the promoters outside. Be aware that some “free entry & free drink tickets” may come with conditions as to how long you must stay inside the club/bar.
If there is an entry fee it generally ranges from 10,000 won to 20,000 won. For the very few clubs that don’t admit foreigners or require payment for foreigners, there is usually a sign outside. You will only need a passport for the largest 2 clubs in this area. Some of the clubs stay open until even 9 am in this area. Otherwise an I.D with a photo and birthday will suffice. This area is full of fun dive bars, cheap drinks, and a diverse crowd. There is even an outdoor park (Hongdae Park) where many locals (Koreans and Westerners), and travelers meet while drinking outdoors.
Read More: Nightlife in Hongdae
Itaewon is well-known as the International neighborhood. It’s full of bars, restaurants and clubs with international themes, food or music. The streets are usually crowded, and packed with people from all around the world. There are many hidden gems in this area, with all different types of music. Most of the bars and clubs have free entry, and if that isn’t the case, the promoters outside may be offering free entry before 11 pm. Many street promoters also offer free drink tickets to girls. Most establishments in this neighborhood don’t require a passport. Any identification should be sufficient. Most of the bars or clubs in this area have at least one or two english speaking workers. Although South Korea is very conservative, you can even find a few gay bars on the back streets of this area.
Read More: Exploring Itaewon at Night
Seoul is one of the most fun, and wildest locations for nightlife, and very easy to navigate. You can literally party until sunrise. It’s best to know as much as possible before you go out, so you can make the most of the night.