Planning a trip to Seoul and still wondering where the best place to stay is? If that sounds like you, then this is the post for you!
The chances are that you’ve already read through many posts like this and that many of them suggest the same neighbourhoods and hotels. The truth is, many of the popular areas like Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Itaewon are great.
However, there are also many great places to stay in Seoul that aren’t mentioned. As someone who has lived in Seoul for over four years now, and has stayed in over 50 hotels while being here, I want to add my opinion to the mix.
While some of these areas will be those that you are accustomed to hearing, I also wanted to add a few options that perhaps aren’t as well known. This is Seoulinspired’s list of the best places to stay in Seoul, including the best neighbourhoods to stay in and the best hotels within.
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Best Places to Stay in Seoul
Before deciding on where to stay in Seoul, there are some aspects to consider. What is of the most importance to you when travelling? Do you want somewhere quiet, somewhere bustling, or somewhere in between?
This list is divided into sections based on the primary aspect that you want. If you are most interested in a quiet area, check out that section. If you are more interested in shopping, make sure to check out the shopping section!
I have done my best to include some of the lesser-known areas in this post too. So, if you are looking for the hidden gems among the best places to stay in Seoul, this is the guide for you!
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Best Place to Stay for the Budget-Conscious
As of the time of writing this article, the best budget area to stay (according to the average price of websites such as Booking.com, Hotels.com and Agoda) is the area around central Seoul. This means Jongno, Euljiro, and the area around Myeongdong (but not Myeongdong itself).
This area is one of the most central areas in Seoul, and it provides easy accessibility to many of Seoul’s attractions. The only areas that will require more time to reach are those south of the river such as Gangnam and Jamsil (which will take around 40 minutes to reach).
This area is one of the most tourist-friendly areas in Seoul. Especially Myeongdong. That is for good reason because this region offers not only some of the best shopping in Seoul but also some attractions such as Namsan Tower. This makes Jongno one of the best places to stay in Seoul.
You will also have quick access to many of Seoul’s more traditional areas. Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokdung, and Gwangjang Market are just a few of the cultural highlights that you will find in this area.
You can also find many great restaurants in this area. However, to be honest, nowhere in Korea is far from good food.
Best Place to Stay for Culture-Lovers
If you are looking for the best place to stay to experience Korean culture, then there are a few different options. The first of which is Jongno, which is also one of the best places for those wanting accommodation on a budget.
As I mentioned earlier, Jongno is located very close to the two biggest palaces in Seoul (as well as two of the smaller ones), as well as the cultural hotspot of Insadong and Gwangjang market.
There are even more highlights located close by, such as Bukchon Hanok Village (a traditional Korean village in Seoul). Really, Jongno is the perfect area for those wanting to experience Korea’s cultural highlights.
Another fantastic place to stay in Seoul for those wanting to be located close to the cultural highlights in Gwanghwamun. Gwanghwamun is the area in which Gyeongbokgung is located, and it also features many museums and is close to Bukcheon Hanok Village.
Gwanghwamun is located close to Jongno and can be reached within about 20 minutes from Jongno. These two areas are located very closely within Seoul, and either of the two will provide you with many activities close by.
However, Gwanghwamun tends to be more expensive as it is located only a short walk from the palaces. On the other hand, Jongno is cheaper and is located closer to some other attractions such as Gwangjang Market.
Bukchon Hanok Village
No list like of the best places to stay in Seoul would be complete without mentioning Bukchon Hanok Village itself.
Bukchon Hanok Village is a traditional village located near Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul. The village appears straight out of the past, and this is the ideal place to stay if you want to experience old Korean housing.
You will be located very close to the palaces of Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, and also within a short bus or subway ride of the big shopping areas of Myeongdong and Dongdaemun. Therefore, Bukchon is a great place to stay.
However, Bukchon is also more expensive due to the more traditional accommodation options that are provided. On top of that, depending on where you stay, you may find that it is very busy and that everyone stops to take photos.
Further, Bukchon is also located a short walk from any subway station. While this isn’t a big deal, make sure to factor in the 10-20 minute walk that is required to reach the subway station.
While I think that staying in Bukchon is an amazing experience, I feel like it is best done for just a night (or two). It’s a very unique experience to stay in traditional Korean housing, but it’s also more expensive and less central than other options. For this reason, I recommend staying in a Hanok house for one or two nights, but not for your whole trip.
Best Place to Stay for the Trendy
If you are someone who would prefer to stay in a trendy neighbourhood, then I would highly recommend Hyehwa in northern Seoul. Hyehwa is one of my favourite areas in the whole city, and I highly recommend staying in Hyehwa if you get the chance.
Located close to Dongdaemun, Hyehwa is a university area and one that is enjoyed by the younger generations. For this reason, Hyehwa features many fantastic cafes, restaurants, and activities.
This is also one of the few areas in Seoul that I have found regular markets. Seemingly every weekend there are new markets taking place at the plaza by the subway station. You can enjoy everything from international food festivals to farmers markets and more.
Hyehwa also features great outdoor areas, with Naksan Mountain and the Naksan Garden located within 10 minutes walk. On the other hand, if you want fantastic shopping, you can easily visit Dongdaemun with a short 3-minute subway ride!
All in all, Hyehwa is one of the best places in Seoul to stay for those that want to experience the contemporary culture of the city. If you want to find the best cafes in the city or want to try some of the best international (and Korean food), then make sure to check out Hyehwa!
Ewha Woman’s University
An alternative option for anyone looking for the most trendy neighbourhood in Seoul is Ewha Woman’s University area. Despite being a women’s university though, this area is suitable for anyone.
The area is located near Hongdae, and that means it is also ideal for anyone wanting to experience Korean nightlife, shopping, and the youth culture. Ewha also has the benefit of being one of Seoul’s most trendy neighbourhoods itself.
Although this area is great for anyone, it is especially great for women’s clothes shopping. One of the best clothes shopping areas in the whole city is located here, and it’s an amazing place for anyone interested in Korean fashion.
On top of this, Ewha also has a fantastic cafe culture similar to Hyehwa. There are many very unique cafes located around Ewha, and the whole area just has a fun and unique atmosphere to it.
Another attraction is the Ewha Mural Village, which is located near the university. This village features many different murals that are painted along the walls lining the street. It’s a great place to explore, and one that many tourists sadly miss simply due to the fact that it’s out of the way for most people.
Being located close to Hongdae, Ewha also provides quick access to the party centre of Seoul while being far quieter. If you want to experience Hongdae but don’t want the sound and crowds that come with it, Ewha is a great choice of neighbourhood to stay in, in Seoul.
Best Place to Stay for Shoppers
This is perhaps the most common section that you will find on every ‘where to stay in Seoul’ guide. Nearly every guide will recommend the same areas – Myeongdong, Dongdaemun and Gangnam.
I would largely recommend the same areas, as these are some of the best shopping areas in Seoul. If you want the quickest access to shopping, these are the best neighbourhoods to stay in. However, there are a few areas that I have to add.
If you want to shop brands and you want the ultimate city experience (think skyscrapers, crowds, expensive shopping and extreme modernism) then Myeongdong and Gangnam are the best choices here. Jamsil is also an option, but it doesn’t quite feature the same variety of shopping that Myeongdong and Gangnam do.
Myeongdong is the most famous shopping district in Seoul and it’s also one of the most expensive areas in the world. It’s a very popular place to stay due to the quick access it provides to a massive variety of shopping.
Further, Myeongdong also offers relatively quick access to more traditional markets such as Gwangjang, Namdaemun, and Dongdaemun. All of these areas can be reached within a short 15-minute subway trip.
Myeongdong is also located close to Jongno, which as I mentioned earlier, is perhaps the best cultural location to stay in Seoul. For these reasons, Myeongdong is the most popular place to stay in Seoul.
However, the obvious downside that comes with popularity is the crowds. Myeongdong is loud, extremely busy, and for many people, overwhelming. If you are travelling as a family, or want to stay in a more calm neighbourhood, Myeongdong isn’t ideal.
Secondly is Gangnam. Gangnam is perhaps the most modern neighbourhood in Seoul and is famous for being very high class and expensive. You will find almost every chain store in Gangnam, and the area is very clean and modern.
While Gangnam does offer fantastic shopping (for brand goods), it does have the big disadvantage of being located about 40 minutes away from many of the biggest attractions in Seoul. The south of Seoul is the newer area, and all of the culture attractions are located north of the river.
Therefore, visiting the traditional markets, palaces, and many of the museums will require a trip that takes about one and a half hours round trip. Make sure to take this into consideration when considering where to stay in Seoul.
Dongdaemun is another popular option for those that love shopping, especially when it comes to clothes shopping. Famous for fashion, Dongdaemun is the fashion capital of Seoul and hosts the Seoul Fashion Festival.
Dongdaemun also offers many different souvenir stores as it is a popular tourist destination. If you are looking for fashion or souvenirs, Dongdaemun is one of the best places to stay in Seoul.
Dongdaemun is also located close to Myeongdong, making it a great place to stay if you want to shop in Myeongdong but don’t want to experience the massive crowds that exist there. While Dongdaemun is a busy district, it is far less busy than Myeongdong.
Another great area to stay if you are looking for shopping is Insadong. However, Insadong offers different shopping to the above areas. That is because Insadong mainly focuses on souvenirs and traditional goods.
Insadong is located close to Jongno and is one of the best places in the city to purchase traditional items. If you are looking to purchase gifts for friends or family, Insadong is a fantastic place to stay.
Further, Insadong is also located close to other attractions such as the palaces, Bukchon Hanok Village, and is also relatively close to Namsan Tower and Myeongdong.
Best Place to Stay for the Nightlife
If you are someone who is interested in the nightlife of Seoul, then you are in luck! There are a few fantastic places to stay in Seoul that are located very close to the bustling nightlife scene. The most famous of these areas are Itaewon, Hongdae and Gangnam.
Itaewon is, of course, the most famous among foreigners as it is known as the ‘foreign’ area of Seoul. Here you will find many international foods, drinks, brands, and more. It’s also one of the few places in the city where you can find bigger shoe and clothes sizes.
Itaewon is most famous for its nightlife though, and that’s what attracts many people. You will find an incredibly large variety of pubs, bars, clubs and 24-hour restaurants. However, Itaewon can also be very busy – especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
If you want to be at the absolute heart of Seoul’s nightlife, then staying in Itaewon is perfect. However, if you want a bit more peace and quiet but still want to be close to the action, consider staying in HBC (Haebangchon), a neighbourhood in Itaewon that is a bit quieter.
If you want to visit the attractions of Seoul, expect to spend longer on public transport from Itaewon. While Namsan Tower is located very close by, most other attractions are located around Myeongdong (about 30 minutes away), Hongdae/Sinchon area (also around 30 minutes away) or Gangnam (ALSO around 30 minutes away).
Of course, the best places to stay for experiencing the nightlife in Seoul can’t be complete without adding Hongdae. While also being one of the best places to stay for shopping and activities, Hongdae is also one of the busiest nightlife areas in Seoul.
Where Itaewon is more foreign and has a slightly older demographic (many people from 25-35 turn up in Itaewon to party, whereas Hongdae is more popular with those aged 18-25), Hongdae is more Korean and younger. That means that while Itaewon features more western bars and drinks, Hongdae tends to serve more Korean drinks.
Hongdae also has more activities than Itaewon however, and many people will prefer it. While Itaewon’s main focus is the nightlife, Hongdae offers lots of shopping and all kinds of activities. Want to visit the meerkat cafe? That’s in Hongdae. The raccoon cafe? That’s in Hongdae. Want to go to the Trickeye Museum? That’s in Hongdae.
However, Hongdae is perhaps even more busy and crowded than Itaewon. Also, where Itaewon tends to be quieter during the day, Hongdae never really quietens down – it’s always a hotspot.
If you are looking to be located right in the middle of the action that takes place in Seoul, the Hongdae is the best place to stay. You will never be bored, and there will always be something happening.
As with Hongdae, Gangnam makes this list many times. While being a great shopping district, and a great place for those that want to stay in highly-rated hotels, Gangnam also features some great nightlife.
Where Hongdae is most popular among the youngest party-goers and Itaewon is more popular among those slightly older, Gangnam is most popular for those around 30. This is due to the fact that clubs and bars in Gangnam tend to be significantly more expensive, and many younger people want to stay somewhere cheaper.
Gangnam offers a large variety of bars and also has some of the highest-class clubs in the city. If you don’t mind spending more while out enjoying the nightlife, then Gangnam is the best place to stay in Seoul.
However, as I mentioned earlier, Gangnam is also located quite far away from the vast majority of Seoul’s attractions. Being located south of the Han River (in the newer area of Seoul), you will find that you have to travel at least 40 minutes each way to reach all of the attractions north of the Han.
Best Place to Stay for Those Who Want Quiet
If you are someone who wants to experience Seoul but wants to do so with some peace and quiet, then there are a few different options. If you don’t mind more expensive accommodation, consider Sinsa. If you would prefer somewhere near the Han, Hapjeong is a great place to stay.
The first place that makes it on this list is the area around Sinsa, in the south of Seoul. This area is one of the most wealthy in the city, and once you visit, it definitely feels that way. The whole neighbourhood is very trendy, the streets are extremely clean and lined with perfect trees, and the only Apple Store in the city is located there.
Sinsa is a place that has an atmosphere almost unlike that anywhere else in Seoul. Visiting the area after being elsewhere in Seoul almost feels like being in a completely different city. At least that’s how I felt the first time I visited, and every time I have visited since then.
Sinsa also has quick access to the Han River as it is located close by. A short 15-minute walk from most areas in Sinsa will take you to the river’s edge. On top of that, Gangnam and Jamsil are both located close by, providing great shopping opportunities and entertainment.
Sinsa itself also has many shopping opportunities. However, expect the stores here to be expensive. Often even more so than those in Gangnam! Sinsa doesn’t offer many attractions, but it does have great food and cafes.
Located close to Hongdae, my personal favourite quiet place to stay is Hapjeong. The whole area just feels calm and quiet, especially considering how close to Hongdae it is located.
Located on the banks of the Han River, most areas of Hapjeong provide river access within a very short walk. Hapjeong is also located very close to Hongdae, and also the shopping areas of Sinchon and Ewha Women’s University.
This is a fantastic area to stay if you envision yourself enjoying the Han River a lot. It’s very easy to get to the river, and from there it’s easy to hire bikes, skateboards, Segways, or whatever other modes of transport that you would like to use to explore the river.
A 30-minute walk will also take you to Yeouido, one of the most popular Han River spots in the city. While it can be quite crowded in summer, it’s an amazing place to have a picnic and to watch the sunset over the river.
Hapjeong does require a 30-minute ride on public transport to reach most other attractions within Seoul. While Hongdae and Sinchon are very close, getting to places such as the palaces, Namdaemun, Myeongdong and Namsan Tower will require around 30 minutes each way.
Best Place to Stay for Nature Lovers
Despite being one of the biggest cities in the world, Seoul also has some amazing nature. From the fantastic parks that it offers to the many mountains and the Han River, there is a lot of nature to explore in Seoul.
If you want to stay close to the nature that Seoul offers, the area around Seoul Forest is ideal. Not only do you have quick access to the forest itself (which really is kind of like a forest), but you will also have quick access to the Han River, and Eungbongsan is located within walking distance.
Some of the areas around Seoul Forest also have a lot to offer. Ttukseom has many markets and events in the warmer seasons and is located quite close to Seoul Forest. Konkuk University and Wangsimni are also located relatively close and offer a wide range of food and shopping options.
Although Seoul Forest area is an ideal place to stay for experiencing nature and having a quieter stay, it’s also located quite far from most of the city’s attractions. Expect to spend 30+ minutes on public transport regularly if you want to visit attractions elsewhere in the city.
Best Place to Stay for Families
Seoul is a great city to travel to as a family, and there are some great places to stay if that is the case. If you want quick access to attractions such as Lotte World theme park, and an aquarium (as well as Seoul Sky!) then Jamsil is the place to stay. However, if you would prefer a more traditional approach, Insadong is also fantastic.
Jamsil is located in the south-east of Seoul and is only a short train ride away from Gangnam. Most famous for Lotte Tower, this is a great place to stay for families as within the tower is one of Seoul’s premier theme parks.
On top of the theme park, there is also an ice skating rink, aquarium, some parks (located outside the tower, Olympic Park is also quite close), and more. Jamsil is a great place for families to stay in. However, keep in mind that it isn’t the cheapest and that some other areas of Seoul may be significantly cheaper.
Jamsil is located on the city loop (green line) subway, and as such, it is easy to access almost anywhere in the city from Jamsil. However, travelling will definitely require time, and visiting areas such as Myeongdong and Hongdae can easily take 45+ minutes to reach. On the other hand, Gangnam, Sinsa, and Konkuk University are all great areas that are located close by.
Another popular family accommodation area can be found at Insadong in the north of Seoul. Insadong is a location that features not only some of the biggest cultural and historical highlights of Seoul but also some of the best activities.
Insadong is located within a short distance of many of Seoul’s best attractions such as Namdaemun Market, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Myeongdong, and it’s also family-friendly. The area is generally quieter and calmer than areas such as Myeongdong, and there are many child-friendly activities in the area.
Insadong also offers a very wide variety of different foods and drinks, including many sweet snacks. It’s a great place to stay for anyone that wants to experience the food and drink culture of Seoul.
Best Place to Stay for Those Who Want Luxury
Whether you are on a business trip, or just want some luxury in your life, these are the best areas in Seoul to stay. Namely, Yeouido, Jamsil, and Samseong. All of these areas are located in some of the most expensive areas of Seoul, and all of them have unique appeals.
The first of these is Yeouido. Located on an island in the Han River, Yeouido is often considered to have some of the best and most expensive real estate in Seoul. It’s the home to many companies global, or Seoul headquarters, and it is even the location of the National Assembly.
Being located near (well, on) the Han River, Yeouido also offers some of the most breathtaking views that the city has to offer. You will be hard-pressed to find somewhere with a better view.
While not being particularly close to anywhere in the city (other than the businesses located on Yeouido), it is very central and located virtually right in the centre of Seoul. That means that while nowhere is too close, there is also nowhere that is too far.
Considered by many to be the business hub of Seoul, Samseong also features some of the most expensive real estate in Seoul. Of course, this luxury also brings the headquarters of some of the biggest companies to Samseong too.
Located in Gangnam-Gu, Samseong is best known for being the home of the Co-Ex Mall. This mall is very famous, especially for its massive library (which you have probably seen on Instagram). The mall features hundreds of stores from all over the world, and it’s hard to find a better place to go shopping.
Samseong also suffers the same downside that Gangnam suffers from, unfortunately, and that is that it can take quite a while to reach many areas of the city. While most areas are quite easy to reach (due to Samseong being located on green line), it can take up to an hour to reach certain parts of the city such as Myeongdong or Hongdae.
The third and last place to stay for those who want luxury in Seoul is Jamsil. Not only is Jamsil another business hub in Seoul, but it also has some of the most luxurious accommodation that the city offers.
As I mentioned previously, Jamsil is most famous for Lotte Tower and the attractions contained within – Lotte World, the aquarium, and the underground shopping mall. However, outside of Lotte Tower Jamsil also has many attractions.
Some of the best cafes and bars in the city can be found on rooftops located around Jamsil, and it’s only a short distance from areas such as Sinsa, Gangnam and Apgujeong. You can’t go wrong with Jamsil if you want some of the best accommodation that the city has to offer.
Where Should I Stay When Visiting Seoul?
It’s important to remember that this list doesn’t include every single area in Seoul that you can stay. While I have done my best to make this list as complete as possible, there are places that I have missed.
If there is somewhere that you think should be added to this list of the best places to stay in Seoul I would love to hear! I will be sure to update the list as soon as possible.
With that being said, if I had to recommend the best places in Seoul to stay from personal experience, these are the places that I would recommend.
|Best neighbourhood for culture & history||Jongno|
|Best neighbourhood for budget traveling||Jongno|
|Best neighbourhood for luxury||Sinsa|
|Best neighbourhood for shopping||Myeongdong|
|Best neighbourhood for trendiness||Hyehwa/Ewha|
|Best neighbourhood for families||Insadong|
|Best neighbourhood for nightlife||Hongdae|
|Best neighbourhood for nature||Seoul Forest|
|Best neighbourhood for peace & quiet||Hapjeong|
Although there are many areas that you will hear about regularly – Myeongdong, Dongdaemun and Gangnam for example, Seoul is a massive city with many places to stay in. When you are considering where to stay in Seoul, make sure you don’t limit your choices to only these areas!
That isn’t to say that they are bad. In fact, for some people, they are ideal! But it is worth keeping in mind that they aren’t for everyone, and that there are also some other fantastic neighbourhoods in Seoul.
If you have any further questions about accommodation in Seoul, please feel free to comment on this post. I will do my best to reply as best as I can!
Further, if you think I should add somewhere to this list, be sure to let me know! I couldn’t cover every area in this post, and I will be sure to update it once I find additional places.
FAQ About Where to Stay in Seoul
What Is a Good Budget Area to Stay?
You will find budget accommodation options all over Seoul. Nearly every district offers some accommodation for under $30 per night. However, for budget accommodation I would recommend Jongno area.
What Is a Good Luxury Hotel to Stay at?
If you are looking for the most luxury possible during your trip to Seoul, why not stay in one of the world’s tallest skyscrapers?! That’s right! You can stay in Lotte Tower if you want the absolute best accommodation and views.
Where Is the Most Popular Area to Stay?
The most popular area to stay in Seoul tends to be Myeongdong. While Myeongdong does have its appeals, I would recommend staying in another close location such as Dongdaemun or Jongno. While these areas are close to Myeongdong, they are also far less busy!
What Is the Best Neighbourhood to Stay at in Seoul?
While there are many options, and they really depend on your wants and needs, I can recommend a few. Sinsa for luxury and quiet, Hyehwa or Ewha for cafes and the latest trends, Jongno for culture & history lovers, and Hongdae or Dongdaemun for shopping!
What Is the Best Neighbourhood for a Short Stay?
If you are looking to stay in Seoul for a short time then I would recommend Myeongdong, Insadong or Jongno. They are all located close to each other and each features very quick access to many of Seoul’s attractions!