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20 Quirky Things to Do in Hongdae, Seoul

One of my
favourite neighbourhoods in Seoul is Hongdae. It’s exciting both day and night,
there is always something going on and the shopping, foodie treats and party
levels are high. In short, there are plenty of things to do in Hongdae and here
are my top 20.

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Need more Seoul Travel Tips?

More tips for your visit to Hongdae, further down below. You can jump to the specific section in the table of contents above.

Top 20
Attractions in Seoul Hongdae

1. Korean Beauty Experience

South Korea is well known for ity beauty products and its beauty products are super popular around the world. There are always new products with interesting ingredients (like snail slime).

I personally really love beauty products like Tony Moly Makeup or Etude House. Both can be found in Hongdae’s beauty shops, of course but maybe you want to go a bit further.

Especially after an extensive sightseeing tour around Hongdae in particular and Seoul in general, you deserve to be pampered.

You can book a professional photoshoot in the style of typical Korean stars, including professional makeup and styling. The makeup in Korea is definitely different than in Europe.

And after your glow up, take amazing photos! You can even do that in a cute Korean school uniform like here* or have a professional photoshoot like here*.

2. Live K
Pop Performances

Are you into K Pop at all? You might stumble upon the next big idols here on the streets of Hongdae. Along the main shopping mile you don’t find the regular type of buskers.

These are proper singer songwriters, performers and group dancers. Just like a K Pop idol needs to be a quintuple threat, these ambitious wannabes deliver.

One after
the other will do their performances solo or with speakers and a group.  Performers are hard to miss as curious
onlookers are magnetically drawn around them. The best spot, by the way, is
from the first floor windows of nearby restaurants and cafes.

Hongdae in Seoul

3. Trick
Eye Museum

Optical
illustrations can be fun – especially if you can be part of them! Mess with
your own and your friends’ heads by standing in tilted corners and towering
over them. Ride a unicorn, be a mermaid, surf on sharks and do plenty other
quirky things.

Use the Trickeye app for augmented reality effects and even cooler photos. Entrance to the Trick Eye Museum* (서울 트릭아이미술관) is 15,000 WON ($13.50).  

Address: Mapo-gu, Seogyo-dong, 홍익로 3길 20 (서울특별시 마포구 서교동 홍익로 3길 20)

Sausages in Hongdae, Seoul

4. Love
Museum

Are you an adult? Good, well then you’re allowed to enter the Love Museum (8,000 WON/$7.20).

It’s special part of the Trick Eye Museum, the adult edition so to say. The museum advertises itself as “Sensual Eroticism & Art” and specifically encourages touching the objects.   

It’s a
little bit like a low key version of Jeju island’s honeymoon Sex Ed theme
parks. Yes, back when arranged marriages were still a thing, newlyweds were
encouraged to get a little education and inspiration on what to do with one
another this way.

While the culture is still very much repressed and PDA definitely not socially approved, such a love museum is seen as a fun couple pastime. Get your tickets here*.

Address: Mapo-gu, Seogyo-dong, 홍익로 3길 20 (서울특별시 마포구 서교동 홍익로 3길 20)

5. The Beauty Inside Exhibition

One of the most instagrammable places in Hongdae certainly is the fantastic and colourful exhibition The Beauty Inside. It’s made for everyone who appreciates all things pretty and loves a good portrait shot.

You can post in front of digital worlds; each rooms comes with different mesmerising projections, such as a mirror room or a jungle room. The space is not huge, but exciting nonetheless.

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Even if you come here solo, there will be tons of other people and surely they would help you out if a selfie doesn’t surfice.

Of course, it’s best to team up with a friend or find a travel buddy for the day. There are always ways to make a new travel friend – through facebook groups or when staying in a hostel, for instance.

Snatch your ticket here* to avoid the crowds at the door.

Address: 30 (Novellia Seogyo), Hogik-ro 5-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.

Hongdae in Seoul

6. Print
Socks

If you
haven’t bought a pair of socks when in South Korea, have you even been?
Seriously, wherever I went on Hongdae’s shopping streets, colourful socks with
the cutest prints would stare at me.  

Granted,
sizes were rather small but they make for excellent travel gits in case you
have bigfoot feet like I do. Plus, there was a great variety of motifs, such as
K Pop idols, Japanese manga characters and animals.

7. Noeul Park

Noeul Park is also known as the World Cup Park as it was built for the Korea-Japan World Cup in 2002. The site used to be a landfill but today, it’s a welcome eco park.

If you are looking for respite and want to relax in nature but not head into the mountains or outside of Seoul, then this park is worth a visit. It’s 30km away from the Hongik metro station, so it’s a bit of a walk to get there.

What’s more: It’s not just one big park, but actually a combination of five different parks named Pyeonghwa (Peace) Park, Haneul (Sky) Park, Noeul (Sunset) Park, Nanjicheon Park and Hangang Riverside Park.

Adresse: Seongsan-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Read more: The best non spicy Koean food to try in Seoul

Hongdae in Seoul

8. Try Pajeonyaki

Have you ever heard of okonomiyaki? It’s a Japanese kinda pancake made from noodles and cabbage and it’s absolutely divine! (Here’s a receipe.)

You can eat those in Hongdae but if you want to tune it up a notch, try the Korean-Japanese fusion version. It’s called pajeonyaki and comes with seafood.

Note that the Hello Kitty Café Hongdae has permanently closed. Also, I want to say that there are quite a few animal cafés in the area. However, since I find keeping (wild) animals – including meerkat and sheep – in small indoor spaces to be entertainment for guests unethical, I will not cover them.

9. Have Ziplocked
Cocktails

If you want to stay relevant as a restaurant, you gotta be creative and the Hongdae café Vinyl ( 비닐) definitely is.

Grab a cocktail in primary colours and watch it being served in a ziplock bag. Some are already hanging around as decoration – or inspiration for your cocktail choice.

 Address: 411-1 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Hongdae in Seoul

10. Shop
at Daiso

Ok, this chain is Japanese but it’s everything and I love it to bits and always have to go in. Daiso is basically like a Dollar Store only so much better!

Everything is super cute, really good quality and affordable. Stock up on stationary, key chains, food and even cosmetics. I cannot ever pass by a Daiso store without entering. It’s one of the best places for Japanese souvenirs.

Address: 134-1 퇴계로 Jung-gu, Seoul, Südkorea

Read more: Which Travel Souvenirs are actually worth bringing along

11. Snatch
a Super Soft Serve

Soft serve
never fails to please and it is particularly a must have in South Korea. Not
sure why but no matter the weather or time of the year, there is always a queue
at a soft serve shop.

Even during my visit to Seoraksan National Park on a chilly day, Korean tourists were lining up to take their soft serve up the mountain top.

The ice
cream in Seoul, however is a little special. It’s mega tall. 32cm to be
precise. There is another stall serving this tall ice cream in Insa-dong but why
not try it while you’re already in Hongdae?

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super tall soft serve ice cream in Seoul, Koreasuper tall soft serve ice cream

12. Nanta
Theatre

Have you
ever heard of the Nanta Show in which making food comes with song and dance. The
story centres around three cooks who are training their boss’s nephew.

The show goes for 90 minutes and since it’s non verbal, there is no language barrier. Get your tickets here*.

13.
Shopping Street

Besides fun
socks and live street music, there are tons of other shops to look up. Find
cute keychains, sample adorable print purses and stock up on Koran beauty
products at Etude House or Tony Moly.

Be curious
and stroll away from the main road, which is Hongik Street, to check out
smaller Indie stores in side alleys.

Hongdae in Seoul

14. RetroGameBar

Vending machine
like a giant Gameboy. Stars from Super Mario hanging from the ceiling. Figurines
at the bar between cocktail glasses. Playing retro table games and old arcade
games.

This is
what you get at this small bar in Hongdae.This is perfect for all retro adventure
andjump n run game nostalgics.

Address: 7, Jandari-ro, Mapo-gu, 3f, Seoul 0404

15. Isaac
Toast Hongdae

You’ve probably
been to a sandwhich bar. But have you been to a toast bar? Hongdae has its very
own toast joint. Apparently, the hash brown toast is particularly tasty.

As you can
guess, this isn’t Korean food at all but if you love continental breakfast,
this is delicious breakfast.

Address: 93, Wausan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul 04040

16. Devour
Giant Waffles

 One of the most popular dessert stalls was the
waffle house. You can easily see why because what you get is an extra large
waffle filled with giant helpings of cream and pastel coloured sprinkles and
sauces.

But here’s the thing: the waffles don’t just
taste as sweet as they look. They taste a whole lot sweeter – and not
pleasantly so. So unless you have a high tolerance for sugar levels, maybe
reign yourself in and try the next dessert.

waffles in Hongdae in Seoul

17. Hongdae
Free Market

On Saturdays between 1PM and 6PM  (March to November), you can stop by Hongdae’s Free Market for some extra special shopping.

It is then that local artists exhibit their creative work and you can chat to them about the arts.

Address: 19-3 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea

18. Karaoke

Karaoke isn’t just a big deal in Japan, Korean love it too! If you are going on a first date, it’s a very big thing. Look for local noraebang and then dust off your singing voice. A super cute karaoke bar is Luxury Su with its shiny pink singing rooms.

You can
choose between Korean and English pop songs and then pick “예약“ to reserve that song. Plus, there is free ice cream and popcorn,
which isn’t exactly the best for treating your vocal chords but it makes for a
great evening out!

Address: 367-39 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea (서울특별시 마포구 서교동 367-39)

19. Escape Room

Seoul is totally in on the Escape Room craze and you can get to solving puzzles in this popular Hongdae activity.

The Escape Room here has two different scenarios to choose between. The first “The Terror on Air”, where you enter a race against time to avoid explosive blowing up everything.

The second, called „Inception“ needs you to save Seoul from a master criminal. Both rooms come with Korean and English instructions. You can get your ticket here*.

20. Hongik University

This isn’t
necessarily a great attraction in Hongdae but Gongik University is the biggest
reason for this are to be this popular. With the campus so close by, students
are dominating the area. This youthful vibe in turn attracts hip cafes,
restaurants and clubs.   

However, in
case you do want to study in Seoul, Hongik University is where you might want
to check out the orientation programs and open days.

Hongdae in Seoul

Hongdae
Travel Tips

Where is
Hongdae Seoul?

Now that you know what to do in Hongdae, you need to know where to find it.

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Hongdae isn’t a district (gu, 구; 區), it’s a smaller neighbourhood along Hongik University Street in Seoul, South Korea. With so many students about, the area has a youthful and energetic vibe.

Tips on how to get there are further below.

Best Time to Visit Hongdae, Seoul

Basically anytime of the year is great for a visit to Hongdae. This district never sleeps. That being said, the students bring the neighbourhood to live. So if you visit during university breaks, such as between June to September.

However, Korean universities keeping their students busy, there are always prepping courses, graduation ceremonies and registrations going on. Hongdae won’t be a ghost town.

Hongdae in Seoul

How to Get to Hongdae in Seoul

By Car

Not all
taxi drivers speak English well, so it’s a good idea if you choose to take a
taxi to have a Google Maps screenshot with Korean signage. Or a Korean address
(서울특별시 마포구 홍익로
(서교동)).

Alternatively,
you can show a photo of the Hongik University (홍익대학교) entrance gate and get dropped off there. From
Seoul Station to Hongdae the price is roughly between 6,000 and 8,000 WON.

By Bus

The most convenient
choice is taking the Sightseeing Tour Bus in Seoul.

Regarding local buses, there are various buses going to Hongdae Street (서울시). You can check public transportation times here.

By Metro

Hongdae has
its own station, which is Hongik University. You can easily get a day or a
single ticket. Seoul metro is quick, safe and affordable.

Hongdae in Seoul

Where to Stay in Hongdae, Seoul

If you are looking for budget yet luxurious stays, there are many deals on hotels to be had.

If you are backpacking Seoul, try the colourful UWA Guesthouse. It has dorms – mixed and female – starting from 13 USD a night. There is free wifi, BBQ facilities and breakfast (toast, coffee and tea) is included. Check room availability here*.

Would cute accommodation in Seoul be your thing? Imagine a white doll-like house with pink highlights. And it’s a hostel and super affordable! Try Orbit Cafe & Guesthouse. Breakfast is included. Make a reservation now* – dates can typically be adjusted later on Booking if need be.

Want to treat yourself? Try the South Korean brand LOTTE and its high class hotels. L7 Hongdae by LOTTE is a sleek sky high 4-star hotel with super comfy beds. There are a lot of restaurants nearby and free wifi. Reserve a room here*.

What to Pack for Seoul

Don’t forget to pack your camera or phone to capture all the crazy cool things in Hongdae.

Also, when you are out and about taking all these pictures (and look at your map), your phone battery will die faster. So pack a charging cable and external battery. To stay connected, order a high-speed 4G unlimited data sim card* to pick up at Inchon Airport.

To shop a
few bites and souvenirs from the street vendors, I recommend bringing lose
change and cash along. Many shops accept credit cards, but cash is always a
good idea.

When you’re abroad, a must is having travel insurance*. You never know what things might go wrong, and accidents can cost quite a lot. This way your health as well as your luggage is covered.

Hongdae in Seoul

Is Visiting Hongdae for an
Afternoon Worth It?

If you are on a short trip through the country, you gotta include at least a brief visit. There are quite a few things to see in Hongdae and they’re quirky and fun. Definitely something for all kinds of visitors, be it solo travellers or families.

The vibe of Seoul’s Hongdae is just electric and you can get pretty much everthing done – shopping, food and party wise here. Plus, you might spot (up and coming) celebrities while you do it.

What would you do in Hongdae, Korea?

Read next:

Non-spicy food in Seoul
How to Rent a Hanbok
5 Days in Seoul

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