Cocktail fan? We’d recommend heading to Alice Cheongdam. It’s Alice in Wonderland themed and in true ‘down the rabbit hole’ style it can be a bit hard to find your way in. Once you get to the address you’ll have to follow some white rabbit signs and then head through a well hidden door. When you’re in it’s well worth the hassle of finding it.
Aside from serving delicious cocktails (we’d recommend trying their signature Stay Here) it’s the bar’s eccentricities that make it so great. Bartenders can make drinks magically pop out of the bar table and the set up of the interior closer resembles that of an old-fashioned mansion than a cocktail bar.
Another of our favourite cocktail bars in Seoul is perhaps easier to find but with an equally (if not more) weird entrance. It’s located within a supposed fruit store so you’ll have to confidently stride to the back and then pull open the marked fridge door, behind which you will find not fruit, but a cocktail bar.
It’s got a relaxed and relatively informal atmosphere within. Downstairs you can often hear jazz being played while upstairs, in the evenings, there is electronic music. This bar is open night and day so you can pay a visit on a night out or just for a mid-afternoon drink.
If you’re not looking for anything too fancy then Woodstock is a great place to head. It’s equally welcoming to tourists and locals alike and is known for its friendly atmosphere. The name Woodstock gives a hint at the music you’re likely to hear (mainly retro rock) which provides a change from the ultra-modern electronic music played in much of the Gangnam district.
If you want somewhere that’s authentically Korean but not too fancy then go to Gopchang Jeongol. Like Woodstock, the DJ will be spinning some retro vinyl however here it will nearly all be South Korean. If you’re interested to discover more about the nation’s music than just K-Pop then go here for a musical education. Aside from its extensive vinyl collection the bar also serves traditional Korean food and drink specialities, which are well worth trying.
Take the chance to mix with the students of Seoul in the Hongdae district. Joons Bar has everything you would expect from a student hangout: beer pong, foosball and a great atmosphere. The dancefloor’s renowned for its excellent cheesy music, so be sure to get on it while you’re there.
Itaewon district is Seoul’s international area and a brilliant place to go for a night out. Thursday Party is one of the most popular bars in the city with expats and there’s one placed conveniently on the district’s main strip of bars. It’s open late and there are plenty of games to play when you’re there.
If you want to grab a cheap drink and meet people from all over the world then you can’t go wrong paying a visit here.
Club Avenue 535
Ready to hit the clubs? Gangam’s one of the world’s most famous clubbing areas and its big ‘proper’ clubs can be a little intimidating. Club Avenue 535 offers a good starting point for first time tourists. It’s got the excesses associated with South Korean clubbing (marble floors, chandeliers and of course laser lighting) but the dress code isn’t as strict as some in the area. Avoid wearing anything too casual such as shorts and sports-wear but don’t worry, you don’t need to be in a tuxedo to get in. The club is also known for being friendly to foreigners so you can enjoy a welcoming atmosphere. Musically, it’s mainly EDM, often attracting big name DJs to come and play. If you’re not an EDM fan there’s a hip hop section of the club you can divert to.
This guide couldn’t be written without a mention of Octagon, which often pops up on lists of the best clubs in the world. You’re likely to have to queue a little while to get in but once you do there’s plenty to explore: it’s home to 2 storeys, private VIP bunkers and a swimming pool. Plus a glass elevator in the centre of the club, to take you between the floors. You have a wide choice for music at Octagon with various rooms playing genres including pop, EDM and hip hop. As with most of the clubs in Gangnam, avoid wearing anything too casual when you’re heading there. Octagon is about as far as you can get from a dive bar, so don’t expect cheap drinks!