I believe that every place in Seoul has a special thing to offer. But for first timers, this may also mean an additional struggle of deciding where exactly to stay.
To help you out, I’m listing the top three areas that I feel are the best options for anyone who wants to maximize their trip in Seoul. Here goes:
This is my top one for several reasons. First, it is near the shopping district. Knowing myself and my mom, I knew immediately that this spot is the best choice for us.
If you want a place where skincare/makeup products, shoes, clothes, and street food are accessible by foot, don’t hesitate to book a hotel in this area.
Second of all, this is in the center of Seoul. It’s 2 stations away from Seoul station and a few transfers away from the other lines.
Lastly, if you’re a KPOP fan then this is your haven. There are shops in Myeongdong station which sell reasonably priced KPOP albums and memorabilias. One of the exits in the station even lead to Lotte Young Plaza another haven for KPOP fans.
In short, if you want to be near the center of it all–choose Myeongdong.
Top budget pick: Namsan Guesthouse 5
- Price: P2,565 or $51 per night for (UPDATE: Price increased to P4,399 or $88 when I checked on Booking)
- Breakfast: Free
- Distance from Subway: 5-min walk to Myeongdong Station
- Why we liked it: Our room was very spacious. We had four single beds, two aircons and two bathrooms! We also had a tv but we rarely used this because everything was in Korean. There’s a separate router per room and internet speed was decent (our pocket wifi rented through Klook was better at times though). You can change towels as needed by getting from the unlimited stash near the check-in counter. You can cook your own food, use the shared refrigerator, wash and iron clothes, try the hanbok and enjoy the view of Namsan in the rooftop. But the true reason why we loved it is because it is so near Myeongdong shopping street! Also check out the rest of Namsan Guesthouses.
- What we didn’t like: This is not exactly a deal-breaker but since it’s located in a “mountainside”, we had to endure the uphill slope getting to the guesthouse even after a long tiring day.
Mid-range: Loisir Hotel Seoul Myeongdong (P5,767 or $115 per night for 2 pax)
Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel Seoul (P16,035 or $320 per night for 2 pax)
Much like Myeongdong, Hongdae is buzzing with activity all day long. While Myeongdong is known for cosmetics shopping, Hongdae is filled with tons of restaurants catering to every need.
We went here on a Friday night and immediately saw how different it is from other parts of the city. For one, this is their university area so people here are on the younger side. There were tons of activities: people busking and dancing in the streets, shopping, and enjoying their Friday night out. Streetfood here are cheaper compared to Myeongdong and there’s a shopping lane near EWHA Women’s University great deals that fit the budget of university students and offers so many fashionable items.
If you want to explore Seoul’s food scene and experience its bustling and “youthful” vibe –stay in Hongdae.
Top budget pick: Patio 59 Hongdae
- Price: P2,591.60 or $51 per night for 4
- Breakfast: Not included per Booking.com but host confirmed that bread, milk, jam, butter, and juice are provided free of charge
- Distance from Subway: 5-min walk to Myeongdong Station
- Why it’s good: You won’t run out of things to do or places to eat at because the guesthouse is only a few minutes walk to Hongik University and Hapjeong station. Shopping areas and street food are just around the corner. Good value for money.
- What we didn’t like: Bathroom can be cleaner. Food selection could also be improved. Also, it will be great to have a remote control for the aircon for easy access.
Mid-range: Amanti Hotel Seoul (P6,230 or $124 per night for 2 pax)
Luxury: The Westin Chosun Hotel Seoul (P14,976 or $300 per night for 2 pax)
Unlike the first two, Insadong is more fit to the culturally-inclined people as it is near the palaces and of course, Bukchon Hanok Village and Samcheong-dong. If I were to go back to Seoul, I might pick this area only because of Samcheong-dong.
Ahh, I loved the scenic neighborhood and the quaint afternoon calm. I might even go as far as to call this hippie. It’s a mix of extravagant food offerings, homegrown boutiques, budget restaurants and is the least touristy among the places we visited in central Seoul. However, among the three areas, prices of accommodation in Insadong is on the pricier side.
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Seoul but want to soak in the beauty of Korea’s culture, this is the best area for you.
Top budget pick: Star Hostel Insadong
- Price: P4,149 or $83 per night for 4 pax
- Breakfast: Yes, but bread, jam, peanut butter and cereal only.
- Distance from Subway: 3-min walk to Jong-no 3 (sam)-ga station
- Why it’s good: Comfortable and homey. The place is also well-kept so no issues on cleanliness. Super near the subway station so other areas in Seoul are easily accessible. Walking distance to known tourists’ favorites such as Jongmyo Shrine, Cheonggyecheon stream and Ssamzi-gil.
- What we didn’t like: The room is bit small so it might not be the most comfortable especially if you have huge luggage. Also, it might be a struggle to find the exact location of the hostel at first so make sure to ask for specific instructions from the owner.
Mid-range: Orakai Insadong Suites (P8,304 or $166 per night for 2 pax)
Luxury: Millennium Seoul Hilton (P12,856 or $257 per night for 2 pax)
In the end, it’s really not a big deal which area you pick as there are tons of options for every budget. And while not all attractions are within walking distance from each other, the subway makes everywhere and everything within reach.
Need more suggestions? Leave me a comment below and I’ll see what I can do for you. Have fun!