SAT, JULY 31, 2021
3 Overlooked but Interesting Neighbourhoods in Seoul
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3 Overlooked but Interesting Neighbourhoods in Seoul
  • weekly, walkintoKorea
  • 승인 2021.07.07 10:30
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Street near Sungshin Women’s University (Credit: Seoulinspired)
Street near Sungshin Women’s University (Credit: Seoulinspired)

Seoul has some very famous neighborhoods that nearly everyone knows about. Gangnam, Myeongdong, Hongdae, Itaewon… It’s easy to go on. However, since these areas get the vast majority of the attention, there are also many neighborhoods in Seoul that have missed the limelight.

While these famous areas are deserving of your attention, there are also many other less-popular areas in the city that offer unique attractions. What makes these less well-known areas so unique is that they all have very different atmospheres and even cultures. Hyehwa is very trendy and artistic, whereas Sungshin Women’s University embraces Korea’s coffee culture and is full of different cafes. Therefore, despite these areas not being as frequently visited by visitors to Korea, they are very deserving of your attention.


Hyehwa Area (혜화동)

Hyehwa street (Credit: Seoulinspired)
Hyehwa street (Credit: Seoulinspired)

Hyehwa is located only one stop away from one of the most popular areas to visit in Seoul, Dongdaemun. Despite being located so close though, it’s rarely mentioned in any travel guides or itineraries for Seoul. But it should be. Hyehwa is one of Seoul’s most trendy neighbourhoods and it’s a very popular area with students and younger locals. This is largely due to the wide variety of shopping, cafes and restaurants available in the area. However, this is not to say that the area doesn’t have attractions for people of others ages too! Hyehwa’s most popular attractions other than dining are Naksan Park, and Marronnier Park.

  • Address: Jiha 120, Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 대학로 지하 120)
  • Directions: Take Seoul Subway Line 4 to Hyehwa Station, located one stop north of Dongdaemun Station.
  • Operating hours: Open 24 hr
    * Standard café and restaurant hours: 10:00-23:00
  • Nearby attractions: Naksan Park, Marronnier Park, Arko Art Center

Naksan Park (낙산공원)

Naksan Park (Credit: Seoulinspired)
Naksan Park (Credit: Seoulinspired)

Naksan Park is located on the side of Naksan, a small mountain found a short walk from Hyehwa Station. The park goes to the top of the mountain and at the top you can find the Seoul Wall - a wall that encompassed the old city of Seoul. You will also be met with stunning views upon reaching the top. The park is especially stunning in spring when the trees begin to blossom, and the walk to the top will take you through hundreds of breathtaking trees. The tracks in Naksan Park are well maintained and largely paved, and most of them can be done in under an hour.

  • Address: 41, Naksan-gil, Ihwa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 이화동 낙산길 41)
  • Directions
    - Haehwa Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 2 → Walk for approx. 10 min
    - Changsin Station (Seoul Subway Line 6), Exit 3 → Take Bus No. 03 & get off at the last stop
    - Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Exit 5 → Take Bus No. 03 & get off at the last stop
  • Operating hours: Open 24 hr
  • Admission: Free

Marronnier Park (마로니에 공원)

Marronier Park (Credit: Seoulinspired)
Marronier Park (Credit: Seoulinspired)

Marronnier Park is another park that is located just outside of Hyehwa Station and this park is famous for holding many events. You can often find art exhibitions or markets taking place at Marronnier Park. Although the markets change regularly, you can expect to find something happening at the park on weekend mornings. The most famous (and regular) events are the Philippine market and farmers market which take place every Sunday and the second Sunday of every month respectively. Through the weeks though, you can also expect to find other markets and exhibitions going on. The park also has a small playground for children, making it a great place to stop and relax for a while.

  • Address: 140, Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 대학로 104)
  • Directions: The park is directly to the left of Hyehwa Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 2
  • Operating hours: Open 24 hr
    -Philippine market: Sundays, 09:00-17:00
    -Farmers market: Second Sunday of every month, 11:00-16:00
  • Admission: Free

On top of these attractions, Hyehwa is also a great area to visit if you are looking for a taste of home. There is a large international presence in the area, and this is best reflected in the large variety of restaurants. If you are missing a certain taste then you are sure to be able to find it here!


Sungshin Women’s University Area

Street around Sunshin Women’s University (Credit: Seoulinspired)
Street around Sunshin Women’s University (Credit: Seoulinspired)

Sungshin Women’s University is another area in the north of Seoul that is very regularly overlooked. The area is named after the university that it is built around, and it’s a great area for shopping if you want to avoid some of the crowds of Hongdae or other, bigger areas. However, since the area is built around a women’s university, the majority of stores focus on female clothing.

Other than the shopping street there is a lot to explore around Sungshin. There is a very strong café culture in the area, and you can find many cute cafés with delicious menus in the area. On top of this, there is also a CGV cinema located right outside Exit 1 of Sungshin Station, a bowling alley (located near the subway), and Seongbukcheon stream.

  • Address: 2, Bomun-ro 34da-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 성북구 보문로34다길 2)
  • Directions: Take Seoul Subway Line 4 or Ui LRT to Sungshin Women’s University Station, located three stops north of Dongdaemun.
  • Nearby attractions: Sungshin Shopping Street, CGV, Seongbukcheon Stream

Sungshin Shopping Street

Sungshin Shopping Street (Credit: Seoulinspired)
Sungshin Shopping Street (Credit: Seoulinspired)

The shopping street is the biggest attraction for many visitors and for good reason. The street is most well-known for clothing, accessories, cosmetics and food. The street itself isn’t very long, and you can easily walk it in 10 minutes. However, there are hundreds of stores located along it and you can spend an afternoon here if you want to look around more thoroughly. The shopping street at Sungshin is generally a bit cheaper and less crowded than other shopping streets due to it being less well-known. When visiting the shopping street, make sure to look both up and down as many stores won’t be located at street level. The shopping street is very popular with both students of the nearby university and other locals.

  • Address: 4, Dongsomun-ro 22-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 성북구 동소문로22길4)
  • Directions: Sungshin Women’s University Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 1
  • Operating hours: Open 24 hr
    * Shop hours will vary
  • Admission: Free

Seongbukcheon Stream

Seongbukcheon Stream also runs right next to the station. It can most easily be accessed by exiting the station via Exit 2 and walking straight for five minutes. You will quickly come across the stream right in front of you. Seongbukcheon adds a nice feeling of nature to the otherwise constant city, and it’s a great place to exercise or just to enjoy the outdoors. For a shorter walk, walking in the Hanseong University direction is a good choice. You will reach the end of the stream in around 20 minutes. In the other direction, Seongbukcheon Stream stretches all the way to the much more famous Cheonggyecheon Stream in Dongdaemun! You will find the stream being enjoyed by all kinds of people throughout every season, from families to bikers and people taking their dog for a walk.

  • Address: Dongsomundong 2-ga, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 성북구 동소문동2가)
  • Directions: From Hanseong University Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) Exit 2, walk 20 metres across the plaza and you will reach the stream.
  • Operating hours: Open 24 hr
  • Admission: Free

Cafe Lips

Although Seoul overall is very famous for its café culture, there are a few areas within that are specifically well-known for the variety and number of cafés they house. Sungshin University area is one of these. It’s impossible to cover every café in the area, but one quite new but beautiful café that has popped up is Café Lips.

This café is located a 10-minute walk from the station and is rather small and quaint. While small, it has a stunning interior with lots of activities. The café is a cross between a flower café and a board game café, and the floral nature of the café combined with the activities makes it a great date location. However, since this café is full of fragile items younger children aren’t allowed, so please keep this in mind when visiting.

  • Address: 84-7, Inchon-ro 7-gil, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 성북구 인촌로7길 84-7).
  • Directions: From Sungshin University Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 5, take Bus No. 1162. Get off at the first stop and walk 5 minutes.
  • Operating hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00-23:00 / Sundays 16:00-23:00 / Public holidays 14:00-23:00
  • Prices: Drinks starting at 5,000 won

Ikseon-dong Area

Maybe the most famous overlooked neighbourhood on this list, Ikseon-dong is one of Seoul’s most traditional areas. Hyehwa and Sungshin are both well known for their modernity, but Ikseon-dong stands on the other side of this spectrum. This area is a traditional hanok village, and just exploring the streets is a treat. However, it also has a wide range of cafés, restaurants, and stores that can be explored. Ikseon-dong is often overlooked by Bukcheon and Insa-dong for cultural areas, but it has its own appeal.

The neighbourhood itself is not very large. The whole area consists of only four or five main roads. With that in mind, you can easily explore the whole neighbourhood within a morning or afternoon. It is most definitely worth it, considering that Ikseon-dong is one of the most unique feeling places in the whole city. First built in 1920, the village feels like it is straight out of history!

One of the biggest attractions of Ikseon-dong is exploring the streets. While there are many fantastic attractions tucked away inside the buildings, exploring is, in itself, a fun activity.

  • Address: Jongno 3-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 종로3가)
  • Directions: Take Seoul Subway Line 5, Line 3 or Line 1 to Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station. Exit the station via Exit 4. Ikseon-dong is directly opposite.
  • Operating hours: Main area open 09:00-23:00
  • Nearby attractions: Jongmyo Shrine, Changdeokgung Palace, Gwangjang Market

Madang Flower Store

Madang Flower Store (Credit: Seoulinspired)

Shopping in Ikseon-dong is one of the biggest attractions and the area houses some very famous stores. Some famous fashion brands are based in the area, and the Madang Flower Store & Café is also very popular. If you are looking for anything related to plants or flowers then this very bright and colourful store has you covered. Although a florist mainly, the café here also serves some wonderful and varied drinks and food. The interior of the café is based on traditional Korean architecture and is filled with flowers and plants, making enjoying coffee at Madang quite an experience.

  • Address: 33-12, Supyo-ro 28-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 익선동 수표로28길 33-12)
  • Directions: From Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3, 5), Exit 4, cross the road into Ikseon-dong. Follow the main road until it finishes. Turn right and walk around 2 minutes and you will reach Madang.
  • Operating hours: 07:30-24:00
  • Prices: Drinks start at 5,000 won
  • Inquiries: +82-2-743-0724

Ikseon Boutique

Since taking photos is one of the biggest attractions in Ikseon-dong, why not make the most of it? Ikseon-dong has stores nearby that offer not only hanbok rental, but also retro clothing. This vintage clothing rental will allow you to take stunning photos in the streets of Ikseon-dong that are truly special. Although these vintage outfits aren’t needed to take beautiful photos in Ikseon-dong, they will add some flair to your images. If you are interested in renting some vintage clothing it is important to arrive a few hours before the listed closing time, as the last rental tends to be around 3 hours before closing.

  • Address: 3F, 38, Donhwamun-ro 11-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 돈화문로11길 38 3층)
  • Directions: Jongno 3(sam)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3, 5), Exit 4. The store can be found directly across the road.
  • Operating hours: 09:00-19:00
    * Last rental is at 18:00
  • Fees: 3 hr rental 30,000 won / 6 hr rental 40,000 won / full day rental 45,000 / overnight rental 50,000 won
  • Inquiries: +82-2-747-4310
  • Website: www.ikseonboutique.com (Korean only)

Hanboknam

If you are interested in something even more traditional than the Ikseon Boutique above, then look no further than hanbok! This traditional Korean clothing is well known for its beauty and elegance. It also makes for some stunning photos that can’t be taken anywhere else. Although most hanbok rental takes place near the palaces, Ikseon-dong can also be explored with hanbok. In many ways, this will make for even more unique pictures as you navigate the streets of the Hanok Village.

  • Address: Seoul, Jongno-gu, Waryong-dong, Donhwamun-ro, 85, floor 2 (서울특별시 종로구 와룡동 돈화문로 85 2층).
  • Directions: Take metro to Jongno 3-ga. From the station, take Jongno 12 bus.
  • Operating hours: 10:00–18:30 (Closed on Mondays)
  • Fees
    - Traditional hanbok: 1hr 30 min rental 10,000 won / 2hr 30 min rental 15,000 won / 4 hr rental 20,000 won / Full day rental 30,000 won
    - Themed hanbok: 1hr 30 min rental 20,000 won / 2hr 30 min rental 30,000 won / 4 hr rental 40,000 won / Full day rental 50,000 won
  • Inquiries: +82-10-6485-8507
  • Website: www.hanboknam.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)

More Info

  • Visit Korea: english.visitkorea.or.kr
  • Writer: Ethan Brooke from Seoulinspired Korean Travel Blog
  • Website: www.seoulinspired.com
  • 1330 Korea Travel Hotline: +82-2-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, Malay)