Eating delicious food is always enjoyable, but staying out and eating late at night in Korea is a special experience that is sure to create memories that will last. In particular, the vibrant night culture of Seoul serves as the perfect backdrop for hungry travelers to fill their empty stomachs after a full day of exploring. Night buses in operation throughout major areas provide travelers with the best means of enjoying a late night tour without having to worry about excessive cab fares for the return trip. Read on to learn more about these late night tours to discover more fun and great eats by riding on a night bus!
Late night buses in Seoul refer to buses operating from midnight to early dawn. These buses are a great way of moving around town on public transportation during the hours when most buses are not in service. As of January 2018, nine late night bus routes are in operation with various timetables. Each bus route starts with the letter “N” to signify it is a ‘night’ bus. These late night buses cover the high traffic areas around popular tourist areas such Gangnam Station. The fare is a bit higher than day buses, priced at 2,250 won when paying with cash.
The alleyways of Hapjeong-dong are a hip and artistic zone, dotted with dozens of vintage coffee shops and dessert cafés. Hapjeong-dong Café Street in particular is lined with cafés and cultural spaces of varying themes, all vying for the attention of passersby. More than just cafés, Hapjeong-dong Café Street also has pubs, wine bars, and restaurants serving a blend of Eastern and Western cuisine. The mix of cultures and styles has created a unique atmosphere.
☞ Address: Area of Eoulmadang-ro 5-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Sinchon is becoming well known for delicious dakgalbi (spicy stir-fried chicken) through word of mouth among epicureans. Dakgalbi is a dish made of chicken and a variety of vegetables including cabbage and onion that is covered in a spicy seasoning and stir-fried at the table in front of you. In bustling Sinchon, restaurants specializing in this dish are thriving, including restaurants selling cheese or seafood combos and even some all-you-can-eat! With the many dakgalbi and fried chicken restaurants in the area, Sinchon is a must-visit place for lovers of chicken.
☞ Address: Area of Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
The paths along Cheonggyecheon Stream are full of visitors all year round. The stream is dotted with people escaping the heat of summer or coming to view the colorful lights during the Seoul Lantern Festival in fall. The length of Cheonggyecheon Stream is lined with cafés, making it easy to stop for a cup of coffee while enjoying a relaxing view of the stream.
☞ Address: Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
In the vicinity of Dongdaemun Shopping Complex is a narrow alley, densely packed with small restaurants selling saengseon gui (grilled fish). Your meal will pass quickly as bite after bite of freshly grilled fish and warm rice sates your appetite. The fish are grilled in advance, and lightly grilled again after an order is placed so you can still enjoy a warm meal in record time.
☞ Address: Area of 5, Jong-ro 40ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
It’s easy to find pojangmacha (food stall) on the streets of Dongdaemun at all hours, as the wholesale fashion market is open until the early hours of the morning. Among the variety of late-night snacks available, most foreigners prefer dak kkochi (chicken skewers), tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), and gopchang-bokkeum (stir-fried tripe). Dak kkochi are made by skewering pieces of chicken and spring onion onto a stick, which are then grilled and coated in either a sweet soy sauce or a spicy seasoning for a taste loved by all. Another popular food is mayak gimbap (literally translated to “narcotic gimbap” because it is that delicious) dipped in spicy tteokbokki sauce and eaten in one bite.
☞ Address: Area of Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
Those in the know will tell you that Yeonsinnae is synonymous with kalguksu (noodle soup) due to the high concentration of food stalls selling kalguksu in the area. Kalguksu is a bowl-full of handmade noodles that substitutes for a single meal. The thick noodles in eomuk (fish cake) broth and spicy seasoning make the perfect late-night meal to appease your appetite.
☞ Address: Entrance of Yeonsinnae Rodeo Shopping Street, Galhyeon-dong, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul
Lit up as bright as day all through the night, the Avenue of Youth at Jonggak Station is the top spot for enjoying Korea’s night life. Visitors can get their first taste of the Korean drinking culture at the pubs here. There are also many restaurants serving various foods from samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly), galbi (short ribs) and other barbecued meats to chicken, kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew), jeon (pancake), hoe (sliced raw fish) and more. All you have to do is decide what delicious Korean food you want to eat!
☞ Address: Area of Jong-ro 12-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Garak Market is the nation’s largest agriculture and marine products market. Fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood and other products are brought directly to the market from the countryside and sold in auctions from evening until dawn. If you’re looking for a unique experience, watch the products going so fast that it will leave even bystanders breathless trying to keep pace. For dinner, visit the marine products section, where you can pick the seafood you want to eat at prices cheaper than anywhere else in the city.
☞ Address: 932, Yangjae-daero, Songpa-gu, Seoul
Bingsu (shaved ice), originally a summer dish, is now loved and enjoyed by people year round. Dessert cafés in the area around Hongdae (Hongik University Street) are especially popular among young people for offering unique bingsu flavors that fill the senses. From cheesecake bingsu topped with real cheesecake to bingsu shaped like a snowman or sweet bingsu made from frozen fruits, the offer of charming and delicious bingu is non-stop!
☞ Address: Area of Hongik-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Sindang-dong has been well-known for tteokbokki since the late ‘70s. Many of the food vendors here remain open 24 hours so you can find people enjoy the sweet and spicy snack at all hours of the day. The shops all make their own sauce, making the taste unique to each vendor. They also sell sets with toppings to choose at will such as eggs, ramyeon noodles, mandu (dumplings), fish cakes and more. Choose your favorite toppings and chow down!
☞ Address: Area of Toegye-ro 76-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
All kinds of food are available at Kondae Food Street, from Korea’s beloved grilled samgyeopsal and galbi to Western foods and trendy dessert cafés. The restaurants and cafes remain open late into the evening, drawing customers into their bright and warm interiors.
☞ Address: Area of Dongil-ro 22-gil, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul
Photo credits: Korea Tourism Organization
* This column was last updated in January 2018, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check details before visiting.