Seoul’s Yongsan neighborhood is a unique travel destination where you can feel trendy and retro vibes at the same time. Called the “Global Village of Seoul,” Itaewon’s streets have plenty to offer in the way of restaurants and shopping centers, interspersed with historical elements from the Korean War. Enjoy a walking tour through Yongsan to experience the past and present.
Yongsan Station is close to Seoul Station, making it easy to start your trip here. Seoul Dragon City, located here, is made up of four luxury hotels and various facilities. Among the three 5-star hotels and one 4-star hotel, you can enjoy staying in a high-end residence hotel, luxury hotel, or casual hotel depending on your needs. The rooms offer views of Namsan Mountain, the Hangang River, or downtown Seoul, depending on location.
The gathering of many hotels in one area has naturally led to a wide range of amenities. From activities such as swimming, screen golf and screen baseball, to premium buffets and up-scale restaurants, you can enjoy it all here. Among these, you can’t miss out on the famous lounge bar King’s Vacation and the rooftop pool and bar Sky Beach. They are well-known as spots to unwind where you can relax before the panoramic view of Seoul spreading out all around you.
One of the newest amenities to draw attention is Seven Luck Casino, moved to Seoul Dragon City in January 2023. Here you can enjoy a variety of games in a lush, comfortable environment. If you get hungry, simply head to the bar for some food. The menu includes Korean dishes such as sundubu jjigae (soft bean curd jjigae), haemul kalguksu (noodle soup with seafood), and mandu ramyeon.
Seoul Dragon City, located in the middle of Seoul, is easily accessible due to its connection with Yongsan Station. A short walk around the area is all it takes to reach many tourist attractions and culture facilities, while connecting to public transportation such as subway and bus is also easy. If you’re coming directly from Incheon International Airport, take the Airport Railway Express to Seoul Station and then transfer to a subway for Yongsan Station. Visitors of Seven Luck Casino can also use the free downtown shuttle bus!
IPARK Mall is a large shopping mall with additional cultural facilities such as a movie theater, exhibition hall, and restaurants. The mall is directly connected to the subway and KTX via Yongsan Station. The infant rest areas equipped with nursing rooms and diaper changing stations make this mall popular among family visitors.
One spot you have to visit at IPARK Mall Yongsan is the fourth floor terrace! This urban rest space features a great photo spot called “The Mirror!” As the name suggests, a mirror is covered in a thin sheet of water, resulting in a slightly rippled refection of the surrounding skyscrapers for an amazing photo. After a photo session and shopping, head to the Customer Service Center on the fifth floor of Fashion Park for a tax refund!
Itaewon, the setting for the popular drama “Itaewon Class (2020),” is a neighborhood of mixed cultures and people. In the 1960s, many foreign legations opened their doors here, followed by an influx of foreign residents, leading to the multicultural space we know and love today. Enjoy shopping for unique items, followed by tasty meals from any culture you can think of!
Itaewon World Food Street is officially just the alley behind Hamilton Hotel, in front of Itaewon Station’s Exits 1 and 2, but you don’t have to go here to enjoy international cuisine; the whole of Itaewon is perfect for gourmands. Recently Kyochon Chicken, one of Korea’s representative chicken brands, opened their flagship store Kyocho Pilbang here. The shop has received a lot of attention due to their fun and unique styling concept using the theme of brushes. For example, pulling a large brush in front of the store will make the doors automatically open. If you’re looking to enjoy chimaek (chicken and beer) in a luxurious atmosphere, be sure to stop by!
Haebangchon’s name comes from the Korean “haebang,” meaning “emancipation,” in reference to Korea regaining its independence in 1945. The neighborhood started around this time when people returning from overseas and coming down from the north settled in the area following the country’s liberation from colonial rule. Walking along the narrow alleyways up the steep slope, you can see Korea’s history through the many old houses gathered here. These days, many of the old buildings have been converted into cafés, restaurants, craft studios, and independent bookstores, all while maintaining their unique historical elements.
When visiting Haebangchon, one of the attractions you must experience is Huam-dong’s 108 Stairs. Originally just a steep staircase for the locals to get around, the addition of a sloped elevator in 2018 has made this place an attraction on its own! The stairs have featured in a variety of programs, such as the drama “Something Happened in Bali (2004),” staring Zo In-sung, and Yoo Jae-suk’s “You Quiz on the Block.” Many travelers also visit Huam-dong to take photos of the unique ambiance to upload on social media.
Another must-visit attraction in Haebangchon is Sinheung Market. A dying market filled with empty shops until recently, it has undergone a transformation thanks to an urban revitalization program. It now features many cute shops, making it popular among the Millennial and Generation Z of Korea.
The last attraction of Haebangchon are the rooftops! Located on a sloped area, the village rooftops are perfectly suited as observation decks, meaning many cafés, bars, and restaurants feature rooftop seating. While sitting up here enjoying the view that includes Namsan Seoul Tower, see if you can pick out the different elements of Korea’s past mixed with the present. Before long, the sun will set, and you can enjoy the twinkling nightscape!
* This column was last updated in June 2023, and therefore information may differ from what is presented here. We advise you to check for updates before visiting.