If you’ve been following my South Korea social media posts and previous articles, you probably have some idea of how cool Seoul is. But honestly, it is even BETTER when the entire city is lit up after sunset. Below, I’ve listed out 10 of the best ways you can experience Seoul at night… And staying true to who I am as a slow travel enthusiast, rest assured that all these 10 ways are considered the more local options.
As always, enjoy reading, enjoy planning!
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Walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream
The first place I can confidently say is amazing during the day but much better at night is the Cheonggyecheon stream. Running about 10 kilometers from the west side of downtown Seoul to the east, Cheonggyecheon was a natural stream that sustained the locals before the Korean War.
Today, it’s been restructured into a beautiful walking trail where you can admire both the nature on the trail and the skyline up above. Relax here and walk for as long as you want in the night breeze and city lights.
Trailhead Address: 1, Taepgyeongno 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul
Getting There: Metro line 5 (purple), Gwanghwamun Station, Exit 5
Eat, eat, and eat at Gwangjang Market
Three guesses what’s right next to the Cheonggyecheon stream…
The famous Gwangjang Market, of course!
If you’re a fan of authentic Korean cuisine, look no further than this place. The recommended timeframe to visit is between 7-9 PM, as some of the restaurants close at around 9:30 or so. But most street stalls will be around until later. Here, you can take in the bustling nighttime energy while bathing in the warmth of stoves and pans. It truly is the best way to experience Korean street food.
Recommended stalls / shops
- Gohyang Noodles: 37.5700507, 127.0010784
- This shop headlined Episode 8 of Netflix’s Street Food: Asia. And trust me, it’s worth the title.
- Nooine Bindaetteok: 403-24, Dongho-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03195
- Try their pork mung bean pancake, it’s the best on the menu. Take it with a bottle of Makgeolli. (Korean rice wine)
Market Address: 88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 03195
Getting There: Metro line 1 (dark blue), Jongno 5-ga Station, Exit 7
Enjoy a cup of Ramyeon by the Han River
In my previous blog post about the 15 things you should do in Seoul, I mentioned watching the Banpo Bridge light & water show at Banpo Hangang Park as well. To take that experience to the next level, the local level, buy a cup of instant noodles from a minimart nearby and eat it fresh and hot by the river, too.
Even if you’re opting out of the water show, literally any park by the river would give you the nightlife vibe you need. Just don’t forget that cup of Ramyeon!
Banpo Hangang Park: 40, Sinbanpo-ro 11-gil, Seocho-gu, Seoul 06500
Water Show Timeframe: 8-9:30 PM, every 30 minutes
Getting There: Metro line 3 (orange) or line 9 (gold), Express Bus Terminal Station, Exit 8-1
Have a bucket of fried chicken with friends
- Olive Chicken
- Pote-King Chicken
- Any variety of cheese balls
And I do mean it when I said gather your friends because a bucket of these fried chickens is enormous.
Hike the Namsan Fortress Wall
Admiring Seoul’s nighttime skyline from the Seoul Sky observatory is nice and all, but do you know what’s better? Hiking the fortress wall in Namsan Park. Watch the view HERE.
Namsan is not very high up but perched right in the middle of the city, giving you a great enough vantage point. What makes it stand out, though, is the fortress wall itself. The wall and the path are lit up at night and it’s insanely romantic. I was there alone and it still felt super romantic, to be honest… Just me and you, Seoul…
Trailhead: 37.5555687, 126.9770877
Namsan Park Entrance: 37.555893, 126.977198
Getting There: Metro line 4 (blue), Hoehyeon Station, Exit 4
Take in the night skyline from Seoul Tower
Or rather than just hiking the fortress wall, take it a step further and take a cable car all the way up to Namsan Seoul Tower. The observatory is open until 10:30 PM, with the last admission at 10 PM every night. While the Namsan mountain itself may not be high enough to show you every corner of Seoul, the tower observatory surely is. The entry fee is only 10,000 KRW ($8) per person.
Alternatively, you can choose to climb the stairs all the way up if there are other people doing it in the dark. The stairway’s entrance is right by the cable car station.
Cable Car Station: 37.5538086, 126.9821061
Namsan Park Entrance: 37.555893, 126.977198
Getting to Namsan Park: Metro line 4 (blue), Hoehyeon Station, Exit 4
Admire the view of Seoul Tower itself
If you try Googling “Seoul” or “Seoul at night,” you’re sure to see at least 80% of the image results featuring Seoul Tower perched at the top of Namsan Mountain.
So where can you best look at this iconic view of Seoul?
In Itaewon. At the famous Noksapyeong pedestrian bridge. Make no mistake, this is not just a bridge where you go to snap a couple of pictures and then leave. It is right next to one of the centers for Seoul Nightlife, Itaewon, and its abundance of dinner options. So maybe take in the skyline from Seoul Tower Observatory one night, then take in the view of the tower itself from this bridge the next? I promise it’s worth it. You won’t find the iconic view of Seoul this perfect anywhere else.
Noksapyeong Bridge: 37.5347224, 126.9872012
Getting There: Metro line 6 (brown), Noksapyeong Station, Exit 2 or 3
Spend a relaxing night in Jjimjilbang
Out of all the options I’ve laid out so far, this is the most local-like one you could do. And just like how a local no longer cares what the city looks like at night, you’ll be spending your precious hours indoors pampering yourself instead.
A Jjimjilbang is, essentially, a sauna and bathhouse. Many Koreans love to spend hours at a time here after work or on weekends. And the best part? With the entrance fee of around $8-$12, you can spend the night there because they’re open 24 hours!
If you’re up for the challenge, take a quick look at the Jjimjilbang guide and give one a visit.
Take a night tour
If you have less time in the city, maybe a couple of days, there are some walking tour options that you could take to explore different aspects of Seoul at night.
If you’re visiting Seoul for the first time, I highly recommend this PRIVATE NIGHT TOUR. You can talk to your guide and let them know your interests beforehand so they can show you the parts of Seoul you’re most interested in. You can also choose your own start and finish time.
If you’re a fan of all things spooky, try this GHOST STORIES WALKING TOUR. Because there are plenty of evil spirits in Korean folktales, and the country itself has undergone a lot of horrors in the past, this tour won’t disappoint you.
Covering multiple items from this article on one tour, this GWANGJANG MARKET AND FORTRESS WALL TOUR takes you through the best of Gwangjang Market, Cheonggyecheon, and the fortress wall.
See Gyeongbokgung at night
I’m putting this item last, not because it’s less beautiful. In fact… it might be the most stunning of them all.
But you do NOT always get a chance to see the majestic Gyeongbokgung Palace at night whenever you visit. The night program opens for about 2 weeks at a time with about a week or two breaks in between, sometimes longer. If you follow this link, you will see posters of the current program and dates. The website is all in Korean, but you should be able to see the dates very clearly.
And unless you have a Korean-reading friend to help you reserve your tickets online, you will have to buy your tickets on the day at the palace. But fortunately, there are 100 tickets reserved for walk-ins per day, so make sure to show up very early and get your spot. If you do manage to, the view, the lights, and the grandiosity are worth it.
And there you have it! The top 10 things I recommend for the brightly lit nights in Seoul. If you’re still planning accommodations, definitely check out my guide on the Seoul neighborhoods to help you make a decision. The size of this city can be overwhelming.