Gangnam [dead link] (강남) is the central district of the southern half of Seoul. Though Jongno and Jung to the north may claim to be the center of Seoul, in many ways Gangnam is the true center, of both Seoul and the entire country. This district has become famous worldwide due to South Korean singer Psy's hit song "Gangnam Style".
Believe it or not, fifty years ago this entire area was rice paddies and pear farms. Everything you see here has been built since then, the construction mirroring South Korea's rapid economic rise.
The former spelling the area's name, Kangnam, may still be seen in many addresses.
The other half of the Greater Gangnam Area is Seocho (서초), which is an upscale residential area and home to the headquarters of the electronics giant Samsung.
Gangnam in and of itself is large enough to split into two main districts, Apgujeongdong and Cheongdamdong to the north, and Gangnam/Tehranro/Samseongdong to the south.
Apgujeongdong and Cheongdamdong are both by the Han River, and earn the distinction of being perhaps the richest neighborhoods in all of Korea. Posh cafes, brand name handbags, Mercedes and Porsches, ritzy department stores, and rows upon rows of luxury brand clothing stores characterize this neighborhood. Unsurprisingly, many of Korea's movie stars and singers make their home here, and are occasionally spotted enjoying some Patbingsu or sporting new sunglasses. There is also a sizable nightlife scene here, though it is relatively laid back compare to the chaos that is Hongdae and Sinchon. Most of it caters to upper-class Korean teenagers and young adults. Strangely enough, the apartment buildings here look no different from the rest of the city; if anything, the apartment buildings here are some of the oldest and shabbiest looking. This can be explained by the fact that the upper-class elite who reside here are fiercely opposed to new renovations and expansions, as they fear an influx of new residents will drive housing prices down and make the area unbearably crowded.
Tehranro, in stark contrast, is a long avenue with many glass skyscrapers running along both sides. Nicknamed "Tehranro Valley", after Silicon Valley, most of Korea's hi-tech companies are headquartered here, such as Naver and Samsung. The east end of Tehranro is Samseong Station, which has COEX and Bongeun Temple. Seolleung Station, in the center, has a park with some ancient royal tombs. The west end of Tehranro is Gangnam Station, the busiest subway station in the country. The station opens onto Gangnamro, a futuristic avenue that is bursting with modern skyscrapers, high-end shopping (though not quite as high-end as Apgujeongdong), cafes, bars, restaurants, huge television screens, neon advertisements, and thousands of pedestrians drinking it all in. Strangely overlooked by many tourists and the Seoul Government as a tourist attraction, Gangnamro truly epitomizes the modern, hi-tech country Korea has become in the past 60 years.
Further south, along the Yangjae stream, the area becomes much quieter, with mostly residential tower blocks, parks, and schools. Many families move here to be near cram schools seen as essential to educational success and social advancement.
On the far west end of Seocho-gu is a low-rise, wealthy enclave called Seorae Village. The restaurants, businesses, and schools here are oriented to French expats, but also draw many local visitors.
Many "limousine" bus routes operate direct service from Incheon and Gimpo airports to locations throughout Gangnam-gu and Seocho-gu. These "limousine" buses tend to be very spacious and comfortable. Inform the staff at the airport ground transportation zone of your specific destination, and they can probably find you a bus that takes you very close to there. You can likely return to the airport on this very route as well.
COEX mall at Samseong station houses the 1 City Airport Terminal ("CALT"), which also provides direct bus service back to the airport. Several airlines operate check-in counters at this bus terminal, allowing you to check in to your flight, drop off luggage, and pass immigration checks prior to boarding the bus. Once at the airport, you can use a special express entrance to bypass the immigration check.
The 2 Express Bus Terminal is a sprawling transit complex on the north side of Seocho-gu. It serves long-distance routes to all parts of the country, but primarily in the southeast direction towards Busan. Across the street, Central City Terminal serves more routes to the southwest. Both terminals are connected by a vast underground concourse, which also links with subway lines 3, 7, and 9. To the south, the much humbler 3 Nambu Bus Terminal (line 3) serves several intercity routes.
4 Gangnam Station acts as a de facto bus terminal, connecting line 2 to many street-level bus stops serving routes to Gyeonggi province. 5 Yangjae Station serves the same purpose for line 3.
Dozens of Seoul bus routes begin, end, or pass through the Gangnam-Seocho area, which is designated area 4 in the route numbering system. Look for blue and green buses with route numbers with 4 as the first or second digit (e.g. 472). Numerous rapid routes (red buses) also connect the area to suburbs and neighboring cities; check a transit app or bus maps for options.
Gangnam-gu and Seocho-gu are well-served by dozens of subway stations and multiple lines: 2, 3, 7, 9, Shin-Bundang, and Suin-Bundang. Generally, lines 2, 7, and 9 run east-west while the Shin-Bundang and Suin-Bundang lines run north-south, with line 3 nearly circumscribing Gangnam-gu. Major transfer hubs include Express Terminal Station (3/7/9), Gangnam Station (2/Shin-Bundang), and 6 Seoul Nat'l University of Education (2, 3). The Bundang lines connect to parts of the Bundang satellite city in the southeast, but continue as far as Suwon to the south and Incheon to the west.
7 Suseo station (lines 3 and Suin-Bundang), in the southeast corner of Gangnam-gu, provides high-speed rail service via the SRT train to major cities throughout the country, including Busan, Gwangju, and destinations en route.
Two high-speed commuter rail lines (called GTX-A and GTX-C) are under construction that will connect the area to cities throughout Gyeonggi province, with a massive terminal planned near COEX that will also link Samseong Station (line 2) and Bongeunsa Station (line 9).
The Gyeongbu expressway enters Seoul at the south end of Seocho-gu, with access at multiple interchanges and exits as it passes between Seocho-gu and Gangnam-gu up to where it meets the Han River. The Olympic expressway runs alongside the Han River on the northern boundaries of both boroughs. It connects with the elevated Tancheon expressway, along the eastern boundary of Gangnam-gu.
Despite the wide avenues, traffic congestion in this part of Seoul can be just as bad as the rest of the city, even late at night. Public transportation will usually be the fastest way to get in and out.
- 1 Bongeun Temple (봉은사, 奉恩寺), 73 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, ☏ +82 507-1429-4800. Traditionally an important Buddhist temple with rich history in a rural outskirt of old Seoul, the temple is now the biggest, richest, and the most visited temple in Seoul as the area near the temple, Gangnam, transformed from rice field backwater in 80s to the most ritzy and opulent borough in South Korea. The temple has an impressive array of Buddhist buildings and sculptures, and it provides a quiet resting and pray place to tourists and locals alike in middle of skyscrapers and shopping miles. free. You can get off at Bongeunsa Station using Line 9 and if you use Line 2, you can get there by walking about 5 minutes from Samsung Station.
- 2 COEX (Metro Line 2, Samseong Station/ Metro Line 9, Bongeunsa station), ☏ +82 2-6000-0114. This state-of-the-art complex combines a massive underground mall, luxury hotels, office towers, convention center, and international trade center. Parts of the mall have aged considerably since its debut, but it still features mid-to-upscale shopping, entertainment, and Korean and Western food options. Popular attractions here include the COEX Aquarium, Starfield Library with its towering bookshelves in central atrium, and K-POP Square outside the southeast corner of the mall (a huge digital billboard shows 3d animations every 30 minutes; these can be quite impressive and draw a crowd of spectators). Yearly conventions at the COEX include online gaming conventions (such as the popular Korean-originated MMORPG Lineage), anime conventions, and auto shows. It is possible to spend the entire day in this covered mall without setting foot outside, which can be a blessing if very bad weather hits outside.
- 3 Seoul Art Center. 700 Seocho-dong, Gangnam-gu, (line 3 Nambu Bus Terminal stn). This arts complex contains multiple performing arts and museum exhibition spaces, showcasing Korean traditional art as well as modern works.
- 4 Yangjae Citizen's Forest, 서울 서초구 매헌로 99 (Sinbudang Line, Yangjae Citizen's Forest Station), ☏ +82 2-575-3895. On the southern end of Gangnam Street is this large public park featuring playgrounds, performance spaces, sculpture gardens, and over 106,600 trees. It's a very popular picnic spot for young students and photographers. A little out of the way, but accessible by commuter rail, and it's a nice way to escape the hustle and bustle of Gangnam.
- 5 [dead link] Seonjeongneung Royal Tombs (선정릉), 1, Seolleung-ro 100-gil, 특별시 강남구 선릉로100길 1 (삼성동) (Seolleung Station, Exit 8). Mar - Oct: 06:00-21:00; Nov - Feb: 06:30-21:00 (closed Mondays). Tranquil park in the middle of Gangnam with the burial mounds of two kings and a queen from the Joseon dynasty. You can reach the Seonjeongneung Station via Line 9 and Bundang Line.
- 6 Banpo Hangang Park (Express Terminal Station, connect by bus or taxi). Section of the Han River Park near the Banpo Bridge. The double-decker bridge has become an attraction itself, with the lower deck opening bike and pedestrian access close to the water (sometimes shutting down to automobiles altogether) and the upper deck featuring LED-lit fountain shows in the evening. These shows can best be viewed from the riverbank, which also hosts bike rentals, a water taxi dock, picnic areas, and a night market in the warmer months. Three artificial floating islands called Sebitseom are on the west side of the bridge, containing exhibition spaces and dining options.
- Park Club Spa & Fitness Centre, Park Hyatt Seoul Hotel, 995-14 Daechi 3 - dong Gangnam - gu, ☏ +82 2 2016 1234, email@example.com.
- 1 [dead link] bitmex (Metro line #2, Samseong Station). This branch is attached to the COEX shopping complex. The casinos are only accessible to foreigners (it is illegal for Korean citizens to gamble), so remember to bring your passport. Various card tables and slots are available to play. There is a bar and cafe that serve food and drinks, although expensive.
- [dead link] Son's Home (손즈홈) (Yeoksam Station, Exit 3. Five minute walk), ☏ +82 2 562 6829. 10:30-13:30, 17:00-20:00 (hroups of at least 5 only); closed W. Son's Home specializes in teaching kimchi preparation. Lessons are ₩70,000, ₩60,000 children under 15.
- 2 World Comic Convention (Comic World) (Metro Line 3, Hangyeoul station). Roughly every other month, the SETEC convention center hosts Seoul's World Comic con Festival. Admission is ₩4,000 but the inside is rather bland unless you are extremely familiar with Japanese and Korean anime. Your best bet is to go during convention hours and mingle with the crowds of Korean teenagers in elaborate cosplay costumes dressed as their favorite anime characters. Most are excited to see foreigners and very glad to have their pictures taken. As mentioned, this convention only takes place once every two months, so check the website (Korean only) to make sure it will be in session while you are in Seoul.
Apgujeong (압구정), widely known as "The Beverly Hills of Seoul" is the land of luxury, brand name goods. International brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci and Prada sit alongside Korean designer brands.
- 1 Hyundai Department Store, 429 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu (subway line 3 Apgujeong), ☏ +82 2 547-2233. Daily 10:30-20:00. Main store of well-known department store chain.
- Galleria, 515 Apgujeong-dong, Gangnam-gu. A very popular upscale department store. Just several blocks away from Hyundai Department Store.
Near the 2 Cheongdam Intersection lies the heart of the Korean shoe scene. Cutting edge shoe shops include Sue Comma Bonnie, Hyaang, Heels and Namuhana.
Famous for its designer clothing boutiques and unique galleries, 8 Garuso-gil (가로수 길) is definitely worth a visit. As the main street is adorned by ginkgo trees, the meaning of its name, tree-lined street, is quite literal. Stores of international clothing brands, Korean designers, ateliers, cafés, and restaurants co-exist in this about 750m long street in Sinsa-dong. The easiest way to get to Garuso-gil is by taking the subway to 9 Sinsa station (Exit 8) or 10 Apgujeong station (Exit 5), both being stations of Line 3.
- Hanwoori (한우리), 304, Dosan-daero, Gangnam-gu 특별시 강남구 도산대로 304 (논현동) (south of Apgujung, You can get here through Exit 3 of Gangnam-gu Office Station). An upper-end Korean restaurant that specializes in the Korean version of Shabu-shabu, which is a boiling pot to which you throw in vegetables and very thin slices of meat. Their menu is extensive and while their atmosphere may not be cutting-edge, it is classy and clean.
- Le Pied de Cochon (르 코숑), Dogok-dong 419 Gangnam-gu (Meabong 매봉 Station, line 3 exit 4, cross overpass, turn left), ☏ +82 2 577-8503, +82 10 6336-8724. 11:00-01:00. A French restaurant specialised in pastas, pork meat and Rosé wine. Come here to try the "Pied" with a glass of wine. Pastas are around ₩7000 and set menus can run over ₩30,000.
- Samwon Garden, 623-5 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, ☏ +82 2-548-3030. 12:00-22:00. One of the best places in Seoul for Korean-style grilled meat. Lunch menus are recommended for those meat lovers on budget. For dinners, make reservations to avoid disappointment.
- Brick Oven New York Pizza (브릭 오븐 뉴욕 피자), 617-4, 2nd Floor, Yeoksam-Dong, Gangnam-gu (Gangnam Station Exit 4 or Sinnonhyeon Station Exit 5, turn up the hill on the street that is NOT perpendicular to the main road), ☏ +82 2-508-1325. 12:00-10:00. One of the best if not the best place pizza place in Seoul. On the way up the hill you will see some Chicago-style places as well. Pizzas from ₩23,000 up to ₩49,000.
- Jacoby's Burger, 643-28, Sinsa-Dong, Gangnam-gu (near Rodeo: walking south from Galleria Department Store, turn right at Tom N Toms and keep going), ☏ +82 2-548-0433. 12:30-12:00. Probably the best $25 cheeseburgers in Seoul, one of the last trendy places in this part of Apgujeong. Simple cheeseburgers from ₩10,000, but expect to pay at least ₩20,000 per person.
- Coreanos Kitchen (코레아노스키친), 강남구 신사동 657-11 B1 (657-11 B1 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu) (from Apgujeong Rodeo station, exit 5, turn right on Rodeo street, about 200 meters later it's on your left, in the basement), ☏ +82 2-547-4427. 11.30-3; 5-10. Korean-Mexican fusion. Kimchi burritos, Kimcheese Nachos, Galbi Tacos. The guys who run this place have created some interesting and delicious food, and you'll pay for it. Plan to spend at least ₩15,000 per person..
Apgujeong (압구정) is the upmarket area of Seoul. Walk around the streets and you'll see teenagers valet parking their new Benz or Audi, strutting their new designer threads, and looking generally, well, rich. That said, a lot of people who party here aren't necessarily rich and live far away. Apgujeong is rather subdued when it comes to nightlife though it has a few posh clubs and bars. Places where valet is unavailable are unlikely to be great hits traditionally. There are, however, a few small clubs in the area. Expect English to be more commonly spoken in this area, too, due many Koreans in the area having studied abroad or received a lot of private tutoring. This has also meant, however, a certain desensitization to foreigners, so don't expect people to stare or approach you as much as they would in other parts of Seoul. Consider Apgujeong a great place to hang out, not party. If you want to impress a date for example, this is a great place to go to. The backstreets of Apgujeong tend to sprout and lose new clubs seemingly at random throughout the year, so getting off the main drag from time to time can yield a new "hot club of the month."
- Superclub Circle. Usually playing house music, sometimes hip hop (only available for private parties as of July, 2009)
- Club Air. House/Techno club.
- Once in a Blue Moon (원스인어블루문), 824, Seolleung-ro, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 서울특별시 강남구 선릉로 824 (청담동) (from Apgujeong Rodeo Station, take exit 4 and walk 100 m; it's on the left), ☏ +82 2-549-5490. 18:00-00:00. The trendiest jazz club in Korea, often shown in television dramas. The most popular jazz musicians in Korea play here regularly. Unfortunately, the clientele are here to be seen and often talk during the music, so if you're here for the music, sit close to the stage. Expensive.
- [dead link] Crazy Horse, 546-6 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu (신사동 546-6 B1 (On Garusogil, Crazy Horse is in the basement on the east side of the street, across from Café Deux Crème. It's not easy to find, even if you've found it before.). 18:00-. One of the best jazz clubs in Korea if music is the thing you care about. On a weeknight, you might have the band all to yourself. The musicians range from "new to jazz" to "almost famous."
Gangnam station (강남) is probably the No. 2 club area in Seoul. Also set up in a grid structure, clubs, bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues decorate this upmarket location. While not as upmarket as Apgujeong, it definitely is busy and lively. If Apgujeong is the place for rich kids to hang out and look cool, Gangnam is the place for those rich kids to party and look sexy. The station is a transit hub and a ton of buses run through the heart of the entertainment area, so finding your way there is extremely easy.
- NB (leave Gangnam Station; Exit 6 and walk for about 5 minutes; make a left into an alley between a white Giordano store and Pascucci Coffee shop). Hip hop. Full of clubbers pretty much every night of the week.
- Harlem (Leave Gangnam Station. Exit 6 and walk for about 5 minutes. Make a left into an alley between a white Giordano store and Pascucci Coffee shop.). Next to NB...guess what music they play?
- Eden (leave Shin-Nonhyun Station at exit 4, walk up the hill towards the Ritz Carlton hotel; turn right after Ritz Carlton and walk up the hill (about 10 minutes)). Electronic house/techno club. ₩30,000 entrance.
- 1 Club Answer, Cheongdam-dong 125-16, Cheongdam, ☏ +82 2-5114-4311. House music club with regular events and famous Djs.
- Club Naked. Plays house music and also serves as an after hours club.
- Club Mass, 1306-8 Seocho-dong, Gangnam-gu , Gangnam-gu, 137-855 (Near Gangnam Station). Large house music club that occasionally brings in famous DJs
- Woodstock (aka Woodstock2), 817-22 Yeoksam-dong (from in between Gangnam and Shin-Nonhyeon station up the hill at Paris Baguette), ☏ +82 2-556-9774. 18:00 - 01:00. Woodstock Gangnam is a Korean-style music pub (i.e. offering music selection by customers) that specializes in 1960s & 70s rock and blues. It's a nice bar, unchanged for ages, with huge Vinyl and drink selection, laid back and down to earth, unlike any other place in the area. But it's a hidden gem, a bit hard to find - try their facebook page for directions: www.facebook.com/Woodstock.Music.Bar.Gangnam
- Tokyo Jazz, 153-44 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu (directly across the street from Coex Oakwood Premier Center), ☏ +82 11 365-1770. A cozy jazz club on the second floor with live piano and vocal music every night and a jazz combo Thursday and Friday nights 9-12 or later if the club is full. Famous for staying open until the last customer leaves.
- JJ Bear (제이제이비어), Teheranro 84-gil 18 (Samseong Station, Metro Line No.2), ☏ +82 2-553-5390. Everyday 16:00 - 04:00. ₩18,000-29,000. A little expensive.
- KATHYBAR (캐씨바), Bongeunsa-ro 2-gil 10 (Sinnonhyeon Station, Metro No.9). You can enjoy various kinds of cocktail for reasonable price.
- Jeon-Ga (전가) (on the little road immediately behind Lotte Department Store at Hanti Station). A decent makgeolli bar, with about 8 kinds of makgeolli and very good anju (side dishes for alcohol drinking), including tofu kimchi (dubu kimchi) and "Korean pancake" (전). Very good prices. You can't find it on Google maps, but it's there, next to "Hair Story."
- 1 Ibis Hotel Ambassador (walking distance to the COEX in Gangnam-gu at Samsung-dong, next to line 2 subway system Samsung). Convenient for international travellers as it is very close to the check-in and limousine server at KCAT, Korea Air City Terminal, next to the COEX. Free shuttle to KCAT and free wired Internet.
- 2 Renaissance Hotel (Yeoksam Station, exit 8).
- 3 Novotel Ambassador (Sinnonhyeon station, exit 4).
- 4 Imperial Palace Hotel, 248-7, Nonhyun-dong, Gangnam-gu (near Nonhyun subway station). Luxury hotel in Gangnam. Shuttle buses from and to Incheon international airport. Very nice spa. A local favourite.
- 5 JW Marriott Seoul, 19-3 Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu (in the Central City development, Gangnam, next to the Express Bus Terminal, airport connections via the CCAT), ☏ +82 2 62826262. Rooms are stylish and fully-equipped. Spa, gym, sauna, indoor running track complex covers 2 floors in the basement. Olympic-size pool, climbing wall and golf driving range and Maska's cigar shop selling Cubans. Rooms from USD200.
- Park Hyatt Seoul, 995-14 Daechi 3 - dong Gangnam - gu (In the business district), ☏ +82 2 2016 1234, firstname.lastname@example.org. Upscale hotel that is right across from the COEX shopping complex and host to The Timber House featuring live jazz music.
- 6 Grand Intercontinental. Attached directly to the COEX mall
PC Rooms are available everywhere.