Like any big city, there are a million little neighborhoods and regions of Seoul. They’re all known for different things, and they all have something equally interesting about them.
Hongdae is a young + trendy area – getting it’s name (and it’s crowd) from the nearby Hongik University. A quick Google search will tell you that its fashion-forward, and filled with urban expression & art – but there is so much to this area. You’ll definitely want to come back for a second look.
Read on for what to do in Hongdae, and check out the bottom of this post for how to get there.
What we did:
Watch a Street Performance
This is probably the easiest thing to do on our list – you can cross it off as soon as you exit the subway station. Once you make your way to the main street, you’ll see these left and right. People are NOT shy about singing, dancing and otherwise expressing themselves for a crowd. Most of the performances aren’t anything to write home about, but it’s entertaining nonetheless. We got a glimpse of these two below:
Check Out a Sheep Cafe
You want to see this one. It takes a little effort to find, but who doesn’t want to sip their latte next to two balls of fluff? Thanks Nature Cafe (yes that’s the name) is on the basement level of it’s building, so you won’t be able to easily spot it from the street. You can type it into Waze though (which you need anyways for getting around Korea) and take the short walk there. If you see the Subway (sandwich) sign, you’re in the right place.
Once you make it there, you’ll see the sheep right away! Go on in and get your coffee/waffle/honey bread first – you can come back out and hang with them after.
Technically you COULD just walk up, pet the sheep and leave – since they are in an area right outside the entrance to the cafe. But the cafe is interesting enough. And why wouldn’t you want to sit down to this:
Grab a Bite at an Izakaya
While there are a million and one spots to eat in Hongdae, you can always find an izakaya if you walk a few blocks. Essentially a Japanese gastropub – they are all over Seoul. Some of them are nothing special, but they can also put out some fantastic food if you find the right one. Japanese food is plentiful in Korea, so it doesn’t hurt to pop into one if you’re hungry. We wandered into one off of Hongdae’s main strip, and I left happy & full.
Note of advice: If you don’t like seafood (cooked or raw), there are usually plenty of other things on the menu – even fried chicken.
Walk Down Hongdae Mural Street
There are plenty of places to see wall art in Seoul, but if you want to get a good dose of it altogether, this is your spot. Although Hongdae Mural Street is actually more of a collection of alleyways – you can easily hit them all up in no time and be on your way. Located right next to the front gates of Hongik University, the area is supposedly famous as a “dating spot”. You can find everything from graffiti to paintings and more here. Updates to come once we see it for ourselves!
Have a Taste of Patbingsu
Korea is famous for patbingsu – which literally translates to mean shaved ice & red bean paste. Yes, it’s a dessert and no, there’s no judgement if that doesn’t sound appealing to you. It may take some getting used to, but the bean paste is actually sweet. Thrown in a bowl with other sweets, you may decide you actually like it. There are plenty of places to treat yourself to patbingsu around Seoul, but Hongdae has some great ones – we’ve heard lots of talk about about Okrumong (semi-famous for it’s cloud bingsu covered in cotton candy!) and BingBingBing.
Visit the Hello Kitty Cafe
Even if you could care less about Hello Kitty, you should stop in here just for the novelty factor. Korea (and Japan) are notorious for their love of all things animated, and they seem to have a thing for cats (read about Korea’s cat cafes here). So if you really want to take in a little of Korea, grab yourself a cup of coffee with Hello Kitty’s face in it. You can’t miss the Pepto-Bismol pink building!
Grab Drinks at Castle Praha
Since you’re obviously lacking on things to eat and drink, make your way over to Castle Praha for some beers & yet another interesting setting. Designed after the Prague Clock Tower Castle, this restaurant/bar looks like something from Medieval Times. It sticks out like a sore thumb on the streets of Hongdae, and you might just think its an old church if you don’t look closely enough. Stop in for traditional Czech house beer, bar food and a taste of goulash.