During my time in Seoul there was one place that came heavily recommended by my hostel: Hongdae. Hongdae is a large university district in Seoul and let me tell you, it definitely feels like it. Everywhere you go you’ll find small clothing boutiques, hipster coffee nooks, internet/comic cafes, bars, start ups, and university campuses. I loved it!
It really felt like I was back in Tucson, Arizona or another US college town where almost all the businesses pretty much exist just to prey off poor college students. Its a really fun environment to say the least, but how can you get there?
HOW TO GET THERE:
When Lexi and I first went to Hongdae, we took the subway to Sangsu Station and then walked up the highway to the main Uni area. However, there is a MUCH better way. Take the subway to Hongik University station and you will end up in the heart of Hongdae. From there you can end up at the Hongik’s campus and walk around, or check out the many museums in the area, or even check out the massive shopping streets and coffee boutiques. Definitely go to Hongik Station!
THINGS TO DO:
Now, Lexi and I unfortunately didn’t visit any museums and chose to just walk around the district and explore. As such, I can’t give you much details bout specific attractions. However, let me show you some awesome places we found that you can hope to experience on your visit. Its well worth it!
One really random place we found was a restaurant offering classical Czech food and drink based off of Praha Castle in Prague. Furthermore, it ws actually called Praha Castle and offers a truly bohemian environment alongside delicious Czech pilsners and dark dunkel beers! After doing some research, I found out it is a highly regarded beer house and one of the best in Seoul. It has been featured in culture magazines and travel magazines a like.
Further down the road, we stumbled upon what I can only interpret as coffee alley. For at least four solid blocks, coffee shops and dessert shops lined the street with rows of hipster scenes and the ever-present whiff of coffee beans luring people in from every street corner.
Eventually, even I, a person who really dislikes coffee, had to succumb to the region’s vibe. I just had to get some coffee and cake for tea time!
As a result, Lexi and I walked into this very unique little desert cafe that was doing its damnedest to project a flee market-like vibe. It was an excellent choice, fruit smoothies and a slice of chocolate cake was a great way to relax after a few hours of exploring.
After some time at this cafe, Lexi and I decided to go check out Hongik University. What are Uni campuses like in S. Korea?
Well, we were lucky enough to visit during club day and all throughout the quad, clubs were operating booths and selling treats to raise funds for their yearly activities. I’d always heard about clubs or circles in Asian universities and it was awesome seeing how active and boisterous they were. As most of the stands were aligned in two straight columns going through the central walkway of campus, a person could walk up and down seeing all sorts of creative sales pitches. Do you want to pelt a kid in the face with a water balloon for a small price? Want to buy some hand-knit socks or scarves? Or maybe you want some fresh pancakes or Korean BBQ? All of this could be found and heard across the quad.
It really was a nostalgic feeling and made me miss my time at the University of Arizona. What made it even better was how friendly everybody was. At one point, I was just standing around and some member of the baseball team asked me to come play a game with them. I lost horribly (had to throw a ball in a very precise goal). I figured I was going to be charged for the throws, like any carnival game, however; the baseball members were just wanting to talk and figure out why I was in Korea. We had a good time chatting and speaking English to one another and finally went on our way.
Overall, Hongdae is a great place filled with cool restaurants and shops and well worth the visit. Definitely don’t miss the chance to go here. Oh, they also have my favorite snack….KEBABS.