Recently, I went to Korea for a month on exchange – and it was a WILD month. The number of friendships forged and experienced gained is uncountable, and we spent every weekday night at a bar, and weekend night at a club. Here’s my top recommendations for drinking there, as well as tips and favourite clubs in Korea.
Rule of Thumb: Never stop at 1 bar or club because there is so much to see, try and visit. One night is not sufficient to fully experience clubbing/drinking in Korea. For a full Korean experience, visit ALL these places in one night in the vicinity you are in.
1. BAR: Castle Praha, Hongdae
Looking for a cool bar for Instagram? Castle Praha was one of the first bars I went to in Korea. It had an AMAZING exterior that resembled a castle, and a spacious interior. Castle Praha has good beer and finger food, and would be one of the first bars I’d hit when bar-hopping in Hongdae. Although slightly on the pricier side, Korean drinks are still generally affordable, and I would be willing to pay for this – especially when on vacation. Castle Praha is also quiet, making ita good place to chill with family or to bring someone on a date.
TLDR; Great atmosphere and decor, slightly pricey, good to chill.
395-19 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
12:00 pm ~ 12:00 am
2. CLUB: Cream, Hongdae
Cream at Hongdae is one of the quieter clubs in Hongdae. Upon entry (10,000KRW), a free gift is given – I got a hat the first time, a t-shirt on the second. Club Cream plays Hip-Hop music with a Live DJ, and has a bar right in the middle of the dance floor for easy access to drinks. Alcohol is also extremely cheap at 10,000KRW for 3 yagerbombs, or 10,000KRW for 3 tequila shots. Toilets are also clean and the location is easily accessible. Despite it being a relatively quiet place with emptier dance floors, it became a place we went to often because of the cheap drinks and chill atmosphere. Who says no to cheap drinks and Hip Hop, right?
Why you should go: Cheap drinks, free gifts, hip hop.
Why you should avoid: Emptier than usual club, small.
Price Range: 3000KRW-10,000KRW
395-18 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
7/9:00 pm ~ 5/7:00 am
3. CLUB: NB2, Hongdae
NB2, also known as “Noise Basement,” is one of the hottest clubs in Hongdae, with 2 branches, the other being NB1. It’s owned and operated by YG Entertainment, and is always crowded with an extremely long line. Entry fee is slightly pricier at around 20,000KRW (with drink coupons), and the place attracts a young crowd probably because of its association with YGE. NB2 also plays great Hip Hop music – but it was extremely congested due to its popularity. However, NB2 is definitely a club to not miss, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting – there is even reported sightings of YG artists who frequent the place!
Why you should go: YG Entertainment owned, good music, chance to see YG celebrities
Why you should avoid: Long lines to enter, crowded
Price Range: 10,000KRW-30,000KRW
Seoul, Mapo-gu, Seokyo-Dong 362-4
09:00 pm ~ 06:00 am
+82-10-8541-1278, bananahyeon (Kakaotalk)
4. CLUB: Club Made, Itaewon
Club Made at Itaewon is the BEST club to be at if you would like a selection between Hip Hop and EDM, and is the best club in Itaewon. As you enter, you are greeted by a long bar in the middle of the club, where you can redeem your free drink tickets from paying the entrance fee. On each end of the bar, there are 2 different segments of the club that plays different music, and you can hop around each side to where you prefer to be. Made plays both great EDM and Hip Hop, and is also a place where there are more foreigners due to its location, known as a foreigner hangout. Made is also one of our go-to places for clubbing due to the variety it offers to our group with different music tastes. If I had only one club choice, it would be Made.
Why you should go: Has EDM and HipHop, good mix of foreigners and locals
Why you should avoid: Pricier, long waiting times to enter (30mins-1hour)
Price Range: 10,000KRW-30,000KRW
Seoul, Yongsan-Gu, Hannam Dong 737-32 (IP Boutique Hotel B1)
Thur-Sat 10:00 pm ~ 06:00 am
5. BAR: 232, Itaewon
232 at Itaewon is a fancy bar with an amazing interior. Cushioned sofa chairs, wooden tables and vintage decoration all around makes for an amazing atmosphere. Drinks are not as cheap (characteristic of Itaewon), at about 12,000KRW onwards for a cocktail. However, it is worth coming for a drink or 2 to soak in the great atmosphere, and it is also quite a hidden spot with no tourists. It’s a good place to go with friends prior to hitting Made.
Why you should go: Great atmosphere and decor
Why you should avoid: Expensive
Price Range: 12,000KRW-30,000KRW
Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Seoul, Korea 04400
Thur-Sat 11:00 am ~ 02:30 am
6. BAR/CLUB: The Fountain, Itaewon
The Fountain is one of my favourite spots in Seoul. Upon the recommendation of one of my Korean friends, we went there from 1am-5am. It is a combination of bars on the side and a dance floor in the middle. The songs are more “old school” like Backstreet Boys, bringing you back to the 2000s. when I went, and the place has a constant line and crowd of both locals and foreigners.
There are 2 levels; the first being a large dance floor in the middle, and the second being a smaller dance floor on the second level. The Fountain is simply beautiful, and Instagram worthy from its entrance to its interior. Despite some negative reviews I’ve read online, it gave me a great experience with a friendly bartender and strict bouncers. Entrance check is thorough, only allowing me entry with a NRIC and not my Driving ID (Singapore). I also read online that they are pretty racist and disallowing of people of darker skin color or certain ethnicities, but it was not something I experienced.
Drinks are pricier (but still okay on a SG budget), but not unaffordable and worth paying for its great vibes, music and vast space. It’s a great place to pregame before entering a real club, but we loved it so much that we stayed here all the way. The Fountain is a refreshing change to the regular jammed packed clubs with loud EDM/Hip Hop, and is definitely a place you must not miss in Itaewon, or in Korea.
Why you should go: Amazing decoration, 2 dance floors, meet foreigners, 2000s Music
Why you should avoid: Expensive, overly strict bouncers, 2000s Music
Price Range: 12,000KRW-30,000KRW
116-6 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
06:00 pm ~ 06:00 am
From Itaewon Station (line 6), take exit 2. Take the first left and walk to the end of the street, then turn left again. It’s on your right.
7. MY FAVOURITE BAR: Kodachaya, Hongdae
Kodachaya, located within walking distance from Sangsu Station (or Hongik University Station) is THE place to be for pre-drinks. With cheap alcohol and delicious food and multiple locations nation-wide, they have a unique self-service concept, where you can grab your own drinks from the fridges, making this place immensely popular. On top of that, a variety of Korean/Japanese food is offered in a rustic Japanese environment, making you feel like you’re in a different era, with a concept that is different from other bars.
As you enter, you are given an order tag (something like Ramen Champion’s concept) which you can use to order food and drink. Their signature dish, the kimchi fried rice with cheese and egg is a crowd-pleaser, leading to us ordering multiple of the same dish throughout our drinking session. They also offer a variety of food, from Japanese Sashimi to Korean Odeng.
Kodachaya also gives free bottled mineral water which you are free to take at any time, as much as you want. It also has a signature entrance that is reminiscent of a Subway station sign, making it stand out from the crowd. Its large seating capacity means no/short wait, despite it being constantly crowded. The freedom and flexibility Kodachaya gives, along with its warm atmosphere, good location, and tables catered to both big and small groups makes this place a huge hit for all groups of all ages to hang out in, and is my #1 favourite spot in Seoul that you CANNOT miss!
Why you should go: Take your own drinks, affordable and good food, great for all groups and ages, my favourite spot.
Why you should avoid: –
Price Range: 2,000KRW-15,000KRW
143-56 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
05:00 pm ~ 05:00 am
Exit 2, Sangsu Station. Walk towards Hongik university (Paris baguette on your right). If you see Edya coffee across the road you are at the right spot. Stay on the same sidewalk and walk towards Hongik Univ towards Hollys Coffee (Kodachaya is beside).
8. BAR: Daddy J, Anam
Daddy J’s is a small and cosy bar located at Anam, near Korea University and is our first spot nightly because of its location near the dormitories, excellent service, facilities and low prices. Daddy J’s is not a place that tourists would know of or go to, simply because it is out of the way at Anam Station. Daddy J’s boasts cheap Hookah, cheap beer jugs and 1500KRW soju. They have a darts machine, a beer pong table and a Macbook where you can select your own music on YouTube. It is the first place that we went to get buzzed before heading to clubs/bars in Hongdae/Itaewon, and is a lowest-cost place in the list for drinks with friends. It is also decorated with a chalkboard surrounding the pub, allowing anyone to write on it. Tables are always readily available, and the place has a warm environment, welcoming to anyone, and a good place to meet people from Korea University.
Why you should go: Very cheap drinks and hookah, beer pong table, darts machine
Why you should avoid: Far, university area. Small. Smells like Hookah.
Price Range: 1,500KRW-10,000KRW
Anam-dong, Incon-ro 28-Gil, Seoul. South Korea.
06:00 pm ~ 04:00 am(timing unsure, from memory)
LPT: Respect This Man
ALWAYS buy one of these (at any convenience store) after a night of drinking, as it helps IMMENSELY with hangovers. Koreans swear by it, and now, I too believe.
Bumping into Haha at Hongdae
There are many other bars and clubs that I went to in Korea, from Thursday Party to Club M2 etc., but the places in the list are my favourites, and are places that I would definitely visit again.