one of the districts (gu) of Seoul
(Redirected from Gangnam)
Asia > East Asia > South Korea > Gyeonggi > Seoul > Seoul/Gangnam-Seocho

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".

The Gangnam-Seocho area

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.

Understand edit

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.

Gangnam view with some daylight

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 Bongeunsa. 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.

Get in edit

Map of Seoul/Gangnam-Seocho

By plane edit

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.

By bus edit

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.

By metro edit

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.

By train edit

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).

By car edit

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.

See edit

Bongeunsa Temple
  • 1 Bongeunsa (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. 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. free.    
Outside the huge COEX mall
  • 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. 00:00 - 24:00. 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 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, 40, Sinbanpo-ro 11-gil, Seocho-gu (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. A parking lot is available from 06:00 to 24:00.
  • 7 Dosan Park (도산 근린 공원), 20, Dosan-daero 45-gil, Gangnam-gu, toll-free: +82 02-3423-6244. This park was created to commemorate Ahn Chang-ho's patriotism and educational spirit, and opened on November 9, 1973, the 95th anniversary of Ahn Chang-ho's birth. Entrance fee is free and it is always open.
  • 8 Sebitseom (세빛섬), 2085-14, Olympic-daero, Seocho-gu, +82 1566-3433. It is a beautiful place in the Han River. There is a floating island called Sebit Dongdongseom Island, where you can enjoy various activities such as eating and boat experience. free.    

Do edit

  • 1 Park Hyatt Seoul (파크 하얏트 서울), Park Hyatt Seoul Hotel, 995-14 Daechi 3 - dong Gangnam - gu, +82 0507-1442-1234, . Check in: 15:00 / Check out: 11:00.
  • 2 [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.
  • 3 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.

Buy edit

Times Square

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.
  • 2 Galleria (갤러리아), 343, Apgujeong-ro, Gangnam-gu. 10:30 - 20:30. A very popular upscale department store. Just several blocks away from Hyundai Department Store.

Near the 3 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.

Eat edit

Street Vendors
  • 1 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.
  • 2 Samwon Garden (삼원가든), 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.
  • 3 Brick Oven New York Pizza (브릭 오븐), 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.
  • 4 Coreanos Kitchen (코텔라 by LGC), 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.
  • 5 Wasshoiken (왓쇼이켄), 46, Teheran-ro 4-gil, Gangnam-gu (Exit 4 of Gangnam Station on Line 2), +82 02-508-5127. 11:00 - 20:00 (Break time: 14:30-17:00). The owner and staff are very friendly. It has a rich broth and a slightly salty taste. start at 9000₩.
  • 6 Oreno Ramen Gangnam (오레노라멘 강남점), 28-9, Teheran-ro 1-gil, Gangnam-gu (A 10 minute walk from Exit 10 of Gangnam Satation on line 2), +82 0507-1377-3539. 11:00 - 20:30 (Last order at 20:00). It has clean and savory taste without any gamey flavor from the meal. Noodles, soup, and rice are available for refill. start at 11000₩.
  • 7 London Bagel Museum (런던 베이글 뮤지엄), 33 Eonju-ro 168-gil, Gangnam-gu. It is a very famous bagel bakery in Korea. Koreans wait for more than an hour to eat the bagels, too. You can taste various kinds of bagels, and there may already be a wait because they are well known to tourists. Chives pretzel bagels are the best in this bakery.
  • 8 Haidilao (하이디라오 서초지점), 54, Seocho-daero 77-gil, Seocho-gu, +82 0507-1350-8260. 10:00 ~ 05:00 (last order at 03:10). A hot pot franchise that originated in China. It's known for its friendly staff, wide selection of hot pot ingredients, and overall cleanliness. Reservations are required to get in without waiting and a must for groups.

Drink edit

Apgujeong edit

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."

Gangnam edit

Some of the bright lights of Gangnam

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.

  • 1 Club Answer, Cheongdam-dong 125-16, Cheongdam, +82 2-5114-4311. House music club with regular events and famous Djs.
  • 2 Woodstock (우드스탁), 90-6, Gomurae-ro, Seocho-gu (from in between Gangnam and Shin-Nonhyeon station up the hill at Paris Baguette), +82 2-556-9774. 19:00 - 02:00. 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.
  • 3 Tokyo Jazz (도쿄째즈), 153-44 Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu (directly across the street from Coex Oakwood Premier Center), +82 11 365-1770. 19:00 - 03:00 Closed on Sundays. 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.
  • 4 JJ Bear (더제이제이), Teheranro 84-gil 18 (Samseong Station, Metro Line No.2), +82 2-553-5390. Everyday 16:00 - 04:00. It is a specialty shop for world beers. With over 20 years of experience, the chef, who has a background in hotel kitchens, offers homemade chicken, craft beer, and dishes that go well with soju, featuring rich and savory flavors. Private rooms are available for groups of 10 or more, and the venue can accommodate group meals for over 100 people. ₩18,000-29,000. A little expensive.
  • 5 KATHYBAR (케씨펍), Bongeunsa-ro 2-gil 10 (Sinnonhyeon Station, Metro No.9), +82 02-565-5465. 18:00 - 03:00. Over 100 different types of dazzling cocktails and more than 50 varieties are offered. Inside the store, music videos are played, and dart-playing is available.
  • Wang's pub (왕스펍), 11, Gangnam-daero 98-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, +82 0507-1396-2888. 14:00-1:00. It's a sports pub in Gangnam. There are screens everywhere, so you can drink beer while watching sports such as the Premier League.

Hanti edit

  • 6 Jeon-Ga (전가), 2nd, 310, Seolleung-ro, Gangnam-gu (on the little road immediately behind Lotte Department Store at Hanti Station), toll-free: +82 02-562-0337. 16:00 - 24:00. 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 beauty shop(이철헤어커커 대치점).

Sleep edit

Mid-range edit

  • 1 Ibis Hotel Ambassador (이비스 스타일 앰배서더 강남), 431, Samseong-ro, Gangnam-gu (walking distance to the COEX in Gangnam-gu at Samsung-dong, next to line 2 subway system Samsung), +82 02-3011-8888. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 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 Josun Palace Seoul Ganam (조선 팰리스 서울 강남), 231, Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu (A 10-minute walk from Exit 8 of Yeoksam Station on Line 2.). Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. 5-star hotel. The swimming pool operates on different schedules depending on weekdays, weekends, and holidays. The pepperoni pizza is delicious when ordered through room service. For parking, valet service is available at a fee of 30,000 won.
  • 3 Novotel Ambassador (노보텔 앰배서더 서울 강남), 130, Bongeunsa-ro, Gangnam-gu (A 5-minute walk from Exit 4 of Sinnonhyeon Station on Line 9), toll-free: +82 02-567-1101. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. 5-star hotel. The buffet is delicious, and the apple mango shaved ice, which can be enjoyed in the lounge, is a particular specialty.

Splurge edit

  • 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.
  • 6 Park Hyatt Seoul (파크 하얏트 서울 호텔), 995-14 Daechi 3 - dong Gangnam - gu (In the business district), +82 2 2016 1234, . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. Upscale hotel that is right across from the COEX shopping complex and host to The Timber House featuring live jazz music.
  • 7 Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas (그랜드 인터컨티넨탈 서울 파르나스), 521, Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu (Attached directly to the COEX mall), +82 02-555-5656. 5-star hotel. The steak at the buffet is very delicious. The desserts are also very luxurious, and among them, the mango shaved ice can be considered a specialty. There is a free exhibition ongoing as of October 2023.
  • 8 Shilla Stay (신라 스테이), 506, Yeongdong-daero (1 minute walk from exit 7 of Samseong Station on Line 2), +82 02-2175-9000. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00.

Connect edit

PC Rooms are available everywhere.

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