*This post was last updated on March 15th, 2016*
I’ve been living and raging in Seoul since August 2013, when I moved here to teach English. I’ve literally gone clubbing in Gangnam almost every weekend, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much fun it is! So, I’ve decided to write this complete guide to the nightlife in Gangnam, to share with you my favorite clubs and tell you what to expect when you come. Over the years, I’ve done my best to keep this post updated with the best content about partying in Seoul — so I hope you enjoy!.
I’m going to start off this post by saying the nightlife in Seoul is the best in world.
Seriously guys, I’ve partied in over 70 countries and 150 cities, and nothing comes even close to the insanity levels of Seoul. I’ve been to almost every club in Las Vegas, and the insane clubs of Barcelona, Stockholm, Berlin, and Bangkok. They have nothing compared to Seoul. You must come here to experience it for yourself.
Maybe you’ve already read the several other blog posts that I’ve written about the incredible nightlife in Seoul, but here is one more that further proves my point that Seoul is the #1 Party City in the World.
Every year, South Korea tops the charts for the highest consumption of alcohol per person in the world. In fact, Koreans drink more than twice the amount as Russians, with an average of 13.7 shots of liquor per person per week (2014).
Get your hands on a green bottle of soju for $1.50USD (1,500 won). Similar to sake in Japan, soju is a Korean rice liquor that is heavily consumed during social gatherings, restaurants and in every convenient store in Korea. In fact, over 62 million cases of soju are sold every single year. It only contains 20% alcohol content, but be careful because the hangovers are usually miserable…
The next thing to learn about Koreans and their contagious energy is their love for electronic dance music (EDM). Seoul frequently attracts many big name DJs and EDM music festivals. I’ve seen Tiesto, Avicii, Above & Beyond, Fedde Le Grand, Steve Angello, Kaskade, Madeon and dozens more perform at clubs, and I’ve attended festivals such as Ultra Korea, Sensation White, Global Gathering, and World DJ Festival.
I get such a kick out of the way that Koreans dance to EDM. It’s hilarious! Their style involves moving their shoulders up-and-down in a rhythmic motion, bobbing their heads like a chicken and uncontrollably pumping their fists in the air.
Want to know what it looks like? Check out my video of “How Koreans Dance!” I took every video from my iPhone over the last year in various clubs around Seoul.
But if clubbing is not your thing, then don’t worry. Check out these other popular nightlife districts of Seoul:
Itaewon– Itaewon is the foreigner district of Seoul, but it’s also trending for young to middle-aged Koreans. Here, you will find several bars (some fancy, some casual), as well as various night clubs and pubs. The healthy mix of foreigners and locals gives Itaewon a unique feel that’s always full of energy.
Hongdae– This is the ultimate hipster area of Seoul. Go here to see young Korean trends and fashion at its finest. Hongdae is like a college campus, because there are several big universities around the area. Everything in Hongdae is cheap, and there are more bars and clubs than I can count. It’s always crowded, and the street vendors/local restaurants stay open 24 hours.
Find and book your hotel in Hongdae right here.
Sincheon– Sincheon is nearly an extension of Hongdae. It’s just one metro stop away, and this area also has a college feel to it. There is a main strip lined up with bars and clubs that are cheap and fun. It’s always a good idea to start the night in Sincheon, and then head over to Hongdae (or vice versa).
Find and book your hotel in Sincheon right here.
Apgujeong– This area is another trendy nightlife hub, that’s located next to Gangnam. Rodeo drive is where all the craziness happens, with some of the priciest clubs and deluxe hotels in Seoul. If you’re not on a strict budget, then go to Apgujeong for dinner and drinks before heading out to Gangnam (but seriously prepare your wallet).
Find and book your hotel in Apgujeong right here.
Gangnam– Gangnam is the main district for Seoul’s luxurious and posh nightclubs that are multi-leveled with massive dance floors and top-notch sound systems. Gangnam is compared to the “Beverly Hills” of Seoul with its wealth and fashion. Basically, this is where all of the celebrities and rich folks hang out and spend ridiculous amounts of money, but it’s also trending for young 20-somethings who want to party all night. If you want to do some serious clubbing in Seoul, then definitely go to Gangnam!
Find and book your hotel in Gangnam right here. I highly recommend checking out The Palace Hotel (Book Online Now) if you want a nice place to stay nearby all the clubs! The price is $130/night and it’s in a cozy area within walking distance from most clubs (or a short taxi ride).
*The rest of this post will talk specifically about the clubbing scene in Gangnam*
Clubbing in Gangnam isn’t cheap… Cover charges are typically from $20-$40 USD (depending on the event) and drinks are NOT cheap either. Expect to pay no less than $10USD for any shot/beer/mixed drink inside a club.
However, if you want to save money on drinks, then just go to the club early and get a wristband so you can enter & exit whenever you wish. Then, go to a cheap convenient store down ths street and drink soju for $1 per bottle!
Or, if you are more adventurous like me, then you can buy a plastic flask of soju and bring it inside the club in your pocket. Then, go to the bar and order a sprite or coke and spike your flask inside the bathroom. I do this all the time and it’s never been an issue — I’ve also never been patted down when entering a club.
The minimum age for entering the clubs is 18 (the bouncers recently became strict with checking IDs) — and there is a maximum age of 35 (but not strictly enforced). If you are under 18 and still want to club, then just borrow anyone’s ID, or use your fake ID, and it’ll work just fine.
If you are going out clubbing with a large group of people, then it’s definitely worth getting a table with bottle service. You will pay a little more money, but the epic overall experience is worth it. It’s also a good idea to get pretty drunk BEFORE you go, otherwise you will basically light your money on fire inside the club.
Unlike clubbing in Las Vegas or Western Europe, the dress code in Seoul is not strictly enforced in Seoul. Well, you can dress up as much as you want if that’s your thing, but you don’t have to. I typically wear a V-neck with black jeans and Nike gym shoes. Just don’t wear shorts or flip flops because you will get denied entrance.
Clubs these days are becoming more strict on checking IDs, so make sure to bring your ID with you. You don’t need a passport, just any ID with your birthday on it. If you are under 18, then get a fake ID that says you’re older — otherwise you will be denied entrance.
Lastly, don’t show up to a club until at least midnight, or else you will awkwardly be the only one inside. Clubs stay open until the last person walks out (usually 7-9AM). I have stumbled home from a club at 10AM before.
For the remainder of this post, I will share with you my top 8 favorite clubs in Gangnam with detailed descriptions. Everything you will read is from my own personal experiences over the last 2 years raging in Seoul. I’ve been to each of these clubs several times.
Oppa Gangnam Style!
*Best Clubs in Gangnam (in order with my favorite being #1)
Octagon is hands down my favorite club in Seoul.
This club is currently the 6th best club in the world by DJ Mag. It has everything you can possibly imagine a club to have and more.
The first floor of Octagon spreads out from the DJ stage to the VIP tables and the bar in the back. The upper level is only accessible for VIP tables, and there is a nice balcony that looks over the entire club. The DJ stage is gigantic and it has one of the best LED TV monitors I’ve ever seen, with the lights and the sound both coordinating together. I feel like I am raging in the year 2020 every time I go to Octagon.
There are frequently big-name international DJs that play here on weekends. I have seen Laidback Luke, Deniz Koyu, Fedde Le Grand, and Dash Berlin perform at this club, as well as several famous Korean DJs. All of the music is EDM. No matter which night you go, you will definitely hear all of your favorite electronic music tunes mixed together. It is impossible not to dance and have fun!
If you only have one night to rage in Seoul, then I highly recommend spending it at Octagon!
152 Newhilltop Hotel, B1-2, Nonhyun-dong, Gangnam-gu
Or show this to the taxi driver–> 서울 강남구 논현동 152-3번지
Club Answer is the upcoming place for the young, sexy, and crazy Seoulites to rage until the sun rises.
Club Answer is a three-story club has a giant stage on the first floor, VIP tables on the second floor with a sweet overlooking balcony, and private rooms on the third floor. Huge names such as Deadmau5, Benny Benassi, and Paul Van Dyke have played shows here in recent years.
Club Answer is known to attract the most beautiful, well-dressed Koreans out there. So, make sure that you dress appropriate or you will instantly be denied entrance into the door.
The interior is luxurious, with its leather white seating, chandeliers, and marbled floor that will make you feel like you are the richest person in Korea. The powerful sound system inside Answer is one of the best in Seoul. My Korean friends even refer to this club as “the place to get down.”
Go see for yourself how these sexy people get down!
125-16 Cheongdam-dongm Gangnam-gu
Syndrome opened up in November 2013 and has been the talk of the city every weekend since. Their motto “representing a new culture of Electronica in Seoul.”
Syndrome’s goal is to change the way that people look and think about dance music. And whatever they’re doing, it’s working.
All I can say is that this place is absolutely insane. It is, without question, one of the biggest and most epic clubs in Seoul. There is even a swimming pool inside! The main DJ stage is all the way in the front, with a long dance floor that stretches the length of the club. The only issue with this club is the location of the main bar, which is in the back of the club. So, if you are on the dance floor, it will take a few minutes push your way to the back bar for a drink.
There is a sweet upstairs level with VIP tables and a giant balcony overlooking the club. There must be 2,000 people that can fit inside this place, and it stays packed until sunrise. It’s definitely a great place to party all night and experience Seoul’s culture at its finest.
Inside the Sunshine Hotel: 587-1 Sinsa-dong, Seoul, Korea 135-892
Ellui is absolutely massive. It’s not only the biggest club in Seoul, but it claims to be the largest nightclub in Asia.
Just take a look at this photo!
Ellui recently opened up in 2011 and has dominated the clubbing scene as one of the major hotspots for electronic music lovers. Nearly every weekend features an international or a top-notch Korean act that gets the party going all night long.
The club features multiple levels with dance floors that becomes crazier as the night progresses into early morning. At some point during the night, the staff will stand on top of the bar and pour shots of vodka unto everyone’s mouth. The high-energy crowd is mostly mid-20s to 30s and the vibe is cool-but-casual. The dance floor has huge bouncing balls and the light show/blasting speaker combination is mesmerizing.
Ellui is so big that you can probably expect to get lost at some point into a sea of Koreans (not always a bad thing!) I just remember constantly being shocked by how epic and amazing this club was. You will never want to leave Ellui from the second you walk in the door. The last time I was there, I left the club at 6AM and it was still packed with people.
I mean, just look at that photo. It doesn’t get more epic than that!
129 Cheongdam-dong Gangnam-gu
Located in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Club Base (formerly Club Eden) is the most luxurious and high-class club in Seoul.
As you can imagine what a club is like in the Ritz, this place is extremely posh and has some of the most attractive people who dress to impress. The interior resembles an 18th century ballroom, with crazy fancy decoration on the walls and ceilings. Now, try to picture that with big-ass speakers that blast house music, and it feels like you are raving in a time machine to the future. The sound system is on par with the best and there are neon flashing lights coming from every possible direction. It is just too cool.
The only problem with Base is that the music has little variation. It’s the same pulsing beat for 5 hours, and you won’t recognize any songs. But, the amazing scene and eye-candy makes me itch to get back there every Friday night.
602 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu
Club Mass is the go-to spot for late, late night partying. It says open 365 days a year, and goes until 9 or 10AM in the morning (I am not exaggerating).
Mass describes itself as the “Premier electronic house music club in Seoul.” The interior is huge, with a central stage and a massive dance floor that is packed with thousands of people. The music is electro-house and it stays bumping until the last person walks out the door in the early morning. I recommend going to Mass after you are done hopping around other clubs and bars in the area. This place doesn’t hit peak hours until 3-6AM, so don’t ever worry about getting there too late.
Seriously, I walked out the door at 9:30AM one Sunday morning.
The crowd is young and beautiful. You’ll see the girls wearing extra high heels, short dresses and make-up, and the guys wearing button downs, slacks and nice shoes. It’s an easy place to pick up girls/guys.
If you are the type that can rage until breakfast, then Mass is your place!
Soecho-gu seocho-dong 1306-8 Daedong BD, Seoul, Korea
#7. The A Hall
The A Hall attracts the biggest name DJs in Korea and is well-known as an after hours club in Seoul.
This club was recently renovated from its previous self when it was known as Club Heaven. And much like club Mass, this club really goes until 7AM on any given weekend.
The A Hall, without question, recruits the biggest DJ names in the EDM scene. I don’t know how they pull in all of these names, because the club itself is very small. Over the last 2 years, I’ve seen Kaskade, Ali & Fila, Laidback Luke, Bingo Players, Fatboy Slim, and Ferry Corsten play shows at The A Hall.
I put it last on this list simply because I hate the tiny layout of the club, and I always feel like I am getting pushed by sweaty Koreans who are uncontrollably drunk. But that being said, I always go here to see some of my favorite DJs perform.
This club is also popular amongst Korean celebrities, and there is a lot of plastic (as we like to call it) inside the club. If you catch a not-so-crowded night at The A Hall, then you might just be blown away. Although I would tell you to go to Octagon, Ellui, or Syndrome before this club.
Where to Stay in Seoul?
A lot of people ask me which are the best hotels to stay in Seoul, so I have compiled this list of quality places that I’ve either stayed at myself or found online. For a more comprehensive list of hotels in Seoul, check out Agoda.com for the best rates!
1) For Budget Travelers – SP Guesthouse (Book Online Now)
*rates – $10/night for a 4 bed dormitory
SP Guesthouse is my favorite hostel in Seoul, and it’s located conveniently in the Itaewon district. I know the owners very well, and they are very friendly and welcoming. The people and vibes inside this hostel are exactly what you need!
2) For Mid-Price – Vella Suite Myeongdong (Book Online Now)
*rates – $70/night for a standard twin room
Vella Suite is probably the best value for your money in Seoul. It’s located right in the center of Myeongdong — Seoul’s famous shopping district. Myeongdong is in central Seoul, and it’s easily accessible by metro, taxi or bus. This hotel offers clean rooms, a friendly staff, and more restaurants/bars then you can imagine just outside the front door!
3) For Luxury – Lotte Hotel Seoul (Book Online Now)
*rates – $218/night for a deluxe double room
The impressive Lotte Hotel in Seoul is also located in the bustling shopping district of Myeongdong. It has a great gym, spa, food court and everything imaginable that you could want in a hotel. There is a large foodcourt below the hotel that is easily accessible and offers great Korean food. The rooms are clean, with a large shower and comfortable beds. Don’t miss out on the great views of the city and Namsan Tower!
Thanks for reading! Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions about the nightlife in Seoul or travel in Korea in general!
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Octagon – https://www.facebook.com/cluboctagon
Answer – http://www.mydestination.com/seoul
Syndrome – http://www.clubinkorea.com/
The A – https://www.facebook.com/clubthea