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Itaewon Travel Guide: Attractions, Food, Where To Stay

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Published on:

If you’re looking for new cultures to immerse yourself in, Korean culture is the next one you should try. 

South Korea is rich with history, foods, and entertainment that make it a wonderful tourist spot. In Seoul, you should visit the district of Itaewon. 

But what is Itaewon?

Itaewon is a district in Seoul, South Korea that’s perfect for tourists looking for an enthusiastic nightlife. 

The district is good for those who want to indulge in amazing bars, restaurants, and scenery. There’s the extravagant shopping you can try, the beautiful museums, and the scenic parks.

The rest of this article will cover what to do in Itaewon, where to stay, what Itaewon is known for, and a brief conclusion.

What To Do In Itaewon

While visiting the vibrant district of Itaewon (이태원), you have to walk around the sidewalks. 

There’s plenty of shops and street vendors there that you can interact with to invest yourself in the new culture. It’s also a lot of fun to see the architecture Itaewon has.

As for specific activities, there’s plenty for you to choose from. Itaewon is a party district with dozens of fun activities lined up and down the streets. 

If you can get past the other tourists and friendly vendors, you have lots to do that make Itaewon worth visiting.

You can take a break from the bustling streets by visiting the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, shop at the antique shopping street, learn about history at the War Museum of Korea, relax at the Namsan Botanical Garden, or enjoy the Itaewon Global Village Festival.

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

The Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art (삼성미술관 리움), or Leeum Museum of Art for short, is a museum with two sections you can visit. 

General admission is 10,000 won (about $7.64) for individuals, 7,000 won for groups (about $5.65), or 4,000 won for students (about $3.06).

This museum is run by the Samsung Foundation of Culture, and it’s dedicated to providing an affordable but memorable experience. 

As mentioned previously, there are two sections in this museum. The two sections contrast each other, which makes for a more interesting experience.

The first section, or museum 1, is a collection of traditional art. 

This means traditional Korean art like calligraphy, paintings, ceramic arts, metal craftwork, pottery, and more are displayed there. 

If you like history, be sure to stop by and see all the different projects from the past.

On the contrary, the second section is more modern. Instead of traditional art, it’s contemporary and modern art. 

What makes this so unique is that this section isn’t limited to just Korea. Although there’s plenty of Korean displays, you can find work from international artists too.

Antique Shopping At The Itaewon Antique Shopping Street

If there’s one thing you can say about Itaewon, you can say it’s unique. 

The Itaewon Antique Shopping Street is perfect for those looking to mix up their regular shopping schedule with something more exciting. 

The street has amazing goods, and it’s packed full of history.

Back in the 60s, during the second World War, American troops were preparing to return to their homes. 

This meant that they needed to sell their furniture and other items they didn’t need anymore. Thus, the shopping street was born. The soldiers sold their antiques there.

In modern times, that tradition still holds up today. Koreans are selling their furniture on the streets. 

Most of the items are discounted and have intriguing tales. For added fun, ask the sellers about the stories behind the items you’re planning to buy!

Although furniture shops dominate most of the street, furniture isn’t the only item for sale there. Other antiques such as trinkets and old purses can be bought as well. 

Handbags are commonly sold there, so if that’s what you’re looking for, be sure to stop by.

War Museum Of Korea

As the name suggests, the War Museum of Korea (or the War Memorial of Korea) is the perfect stop for those looking to investigate Itaewon’s history. 

Itaewon is packed full of history because of the soldiers that were based there. This war museum explores that.

Opened on June 10, 1994, the museum offers educational programs for school students who are visiting on school trips, or if they just want to learn more about Itaewon’s history. 

From time to time, you can hear military music playing in the halls to honor the soldiers.

While visiting, be sure to pay your respects to the War Memorial. 

It was built for the war martyrs, and like the rest of the museum, it’s full of history.

Namsan Botanical Park

After learning about Itaewon’s past, you should take a moment to relax in the Namsan Botanical Park (남산 야외식물원). 

If you’re going to visit, be sure to go either during the fall, or April. April is the best month to go since this is when the Annual Cherry Blossom Festival takes place.

Not only can you enjoy the scenic paths with flowers and fauna representing the colors of the rainbow, but you can also go to the Namsan Tower and Namsan Cable Car to get an aerial view of all the wildlife. 

From a high vantage point, you’ll get to see things you missed while walking.

Itaewon Global Village Festival

Itaewon is bustling with life, and the village festival is a part of that. Ever since 2002, the festival has taken place in October. 

It’s perfect timing; you can visit the festival, and since it’s still autumn, you can also visit the Namsan Park.

The reason why this festival is worth visiting is because there’s food exhibitions, street performances, and cultural activities representing not just Korea, but different countries around the world. If you’re looking for pictures for social media, visit the festival!

Where To Stay In Itaewon

With Itaewon being such a nice place for foreigners, you can expect plenty of hotels of varying quality littered around there. 

You can receive top quality care and amenities at the 5-star hotels, fantastic deals at the 4-star hotels, and a good hotel for a cheap price at 3-star hotels.

Grand Hyatt Seoul Hotel

Starting off this list with a 5-star hotel, the Grand Hyatt Seoul Hotel is a luxurious hotel with amazing amenities, services, and rooms. 

If you’re looking to get a taste of the high life while touring the party district of Itaewon, the Grand Hyatt Seoul is for you.

Some of the property amenities are as follows: a heated indoor pool, free Wi-Fi, valet parking, a hot tub, an outdoor and adult pool, a poolside bar, facial treatments, a spa, highly rated breakfast services, a taxi service, laundry and drycleaning services, and much more.

As for room amenities, they are as follows: bathrobes, housekeeping, a safe, VIP room facilities, a refrigerator, air conditioning, room service, a flatscreen TV, on-demand movies, and a minibar. There are non-smoking rooms, suites, and family rooms available.

Address: 322 Sowol-Ro Hannam-Dong, Gu, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Ibis Styles Ambassador Seoul Yongsan

Next is the 4-star hotel named the Ibis Styles Ambassador Seoul Yongsan. It’s a great price for the quality you’ll receive. 

It has a fascinating, horizontal S-shaped architect that is covered with lights. Even if you don’t want to stay there, you should at least take a picture of it while visiting.

Although it doesn’t have as many rooms and room amenities, it still offers non-smoking rooms and suites along with property amenities that will treat you like you’re royalty. 

Some of those amenities are: a sauna and spa, complimentary tea, free breakfast, shuttle buses, and more.

Address: 40-969 Hangangno 3(sam)-ga, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Hamilton Hotel Seoul

To finish off this list, the Hamilton Hotel Seoul (해밀톤 호텔) is a 3-star hotel that’s a good choice for those looking to stay somewhere affordable yet nice. 

It has a solid location since it’s right in Itaewon instead of staying on the outskirts of it. It’s within walking distance of 25 attractions.

Like the previous hotel, it doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to room types and room amenities. 

Despite that, there’s still suites and non-smoking rooms available. The room amenities are as follows: room service, a safe and flatscreen TV, and air conditioning.

The property has many more amenities than the rooms do. 

It offers the following: free parking, a pool, a bar and lounge, a fitness center, children activities, Wi-Fi, a spa, a hot tub, a breakfast buffet, and much more.

Address: 179 Itaewon-ro, Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea

What Itaewon Is Known For

Back in the early 2000s, Itaewon was known for something different than what it’s known for now: catering to foreign soldiers. 

In 2001, Itaewon was famous among foreign troops and servicemen for having cheap bars they could go to for relaxation and drinks.

Over the years, the district evolved and became more than that.

Although it still has plenty of bars to go around, it became more widely accepted by South Korea. Itaewon is a very diverse sector of Korea because of how many foreigners worked there.

Nowadays, Itaewon has become more vibrant. It’s very friendly to foreigners, which is why it’s a popular tourist place. 

On top of that, the rich history it has makes it worth visiting. The museums and parks have sights you can’t get anywhere else, which is why many go sightseeing there.

However, it’s more than just history and bars. At night, Itaewon is known for the parties and social events that happen on a nightly basis. 

Anyone looking for a good time mixed with great food and company should go to Itaewon. It’s one of the most popular partying districts in Seoul.

Conclusion

Popular tourist location, Itaewon, is a district in Seoul, South Korea. It’s a common tourist spot due to how many activities there are. 

You can visit art exhibits, go shopping in the vibrant streets, visit war history museums, relax in the parks, and take part in local festivals.

There are multiple places you can stay in Itaewon, varying from 5-star to 3-star hotels with countless amenities. 

You can try the luxurious Grand Hyatt Seoul Hotel, the beautiful yet affordable 4-star Ibis Styles Ambassador Seoul, or the 3-star Hamilton Hotel Seoul.

Lastly, Itaewon was once known for how it pandered to foreigners. 

It was and still is a very diverse sector of Seoul, and it’s evolved over the years to become more popular for the nightlife. It’s currently a famous tourist spot for those who love partying and gorgeous sights.

About The Author

Photo of author

Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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