Whether you are already in Seoul and you want to go clubbing or you are planning for you trip to South Korea, this article will give you some tips and tricks about nightlife in the South Korean capital.
In order to enter a club (or drink) in South Korea you should be at least 19 years old. You can expect to be carded when entering a club. Restaurants and bars don’t usually card foreigners, since, as bad as Westerners are at guessing the locals’ age, Koreans always think foreigners are older than they really are!
Tip! If you’re a student/exchange student at a South Korean university and you forgot your Alien Registration Card, you can identify yourself through your school’s ID or website. Universities have online portals and your password will include your birth date. All you have to do is punch the password and the bouncer will let you in.
Identify Yourself With
- Alien Registration Card
- Driver’s License (from your home country)
After you pay the cover fee you can leave you clothes and bags at the wardrobe. You will usually receive a bag (a gym bag if you’re with a big group) or locker to leave your things in. Clubs charge between 2.500 and 5.000 KRW, depending on their location.
The only inconvenient part is that, if you’re there with a big group, and one person decides to leave, they have to be chaperoned to the wardrobe so they can leave the key with someone else in the group. You probably don’t want to lose your key, since that means you have to stay there until everyone else has left.
Opening and Closing Times
Clubs open around 10PM and close at 8/9AM. It depends on how popular the club is, thus how big the crowd is. Once they start sweeping the floor and turning the lights on the magic is gone and the show is pretty much over. It is customary for locals to stay at the club until the first subway, at 730. They might leave earlier than that and his one of the 24h soup restaurants. Soup after drinking is a Korean tradition! It is not advisable to go to the club earlier than 12PM/1AM. You will probably get bored and hungry – while everyone else is either eating dinner or getting warmed up at a bar.
South Koreans love clubbing so much that every last Friday of the month is deemed Club Day. This started in 2001. Taking part costs 15.000 KRW in exchange for which you can get into many clubs! Unfortunately this event onlt takes place in Hongdae. After you pay the cover fee at one of the participating clubs you receive a wristband. This wristband grants you free access in the other clubs. However, you should expect these clubs to have long lines. Get there early!
Now that we’ve covered the basics lets move to Seoul’s best clubbing areas. The three neighborhoods with the best nightlife are Hongdae, in west Seoul, Itaewon in the center and Gangam towards the east.
Hongdae is the perfect place if you are looking for a casual, young atmosphere. The neighborhood is home to hip hop clubs as well as alternative genres such as punk and hardcore. The cover fee ranges between 10.000 and 20.000 KRW. The price of a shot is around 5.000 KRW, while a cocktail can be up to 15.000 KRW.
You can meet a fair amount of foreigners around Hongdae and the locals should not be too shy. You can engage in conversation with Koreans, as they are pretty welcoming of foreign cultures. After clubbing you can also chill at the playground (unless it is too chilly to do so!), it will most likely be packed and people will still be drinking in the morning.
Itaewon is a neighborhood which along with Haebangcheon, homes the highest number of foreigners. From Arab hill in Itaewon to G.I., US-heavy HBC – you can find people all over the world. The clubs are more varied, you can find clubs that play African music, jazz bars to house and hip hop. There are less Koreans in these two neighborhoods, but the ones who are there can most likely speak English and are very open towards foreign cultures.
The prices resemble the ones in Hongdae, 10.000 to 20.000 KRW for the cover fees, 5.000 KRW for a shot and up to 15.000 for a cocktail. Itaewon will have pricier drinks, such as bottles of champagne at clubs. So, if you want to spoil yourself while partying with people from every corner of the world, you can go right ahead!
Gangnam is the wealthiest area in Seoul, thus, you should expect to pay more when clubbing in any Gangnam location. The cover fee is around 30.000 to 40.000 KRW. However, depending on how early you get there, they might waive some of the fee. Be sure to check the clubs’ Facebook page before going! Shots average between 10.000 to 20.000 KRW in Gangnam.
Nevertheless, if you are an attractive foreigner, you might get scouted by one of the club employees and get in for free. Also, in general, the cover fee is either waived or discounted for females.
Try connecting with promoters online! Promoters often post on Craigslist and Facebook. Promoters can either get a discount or can get in you in for free.
If you are a petite girl, changes are you will be groped and grabbed quite a bit! Try taking at least one male friend along when you go clubbing, and don’t drift too far away from your friends.
Likewise, as a foreigner, locals will show their hospitality by shoving shots and bottles or beer down your throat! Watch how much you drink because chances are that if you pass out on a couch they will just leave you there!
The last tip is pretty much a no-brainer but the more popular the club – the more packed it is going to be. And this is a 10 million people thriving metropolis!