Hongdae is one of my favorite areas, and I am definitely not a minority in this. So it should be a part of any at least 2-day itinerary. This part of the city is very lively and popular for young people. The best time to visit the area is late afternoon and evening, as it’s more active at this time and you will also be seeing street performances.
You can start exploring Hongdae by getting to Hongik university station on metro line 2 or Hapjeong station on lines 2 and 6.
Once you alight from metro Hongik university, head immediately to the Musinsa terrace, which is next to metro on the 17th floor of the AK& building, which houses a mall on the lower floors. You can actually go up from inside the mall too, however, the best way is to go towards your right, once you enter the building, where the entrance of the Holiday Inn is and find the elevator there. This elevator goes directly to the top floor. Alternatively, you will have to take escalators to the 5th floor from inside the mall and find the elevator there.
I had heard that there are queues sometimes. I also read that you may need to download the Musinsa app in order to be allowed to enter. However, when we visited on a weekend evening, it was not crowded, and we went up without any issue and without being stopped by anyone.
The terrace is actually the hangout place for young people. Here you will find art space, where people work on art projects. You can enjoy views over Hongdae, as well as neighbouring areas. It certainly is worth it to pop in here and relax for a bit before continuing your walk.
Gyeongui Line Forest Road
After Musinsa walk along Gyeongui Line Forest Road and towards Yeonnam area in order to pop into one of the cafes or restaurants here. This neighbourgood is not technically part of Hongdae, but basically a continuation of its vibes. Some K dramas were filmed around here – for instance, The Secret Life of My Secretary, Descendants of the Sun and More Than Friends.
Even if you don’t visit any other cafes, don’t miss the Greem café – a 2d style café, which is very cool (I am not great with suggesting food places, but you can find a long list of some of the lovely cafes in my post dedicated to Seoul cafes).
After walking around this area, head to the Gyeongui Line Book Street. It’s a former train line with different bookstores and galleries.
If you wish, you can also visit Hongik university campus, which people like to explore, especially during the cherry blossom season. We skipped this though and preferred to explore other areas of Hongdae more closely.
Crowded streets of Hongdae
By this time, it should definitely be dark, even if you are visiting in summer. Walk to various streets of Hongdae, which are very busy in the evening.
You can just get lost here, find tons of different things, if you want to shop, try your force at a shooting range, sing at a karaoke, grab some street food/visit a restaurant or visit a lovely café (don’t miss the cutest Happy Bear Day cafe, which is open till 10pm – more detailed info in my post dedicated to Seoul cafes).
You can also have fun at the Coconut box museum, which works till 9pm, however, it’s expensive at 23,500 won, so if you are visiting other expensive spots, I suggest visiting this on your Discover Seoul Pass days. If you are Harry Potter fan, do pop into 943 King’s Cross café.
Another major thing Hongdae is famous for is the street performances. Every evening you can witness song and dance performances here. I was actually not sure, where should we have gone to find these performers, so this is the location. Obviously, there are no schedules, just walk around this area after dark and enjoy the pop up performances, whatever you will find on that day. We came by a K-pop band, for instance.
These areas were used, as locations of some K-dramas, like Doom at your service and Boys Over Flowers.
If you are still not tired, you can try visiting one of the clubs in Hongdae. Although I have heard, some of them aren’t allowing foreigners, I am not sure how true that is. Let me know of your experience, if you visited a club in the area.