Anyone that comes to Seoul is already familiar with Gangnam, thanks to the suuuuper popular song from 2012, Gangnam Style.
First, a bit of history about Gangnam. Yes, it’s home to wealthy people, fancy cars, and celebrities, but that’s just one tiny pocket of Gangnam. Gangnam literally means “South of the River” and encompasses basically the entire southeastern region of Seoul including Seocho and Jamsil, not just Gangnam Station area. Gangnam was actually farmland until the 1970s or so and did not really become fully developed until the 80s (or later, depending on your definition of developed). So everything you see in Gangnam is “new” by Korean standards.
1. Gangnam Neighborhood
Gangnam itself is divided into several main areas:
– Cheongdam-dong: True Gangnam Style, home to all the celebrities, fancy cafes, expensive cars.
– Nonhyeon-dong: Standard Gangnam. Offices on the main roads and tons of quiet neighborhoods, residences and local restaurants/bars on the back streets.
– Sinsa-dong: Home to plastic surgery clinics, more businesses, more residences. Also home to Garosu-gil.
– Samseong-dong: Another residential area of Gangnam. Home to COEX, Bongeunsa Temple.
– Seocho-gu: Standard Gangnam. Home to many businesses and high rise apartments.
** Fun fact: Gangnam-daero (Road) is actually the dividing line between Seocho and Gangnam Districts. The average visitor won’t notice a difference, but for residents, it’s a matter of where you pay your taxes and who provides services.
– Songpa-gu: Songpa is actually a huge district that is considered Gangnam, but it spreads east very far. Many, many, maaaaaaaaaaany high rise apartments. Also home to Jamsil Station and Lotte World.
** “Dong” means neighborhood, and “Gu” means district in Korean.
2. Where to go in Gangnam
So today we wanted to take time to share the main hotspots and places of interests to visitors in the Gangnam area:
1) Gangnam Station
Gangnam Station is actually the busiest subway station in Seoul and has a huge underground shopping center. Great for cheap women’s clothes and accessories!
– Gangnam Station Exit 9 and 10: Major shopping street. Every major Korean and foreign brand AND a GIANT Kakao Friends store!
– Gangnam Station Exit 11 and 12 (behind the main road): Looooooooooooong alleyways with TONS of restaurants, bars, and cafes!
Gangnam Station area is also very popular for nightlife. If you want to have a taste of a true Gangnam nightlife, meet our Local Host Michael and enjoy a night out!
2) Garosu-gil (Sinsa Station Exit 8)
Garosu-gil means “Tree Lined Street.” The main street is home to more Korean and international brands. Also home to Korea’s only Apple Store. The highlight of Garosu-gil is actually off the main road – there are TONS of dessert cafes, tiny restaurants, cute bars, and more to explore!
3) Hallyu K Star Road (Apgujeong Rodeo Station Exit 2)
Also home to the Galleria Department Store and Apgujeong Rodeo Shopping/Nightlife Area, this road features many of Korea’s fanciest luxury brands. Fun Fact: This neighborhood is SO fancy, all of these luxury brands have giant stand-alone stores here AND even a store right down the street inside the Galleria Dept. Store…..which makes you wonder, WHO buys all this stuff!? But, K Star Road features many cute character statues for your favorite K Pop groups. If you’re wanting to find a celebrity, it would be here. They live and shop in this area.
4) Seonjeongneung Tombs (Seonjeongneung Station Exit 3 / Seolleung Station Exit 8)
Home to two sets of tombs, this is actually a very beautifully landscaped and relaxing park.
5) Bongeunsa Temple (Bongeunsa Station Exit 1)
A traditional Korean temple right in the middle of the city. Great contrast between past and present, traditional and modern!
6) COEX (Bongeunsa Station Exit 7 / Samseong Station Exit 5 or 6)
The world’s largest underground shopping mall! Home to a giant Megabox movie theater, tons of shopping and food, Kimchi Museum, Coex Aquarium, even a Convention Center, TWO Intercontinental Hotels, a Casino….and even the City Airport Terminal that offers Check In, Immigration, and Bag Drop for your flight.
7) Jamsil Station
The area around Jamsil Station is often called Lotte Town by locals. It’s home to Lotte World, the amusement park, as well as Lotte World Tower, the123 floor skyscraper. Lotte World Tower features not only a giant shopping mall with duty-free shops, restaurants, an aquarium….but a luxury hotel, residences, and the observatory at the top. There is also a Lotte Hotel next door and TWO Lotte Department Stores literally across the street from each other. The CEO of Lotte Group lives in Lotte Tower and the company has all of the various HQs in buildings surrounding the entire station.
3. Getting Around Gangnam
Traffic in Gangnam can be quite brutal. Gangnam is the business hub of Seoul, so many people from all over Seoul and the suburbs come here for work. There are buses available to literally every corner of Seoul and the surrounding area (and buses to other cities at Express Bus Terminal). The subway lines in Gangnam run east to west, so it’s easier to pick a subway line and walk the remaining distance north or south. Don’t really try to transfer in Gangnam subways as you’ll go out of your way. You’ll spend more time changing lines than if you just walked.
Subway Line 9 is perhaps the best part about Gangnam. It has an Express train that can take you all the way across to Gimpo Airport in roughly 30 minutes…but it is PACKED at rush hour! You can then just cross the platform at Gimpo Airport to change to the AREX and be at Incheon Airport in another 40 minutes. There are many airport limousine buses to Gangnam, but be warned in bad traffic it can take almost 90 minutes!
4. Where to Stay
Most people that stay in Gangnam are business travelers for work. I strongly believe Gangnam is the best neighborhood to live in (infrastructure, neighborhood cleanliness, services offered, etc.), but perhaps not the best for a tourist. As a tourist, you’ll be hopping around all day and it’s at least 40 minutes to Myeongdong and central Seoul, and 45 mins – 1 hr to the other side and Hongdae depending on where you are going.
BUT if you stay near Subway Line 9, it is very easy to transfer to other subway lines by Express train. You can be at Seoul Station in 15-20 minutes, Hongdae in 40, and so on.
Try to stay near Subway Line 9 and an Express Stop (Sinnonhyeon Station, Seonjeongneung Station, Bongeunsa Station). Most of the action (shopping, nightlife, 24-hour vibe, busy streets, and activity) is around Sinnonhyeon Station.
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