Seoul never sleeps, so the varied and dynamic nightlife in the city includes everything from 24-hour norebang (singing rooms) and snacking at open-air night markets or hofs (Korean pubs) to upmarket clubs and international hotel bars.
Korean culture is alive and well, with traditional performances staged everywhere from palace grounds to night markets. Hongik University (Hongdae) is home to Seoul's vibrant club scene; the upmarket Apgujeong-dong has cinemas, the trendiest cafés and bars and the world-class Seven Luck Casino; and Itaewon has the greatest concentration of western-style pubs and clubs.
Bars in Seoul
This European-style expats' bar is one of the most popular in Seoul and handy for a beer after shopping in Itaewon. With a second floor location over the neighbourhood's main intersection, Gecko's Terrace offers prime seating for people-watching. It also hosts a regular DJ and has pool tables, darts and a big screen showing international sports.Address: Yongsan-gu, 128-5 Itaewon-dong, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 749 9425.
30 floors up in the COEX Intercontinental Hotel, the Sky Lounge seemingly has all the hallmarks of a hotel bar: tall stools facing the mixologist, dining tables amongst lounge seats and the hushed, deal-brokering atmosphere. But they're not the reasons to visit - the 360 degree views across Seoul are. Grab a cocktail sundowner, and a seat by the window, and watch the urban sprawl glaze in the last of the day's orange glow before twinkling and turning into another world at night. The Italian fare is more than decent if you want to stay and eat, plus there's music some evenings too, but nothing here beats the vistas.Address: Gangnam-gu, Seoul COEX Intercontinental Hotel, 524 Bongeunsa-ro, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 02 3430 8630.
The futuristic WooBar at the W Seoul Walkerhill hotel is one of the hottest bars in Seoul, but you'll need to cough up for the 15-minute taxi ride out of the city centre. It claims to have the country's longest bar at 18m (59 ft), and gleefully fills it copious shelves with a choice of 40 vodkas and 200 wines. This cool and contemporary setting has a snug mixture of huge sofas and solo bubble seats with floor-to-ceiling windows offering good views back across the city. A resident DJ spins chilled tunes from a booth that looks like a spaceship. The same hotel's Liquid Bar has a sake cellar.Address: Gwangjin-gu, W Seoul Walkerhill, 21 Gwangjang-dong, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 2022 0333.
Clubs in Seoul
A stop on the clubbing schedule for some of the world's greatest DJs, expect some big name mixologists to drop plenty of next generation electronica at Club Answer. With chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and speakers crisp enough to make them shake, this hip nightspot in the upscale Gangnam district is where the bold and beautiful lose themselves until the sun rises. Upstairs in the VIP room, you'll see bottles of champagne, vodka and tequila being passed around bookable tables like the set of a hip hop video.Address: Gangnam-gu, 125-16 Cheongdam-dong, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 10 4118 7115.
Well known wizards of the house, progressive house and trance music scenes are hailed at the late-running, cutting-edge Club M2. With a slick sound system, dawn license and incredible lighting rig, it's down to international music tastemakers to keep the 1,000 people swell dancing until the lights come up. Boasting one of the largest dance floors in the Hongdae district, this is also one of the most popular clubs in the area, so expect large turnouts nightly.Address: Mapo-gu, Ohoo Building, 367-11 Seogyo-dong, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 3143 7573.
This underground club in the trendy Gangnam neighbourhood features Korean and international DJs spinning electronica and house hits through one of the top sound systems in the city. A massive DJ stage and giant LED screen add to the experience, as does the small indoor swimming pool. Its lounge, VIP tables and balconies let club-goers rest between dance sessions.Address: Gangnam-gu, B1-B2 New Hilltop Hotel, 645 Nonhyeon-ro, Nonhyun-dong, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 516 8847.
Live music in Seoul
An 'incubation site' for up-and-coming jazz talent in Seoul, this intimate club near Hongik University is the place to catch the latest hot young things reaching for the top. Considered one of the top jazz clubs in the city, Club Evans even has its own jazz academy, recording studio and record label. The bar itself is hazily lit with claustrophobic ceilings and a tiny stage; ideal for exclusive, 'you saw them here first' type of shows.Address: Mapo-gu, 2F, 63 Wausan-ro, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 10 5419 8782.
A rare opportunity to see rock 'n roll bands, Club FF also covers ska, punk and fun - the FF stands for Funky Funky. Acts range from solo acts to bands until 11pm, after which there's an 'all you can drink' hour until midnight. Once everyone's suitably lubricated, the venue turns into a dance club.Address: Mapo-gu, 21-7 Donggyo-ro 27-gil, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 10 9025 3407.
Once In A Blue Moon
Seoul's best-known jazz bar offers live music that ranges from original jazz to modern variants. National and international musicians take to the dimmed-lit stage nightly, while some dishes and cocktails served up here are named after history's most famous jazz cats like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. To add to the sophistication of Once In A Blue Moon, the wine list boasts more than 100 varietals.Address: Gangnam-gu, 85-1 Cheongdam-dong, Seoul,
Telephone: +82 2 549 5490.