If you remember, in 2012 South Korean singer Psy released the song ‘Gangnam Style’ and it went viral. The catchy tune and famous dance moves seemingly everywhere you went. The K-pop and dance-pop song actually has more meaning to it as ‘Gangnam Style’ refers to a particular lifestyle associated with the Gangnam District of Seoul.
Seoul is divided by the Han River (Hangang), with Gangbuk in the north and Gangnam in the south. Whilst Gangbuk is an older neighbourhood and includes the centre of Seoul, Gangnam is the most affluent district and home to the city’s modern attractions, a fast-developing neighbourhood known as “the Beverly Hills of South Korea”. An economic hub for some of the most powerful companies globally, the deposit to rent a home in Gangnam costs 10 years of salary for the average Korean. The district is home to many Korean celebrities and idols, miles of luxury retail, a wild nightlife and Korea’s biggest entertainment companies.
I don’t recommended to base your stay in Gangnam as it is far out from Seoul’s top attraction. But at least spend one day in one of the coolest and fanciest neighbourhood in Seoul.
Here’s the list of top things you can do in Gangnam
Shop in one of the largest underground shopping center in South Korea. The COEX shopping mall, underneath the Korea World Trade Centre boasts international brands, a concert hall, an extensive food court, the country’s largest aquarium, a cinema, an arcade and a kimchi museum. Hours if not days of entertainment, all in one air conditioned location.
They have Megabox cinema, aquarium and and also connected with Hyundai Dept store. I also found many skincare shops which I found in Myeongdong such as A Land and Lalavla. And of course the more mainstream shop such as etude, innisfree, etc
One of the unique thing they have is Starfield Library. I never see a library inside a mall and the library is huge. Too bad most of the books are in korean. You can not borrow the books as well, you can only read the books there. I saw many people are working and studying there as well.
For some more street based retail therapy, Garosu-gil offers shopping, lunch, and cafes, with all kinds of brands from small to big, Korean to global. K Pop Road is also just a 30 minutes or so walk from here for any fans.
2. Go to the Park
Green space is another joy of Gangnam, which has several parks all with their own unique features. Seokchon Lake and Park, is a space to relax and enjoy being outside, whilst Han River Park provides a lovely riverside location. Samneung Park is full of history, with several tomb mounds and burial grounds, including that of King Seongjong the ninth king of the Joseon dynasty, his wife Queen Jeonghyeon, and King Jungjong the 11th king of the Joseon dynasty, all UNESCO World Heritage sites as are all those of the Joseon dynasty. It’s surrounding beautiful forest is also a fresh change from the dense urban areas nearby. Seoul Olympic Park is a huge area offering everything you can think of including seven different cafés, three restaurants, shops, a K-pop museum, multiple fitness centres, basketball courts and skating arenas. A great place to spend the day and try out the many facilities on offer, such as the bikes, kites, balls and skates all available to rent at low prices. Banpo Han River Park has multiple attractions within the park itself and is a great place for evening walks where you can enjoy the city of Seoul at night and watch the city lights glisten on the water.
3. See the hustle and bustle of Gangnam Station
Gangnam Station offers underground shopping, plenty of cafés and snacks and major shops like the Kakao Friends Flagship Store. Just outside the station there is even a tribute to the famous song, where tourists and locals can get on stage and record themselves dancing whilst the music plays on repeat.
4. Admire the architecture
The Korea World Trade Centre which towers above the CEOX shopping mall is of course not the only impressive building in Gangnam. Another worth visiting is Lotte World Tower, the tallest building in South Korea which stretches 123 stories and 555 meters high. At the top of the building is Seoul Sky Observatory, where you can get an amazing 360-degree panoramic view of Seoul and the city’s beautiful skyline without any obstacles in your way. The observatory even has an indoor glass floor which you can stand on to get that extra adrenaline kick!
5. See how technology and entertainment play a big part in the thriving Gangnam district. Gangnam is home to some of the largest Korean entertainment companies and their headquarters and studios attract many people, who visit hoping to spot a famous Korean idol or two. The buildings regularly even have large groups of fans and TV stations clustered around the entrances. Korean company Samsung also has their Samsung D’light exhibition space in Gangnam, showcasing their latest technology and attracting electronic aficionados and visitors alike who come to interact with the new technology on display
6. Visit Boungensa Temple for some history
Gangnam isn’t just about the high-tech, glamorous celebs and designer shops. The neighbourhood offers history too, for example Bongeunsa, a Buddhist Temple in the centre of Gangnam which displays Korea’s traditional past right in the middle the busy metropolitan area. A haven of Buddhist mantras and peaceful landscapes, you can also stay here on a temple stay that allows you to sleep the night at the Buddhist temple and learn about Buddha’s teachings
7. Nightlife and Food
Seoul’s nightlife is known to be incredible, and it’s no surprise that Gangnam as the richest district is no exception. With plenty of choice for clubs, you can party until the sun comes up in the various venues around Gangnam, which usually play EDM or hip-hop music with separate rooms for different genres. Just remember the clubs are more spaced out than in other areas of the city, although relatively low taxi fares means you can still visit two or three in one evening.
Gangnam food scene does not disappoint either! As well as many restaurants, the neighbourhood has plenty of markets which are ideal for sampling the local cuisine. Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market, which opens every Friday and Saturday, has food trucks selling all sorts of food, both sweet and savoury, and to compliment your feast there is live music of various genres, as well as beautiful handmade products including jewelry and leather goods to admire and purchase.