Hongdae. Everyone knows it. It’s in all the guidebooks and on all the blogs. It’s the hot place in Seoul to head if you’re an artsy type or enjoy alternative shopping. Hongdae is great – I love it too! – but it’s recently lost its pull. Another area has drawn me away, promising better food, a cooler atmosphere, and shorter queues: Hapjeong.
Hapjeong is just one subway station down from Hongdae on Line 2. You can walk to Hapjeong from Hongdae, as it merges nearly seamlessly together, separated by a two-lane road and busy pedestrian crossing. It combines hot spots such as cafes, arcades, and music venues with offices, apartments, and shops for your everyday needs. One could even argue that Hapejong is the Hongdae for ‘older kids’, and as I near 30, I can’t entirely disagree.
But what are the things that make it so special? Where are the sights and stops one can’t miss on their trip to Hapjeong? With the ever-changing scenery of Seoul, we’re going to stray away from specific cafes and restaurants (although there will be a tag or two) that could easily disappear by the time you read this post. Instead, we’ll introduce three of our favorite streets* and what makes them so special.
*These streets have all been named by yours truly, so don’t go about googling these on any map. Just stick around here for the details.
Hapjeong Food Street
Hapjeong Food Street does have an actual name: Yanghwa-ro 6-gil (양화로 6길). This food street can be found immediately outside of Hapjeong Station Exit 5. And while I wrote this article to help you avoid large crowds, this is undoubtedly the busiest area of Hapjeong. That being said, it’s absolutely worth a visit. This single street changes with every passing month, offering new dining and cafe experiences. You’ll find plenty of traditional Korean eats here such as BBQ, Izakayas, and seafood restaurants. For those craving something with more gluten, European brunch bistros, South East Asian noodles, and spicy Latin bites can also be discovered.
Now, I’m not joking when I say this street changes a lot – and fast – so I won’t be taking the time to recommend anywhere specific. What I will say, however, is that everywhere I’ve been to on this road has never left me disappointed. It’s a great place to come for lunch, as well as dinner and drinks. The crowds are fun, friendly, and playful, but know not to push it. The later you enjoy yourselves, the more drunken stumbling you’ll see, but it’s a long shot from the unwanted attention many of us receive in Hongdae.
What are you waiting for? Plan your next date night or drinks with friends in Hapjeong!
Hapjeong Cafe Street
The truth is, you can find cafes all over Seoul. All over Korea, actually. But there are definitely some quieter, well-known corners of Hapjeong that boast the area’s best coffee and desserts. I’ll call it the Hapjeong Cafe ‘Street’ when it’s really more like a corner between Wausan-ro 13-gil and Sangsu Station. What makes this area so charming is that visitors can spot flavors from around the world. And I know that I promised not to promote any cafe specifically, but the Flamenco-themed cafe Las Famia is just too good not to put out there (they gave us a tea, chocolate, two scones, and tomatoes for FREE). Plus, who doesn’t love Flamenco?
What makes this particular area special is that many of the cafes offer unique desserts – donuts with no hole, American-style pies, and aesthetically pleasing cakes are among many options tucked in these winding alleys. I’m always surprised by the lack of crowds in this heavenly triangle, but I hope you’ll find your way there the next time you’re craving something sweet.
Hapjeong Indie Street
The last street on my list is Wausan-ro 3-gil (와우산로 3길), one that will require a short walk from Hapjeong Station Exit 7 or Sangsu Station Exit 4. I’ve dubbed this street the ‘Indie’ street for its cozy coffee shops, jazz bars, and vegan/organic eateries. It’s probably the street of Hapjeong I’ve spent the most time at, considering I’m often on the lookout for a place to get some work done. The street’s close proximity to the Han River makes it an idyllic place to start your morning before a walk along the water.
The truth is that Indie Street isn’t for someone looking to fill a gap that Hongdae left. This is for the poets, readers, writers, and whisper talkers. You’re going to have no trouble finding a little nook or cranny to listen to your podcast in, and the down-to-earth baristas and chefs make it even better. Even typing this is making me way to make the trek here on a rainy day. If this area is far from your house, but you’re looking to have a productive day, then I strongly suggest making the journey here. You won’t be disappointed.
What do you love most about Hapjeong? Was there anything we need to include? Leave a comment below or message Pinpoint Korea on Instagram @pinpoint.korea or shoot an email to email@example.com. We love to hear from ya!
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