When traveling, there’s no better way to live it up than to get a taste of the local nightlife. And by that, I mean trying some tasty drinks. But not just at any old boring bar. Nope! For this round, I’m talking some alternative scenes at the best off-beat Korean bars in Seoul. And I say “Korean” because, although you could find some Chilean bars or some shit, that kind of defeats the purpose of, you know, being in Korea. That’s not to say that everything on this list is super traditional. I’ve got a keen eye for off-beat, out-of-the-norm-type stuff. What’s life if you don’t live it up a little?
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Where To Stay in Seoul
Seoul is a huge city, so there are obviously tons of hotels, hostels, and Korean guesthouses to choose from. But since this is a post about bars, I thought I’d recommend a place ideally located for grabbing a taste of the local libations.
L7 Hongdae is in Mapo-gu, the same area as two of the bars on the list below, and comes at a pretty damn decent price for the location and great service.
PHOTO CREDITS: L7 HONGDAE VIA HOTELS.COM
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Best Bars in Seoul For an Unbelievable Night Out
1. Alice Cheongdam – Fun Atmosphere, Fantastical Drinks
Any fans of Alice in Wonderland out there? It’s pretty amazing how far-reaching this classic tale is. I didn’t expect to find an Alice themed bar in Korea, but I’m glad I did. Not only does this whimsical theme keep things interesting, it’s listed as one of the top bars in Asia.
The cocktails fit right in with the atmosphere, with a cotton candy-decorated Cheshire’s Tail and a Hippity Hoppity that comes in a white rabbit-shaped cup. The drinks all look fantastic and are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth, if the reviews are anything to go by. (Though the Hippity Hoppity sounds like it’s more of an acquired taste, so your mileage may vary.)
They’re also pretty active on Instagram, where they’ll post about guest mixers and events. Definitely check it out if you’re in Seoul!
- Open daily from 7 pm until 3 am
- Address: 47 Dosan-daero 55-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
2. Vinyl – Cocktails in a Bag
When I first read this bar’s name, I thought it was referring to an old-school vinyl record. (For all you non-dinosaurs out there, it’s like a big, black disk that stores music and runs on steam power.) But it turns out, “vinyl” comes from the plastic bags the drinks are served in here.
If the owner’s not pulling a fast one, she actually started the baggie trend in Seoul, though she took inspiration from Taiwan’s iced coffee bags.
- Closed Sunday
- Open Mon-Thur from 4 pm until 3 am and Fri-Sat until 5 am
- Address: 61-1 Wausan-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
3. Bar Cham – Classic Oak Front and Some Solid Libations
This is probably the most unassuming bar on this list since it doesn’t have any wacky themes or outrageous decorations. Instead, the quirkiness comes from the creativity of the cocktails, which are a unique mix of traditional Korean drinking culture and modern mixology. It’s also another bar on the list of Asia’s top 50, so you can bank on them offering some top-tier taste.
- Closed Tuesday
- Open Wed-Mon from 6 pm until 1 am
- Address: 34 Jahamun-ro 7-gil, Tongin-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
4. Gopchang Jeongol (곱창전골) – Retro Rock ‘N’ Roll
Ever wonder what the music scene in Korea was like before Kpop? A visit to this bar will give you some first-hand (or maybe first-ear) experience. They play the best Korean rock from the 70s up until the new millennium, so you get a pretty broad range to listen to.
Also, don’t be surprised if you hear this bar’s name elsewhere, since it’s also the name of a popular Korean dish. Overall, it has a cool and comfortable old-timey feel.
- Closed Sunday
- Open Mon-Thur from 7 pm until 3 am and Fri-Sat until 4 am
- Address: 8, Wausan-ro 29-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
5. Cave – Whisky Bar with a Stone Age Aesthetic
Why would a place be called “Cave,” you ask? In this case, it’s pretty obvious: not only is it located underground in the basement of a dessert café, one of the walls has stone jutting out of it. A true bit of “Bedrock” for anyone who’s fond of the prehistoric aesthetic.
Not to worry, though – the food, wines, and whisky provided are definitely not outdated. Granted, I’m stretching the definition of “Korean” bars with this since they mainly serve Italian food, but I couldn’t resist the chance to pun it up.
- Closed Sunday
- Open Mon-Sat from 7 pm until 2 am
- Address: 188-71 Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Curious about Korea?
As much as I’d love to keep going about different bars in Seoul, there are still tons of other parts of the city I want to get to. And it’s not like we have forever to do it, do we? (No, we don’t.) So, be sure to follow me so you can get the latest updates. Up next, ideas for day trips from Seoul you can take and my top picks for off-beat places in Seoul you have to see.
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