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Gangnam style! Although arguably most famous outside of Seoul as the title of Psy’s global K-pop hit, Gangnam in Seoul (South Korea) has a unique identity of its own. This trendy neighbourhood is an urban utopia of high-end shopping, traditional temples and choice cultural spots (plus K-Pop references galore).
There are lots of things to do in Gangnam but if you are looking for luxury goods, Gangnam is your one stop shop for handbags, shoes and all your fine fashion, including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Cartier.
From the beautiful teddy bears of K-pop Avenue to the traditional temple of Bongeunsa temple, there are a multitude of activities in Gangnam (including a huge Psy / Gangnam Hands statue – amazing).
So on your next visit to Seoul, these are the top things to do in Gangnam, South Korea:
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Where to stay in Gangnam
Budget accommodation with 19 individually decorated guest rooms – each with flat-screen televisions and a private bathroom. Facilities include a rooftop terrace and garden, shared lounge, kitchen and WIFI. Check out prices and availability for Upflo Hostel
Stay Hotel Gangnam
Modern and comfy hotel with bright and spacious rooms. Located a 3 minute walk away from Yeoksam subway station with many restaurants and coffee shops nearby. Check out prices and availability for Stay Hotel Gangnam
InterContinental Seoul COEX, an IHG Hotel
Located inside the World Trade Centre, this luxurious 5-star hotel includes four restaurants and bars (including an Italian restaurant with a skyline view), casino, golf practice room, outdoor spa pool and indoor pool. Check out prices and availability for InterContinental Seoul COEX, an IHG Hotel
Things to do in Gangnam, Seoul
1. Statue of Gangnam Style
Fittingly, we start with the statue of Gangnam Style, a weird and wonderful Seoul attraction that is a bronze style sculpture located just outside the East Gate of COEX Mall and COEX exhibition centre.
And yes, we and several other bystanders during our visit felt it only appropriate to recreate Psy’s iconic dance in front of the giant pair of hands.
Unveiled in 2015, the Statue of Gangnam style is the ultimate tribute to Psy and his global ‘Gangnam Style’ hit (part of Psy’s Gangnam Style video was filmed here).
Fact fans – Psy’s legendary dance moves were partly filmed outside exit 5 of Gangnam Station.
We’ve also read that Psy’s Gangnam Style music track plays when you stand beside it or on the platform in the middle of the statue but alas it didn’t seem to be working when we last visited in December 2022 (hit us up if it has been fixed when you visit!).
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2. Starfield COEX Mall
For us, Starfield Mall is definitely one of our favourite shopping experiences in Seoul and this retail nirvana is one of the best shopping malls / centres in Seoul; especially due to the presence of the incredible Starfield Library in the centre of the complex (more on this later).
A good mix of fashion, culture, food and entertainment, Starfield COEX Mall is located over several levels and could easily be a day trip in itself if you take your shopping seriously. Flagship stores at Starfield Coex Mall include Zara, H&M and ABC Mart.
Starfield Mall has over 200 stores plus just under 100 eating establishments and dining options to choose from. What we really liked about Starfield COEX Mall is that they had clearly marked ‘food alleys’ on the map meaning you could easily find something to eat.
3. Bongeunsa temple
Easily one of the most beautiful temples in Seoul, Bongeunsa is a Buddhist temple that originally dates from the 8th century – although most of the current site dates back from the 20th century as much of it was destroyed during the wars. It has a huge complex of memorials, places to worship plus even has its own home stay in a temple scheme.
Bongeunsa temple is free to visit (donations are appreciated) and we were blown away by how big this place of worship is.
One of the many highlights was the serene hillside location whereby a huge 100ft stone statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha looks out over Gangnam-su. Just below it, there is a square with thousands of smaller versions of the Buddha; an incredible site.
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4. K Star Road (AKA GangnamDol bears)
A complete contrast to the aforementioned serene Bongeunsa temple, one of the most frequently visited things to do in Gangnam are the brightly coloured K-pop bears of K Star Road.
These ‘GangnamDols’ (brightly coloured bear dolls) line a 1 km stretch of road with around 20 big bears representing the cream of K-pop talent and famous K-pop dolls.
As you’d expect, the ‘star’ of K Star Road is a huge Psy bear / GangnamDol (near Apgujeong Rodeo Station exit 2), but other bears include Girl’s Generation, Miss A and 4Minute – and yes, the BTS Gangnam-su bear is incredibly popular.
5. Garosu-gil shopping street
Garosu-gil is a tree-lined avenue in Gangnam renowned for its shopping and retail stores, which has Gingko trees dotted along the street that bloom into bright colours during the Autumn months.
Along Garousil gil, you’ll find a raft of retail and international clothing chains like Levis and Arket, plus iconic global brands like Apple (the Apple store in Gangnam is one of the biggest in South Korea).
You’ll also fine lots of nice cafes and gourmet goodie shops along here – look out for the gorgeous ‘gift-wrapped’ Godiva Gangnam chocolate store along here.
This has led to Garosu-gil street becoming one of the most popular daytime activities in Gangnam as well as a popular filming location for Korean TV series and teen dramas.
Given the aesthetics and design led nature of the businesses in and around Gangnam’s Garosu-gil street, it also goes by the local nickname of ‘Artist’s Street’.
6. Cute character stores galore in Gangnam
If you like your cartoon characters charming and cutesy, one of the best things to do in Gangnam is to visit the plethora of character shops.
The best known of these in Gangnam is the Line Friends Flagship Store where you can create your own merchandise as well as pose with your favourite friends.
Whilst in Gangnam, we also visited the Kakao Friends Gangnam Flagship Store, another famous chain of stores in Seoul that feature ever so cute and fluffy adorable animals across a variety of merchandise.
7. Starfield Library at COEX Mall (our favourite thing to do in Gangnam)
As well as shopping at Starfield COEX Mall, you’ll also see Starfield Library, one of the most memorable and aesthetically pleasing spaces we’ve ever encountered in a Seoul shopping mall.
Surely this has to be the best looking and most accessible library in the world? So much so that it can be hard to get a book from the shelves with all the posing and photography going on (for real).
Unlike other libraries, you don’t need to be a registered user to read the books, and several cafes and coffee shops are ‘hidden’ amongst the gigantic bookshelves.
8. COEX Aquarium
Located within the COEX Mall, this awesome aquatic adventure is a welcome respite from the shops and boutique stores that surround it.
With 16 themed zones and a huge number of sea species (including sharks), the COEX Aquarium is the largest aquarium in Seoul. Highlights include a ‘real-life’ mermaid, a parade of penguins plus jelly-fish galore.
Prices start from $18.65 per child and $19.45 per adult as at February 2023 when booked in advance.
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9. Apgujeong Rodeo Street / Cheongdam Fashion Street
A firm fashion favourite on the Seoul shopping scene, Apgujeong Rodeo Street is a trendy treasure trove of boutique stores and bling (putting the ‘style’ into ‘Gangnam style’).
It is also signposted by a ‘I <heart> Rodeo’ golden statue man (they love interesting statues in Gangnam, eh).
As well as independent and artisan stores, you’ll find the famous Galleria Department Store and iconic luxury brands like Prada, Gucci and Armani.
We were surprised too by the sheer number of luxury sports cars and cabriolet cars driving along Apgujeong Rodeo Street when we visited; kinda reminiscent of Knightsbridge in London.
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10. Lotte World
What a Lotte fun! One of Seoul’s largest theme parks and Disney-esqe in style, Lotte World is on the outskirts of Gangnam and well worth a visit.
With a huge indoor amusement centre and outdoor Magic Island, Lotte World is fun for all ages and also includes various entertainment like daily parades and live music shows.
We once visited Lotte World in December and so much of the park was themed with Christmas activities (read more about Seoul Christmas lights and Christmas events).
Note that Lotte World gets incredibly busy after school with students visiting in large groups making some of the ride queue times hours long – so try and arrive at Lotte World early to tackle the bigger rides.
Tip – if you have a Discover Seoul Pass, Lotte World is the best value / biggest discount attraction featured on the pass so make sure you include it as part of your Discover Seoul Pass itinerary. Read our review of the Discover Seoul Pass here >
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As of Autumn 2023 we are currently digital nomading / travelling around Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea). Check out our daily travel diaries on Instagram @.c.k.travels >
11. Megabox Cinema Gangnam
The best place to catch the latest South Korean movie or Hollywood thriller is at the Megabox Cinema in Gangnam, located in the basement area of COEX Mall.
This good-looking Gangnam movie theater has 17 screens plus one hell of a beautiful coffee shop in its lobby. Megabox COEX cinema screens a variety of movies including arthouse fare and occasional live streams of events.
12. Lotte World Tower & Seoul Sky
Get high in Gangnam – well, kind of, Lotte World Tower is the tallest tower in South Korea (and the sixth tallest in the world). It opened to great fanfare in 2017 and offers incredible panoramic views of the Seoul skyline.
The observation deck area is called ‘Seoul Sky’ which is spread across several floors (levels 117 to 123). At the tip, you’ll find a glass floor walkway (not for the faint hearted plus a posh lounge, a couple of cafes and a sky terrace.
Lotte World Tower is open daily from 10.30am until 10pm (last admission to Seoul Sky is at 9pm). Times correct as at June 2023.
Craft Beer Bars in Gangnam
Seoul is renowned for its craft beer bars and is one of the best things to do in Gangnam is to grab a pint of beer direct from a brewery or taproom. This could also be a nice way to reward yourself after a hard day’s shopping.
Here are 3 of Gangnam’s best craft beer brewery bars:
13. Mikkeller Bar
Mikkeller is a popular Danish brewery that has taprooms located all over the world, including a South Korean outpost in Seoul.
Hidden away in a side-street of the Garuso Street neighbourhood in Gangnam, Mikkeller Bar Seoul is a bare bones taproom with a large bar up front, bay windows looking out onto the street and several character illustrations dotted around the wall.
Boasting up to 30 craft beer tap lines at any one time, half of the fun with drinking Mikkeller Beer is the cartoon style can and bottle designs – this quirky look is also carried through onto their pint glasses.
14. Garosu Brewing
Hidden away in the side streets of Sinsa-dong, Garosu Brewing has a beer garden and taproom with their own range of core craft as well as craft beers from all over the world. The brewing action takes place right next door (smell the hops!).
Based on our experience, Garosu Brewing Company seems to be the cheapest craft beer brewery in Seoul with a 14oz Garosu G Porter costing just 5,000 Won.
How best to describe Artmonster Gangnam? A neon nirvana of brightly lit signs, copious craft beer and self pour technology – perhaps the Bladerunner of breweries in Seoul?
Artmonster Gangnam is an appealing and aesthetically interesting bar in Gangnam. Your experience begins as you first enter via the alley way out front chock full of Hong Kong style neon street signs to entice you in.
In fact, Artmonster Gangnam, has featured in multiple music videos, dramas and TV chat shows (we know as they show a video of all its TV appearances on loop in the upstairs bar).
Thankfully it isn’t just style over substance as Artmonster’s beer range delivers, with a veritable treasure trove of beer styles, both their core range and seasonal offerings and collaborations.
Best of all, you can pour beers yourself using a smart bit of technology. As you are seated, you are given an electronic wristband which you can use to pour your own drinks.
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16. Hyundai Department Store Apgujeong Main Store
Giving off Roman Colosseum vibes from its exterior (check out the arch main entrance), the Hyundai Department Store Apgujeong Main Store is a mainstay of shopping in the Gangnam neighbourhood and one of the biggest malls here.
Based across seven floors (with restaurants on the 6th floor and a Sky Garden on the top floor), luxury boutiques located in Gangnam’s Hyundai store include Gucci, Chanel, Hermes and Tiffany & Co.
17. Catch a baseball game
South Korea’s most popular sport is baseball so after a day of exploring Gangnam, why not catch a game of baseball at the Jamsil baseball ground.
The baseball season in South Korea runs approximately from April to September every year and Seoul is fortunate enough to have two home baseball teams – the Doosan Bears and the LG Twins. There will often be several baseball games a week played at Jamsil stadium (it is a huge stadium, holding 25,000 spectators).
You may ask – ‘How do I get baseball tickets in Seoul If I’m visiting from overseas? It is actually surprisingly easy. We went to the Jamsil baseball stadium one week night in summer 2023 and bought tickets from the box office just before the baseball game started – the Jamsil stadium box office for baseball tickets opens 90 minutes before the game.
Foreigners can buy Seoul baseball tickets at Jamsil stadium for as little as 13,000 Won (around £8 / $10 USD).
We went to see the Doosan Bears take on the Samsung Lions at Jamsil Stadium and bought tickets on the gate for 13,000 Won sitting in the navy section – such incredible value and one of the cheapest activities and things to do in the Gangnam area of Seoul.
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18. Maison Kitsuné Cafe and Clothing Shop
Hidden in the back-streets of Gangnam down an unassuming leafy lane-way, one of the best looking clothing shops with an equally gorgeous cafe is Maison Kitsuné – where coffee meets couture!
A cute cafe is located on the ground floor as you enter, with views of a wooded courtyard (lit up by fairy lights at night). Maison Kitsuné’s fine ‘foxy’ fashion can be found on the upper level and in another studio downstairs next to the cafe.
Maison Kitsuné is a French-Japanese lifestyle brand that has branches in several countries plus also runs a record label – so a suitable set up for some real ‘Gangnam style’ shopping and sweet treats.
19. Gangnam Selfie Photo Photos / Korean Selfie Booths
Selfie booths and shops are a super big business in Korea…one of the newest things to do in Gangnam (and most popular) which seems to have cropped up a lot more in recent years, to easily replace shops and restaurants that closed down during COVID-19.
The selfie kiosks in Gangnam are generally located around the West Gangnam neighbourhood. The photo selfie shops are usually brightly painted with enticing neon signs and are often unmanned. Once inside, you can borrow clothes and all sorts of fun props and then pose for selfies or take photos in booths for a small fee (using an electronic kiosk).
Often the photo booths in these selfie booths in Gangnam allow you to print out stickers as a souvenir to take home or share with friends. We noticed how popular selfies booths are in Myeongdong too (plus super popular in Ximending, Taiwan too).
Some of the most popular booths in the West Gangnam area are Photoism, Photo drink and Photomatic – we also spotted a few limited edition photo booths on our last visit to Gangnam.
For instance, there was a limited edition pop up ‘Slam Dunk’ photo-booth with a high queue lining up to use the booth (where you could pose in a kiosk and add the Slam Dunk comic book character).
20. Gentle Monster Gangnam Flagship Store Sinsa
Gangnam never fails to surprise us in terms of how extravagant and epic some of the fashion stores are – this is proven none more so than at the Gentle Monster Gangnam Flagship Store Sinsa which is part art gallery, part glasses and optical wear shop.
Most of the Gentle Monster Gangnam shop interior is white in colour and each floor has a centrepiece installation that the eye is drawn – for instance, there is a literal ‘elephant in the room’ on the first floor.
Yes, Gentle Monster in Gangnam has a huge upside down model elephant hanging from a harness next to some Roman columns – not your typical eyewear store.
Gentle Monster is one of the best known Korean optical brands famed for its oversized glasses with low bridge noses which help create a smaller face effect. Gentle Monster glasses are often worn by K Pop artists and Korean celebrities.
21. Take a guided tour around Gangnam
Our final thing to do in Gangnam, South Korea – hopefully we’ve given you all the insights and tools you need to see all these things to do in Gangnam and do a self guided tour.
However, if you are short on time and would prefer some additional local insights and knowledge, there are several Gangnam guided tours and trips you can take, some of which include food and drink tasting options.
Gangnam in Seoul guided tours and street food trips start from around £30 ($37) and include:
22. Cheongdam Food Street
Handily signposted along K Star Road, Cheongdam Food Street is a Gangnam gourmet delight with over 50 restaurants located along it or very near it.
From the healthy fare of Granology (a premium granola eatery – how Gangnam!) to Japanese style Izakayas and coffee shops galore, you can get your foodie fix along Cheongdam’s Food street.
Our final things to do in Gangnam…
23. C27 Cheesecake and Coffee
After a day of shopping and retail therapy in Gangnam, reward yourself at this cool coffee shop that specialises in colourful cheesecakes – they often have around 30 cheesecakes to choose from (not always a ‘cheesy’ decision to make!).
C27’s Cheesecake flavours include triple vanilla cheese, wild strawberry, dutch apple and tiramisu – you can buy individual cheese-cake slices to enjoy with your coffee or to takeaway as a decadent dessert to enjoy at home.
As you might expect from somewhere called C27 Cheesecake and Coffee, their signature hot drink is a cheese latte – you’d better brie-leave it!
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