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One of Seoul’s most popular shopping and restaurant districts, Myeongdong is a lively and vibrant neighbourhood popular with locals and tourists alike. A retail mecca by day and bustling street food and foodie destination by night, Myeongdong has many things to do and see.
From historic buildings like Myeongdong cathedral to the colourful comic characters on Cartoon Road, Myeongdong is one of the best places to visit in Seoul…and make sure you arrive on an empty stomach; the side streets are awash with restaurants galore, plus a whole street dedicated to fried chicken and beer establishments – heaven.
Here is our guide to the best things to do in Myeongdong, Seoul in South Korea:
Where to stay in Myeongdong, Seoul
Here are some highly recommended places to stay in the neighbourhood of Myeongdong, Seoul:
Hotel 8 Hours
This budget hotel is located a 5 minute walk from Myeongdong subway City Hall station exit. Rooms are compact but modern and hotel facilities include TV, refrigerator, shower booth, hairdryer and free toiletries. Check out prices and availability for Hotel 8 Hours.
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Seoul Myeong-dong
We stayed at this popular chain hotel for 5 nights and really loved the comfortable room and the location was perfect – right in the heart of Myeongdong. Check out prices and availability for Sotetsu Fresa Inn Seoul Myeong-dong.
L7 Myeongdong by LOTTE
This trendy 4-star hotel is located right by the subway station and within a few minutes of the shopping areas. Facilities include a rooftop bar which has views of the city and Mount Namsan. Check out prices and availability for L7 Myeongdong.
Things to do in Myeongdong, Seoul
1. Myeongdong Walking Street
A UNESCO listed street no less, Myeongdong Walking Street is the epicentre of Seoul’s retail and fashion world, with hundreds of shops to choose from plus numerous bars and restaurants hidden along its alleys.
Designated a special tourist zone and pretty much pedestrianised other than the occasional taxi trying to do a hotel drop off, Myeongdong Walking Street is a must do when visiting Seoul. It is also worth a visit both in the day and at night, as in the evening, all the streets are lit with an array of neon signs and bright lights – very cool to see.
With around 4 million visitors a year, Myeongdong Walking Street can get very busy (especially at night when the street food vendors start) so it may be worth planning several visits here whilst in Seoul so you can see it all.
2. Myeongdong Night Market / Street Food Market
Each night, Myeongdong Walking Street hosts a huge food market that begins from around 3pm until 11pm (although many stalls start to pack up from around 10pm).
Around 400 street food traders are in operation at Myeongdong Walking Street Market but generally alternate each night, meaning at any one time, you’ll get around 150 to 200 street food stalls to choice from (tip – arrive on an empty stomach!).
There is so much choice of street food at Myeongdong Walking Street in the evenings – foods available included tarot potatoes, grilled squid, fishcakes, tteokbokki rice cakes and lobster.
In terms of sweet and dessert stalls, some of the most popular stalls at Myeongdong night market included strawberries on a stick coating in a sugar glaze, icing plus sweet pancakes (the biggest queue always is for a stall called ‘fancakes’ which we think was essentially a hotteok variant).
Want to try lots of South Korean food in Seoul? Visit Gwangjang Market >
3. Seoul Comic Book / Cartoon Road Seoul (Zaemiro)
Across the road from Myeongdong Station and on the edge of the Walking Street, Seoul’s Comic Book / Cartoon Road comes to life with a colourful cavalcade of street art and murals adorning many buildings (with many cartoon statues and public art thrown in for good measure).
Also known as Zamiro, Seoul’s Cartoon Street begins from Myeongdong Station and extends to Seoul Animation Center / Centre. Literally a street of fun, there are several posing and photo spots along the route and can be visited any time of the day.
As part of Cartoon Road, also look out for the quirkiest bus stop in the whole of Seoul (it is a huge cartoon bus).
4. Myeongdong Cathedral
South Korea’s oldest Roman Catholic Cathedral was consecrated in 1898 and can be accessed via a steep flight of steps a short walk from the main Myeondong Walking Street.
We visited during December so the cathedral gardens were awash with classic white LED lights plus Christmas phrases in many languages from all over the world appeared in neon above the Church shop.
Below the cathedral, you;ll discover a rather nice underground shopping shopping centre with cafes, bookshops, restaurants, a Subway plus one of the biggest 7-Elevens in Seoul – thank you Lord!
5. The Stylenanda Pink Hotel and Cafe
Pink as! Hard to miss given its bright pink exterior, the Stylenanda Pink Hotel and cafe is actually a very cleverly designed retail shop that resembles the layout of a hotel (so for instance, one floor is designed like a laundry, another like a bedroom, another a cafe etc).
Stylenanda is a fashion brand that has two beautifully designed stores in Seoul, one in Hongdae and this one in Myeongdong (the former has the bigger cafe).
The Pink Pool Cafe and Stylenada Pink Hotel Cafe is open daily from 11am to 11pm and is an Instagrammer’s wet dream (it also reminded us slightly of the Wes Anderson movies – nice).
6. Cat’s Playground – Myeongdong Cat cafe
Fur real. A ‘purrfect’ way to spend a rainy afternoon, Seoul has several cat cafes and Myeongdong is no exception.
Promising over 50 cute as kitties (although many will likely be taking a cat nap when you visit), the Cat’s Playground is hidden on the second floor of a small side street building – just look for the flashing a-boards or person in a cat suit.
The Cat’s Playground in Myeongdong costs around 10,000 Korean won to enter which includes a drink and access to the cats. Note that the cat food is an additional cost and is around 2,000 Korean Won.
7. Korea Mart, Myeongdong
The best place in Myeongdong for cheap souvenirs, tasty sweets and all manner of Seoul and South Korean goodies, Korea Mart in Myeongdong was an excellent discovery.
Compared to the likes of 7-Eleven and the CU stores that Seoul is famous for, we found Korea Mart a lot cheaper (e.g. 600 Korean Won for a Lotte Iced coffee can compared to 1,000 in 7-Eleven) plus had some quite cute and quirky gifts like cartoon socks, Seoul fridge magnets plus chocolate galore!
8. Isaac toast
Isaac Toast is a top toasted sandwich store, with two branches in Myeongdong (both are small kiosks meaning no indoor seating).
Isaac Toast can be found all over South Korea (700 outlets and counting) and is a cheap and popular toasted sandwich chain. Their classic sandwich consists of ham, cheese, egg, pickle and diced cabbage covered in swathes of sauce, covered in toasted butter sweet bread.
Whilst not gourmet cuisine, most sandwiches cost around the 3,000 to 4,000 Korean Won mark and each toastie is cooked fresh, so it is perfect for a cheap eat.
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9. Myeongdong Kyoja
Divine dumplings and a beautiful broth is all we can say about Myeongdong Kyoja Branch – one sup and we were hooked.
We first discovered Myeongdong Kyoja Branch purely by chance when we saw a HUGE queue snaking down one of Myeongdong’s side streets – these people clearly were onto something good so we decided to come back another day and try their dishes for ourselves.
The thing is, we went back multiple days but the queue was always huge so it took a massive snowfall and a mid afternoon seating for us to get in without a massive queue, such is the popularity of Myeongdong Kyoja Branch.
Why so popular? Perhaps it is because they only offer four dishes? Maybe it is because it is pretty cheap? (e.g. 5,000 Korean Won for a bowl of dumpling and noodle soup, or 6,000 Won for a bowl of pork dumplings. Or possibly it is the robot waiters that bring the food to your table (often with the help of waiting staff).
We really liked Myeongdong Kyoja Branch – whilst we found their noodles a little slimy compared to other restaurants, their meaty broth was spot on and their dumplings delicious. We also liked how you order on a vending machine at the start before you go in so that food is delivered to you very promptly – we can see why people are willing to queue now. If you can avoid peak lunch and dinner hours, you should be OK.
10. Seoul Animation Centre
Seoul Animation Centre is easy to spot as the front entrance is adorned with a huge army of cartoon character statues (a very good and fun photo opp). Seoul Animation Center is a huge cultural complex launched in 1999 by the local Government to help promote the South Korean animation industry.
It has a cartoon library, cinema and hosts temporary exhibitions as well as housing a permanent Ani Land / Town cartoon park for children, and is located across from Myeongdong Station.
Whilst visiting Seoul Animation Centre, also check out Cartoon Street (Zaemiro).
11. Lotte Department Stores Myeongdong
Lotte dominates many of South Korea’s markets, from food and beverage to entertainment and amusements, and has huge malls all over South Korea.
Myeongdong actually has three Lotte malls, including its flagship Lotte Department store.
Lotte Young Plaza has six levels of shopping including Muji and Uniqlo stores inside plus a basement level dedicated to K-Pop and cartoon characters.
Lotte Department Store Avenue branch has premium and upmarket stores whilst Lotte Department Store Main has numerous fashion, electronics, homeware and jewellery stores plus a rather good food court and luxury food store in the basement level.
Tip – for a fantastic (and free) aerial view of Myeongdong Walking Street and Namsan Park, head up to the top floor of Lotte Young and take the air-bridge towards Lotte.
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12. Shinsegae Shopping Mall Myeongdong
Similar to Lotte, Shinsegae has several malls and shopping complexes located within Myeongdong (and puts on an incredible light show at Christmas).
Shinsegae as a brand was the first to introduce the notion of shopping centres in South Korea and is well regarded by locals. This is their flagship store (in Myeongdong) with other department stalls in Busan and at Incheon Seoul international airport.
Shinsegae operates a Shinsegae Duty Free complex on the 8th to 12th floors. If you aren’t into shopping, there is a roof garden and cafe on the top floor of Shinsegae Myeongdong too.
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13. Myeongdong ‘Chicken and Beer’ Street
Myeongdong has a whole host of chicken and fried beer restaurants dotted in and around the neighbourhood.
However, for the best choice of beer and chicken within a short distance and all next door to each, head to the Myeongdong Fried Chicken and Beer street (found on Google maps at Myeongdong 7ga-gil).
Here, you find a neon-lit street chock full (or should that be ‘chick full’?) of the best and most authentic fried chicken and beet restaurants and pubs in Myeongdong (and most have a menu outside on display so you can see prices and what beer / chicken is on offer before going in).
Restaurants include BHC Chicken Myeongdong, Chir Chir Chicken, Daily Beer, Puradak Chicken and Fusion Chicken Factory – quite a lot of chicken and beer to choose from.
Chir Chir Chicken Myeongdong
On Myeongdong’s beer and chicken street, we tried Chir Chir chicken, an American diner style chicken joint where you could get a huge plate of chicken (enough for two people) for around 20,000 Korean Won – various chicken flavours were available like honey and soy, garlic and spicy.
Whilst not a Seoul craft beer bar per se, Chir Chir Chicken Myeongdong had a few draft beers on tap and several cans, but the best value option was around 5,000 Korean Won for a medium Cass beer (1600ml jugs were available for around 15,000 Korean Won). Chir Chir was popular with big groups and the American / NYC style theming was quite good.
14. Myeongdong Theatre
Myeongdong Theatre / Theater is located along Myeongdong Walking Street and can be easily spotted due to its grand exterior.
A cultural complex located over five floors with a cafe too, Myeongdong Theatre is known for its nightly Nanta shows (it has a dedicated Nanta Theatre) which is a mix of slapstick / physical comedy, dancing music and generally high energy performance.
15. Myeongdong Underground mall
Reminiscent of the underground shopping scene in Montreal, Canada, Myeongdong’s underground shopping mall network was a god-send when we last visited Seoul in December 2022 in minus 15c temperatures.
These subterranean shops (located in around Myeongdong Metro station) were an escape from the sub-zero temperatures and were awash with sock shops, K-pop stores plus vinyl LP stores. The popularity of vinyl LPs in Seoul and South Korea has had a huge resurgence in recent years – there are lots of vinyl record stores plus vinyl LP cafes like the Music Complex Seoul in Insadong.
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16. Artmonster Myeongdong craft beer pub
The craft beer scene in Seoul is legendary and it isn’t just about fried chicken and beer – well, it kinda is but you can also pair that delicious sometimes fried chicken with some craft beer (the Korean beer scene isn’t just about Cass and Terra beers).
Artmonster in Myeongdong is a craft beer bar, situated above a jewellery shop. Artmonster is a Seoul based brewery known for its retro as, vintage styled craft beer bars and have several bars including another in Gangnam.
We liked our two trips to Artmonster Myeongdong – we had a tasting flight of 5 x 220ml beers from their core craft beer selection (around 19,000 Korean Won) so we could get a taste for Artmonster’s craft beers (very good especially the IPAs). We also popped by a second time to try one of their pizzas with more beer (beer good, pizza was OK).
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17. Buy socks in Myeongdong
Like, shed loads of socks! Literally every other stall in Myeongdong (ish) sells funky, quirky pop socks or cartoon character socks – and they are cheap too with cutesy colourful ankle socks starting from 1,500 Korean Won (less than a £1) a pop. From Hello Kitty and Doraemon to slightly non legit branded socks like Starbucks or 7-Eleven, this is sock Heaven.
For the best choice and highest concentration of sock shops in Myeongdong, ‘hot foot’* it either the Myeongdong Underground shopping mall or the stalls and shops along Myeongdong Walking Street.
*sock joke, you are welcome!
18. Noon Square Fashion Mall
Whilst not as big as the neighbouring Lotte and Shinsegae malls, Noon Square Mall situated along Myeongdong Walking Street is fashion focussed shopping centre with several big brand shops like Nike plus a fifth floor dedicated to fashion and garments from new and up and coming designers.
Noon Square Fashion Mall is open daily from 11am to 10pm.
19. Korean skincare and beauty stores
Myeongdong is the ultimate shopping destination if you are looking for some K-beauty and skincare products and the newest beauty trends.
There are several flagship shops to check out in the neighbourhood and popular places include Olive Young, Nature Republic, Holika Holika, Skin Food, Laneige, Innisfree and StyleNanda 3CE.
20. Myeongdong Walking Street Police Station
Seoul (and South Korea generally) is known for its cute cartoon characters in all walks of life, from on the Metro to mobile phone company markets.
So why should the Seoul police force be any different? The Myeongdong Walking Street police station has two policeman and policewomen characters outside. Not so much a Myeongdong thing to do (as you won’t be able to enter the station unless you’ve been up to no good – probably).
21. HBAF stores
We were H-Baffled at first by the sheer number of these stores in and around Myeongdong Walking Street. We lost count after five and even a new one was shopfitted from scratch and opened in the two weeks we spent in and around Myeongdong – some HBAF stores in this area were also like only four shops apart.
HBAF is a food / snacking company that sells all manner of nuts, snacks and coated goodies like honey butter almonds, wasabi almonds, mini caramel salted pretzels.
The HBAF stores are brightly lit with huge nut like cartoon character malls and rammed to the rafters with colourful food packaging and sachets. The HBAF products are also stocked in many big stores like Olive Young and Korean Mart.
We bought the chick peas covered in a garlic bread butter coating and they weren’t really to our liking but the stores were very popular so what do we know?!
22. Myeongdong Christmas Markets and lights
We were lucky enough to visit Seoul in the run up to Christmas 2022 / 23 so basing ourselves in Myeongdong, we got to see all the Christmas lights dotted around the area.
We’d recommend Myeongdong at Christmas as it has a lot of Christmas lights and displays in close proximity.
At one of Myeongdong Walking Street, you have Myeongdong Cathedral (Catholic) all brightly lit up with white lights and a nativity scene (the only Christmas nativity scene we saw in Seoul). At the other end of Myeongdong Walking Street, you have the bright lights and festive window displays of the Lotte mall and Shinsegae malls respectively.
At Christmas, Myeongdong Walking Street also has a huge tree outside Myeongdong Theatre plus a trail of lights in the trees and above some of the streets in the Myeongdong Walking Street area. Myeongdong is a firm fixture on the Christmas light night bus tours that many Seoul hop-on hop-off bus tours operate.
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