See also: 30 Best Things to Do in Seoul
You read Gangnam in the title and you immediately thought of PSY’s song ‘Gangnam Style’, didn’t you? You are not that off the mark; PSY is actually talking about this picturesque district, located in Seoul. The word ‘Gangnam’ literally indicates ‘South of the Han River’. Gangnam is the third largest district of Seoul, and the area is known for being one of the most upmarket and modern areas of Seoul. Gangnam is a major tourist destination and there's with a wide range of things to do for everyone.
The first urge of any tourist, after stepping down on the station, would be to dance on PSY’s world-famous song. If you feel like that, then just do that! At Exit 5 of the station, the place has become a sort of like a tribute to the song, where locals and tourists gather and record themselves grooving to the tunes of ‘Gangnam Style’. It’s not just this place – you can literally go around the Gangnam road and do the steps there. The area around the station is filled with cafés and underground shopping centres. If you are tired from so much dancing, you can always explore this area.
Cheongdam Fashion Street
To all the fashion lovers out there, this street will appeal the most to you. Popularly known as ‘Celebrity Street’, Cheongdam Fashion Street has the global luxury brands in one place, all lined up so that you can access them in one place. The major brands – such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Prada – are meshed comfortably with Korean and avant-garde shops and designers, including the Son Jung Wan and Martin Margiela. However, while the street is known for such brands, those are the only thing Cheongdam offers. There are interesting beauty and hair salons – offering ‘Korean’ makeovers – as well as elite restaurants and cafes dispersed all over the street. One might go in as a local or a tourist, but they will come out of the street feeling like a celebrity – such is the experience of the ‘Celebrity Street’.
Starfield Library is a beautiful attraction of the COEX Mall, situated just right in the centre of the main area. It stands up to two storeys tall and around 2,800 square-meters in width – you can just visualize how huge it would be to amass a space like that. The library houses more than 40,000 books, the genres ranging from humanities and economics to fiction and non-fiction. A section of it contains books from foreign authors and widely popular books; that means you will definitely see a copy of Harry Potter in there. Book-related events take place here frequently, including poetry reading, book concerts, authors’ meet and book talks, to name a few.
Bongeunsa Temple is a much-visited, Buddhist temple in the area. The name’s literal translation is ‘Offering Mercy Temple’ and quite rightfully so. It was established Shilla dynasty, in the year 794, initially named as Gyeonseongsa temple. While Buddhist temples are usually seen to be situated on the top of the mountains, this one is actually seen to be nestling on the ground, in fact on COEX mall’s northern side. The temple offers overnight stay, where you can be educated about the teachings of Buddha. The surroundings are peaceful, enough that you won’t even notice that you are actually in the middle of bustling city. People are always seen to be paying a visit to this temple to calm themselves in the presence of spirituality and enjoy the traditional and amazing architecture of the place.
There was a time when Samsung literally ruled the mobile world. The lesser-known fact here is that Samsung is actually a Korean company. Samsun D’light is an exhibition centre, showcasing – as you may have deduced by the name – latest devices and technologies launched by Samsung. It is situated in the Samsung headquarter building, which is in turn attached to the Gangnam station. The first floor is filled with exhibits, while the second floor showcases their future plans and what technology and products they are or will be, working in the near future. The lower floor is a retail store; you can buy any of the Samsung products you want. It is a paradise for Samsung lovers, that’s for sure!
COEX Mall is an underground mall, situated deep within the confines of Korea World Trade Center. It is, in fact, considered to be the largest underground shopping areas in the whole of South Korea and subsequently, Asia. While it has everything we typically see in a mall – international brands, retail stores, a movie theatre, food court, restaurants – it also has a proper concert hall, a whole aquarium, arcade and even a kimchi museum. A kimchi museum is a big thing there since Kimchi is one of the staples included in the Korean cuisines. Such museums contain all the information there is to learn about kimchi, right from the distinct varieties to even fun, kimchi-related activities. People are usually seen, therefore, to be lining up for a visit to the kimchi museum. Other attraction people crowd in the COEX mall for is the aquarium, where it takes them on a trip from the Andean mountains to the evergreen Amazon rainforest.
Banpo Han River Park
The Han River is one of the important rivers of Seoul and happens to flow through Gangnam. By the edges of the river, you can see a number of parks lined up. However, the most famous of these parks is Banpo Han River Park, which has a night market, a beautiful rainbow fountain and offers Boat or Yacht Rides along the river. The Night Market is open on weekends, from 6:00 PM till 11:00 PM, selling pretty handmade products, with live music in background and stalls of delicious food. You can also get that feeling of gliding on the water, by booking a boat or yacht ride in the river. If you book a ride from the Park in the evening, you will just catch the show of the Banpo Bridge Rainbow fountain when it’s dark, in all its colorful, radiant glory.
Garosu-gil is literally the best area to find beautiful cafes, with great ambience and even better food. ‘Garosu-gil’, in Korean, literally means ‘tree-lined street’; that is exactly what this area seems to look like. Situated between Sinsa and Apgujeong station, Garosu-gil looks like an indoor mall perfectly set up outdoors. Along with pretty Ginkgo trees and awesome cafes, you can also see a beautiful amalgamation of art galleries and exhibitions and aesthetic-looking retail stores. Along with this, outlets of brands – local as well as global – can be seen hidden behind the trees. Eat delicious food at cafés and restaurants such as Bad Farmers and C27, purchase all kinds of products from Lotte Elcube, before enjoying a silent evening in their rooftop café – there are just so many things that can be enjoyed here!
Samneung Park is one of the ancient and ultimate preserves of Korean history; buried in its grounds lie the three important tombs from the Joseon Dynasty, that of King Seongjong (9th king of Joseon era), his wife Queen Jonghyeon and King Jungjong (11th King of Joseon era). A most-visited part of the Royal Tombs, it was declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2009. The tombs are preserved with great care and attention, especially after the Japanese invasion of Korea in the year 1592. The park is surrounded by dense, calming forest, which is a welcome change in the middle of the urban setting. Samneung Park offers a calming retreat in the middle of the fast-paced world, not to forget an ethereal glimpse in Korean history.
Korean Entertainment companies
Gangnam also happens to be one of the hot spots for some of the popular Korean Entertainment companies. Companies such as SM, CUBE and JYP are seen tucked away in the area. This means that many of the Korean celebrities will be strutting around the roads and if you are lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of your favorite celebrity around here. Fans are, therefore, seen crowding at the entrances of these companies, which also becomes an entertaining sight in itself.
Apgujeong Rodeo Street
Apgujeong Rodeo Street is one of the trending areas around Gangnam, well-known for its fashion shops, including clothing, shoes and accessories. The road got its reputation from the early 90s when people there used to trot alongside the street, clad in luxurious clothes and riding in foreign cars. While the earlier situation can’t practically be maintained in today’s world, the road sort of lives as a tribute to the early 90s. One of the main attractions of this road is the Galleria Department Store; Rodeo Street is actually across the street from this popular store. If you are in search of high quality yet reasonable fashion stores and experience the feel of luxury, then Apgujeong Rodeo Street is where you should head to immediately.
Kakao Friends Store
Kakao Friends is a group of cartoon characters from Korea, created as a part of the Korean messaging app, KakaoTalk. The cartoons have become so popular since then, that they frequently appear on drinks’ containers to even credit cards. In fact, there are cafés and stores dedicated to these friends and what’s more! They are always filled with customers. The stores have become quite popular and the Gangnam branch is even more so, as it is the flagship store. The store offers more than 2000 products, ranging from toys and stickers to jewelry and T-shirts. Even if you are not much of a fan or don’t even know the characters, looking – or maybe purchasing - at these cute products of Kakao Friends will make you feel all warm and fuzzy!
People will jump on the point that Kyochon Chicken is Korea’s KFC. While it is their KFC, but not in the way you thought; it is Korea’s favorite food, Korean Fried Chicken. Kyochon Chicken is all the rage around South Korea and the Gangnam branch is particularly one of their most famous ones. The restaurant can be accessed from both Gangnam Station and Sinnonhyeon Station, as it is situated from more or less an equal distance from the stations. The customers are always happy when leaving the place; not only is the food cooked mouthwateringly delicious, but the ambience is calming and the service is perfectly polite and cooperative.
Jamsil Baseball Stadium
Baseball is one of the popular sports around the World, and even more so in Korea. Jamsil Baseball Stadium is, therefore, one of the hotspots for people, especially for the sports fanatics. Located just on the outskirts of Gangnam, this stadium established in the year 1982, making it the first-ever baseball stadium to be built in Korea. The popularity factor increases even more so since it boasts to be the home of two teams, namely Doosan Bears and LG Twins. Whenever the baseball season is on, games are scheduled every day of the week here, except for Mondays. If you decide to pay a visit to any one of the games, make sure you try to get seats in the lower section, either near the first base or the third one.
Seven Luck Casino
Casinos in Seoul are not accessible for the natives - due to some local law - but foreigners can easily go in and try their luck. While it won’t be a problem to get yourself admitted to any of the casinos around, you should specifically experience the gambling life at Seven Luck Casino. Along with being one of the best casinos in Seoul area, it has that distinct Korean atmosphere, which can actually give you the experience tourists seem to be craving for. The Casino employs more than 200 table games for their customers, along with slot machines to try your luck on. It was only a decade ago when a third floor was added, dedicated solely to VIP entries. The Casino can be accessed from COEX Mall as well since it is connected to this underground mall.
South Korea does have some nice places for tourists worldwide and Gangnam is one of the best ones. It is developing swiftly, embracing modernity with welcoming arms, while preserving their rich Korean history and traditions in their hearts – now that is something worth seeing and experiencing at least once.