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8 Reasons for choosing a hostel in Hongdae

Another travel post~
I know I probably should update more beauty product reviews (or maybe finally post all those taobao hauls i did over the past year), however, it's winter here in Germany and due to bad weather, the sky is usually all grey and already turns dark at 4pm, which is not the best condition for taking photos ;-; I'm sorry~

Now for those of you interested in Korea: Be happy! I still have lots of photos that need to be edited and uploaded :D

the view that greets you once you leave exit 9 of Hongik Station

So how should I introduce Hongdae?
Hongdae is a district in the area of Mapo-gu in Seoul. "Hongdae" is basically the area around Hongik University, a university famous for its many arts students. What makes this area special is not only the general artsy-ness of the area but also that it's completely different depending on whether you go there during the day or during the night.
However, no matter whicht time (expect for maybe any time between 5am-12am, since the place is pretty much asleep then) Hongdae is awesome.
Anyways, for those people travelling there, it's especially important to know that, because luckily, most of Seoul's guesthouses and hostels are located in Hongdae.
Which is great for all of us, because after spending a night in Hongdae, nothing's more convenient than not having to wait for the first subway to get home, but being able to just walk back to your hostel. So if you ever find yourself facing a decision of choosing between two equally good hostels in Hongdae and another popular area (Myeongdong for example) choose Hongdae. I promise you won't regret it :D

If I haven't convinced you yet, let me show you the reasons of  why I love Hongdae so much:

1: Street performers

Walking around Hongdae during the late afternoon, evening, or even in the middle of the night gives you the chance to watch countless amazing artists showcase their talents for free, often also involving the crowd around them in some  way. Sometimes you watch a performer, walk 50 meters and see another one. There are dancers, singers, guitarists, indie bands, rappers....everything. And I have yet to see a street performer that is not entertaining. So if you booked a hostel in Hongdae, and you have nothing to do in the evening, or maybe just want to listen to some live music for free, all you gotta do is leave the hostel and head over to exit 9 and the streets around it. The infamous Hongdae playground will always be a sure spot to find some street performers in the evening, especially during weekends.

There area also a lot of music festivals going on there

Let me show you a few of them which I managed to film:

This guy is (as far as I know) one of Hongdae's most famous street performers. He's an awesome guitar player, and as soon as he sets up, a big crowd forms around him immediately. His name is Jung Sunho if you want to look him up.

He even uses his guitar as drums, which is really amazing.

He also performed a Gangnam Style cover later on (this was during the Gangnam Style Craze in 2012), during which he forgot part of the lyrics, which was absolutely adorable:

Those guys were really cool :D They knew how to entertain their (mostly female) crowd through flirting with them all the time.

While Hongdae Playground usually hosts lots of great rappers in the evening, exit 9 is usually the spot where indie bands, guitarists or singers entertain everyone going to or leaving Hongdae. Like this cute duo ^^

Competition in Hongdae is...well, I wouldn't say fierce. But playing on the street leading up to the famous parking street of Hongdae usually means you'll be playing and performing next to other artists, so making sure your sound system is great is probably a given. This rapper was great, but we could barely hear him due to the music blasting from the speakers of the comedy/dance crew next to him.

Let me talk about those two. They were at the playground almost every night and while sometimes the crowd was really small, sometimes they entertained the whole park through encouraging them to sing and chant with them. Unfortunately, the only other video I had of them was on my old cellphone...which broke down TT

So this was filmed during a busy saturday evening in Hongdae. This guy apparantly was part of a group that just did...everything? Dancing, "singing" (not really good singers though), mostly just being funny. 
And while they performed, a random grandpa came and participated. Turns out this (at least) 80 years old man was actually quite the good dancer :D Everyone was so~ impressed.

They also did quite the funny performance of Gangnam style 

2. Getting lost in Hongdae is awesome

Do you get lost quite quickly? Even when you already researched how to get to a specific place or restaurant beforehand? Then Hongdae is the place for you.
Getting lost in Hongdae is one of the best things that can happen to you. Sure, getting lost usually sucks...but Hongdae is filled to the brim with amazing stores, cute cafés, cool restaurants and more, all hidden in its small alleyways that you would otherwise probably never explore.

Tiny but awesome cupcake cafe. Unfortunately, it has already closed down T^T

3. You  can never know what you will happen to see there

I already mentioned the street artists which, if you don't know their performing schedule (which you only know if you have seen them before and remembered their facebook page or something similiar), are changing all the time and you never know which great performance you'll see when you walk along the streets of Hongdae.
But other than that, there are even more things going on there!

Like random Gangnam Style flashmobs on unsuspectful ahjusshis! 

This was during the Gangnam Style hype in 2012. They were promoting some music festival as well ^^

Or filmings for a tv show!
Hongdae is quite the pretty, artistic place, so many many dramas or tv shows are filmed there, sometimes even music videos. You never know who you'll run into ^-^

No idea who they were though. Any ideas?

One evening, we even witnessed a girl propose to her boyfriend through a dancing performance of her and her friends at Hongdae playground!

And even if nothing unusual or exciting is happening, you can always have a chat with a depressed Garfield.

4. Nightlife: Clubbing and other activities one can do at 2AM in Hongdae

Yes, Nightlife in Hongdae may be mostly about (awesome) clubbing, but that's not the only thing you can do there. There are countless options, including several dozen bars spread all over Hongdae. There are at least 10 Ho Bars there (Ho Bar is kind of a bar...chain in korea), and quite a few makgeolli bars. Many of those bars offer live music too.

When drinking Makgeolli, one must eat Pajeon.
It's a combination that's very widespread, just like ChiMaek (Fried chicken and Beer)

But let's talk about clubbing first:

The two most popular districts for clubbing are Hongdae, and Gangnam. Both have lots of clubs, but very different styles. The biggest difference lies in the crowd: Hongdaes clubs are usually filled with college students, Korean and Foreign as well. The crowd here is significantly younger, while Gangnam is where the rich and wealthy usually hang out.
Besides the age, style is another difference. In Hongdae you can go clubbing wearing sneakers and pants, or whatever style you seem fit. Just don't show up in Jogging pants please. I think the only rule is no sandals (in most clubs here), but who would want to dance in a crowded place with that kind of shoes, right? Meanwhile in Gangnam, you need to dress up. I have heard of many people being turned away at the entrance of clubs there because of their clothing.
It depends on what you like, but for me, I really like Hongdae's relaxed atmosphere and the different clothing styles people wear while clubbing.

Now let's talk about the different styles of music in clubs:

There are clubs that mostly play HipHop, like NB2, Mama Gorilla and others.
There are clubs that usually play electro, like Cocoon.
There's even a club that plays 90's K-Pop.
I only went to Cocoon, because even though the music is not exactly my favourite, but I liked the atmosphere there a lot.

The bigger clubs usually have an entrance fee (Cocoons is around 20,000Won), which includes a coupon for a free drink inside.

If you don't drink or don't like clubbing, there's still enough to do.
Like Noraebang, aka Korea's awesome private room karaoke!

Luxury Noraebang during the day.

My favourite rooms at Luxury Noraebang are definitely the window rooms. Not only do they have this super cozy "upstairs" lounge...

they also will always make for funny memories when you excitedly sing and dance with your friends, only to find out there was a group of Korean guys on the street amusedly watching you.

The view over Hongdae from one of those window rooms.

5. Eat (almost) whatever you want, whenever you want

There are many street food stalls around Hongdae, mainly at Exit 9 and next to Hongdae playground. Those are open until early morning, so whenever you need a break from clubbing you can easily grab a few bites of delicious ddeokbeoggi, sundae, odeng, or various deep-fried deliciousness , all usually only around 2,500Won per portion.

Ddeokbeoggi on the left, deep fried Mandu, eggs, shrimps on the right.
giant hot dogs

Not in the mood for street food?
Or is it winter and you're not exactly planning to eat outside in the cold?
No worries, there are plenty of 24h restaurants as well.

just look for the magical red letters :D

I don't know what this is called, but it had lots of beansprouts in it
 Mul Mandu

Mul Naengmyeon

Rabbeoggi~ be wary of the spicyness. This one was "medium spicy" and it almost burned our tongues off D:

Hongdae has also quite the diverse food options, so if you're not that much into Korean food you will still find something there. 

While western food is not as often found as in Itaewon, Hongdae has lots and lots of japanese restaurants. You'll spot Ramen or Sushi places on almost every corner.

And I'm not talking about deliciously cheap instant Ramyun this time.

One of my favourite dessert places in Hongdae is, unfortunately, not opened 24h, but during the day you definitely need to get yourself a treat there.
It's a small place right on the alley leading to Hongdae playground, and it sells crepes...filled with anything you can imagine.

Including a piece of a cake. Inside a crepe. Who could resist that?

This is a strawberry crepe, with strawberry ice-cream, strawberries and cream.

Another awesome thing about Hongdae are the drinks sold in plastic ziplock bags.
Want a cocktail that you can take with you while walking around?

Go visit Vinyl

Vinyl during the day. In the evening, it becomes a cocktail bar.

And for those of you who don't drink alcohol (like me), there are a bunch of street stalls that sell delicious fresh lemonade 

Those look exactly like cocktails, so if you get them during the daytime, don't be surprised when people might stare at you a bit. They're probably thinking that you're already drinking during the day :P

6. Shopping!

Lots of small stalls at Exit 9, selling accesoiries

While Hongdae may not has as many cute clothing shops like Edae, nor the cheap prices of Dongdaemun or Gangnam Station, it certainly has lots of diversity in its clothing.
There are lots of small shops selling HipHop fashion, which was very trendy in Korea last year, or punk-style, but also lots of shops with cute adorable dresses. And of course, some stores for men's fashion too! :D
Best part of it: Since Hongdae is the area of lively nightlife, clothing shops are often opened until late, sometimes even until 2 or 3AM on the weekends.


Hongdae is filled to the brim with original, creative street art, including lots of wall murals.
If you walk up to Hongdae's main street (aka "parking lot street") there's an area with seperate standing walls, simply put up for artists to showcase their wall murals on.

Those paintings were mostly promoting Korea's Red Cross during my stay at Hongdae, and many of them follow a specific theme even  during other times.

Some are just pretty to look at though.
Like this flying turtle.

This one was my favourite. I love the shading on the happy looking sun.

Every part of Hongdae is in some way artsy. Look around with curious eyes while walking and you'll spot real treasures.

Like those pretty illustrations on a café's menu:

Or...whatever this is, it looked cool.

Art can be spotted in many shopping windows too.
Like this paper version of Mickey Mouse.

8. The hostels are awesome!

If you look up hostels, most of them are placed in Hongdae.
To be honest, I never stayed in a hostel outside of Hongdae so I can't form an opinion about those.
But I also never intend to stay at other hostels, because those in Hongdae are perfectly awesome already.

To explain why I think they're awesome, and also to recommend a hostel to you, let's talk about the hostel I stayed at last year, my favourite hostel in the whole world:

photo taken from Whitetail's Facebook page

This is a photo  I took with one of the owners of the hostel, Jin, in front of Whitetails entrance. (Excuse my awkward smile and clothing)
The owners of the hostel, Jin and Jun, are a really cute couple, passionate about travelling, and probably the nicest people you'll ever meet. They go out of their way to help you with anything you ever could need help with. They won't only help you with normal tourism stuff (booking tours, giving recommendations, telling you where you can change your money), nope, they will also help you everything else. 

Need to go to a bigger Korean supermarket? No problem, just go with them when they're going shopping the next time.

There's a sale at Etude House but only customers with Etude House membership cards get the discounts? No problem, Jin will probably go shopping with you using her membership card so you'll get the discounts.

Want to rent a bike to bike along Han river but it's only possible to rent a bike using a Korean ID? Don't worry, they probably planned a bike tour with their guests (using their relatives ID cards ) already anyways.

Snacking on fried chicken during a break from our bike tour. Photo taken from their Facebook page again
During my last visit to Korea, I encountered a bit of a problem with my credit card, which was my only option of getting money out of an ATM in Korea. Meaning I only had about 30,000 Won in cash, and I was going to stay for another 10 days. And my credit card didn't work.
Needless to say, I freaked out.
But guess what Jin and Jun did?
First they offered me to let me transfer money to them through paypal and then they would give me said money.
When that didn't work, Jun drove me to a nearby bank and discussed the problem with someone working there (which would have been impossible for me to do, as my Korean is not sufficient enough for that), I found out that the problem was not with my card or the ATMs, but with my bank in Germany.
After I called them and figured out what the problem was,  I was being told it would take about 2-3 days until I could take money out of an ATM again.
So when we went shopping at Etude House, while I was trying to live of less than 10,000Won per day, Jin simply lent me some money. And even more later on, so I could by myself a bubble tea too.
How nice can those people be?
My last experience in Korea could have turned out to be so horrible and frightening if it weren't for them. The hostel felt more like a family than just an accomodation. I made so many friends there, met so many people, had so many great experiences.

If you're planning to go to Seoul, don't miss out on that. Pick a hostel in Hongdae. You won't regret it.

And if that still hasn't convinced you, let me show you this:

taken from Whitetails  Facebook page
The area around the hostel is so beautiful and quiet, Exo did their Growl album jacket photoshoot right in front of the hostel.

So that's it. This post became much longer than I intented it to, but I just love Hongdae so much that I had to express all my feelings and experiences here.
I hope you enjoyed it, and if you have any questions about Hongdae or Whitetail hostel, feel free too aske me in the comments below.
Did you ever visit Seoul? If yes, where did you stay?
Which of the reasons above would convince you the most to stay in Hongdae?
What do you think about the street performers?
I'm curious about your opinions, so please tell me :D



  1. Thank you for this post!
    Last time I also stayed in Hongdae but didn't explore much since I was busy going to other places like Samcheongdong XD

    I will make sure to stay at Hongdae next year to explore more about this area. ^^

    1. hey ^^
      oh too bad :D samcheongdong is awesome too though ^^ but during the night, nothing beats hongdae so make sure to explore more next year :D

  2. This post is so interesting to read, I wish I could do better ^^
    Especially the foods, it looks so good!
    I already following you on bloglovin and gfc
    it's nice to read your blog

    1. aww what are you saying, i really like your blog posts too :D
      that's true, the food there is so delicious as well x3
      thank you~!! :D

  3. Your blog is sooo interesting and I love your photos! *-*
    Would you like to follow each other? I will be so happy! Let me know on my blog and I will follow you with GFC( I already follow you with Google+ and blogloving) ^-^

    1. awww thank you :D i hope it will become even more interesting, when i'm studying in taiwan starting next month i will have so much more to share with you all ^-^


Thanks for commenting ^-^