THE BEST ’BURBS

GQ (Australia) - - TASTE + TRAVEL -

Korea’s cap­i­tal is a huge me­trop­o­lis that can be bro­ken into a se­ries of sub­urbs, each with its own per­son­al­ity. Split by the Han River, most his­toric ar­eas and older neigh­bour­hoods sit to the north – the glitzy, mod­ern sub­urbs to the south. Though it’s in­tim­i­dat­ing at first, it’s a rel­a­tively sim­ple city to ven­ture around. The un­der­ground sys­tem is cheap and well signed in English, and it ser­vices a huge swathe of the city. Taxis are more ex­pen­sive, but sim­i­larly re­li­able ( sans English), and many of the neigh­bour­hoods are easy to nav­i­gate on foot.

Itae­won

Thanks to the large US Army base nearby, and a grow­ing num­ber of ex­pats who call it home, Itae­won (1) , is Seoul’s most cul­tur­ally di­verse sub­urb – a place where you can just as eas­ily grab a burger as some Korean BBQ. Most trav­ellers come here for the bar scene, which es­chews K-pop in favour of a more West­ern style.

Myeong­dong

Seoul’s CBD (2 and 3) has more go­ing for it than of­fice blocks and train sta­tions. Pedes­tri­anised streets in Myeong­dong’s cen­tre are home not just to some of the city’s best cloth­ing stores, but up­mar­ket restau­rants and a pop­u­lar night mar­ket in which you can get just about any­thing, as long as it can be served on a stick.

Hong­dae

With a large uni­ver­sity nearby, Hong­dae (4) is a favourite for Seoul’s young and young at heart – an area that truly comes alive at night, when thou­sands of bars throw open their doors and party to the wee hours. In the next-door smaller Yeon­nam-dong dis­trict, you’ll find a hip­ster-friendly vil­lage filled with cafes and mi­cro-brew­eries.

Dong­dae­mun

Fash­ion, fash­ion, fash­ion. That’s all Dong­dae­mun is good for, and it does it ex­tremely well. This cen­tral dis­trict fea­tures sev­eral huge shop­ping malls, as well as whole­salers and de­part­ment stores. Best pack a credit card.

Gang­nam

Yes, the area made fa­mous by that song from a man called PSY – Gang­nam is Seoul’s trendy, wealthy dis­trict, a place of glass sky­scrapers, pent­house apart­ments and neon bill­boards ad­ver­tis­ing ex­clu­sive restau­rants and night­clubs. Gang­nam’s style is fancy and fu­tur­is­tic, so be pre­pared to dress up.

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