Places to visit in Seoul
Many of us like to spend most of our time in Seoul sightseeing, shopping, and cafe-hopping. But on days when you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, take a chill pill by immersing yourself in these nostalgic hidden spots.
From visiting an abandoned theme park to jamming to vinyl records, you’ll get to explore a side of Seoul like never before. If you’re up for some time travel, here are 10 retro places to visit in Seoul that will transport you back in time.
1. Hoho Snack Bar 호호분식 – old-school snacks
Image credit: @allabtcnd
Ardent fans of Reply 1988 will remember Brazilian Tteokbokki, a snack bar frequented by the leads. While it’s no longer in operation, you can still get a taste of the old school snacks featured in the drama thanks to Hoho Snack Bar. It’s found in Ssangmun-dong, the neighbourhood where the majority of the drama was filmed.
Image credit: @allabtcnd
Apart from the usual tteokbokki (KRW2,000, ~USD1.70) and Korean fried chicken, this humble restaurant also serves cheese rice (KRW4,000, ~USD3.40 for large portion; KRW3,000, ~USD2.50 for small portion). It’s a simple yet addictive dish made of fried rice topped with chopped seaweed and mozzarella cheese.
Address: 32 Dobong-ro 121-gil, Ssangmun-dong, Dobong-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: 12PM-10PM, Daily
2. Mmm Records 음레코드 – Cafe/bar to enjoy vinyl culture
Image credit: @mmmrecords
Nothing beats jamming to old vinyls while sipping on a good cup of joe. And you can do just that at Mmm Records, a vinyl store that also runs a cafe in the day and a bar at night.
Decked out with vintage furniture and neon signs, the store is also stocked with a wide range of vintage LPs, 7-inch vinyl records, and cassette tapes. On top of these, there are also hard-to-find turntables and boomboxes for sale.
Image credit: @youn9photo
The store’s open rooftop area is spacious and boasts a clear view of the N Seoul Tower.
Image credit: @mmmrecords
This open space is perfect for those who want to chill with a good brew in one hand while listening to old-school songs. A few noteworthy drinks to try are the coconut milk coffee (KRW8,000, ~USD6.70) and Hanoi coffee (KRW7,000, ~USD5.80).
Address: 145 Usadan-ro 10-gil, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 3PM-12AM | Sat & Sun 12PM-12AM
3. Yongma Land Abandoned Theme Park 용마랜드
Image credit: @studio_big.k
Skip the long queues at Lotte World and Everland and make a trip to Yongma Land Abandoned Theme Park instead.
Image adapted from: @draconubes
While the rides are no longer in operation, they make for great photo backdrops. This explains why the space has been featured in many K-Pop MVs, such as Twice’s Like OHH-AHH, Beast’s Ribbon, and Crayon Pop’s Bar Bar Bar.
The owner of the site charges KRW5,000 (~USD4.20) for the entrance fee. With that, you can explore the grounds for as long as you wish.
Tip: The space is charming enough in the day, but it gets lovelier when the carousel lights up at night. Make sure to head down before sunset so you can experience the best of both worlds.
Address: 118 Mangu-ro 70-gil, Mangubon-dong, Jungnang-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: 9AM-7PM, Daily
4. Thrifting at Dongmyo Flea Market
Image credit: @view4two
If browsing the usual shops found along Myeongdong or Hongdae Shopping Streets is too mainstream for you, try exploring the grounds of Dongmyo Flea Market. Here, you can have a go at thrifting and who knows, you might just uncover some hidden treasures.
Image credit: @novemberblaze
Aside from the usual vintage clothing and cameras, you’d be surprised to know that Dongmyo also has many fascinating wartime goods, such as Western-style biker jackets and American military gear.
Address: 84, Nangye-ro 27-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 2PM-8PM | Sat & Sun 10AM-9PM
5. Seo Seo Galbi 서서갈비 – standing BBQ joint
Image adapted from: @chaopei
While there’s no lack of BBQ joints in Seoul, Seo Seo Galbi offers a traditional Korean barbecue experience.
Image adapted from: @hella_szi
Don’t be surprised by the queues outside the shop because this place is popular with locals. There’s only one item on the menu – beef. Every diner has to order at least one serving (KRW15,000, ~USD12.50 per serving).
Image credit: @superman_drako
The restaurant believes that you don’t need to have many condiments to bring out the best flavours of the meat. So, they only provide green peppers, soy sauce dip, and gochujang (red chilli paste).
Tip: The restaurant allows customers to bring in rice and kimchi. You can buy it from the nearby CU store.
Address: 32, Baekbeom-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: Tue – Sun 12PM-6.30PM, Closed on Mon
6. Taegeukdang Bakery 태극당 – open since 1946
Image credit: @mas205
Taegeukdang Bakery started as a humble bakery in 1946 and has been the go-to place for traditional bakes of the finest quality ever since.
Image credit: @kyong2day
You can expect this traditional bakery to serve classics like sweet red bean bread (KRW1,800, ~USD1.50), chiffon cake (8 pieces for KRW5,000, ~USD4.20), and basic whipped cream cake (KRW35,000, ~USD29.30).
Image credit: @inhabit_official
Don’t leave without trying the classic monaka ice cream (KRW2,500, ~USD2.10) – the bakery has been selling it since the 1960s. They’ve even collaborated with Line Friends to create ice cream sandwiches in cute designs.
Address: 7 Dongho-ro 24-gil, Jangchung-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: 8AM-10.30PM, Daily
7. Mi Galmaegisal 미 갈매기살전문 – old-school BBQ joint
Image credit: @gom.dol.e
Tucked away in an alley not far from Ikseon-dong, Mi Galmaegisal is a joint where you can get your fill of different barbecued pork cuts at a reasonable price.
Image credit: @oki_star
Locals come here for their best-seller – galmaegisal (pork skirt) (KRW13,000, ~USD10.80). Its taste and texture is similar to that of beef and costs a fraction less. Other cuts we recommend are gabeurisal (pork cheek) (KRW14,000, ~USD11.70) and hangjeongsal (pork neck) (KRW14,000, ~USD11.70).
Address: 7 Donhwamun-ro 11ga-gil, Donui-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: 4PM-10.30PM, Daily
Image adapted from: @cindytrinh_photo
Ikseon-dong is one of the oldest neighbourhoods, and it’s one of the best places to visit in Seoul if you love things from a bygone era. In recent years, it has been redeveloped to house cafes, restaurants, and shops while retaining its traditional hanok architecture. Not only is it a short distance away from Jongno 3-ga subway station, but it’s also less crowded as compared to Bukchon Hanok Village.
8. Check out your yearly zodiac predictions
Image credit: @j_chaeyeoni
For a unique experience, check out your yearly zodiac predictions at this self-run store.
Image credit: @j_chaeyeoni
Like with Japan’s gashapon (toy capsule vending machine), you’ll have to insert a token into a zodiac slot machine of your choice. The machine will then dispense a red ball that contains a write up of your prediction. You can get the token by exchanging KRW1,000 (~USD0.80).
Since the predictions are in Korean, snap a picture of it and upload onto Google Translate or Papago to have it translated into your preferred language.
9. Chang Hwa Dang 창화당
Image credit: @zhangziqi610
Featured in the 2019 hit-drama Hotel Del Luna, Chang Hwa Dong is famous for serving hearty traditional Korean dishes without breaking the bank.
Image adapted from: @sun_zqi
One of the must-try dishes here is the colourful mandu assortment. At only KRW10,000 (~USD8.20), you’ll get a platter of 8 dumplings with fillings such as kimchi, pepper, and shrimp.
Address: 23 Supyo-ro 28-gil, Ikseon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: 11.30AM-9PM, Daily
10. Arcade with Kloud 콤콤오락실
Image credit: @mellybean_95
Head down to Arcade with Kloud and challenge your friends to all-time favourite games like Street Fighter, Tetris, 1945 Striker, Metal Slug, and Snow Bros.
Image credit: @ms_photo4
With exposed concrete walls and bright neon signs, the industrial-chic layout in all 4 outlets – Seochon, Ikseon-dong, Yongsan and Euljiro – recreates the look and feel of old arcades.
Address: 25 Donhwamun-ro 11 da-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Opening hours: 12AM-12PM, Daily
Throwback places to visit in Seoul
There’s no doubt that Seoul is a thriving metropolis, but for those who would like to have a glimpse of what the city used to be like in the past, don’t miss out on these retro places to visit in Seoul!
Here are other articles you can check out before heading to Seoul:
- 9 Korean ski resorts less than 3 hours from Seoul
- 10 Affordable Korean buffets in Seoul
- 10 Korean street food better than Netflix’s feature
- 10 Female-friendly hostels in Seoul
- Korean drinking culture