SEOUL - HOTEL ZONES
The capital city of Seoul is divided up into 25 districts (구 gu) which are also divided up into 522 subdistricts (동 dong) with the Han River splitting the city in two. Gangbuk is situated in the north and is the historical area of the city and Gangnam sits in the south and is considered to be the wealthier, modern area. There is no true city center in Seoul, more like a large collection of small cities bundled together made up of neighborhoods, districts, and areas.
The area of Dongdaemun was first created in 1943 and is one of 25 districts in the capital city. Situated to the north of the Han River this is one of the largest fashion retail areas in the whole world featuring Dongdaemun Market which opened in 1905 and is one of the major marketplaces in South Korea. This famous shopping district boasts over 30,000 specialty stores, 30 shopping centers and 50,000 manufacturers covering 10 blocks. This area features huge department stores, modern shopping malls and smaller shops filling the streets. Most of the shopping comes alive at night and runs until the early hours of the morning, a popular place for wholesalers, retailers, locals, and tourists. The DDP or Dongdaemun Design Plaza is situated here, a futuristic shimmering building hosts Seoul`s Fashion week, an Art Hall, concerts and conventions. Dongdaemun is one of the Eight Gates of Seoul in the Fortress Wall of Seoul. Meokja Golmok or `Let`s Eat Alley` sits between Dongdaemun Market and Jongo is the area`s famous food alley filled with street food tents and eateries specializing in delicious Korean cuisine and `dakhanmari` (whole chicken) restaurants and listed as one of Asia`s 10 greatest street food cities. Good Morning City and Freya are both areas that feature shopping malls and multiplex cinemas.
Gangman which translates to `south of the river` is a modern, glitzy neighborhood decorated with hundreds of skyscrapers and thousands of flashy billboard signs. The area also features some of the most expensive real estate in South Korea and is the central business district where the COEX Convention and Exhibition Center – Korean World Trade Center is located. This affluent neighborhood is a vital nightlife and entertainment district filled with shopping malls such as the COEX underground mall that features shops such as the Hyundai Department Store, Gangnam sports, a movie theatre, aquarium, hotels and a food court. Sinsa-dong street tree road is a popular place filled with wide streets lined with ginkgo trees and decorated with high-end restaurants, delightful cafes and clothing boutiques. The area of Gangnam Station is a popular transportation point in the district and the number two clubbing area in the capital city where some of the best restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and entertainment can be found. The district is also the host of many festivals that take place throughout the year including the Gangnam Fashion Festival, International Marathon Festival, the Daemosan Festival and the Sports Festival.
The neighborhood of Insadong nestled in the heart of the city is part of the Jongno-gu district. It was once the home of royalty in the capital city along with aristocratic families and the historical core of the city. The area features palaces such as the Gyeonbokgung, Changdeokgung and Changyeonggung, three of the Five Grand Palaces of Seoul. Insadong-gil is the main road in the area, a maze of twisting alleyways that are filled with art galleries, handicraft shops, ceramic stores, tea shops, cafes, and restaurants. Some of the famous art galleries featured here are Hakgojae and Gana along with some of the most unique shops in the city selling traditional hanbok, hanji, pottery, and teas. Every weekend (Sat 2 pm – 10 pm and Sun 10 am – 10 pm) the main street is closed to traffic and transformed into a vibrant street festival filled with stalls, live entertainment, art exhibits and traditional Korean cuisine. The oldest bookstore named `Tongmungwan` in Seoul can be found here in Insadong and Kyung-in Art Gallery.
The area of Itaewon surrounds Itaewon-dong and Yongsan-gu in the capital city of Seoul which is one of the most popular districts in the city for tourists and is referred to as the `Western Town`. Popular due to many major hotels in the area including the Grand Hyatt and the Hamilton Hotel along with shops and a large variety of international cuisine including Italian, Spanish, British and French. There is a main street here that runs for just under a mile filled with stores, street stalls and restaurants, the shops here specialize in leather goods, custom-made suits and antiques along with restaurants that feature unique international cuisine and western-style venues such as McDonald`s and Taco Bell. Ancient alleyways area filled with plenty of nightlife options with notable bars and nightclubs geared toward the international crowd.