Today’s journey features one of my favorite destination in Korea, Hongdae, and checking out one of the most beautiful university I’ve stepped foot into, Ewha Woman’s University.
My Korea Travelogue Series:
Part 1: Myeongdong Food Guide & Surrounding Eats
Part 2: Guide to Gwanghwamun Square & Surrounding Attractions
Part 3: Guide to Hongdae & Surrounding Attractions
Covered in this writeup:
Places to visit: Hongdae Walking Street, Hongik University, Hongdae Mural Street, Hongdae Flea Market, Hongdae Happy Day Spa, Ewha Womans University
Food to eat: Kiss The Tiramisu, Kongbul, Bulgogi & Bibimbap Restaurant, Lujahman Curry & Chicken, Droptop Cafe, Chou, Ddeokbokki Restaurant
*Trust me – the Korean names below would come in handy when you ask the locals for directions.*
Hongdae Walking Street (홍대)
Getting There: Hongik University Station (Line 2 Exit 9). Turn left upon exiting the station and walk straight.
Address: Eoulmadang-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
There’s plenty to see and do in Hongdae, so much so that I decided to drop by again a few days after my initial visit. There were scores of young energy around – hipster and trendy vibes – you name it.
Hongdae is huge, hence I’d recommend having a Hongdae map in hand. I requested mine from the Tourist Information Centre [Hongik University Station Line 2 Exit 5 -> Walk 160m straight -> Turn left -> Walk 130m straight]. For those looking for a good bargain, prices are slightly cheaper here compared to Myeongdong.
Hongdae (Hongik University Street) (홍대)
Getting There: Hongik University Station (Line 2 Exit 9). Turn left upon exiting the station and walk straight until the end of the road. The university is located right opposite the junction.
Address: Eoulmadang-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
My first visit to Hongdae was on a sunny Sunday afternoon, where I got the chance to explore most of the tourist attractions in the area. When I returned a few days, on a weekday, the university square was bustling. It was a challenge to take photographs with so many people walking around. Nevertheless, maneuvering through the crowd, I did some last minute shopping and fought my way to some of the best eats in Hongdae. Before I forget, I’m also very grateful for the handful of friendly university students who guided us around.
Hongdae Mural Street (홍대벽화거리)
Getting There: Facing the entrance of Hongik University, cross at the junction and go right into the small alley right next to the front gate.
To be honest, I had a tough time locating this alleyway and I’m not too sure if it was worth all the hassle. For me, there was really nothing exceptionally interesting about these murals. I reckoned there’re better things to explore around here.
Hongdae Flea Market (홍대 프리마켓)
Getting There: Hongik University Station (Line 2 Exit 9). Turn left upon exiting Exit 9, walk 500m straight towards Hongik University entrance, cross the road and turn right to arrive at Hongik Children’s Park. Alternatively, facing the entrance of Hongik University, turn right before hitting the junction. Make another right turn and walk straight, you will see food stalls on your left as you go along, the Free Market is located further down on your left hand side.
Address: 19-3, Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
There’re two weekend Hongdae flea markets – Free Market (Saturday) and Hope Market (Sunday). In terms of items being sold, I’m not entirely sure of how one market differs from the other, since I only managed to visit one. The vendors are mostly independant designers, selling handmade handicrafts. Again, like the former, I’m sure there’re better things to see and do here.
Hongdae Happy Day Spa (홍대 해피데이스파)
Getting There: Hongik University Station (Line 2 Exit 9). Walk straight upon exiting the station, cross the road and walk straight. It will take about 5 minutes. The spa is on your left.
Address: 371-10, Gyusyudang Wedding Hall B1, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.Admission Fee: KRW7,000 (Sauna Only). KRW9,000 (All Areas).
My first time visiting a Korean day spa!
I decided with the All Areas Package (KRW9,000) which gave me access to 3 Sauna Rooms (differentiated by temperature), Public bath (yes I stripped naked for this one), Main hall and Restaurant (food is not included). Upon payment, I was also given a locker key, two towels and a uniform to change into for the sauna room – no photographs there however.
I was stoked in the beginning but also clueless at the same time. I really didn’t know where to go or what to do first. The ajumma wasn’t of much help either, she didn’t speak any English.
The correct spa-sequence – change into the uniform and enter the sauna room, take naps at the main hall, have a Korean meal at the restaurant, then wash off at the public bath afterwards. We spend about 15 minutes in the sauna room and 30 minutes in the public bath. We were out in about an hour.
Rested and relaxed? Perhaps. We were really there just for the experience.
Kiss The Tiramisu (키스더티라미수)
Address: 79-1 Eoulmadang-ro Mapo-gu Seoul.
The first thing that caught my attention was the queue. From what I was told, there’s always a queue.
I didn’t go with it on my first visit, thinking that the queue would take a long time, but decided to give it a go on my second visit. In just 15 minutes, I walked out of the shop – gleaming – with the Original Tiramisu Ice Cream (KRW4,900) in hand. The ice cream had fresh mascarpone cheese underneath, topped with fresh milk ice cream, lady finger crumbs, espresso, cocoa and chocolate dusting. It was heavenly and delectable, especially in the scorching heat!
Kongbul Bulgogi Store (콩불)
Getting There: Hongik University Station (Line 2 Exit 9). Turn left upon exiting the station, walk straight and turn right before reaching Aritaum on your right. The restaurant is located on your left, few shops before Gong Cha.
Address: 345-2 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
Kong = Bean sprouts. Bul = Bulgogi (beef). That’s exactly what we had for lunch. We had the Dal Dal Bulgogi Set (KRW14,000) for 2 pax and one additional Rice (KRW1,000). Beansprouts piled high in our Kongbul dish, together with rolls of beef, gojuchang sauce and rice cakes, which sizzled and sputtered on the hotplate – so much so I had to wear an apron.
Bulgogi & Bibimbap Korean Restaurant Getting There: Facing Hongik University, turn left at the end of the block. Do a left turn, right after going pass Paris Baguette Cafe at the end of the block, the restaurant is further down the alleyway on the left hand side.
Address: Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
With no English name in sight, this place is really difficult for me to recommend. The restaurant was a plain stumbled-upon, hence the directions stated above may not be entirely accurate – go at your own risk. If things go smoothly (and I happen to be right), a marvelous bulgogi feast awaits. We had Bulgogi (KRW30,000) on a hotplate and it was one of the best bulgogi I’ve had, ever. Side dishes came generous also, including a serving of tofu soup and Korean pancake.
Chou Cake House (슈 케이크 하우스)
Address: 서울시 마포구 잔다리로 6길 39.
Also worth mentioning in this writeup, the very popular Chou Cake House. The cakes were so beautiful! However I didn’t get to sample any of my own. I thought the place was worth dropping by but to my dismay, only whole cakes are available and not slices. I guess I will have to bring a crew next time.
Lujahman Curry & Chicken (치킨앤 카레군)Getting There: Hongik University Station (Line 4 Exit 9). Turn left upon exiting the station and walk straight. Turn left after the second block. Walk straight and you will see the Sculpture Park on your right, the restaurant is on your left. (same row as the popular Myth Jokbal (미쓰족발)).
Address: 마포구 동교동 164-11, Seoul.
Despite being popular for it’s Chicken and Chips in Curry (KRW22,800), we decided to opt for the Curry Chicken and Chips Platter (KRW16,800) instead, which also came with a side salad. We also ordered a Grapefruit Soju (KRW4,000) to go with it.
I know it’s not exactly identical but I’d very much prefer the soy chicken version I had at BHC Myeondong.
Cafe Droptop (카페드롭탑)
Getting There: Sangsu Station (Line 6 Exit 1). Go straight upon exiting Exit 1. You would have to cross two roads before doing a right turn into Eoulmadang-ro, walking pass CU convenience shop on your left. Cafe Droptop is further down the road, next to Colline Cafe and opposite Comma Cafe.
Address:45-1 Eoulmadang-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul.
Located at the other end of Hongdae main street, this area caters to a slightly more higher end crowd, alongside some modern and chic restaurants. We had a couple of hours to spare that afternoon, so I thought I’d walk a little further and explore Hongdae a little bit more and spend the next few hours scooping on some Redbean Milk Bingsu (KRW9,800). There is also another Cafe Droptop outlet in Myeongdong.
Ewha Womans University (이화여자대학교)
Getting There: Ewha Station (Line 2 Exit 2). Turn left and walk straight to the end of the road upon exiting the station.
Wonderful architecture and landscapes and there were so much greens! The university is huge. I spend a good 30 minutes walking exploring the campus. Apart from being one of the most beautiful university in Korea, the shopping district at Ewha is one of my top picks for good bargains!
Original Ddeokbokki RestaurantGetting There: Ewha Station (Line 2 Exit 3).
Ending a fun but tiresome day of exploring Hongdae, we ended up at this restaurant for dinner. No english name in sight – sorry no rain check on directions. I ordered the Ddeokbokki On-The-Go Set (KRW11,000), which also came with a platter of fritters and fried condiments.
Next up – Guide to Gangnam & Surrounding Attractions.
Food Blog by: Spicy Sharon