Cheap and hip Seoul – Ewha 이화 and Hongdae 홍대

Most of the posts you’ve seen so far are of what I refer to as Central Seoul – the palaces Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung, and the Myeongdong area where Namsangol Hanok and N Seoul Tower are. On the 2nd day of my trip, I headed off westwards towards Ewha and Hongdae, both areas close to universities, and well known for having great and affordable shopping to cater to the tertiary crowd – overall, prices here are cheaper and the dressing style more casual.

Check out both places below. I’ve also visited Gangnam if you rather explore a more modern part of Seoul.


Not many pix for Ewha especially because I spent more of my time shoppingshoppingshopping, but I did end up with great buys and an interesting lunch experience!

Seoul - Ewha Women's University
That’s the Ewha Women’s University on top of that verrrrrrrrryyyy long flight of steps!

The Ewha area, also known as Edae for short, is where the women’s university is, hence quite a lot of shopping around there is ladies casual than office lady, but you can find lots of suitable office wear if you take the time! Most of the shops are stand-alone ones along the streets which are laid out in a grid-like fashion, but you might get lost in the alleyways so buy something quick if you see it, cause you might not walk back that same way again!

(I ended up with 3 dresses and a pair of shorts from here!)

Seoul - Streets of Ewha
It’s before 11am so the streets of Ewha are quiet… for now!

I found a cute little restaurant with a grass carpet leading down to it. From the menu outside, I figured there was Bulgogi served in there so I thought it was pretty safe. When I headed down though, the service staff didn’t understand a lick of English. At all. Ordering food was pretty tough because while they were exceedingly polite, they kinda also expected me to start speaking Korean in 5 minutes, and stared at me smiling while I tried to communicate the menu to them! In the end, I just pointed and hoped for the best… not sure what the sauce was but it turned out alright~ Read more about that experience here.

Bulgogi and Rice
phew the bulgogi turned out alright

Getting There

Ewha can be accessed via Subway (Ewha Women’s University station, Line 2, Exit 2/3). Check out the shopping map from the Korea Tourism Organization here to give you an idea.

Around the area

  • Sinchon is another area nearby which you can walk to from Ewha.


After Ewha, I popped down to Hongdae, further down along Subway Line 2 and home to Hongik University. While it was afternoon when I visited, Hongdae is supposed to be nightlife central of Seoul with clubs, museums and international dining choices, so I would visit again in the evening on my last night in Seoul.

I was a little shopped-out from Ewha and I had my camera ready in Hongdae, so a lot more pix! Check it out:

Seoul - Hongdae Mural Street
Hongdae has shopping streets like Ewha, but its most interesting street is Mural Street, a little back alley renowned for graffiti artwork. The entrance to mural street is pretty obscure, it’s in the tiny lane on the left of the florist (left pic)
Seoul - Hongdae Graffiti
Pretty Graffiti!

Want to see more cool street art in other parts of Seoul? Check out this post on street art in Seoul which brings you to Ihwa, Mullae and Apgujeong.

Seoul - Hongdae Picturebook Store & Cafe
The Picturebook Store & Cafe was the perfect place to chill out on a HOT day! It had a little selection of all sorts of picture books inside.
Seoul - Hongdae Sangsangmadang
You can’t miss the distinctive shape of the 8-story Sangsangmadang gallery, and you shouldn’t either! The 1st level is a shop FILLED with the most amazing Korean designed goodies!
Seoul - Hongdae Nemo Cafe
There were SO MANY options for dinner! I walked and I walked and settled on this incredible cafe called Nemo. It had the cutest sheepdog and I had dinner there. Also great? Free wifi!
Seoul - Hongdae
Cool nooks and crannies abound in Hongdae. I walked around in the night to get a feel of the vibe, and ended up one whole subway station away by accident!

Getting There

Hongdae can be accessed via Subway (Hongik University station, Line 2, Exit 5). Check out the shopping map from the Korea Tourism Organization here to give you an idea.

Around the area

  • There’s a flea market every Saturday from March to November which is really close to the Subway exit… unfortunately I didn’t have a Saturday there! Directions here
  • One of the places I wanted to visit was the Trick Eye Museum but I got a little lost and couldn’t make my way back here… sad! It sure looks like fun!

Since Ewha and Hongdae are both in generally the same direction, I think you could spend a whole day here, starting out in Ewha and maybe Sinchon (which I didn’t get to) before heading to Hongdae to close out your day.

Read more of my posts on Seoul, or check out other parts of South Korea to visit.

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