OG Korean food, the best dive bar in town, all you can eat and drink joints, Sinchon is Hongdae’s less popular but cooler sibling.
Even in my advanced age, it’s still a great time.
I know what you’re thinking. If it’s not as popular as Hongdae, why should I go?
Matjibs (good restaurants) stick around for years and don’t get priced out by skyrocketing rent.
The crowd is more consistent and less touristy.
And did I mention? All you can eat and drink places.
Sinchon isn’t always the first choice, but it’s a great hang.
For me, it was the perfect beginning to an epic night. It all starts with an authentic Korean restaurant that’s been around at least 2 decades, a few pub games at Beer O’clock, a quick dip into Mike’s Cabin to check the temperature, then onto Hongdae if things were dead.
What to know
- Weekends are better if you plan on going out at night.
- Sinchon has three universities nearby, Ewha Woman’s University, Sogang University, and Yeonsei University.
- There are two Sinchon stations! The train station in the north in front of Yonsei and the subway station the south.
- There’s a Shincheon (Songpa-gu) and Sicheong (city hall), make sure you’re on the green line between Idae and Hongdae station.
- It’s easy to get lost in the back alleys of Sinchon, because they look similar and the address system is archaic.
Read on for all the best ways to enjoy Sinchon in Seodaemun-gu.
Where to stay
All the hostels are about the same in Sinchon. If you aren’t particular about noise or quality, any one of them will do. I would stay a bit outside of Sinchon if I were you.
Seoul Grand Hostel Idae
This hostel is decent for the price and it’s just one stop away from Sinchon near Ehwa Women’s University. Seoul Grand Hostel Idae has everything you need for a fun trip including clean rooms, a/c, and free breakfast.
155 Sinchon-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
LOTTE City Hotel Mapo
Located in the center of Seoul, it’s just a short bus or subway ride away from Sinchon, Hongdae, Itaewon, Insadong, Bukchon, and other exciting places.
Lotte City Hotel Mapo has been my first choice in Seoul for a decade. Every room comes with a bathtub, and you can even request an LG air purifier for bad air days.
The area is quieter than Sinchon, but still has great restaurants and coffee shops nearby.
109 Mapo-daero, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
What to do
These were trendy as heck before the pandemic but many have shut down. Sinchon thankfully still has one. They’ll give you a quick lesson and then you can go nuts.
A great way to break up your trip and try something new.
4F, Junseong Building, Myeongmul-gil 32, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
서울 서대문구 명물길 32 준성빌딩 4층 (우)03777
All the rage in events across the US. Photobooths are good ways to commemorate your trip. They’re all over the place, but Sinchon has some inexpensive ones.
If you need a break from the city, Ansan Mountain is just minutes away from Yonsei University. A light hike will reward you with an enjoyable view of central Seoul.
서울 서대문구 연희동 산82-12
Just northwest of Yonsei lies one of Seoul’s best kept secrets. Goongdong Green Park gives you the same tranquil forest vibe while being a bit easier hike than Ansan.
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You probably didn’t fly thousands of miles to do something you could back home, but hear me out.
Korean movie theaters offer a unique experience with 4DX theaters (water and air shot in my face in a vibrating chair, yes please!), VIP sections, couple seats for the romantic, and some unique snacks.
CGV Shinchon Artreon is one of my favorite movie theaters in Seoul. It’s easy to get in and out and less crowded than massive places like in Yongsan.
South Korea, Seoul, Mapo-gu, 서교동 360-28
The best place for people-watching is the Changcheon Culture Park. It’s more of a small green space with some benches, but it’s a good locale to catch your bearings.
Right in front of the U-PLEX entrance. You can’t miss it.
Changcheon Green Park requires some stairs but will reward you with some nice views of Sinchon and the surrounding area. It’s a bit east of U-PLEX hidden in the neighborhood.
서울 서대문구 창천동 4-55
You may notice the neon crosses dotting the landscape in Seoul that become visible at night. Changchun church is a 100 year-old church that’s one of the most aesthetically pleasing among them.
Fun fact, it’s actually Methodist not Catholic.
38 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 서대문구 연세로 38
A food court and shopping center, in a box! It’s the Korean version of gentrified without the renovation of an old building with a gritty past.
22-5 Sinchonnyeok-ro, Daehyeon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Just in front of Exit 1 of the Sinchon Train Station lies Myeongmul Street, in all its wooden glory. It’s known as a filming location of numerous K-dramas.
Even if that doesn’t interest you, it’s a decent place where you can sit for a bit.
Myeongmul-gil, Sinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Sinchon has fewer choices than Hongdae for nightlife, but it can slap a lot harder. There are all manner of inexpensive bars and clubs. You’ll also get the local college crowd which can be good and bad at the same time.
Some places will make you order anju with your drinks. If you don’t feel like eating, you can try another spot.
Mike’s Cabin might give you a magical night.
Located in a dark basement, it’s easy to miss among the numerous bars in the area. I actually didn’t know the location for years, I just kind of ended up there.
They serve a mean Adios Mofo and play fun music you can dance to. As soon as “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn and John came on, you knew you were in for a special night.
An entire lifetime of experiences can be had in one night. I’ve been in fist fights, a participant in an impromptu dance competition with professional ballroom dancers, found love, and lost it all before sunrise.
You can also just chill in a bunk bed or play some foosball.
There’s a dance floor that’s quiet until it erupts later in the evening.
The bathroom is a surreal and whimsical staircase to narnia, if narnia was a dingy restroom from the 80s.
Beer O’Clock is a nice sportsbar in the area if you want to catch a game, play some beer pong, and other pub games.
Beer O-clock and Mike’s cabin is the perfect combo for a weeknight.
7 Yonsei-ro 7an-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 서대문구 연세로7안길 7
A college neighborhood will have no shortage of these.
Good food, casual interior, and reasonable prices, Shin shin pocha is a nice example of what Sinchon nightlife has to offer.
서울 서대문구 연세로7안길 7 창천동 52-47
All you can drink
You’ve had AYCE, but how about AYCD?
Bar-pro is as good a place as any to make this dream a reality.
South Korea, 창천동 52-84번지 3층 서대문구 서울특별시 KR
This is the cheapest way to get the night started. Pair this with one of the all-you-can-eat KBBQ places and get stuffed with questionable meat and alcohol for under 30 bucks.
Just look for the magic word, “무제한” (unlimited), on the menu.
What to eat
Since Sinchon has the largest concentration of uni students and isn’t as popular as Hongdae, rent is more affordable. Food is cheaper and often better. You’ll find some old-school Korean restaurants that have been serving delicious meals for decades.
An easy trick is to look for the 본점 “bon jeom”, or original branch of a restaurant. It tells you two things, they were successful enough to expand, and the original will most likely be managed by the owner.
Jayeon damun hwaro has coal fired Korean BBQ and is the original branch.
29 Yonsei-ro 11-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 서대문구 연세로11길 29
Another Bon jeom that specializes in pork with an all-you-can-eat option.
40 Yonsei-ro 5da-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 서대문구 연세로5다길 40
Insider Tip: Food allergies are considered a myth in Korea, so proceed with caution.
Lamb skewers are Chinese-Korean dishes that are just delectable. Sinchon has heaps of these places all over for whatever reason. Myeongseong Yang-ggochi isn’t the oldest one, but it’s managed well.
33 Yonsei-ro 4-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 서대문구 연세로4길 33
Mackerel is probably the least favorite fish among westerners. But once you’ve had it fresh and well-prepared, you’ll start to crave all the Omega-3 goodness it offers.
Gosami is a place that does it right.
38 Yonsei-ro 7an-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 서대문구 연세로7안길 38
Kalguksu is hard to find overseas in any form. Joseoneui Yukgaejang makes the dish with a twist. They use Yukgaejang as a base to make a spicy soupy version.
57-61 Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 서대문구 창천동 57-61
A cafe that’s a bit trendy for my tastes, but it’s a great place to get a view of Yonsei University.
South Korea, Seoul, Seodaemun-gu, Sinchon-dong, Myeongmul-gil, 36 8층
서울특별시 서대문구 신촌동 명물길 36 8층
What to buy
Aladdin Book Store
Used books, Korean style. “Second hand” isn’t the first choice for Koreans, but Aladdin is making it popular for books.
21 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 서대문구 연세로 21
Artbox has all the adorable stationary you could want. Pro tip, their 1 dollar socks are a lifesaver after an all-nighter.
19 Hongik-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 마포구 홍익로 19
Hyundai Dept Store
The bougie mall where you can get premium goods from all around the world at a high price. You can observe rich housewives in their natural habitat on weekdays as well.
83 Sinchon-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul, South Korea
서울특별시 서대문구 신촌로 83
Connected to the Hyundai Dept Store, it’s the younger more affordable mall.
Check out the bookstore/cafe on the top floor.
Where is Sinchon, Seoul?
Sinchon is right smack between Hongdae and Idae.
Do I need to tip here?
No need to tip in any situation.
Two-Minute Travel Guide
Sinchon train station in the north and Shinchon subway station Green Line (line 2) frame the area.
Google maps doesn’t work as well in Sinchon. Ask a local for bar and restaurant recommendations.
Yonsei is the closest university and is a top three school in the country.
Sinchon is less touristy and more local than Hongdae.
Korean restaurants are better and cheaper on average than in Hongdae.
The best people watching spot is Changcheon Culture Park and Myeongmul street.
Yeonsei University has a beautiful campus that’s worth checking out.
Did we miss anything?
Let us know your thoughts about Sinchon, Seoul!