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5 Reasons Why Seoul is the #1 Party City in the World

by Drew on March 16, 2014 40 comments

 

No matter which city around the world I’m in, I make it a priority to experience the nightlife.

Whether that means drinking a beer at a dive bar on a random Tuesday night, meeting some locals at a house party, or raging all night at the biggest club in town- I’m always curious to see what a local “night on the town” is all about.

It’s my favorite part of traveling.

Over the last few years, I’ve had some seriously awesome nights partying in Barcelona, Berlin, Siem Reap, Lisbon, Stockholm, Athens, Prague, Munich, Belgrade, Dubai, Copenhagen, Bangkok, Singapore etc…

But nothing comes even close to the same level that Seoul is on, which is why I declare Korea’s capital city to be the #1 Party City in the World! 

I’ve been living and raging in Seoul since August 2013.  I’ve never seen at atmosphere with more energy and more craziness than Seoul has- not even Las Vegas (and I used to live in Vegas).  It’s a shame that Seoul doesn’t get as much worldwide recognition that it deserves, but it’s also beneficial because it hasn’t been dominated by tourism (yet).  

So, Why is Seoul the #1 city to party in around the world?

The following 5 reasons will give you an idea of why I just can’t get enough:

And don’t forget to check out my Ultimate Guide to Clubbing in Gangnam!

1) Work hard play hard attitude

Koreans have one of the strongest work ethics of any place in the world.

Businessmen are known to wake up at 5AM and return home at 11PM. Retail employees are overworked from the minute they walk in the front door. The service industry has people hustling and bustling to make an extra dollar.  Street vendors will still set up their shops outside when it’s below freezing outside and nobody is around to buy their products.  It’s mind-blowing.

And the students? I’ve never seen or heard of a culture that invests more time and money into educating the children. Starting from a very young age, kids go to school, study their butts off and do homework from sunrise to midnight.

I see it with my own eyes everyday at the public middle school that I teach at.  The kids arrive at school every morning at 7:30, and stay until 4:30 PM when the final bell rings. After school, students have a short break to practice their hobbies (taekwondo, piano lessons, soccer, etc.) or play video games.  Finally, either before or after dinner, most kids attend some sort of “private academy” where they hardcore practice there English and Math skills until their brain is at capacity. Some of these private academys (called hak-wons in Korean) can go until 11PM and then the students are given loads of homework assignments to complete for the next day.

*Side note: The picture you see is the Taekwondo class that I do Monday-Thursday with those middle school kids.  It’s fun to get my as* kicked by a bunch of 13 year old’s everyday, but it’s putting me into shape.

The point of me telling you this is that all Koreans work hard during the weekdays, and then go absolutely wild on the weekends (during their time off). It’s almost like they are slightly antisocial during the week, and then are re-born into maniacs on the weekend and have the time of their lives.

I definitely appreciate their motivation to work hard and play even harder.

2) Soju Soju Soju

Soju is the classic korean rice liquor that is heavily consumed during meals and social events.

In fact, Soju is the #1 most sold alcoholic beverage in the world (by a long shot). Over 62 million cases of soju are sold every single year.  Some 90% of all liquor sales in Korea is soju.  If you’ve never had it, the taste is like watered down vodka that is somewhat similar to sake in Japan.  Notice in the picture how they call it “Happy Water” …  LOL

Drinking, in general, is considered a social event and a tradition in Korea.  Koreans take their drinking so seriously that if an older person offers you a shot, then you MUST take it or it’s considered disrespectful.

Furthermore, the Korean culture is very homogeneous, meaning they all get obsessed with the same products, things and brands. Examples are cell phone cases, shoes, jackets, bulky glasses, plastic surgery, cars and especially Soju.

One of the reasons why soju is so popular is the affordability to drink it.  You can buy it in a gas station, restaurants, or grocery store for about $1USD per bottle.  Even though it’s only 20 proof (as opposed to 40 proof like most vodkas), drink 2 bottles of soju to yourself and you’ll be pretty drunk.

Soju has a funny way of creeping up on you when you’re not realizing it.  Basically, you go from sober –> tipsy –> drunk –> (what happened last night ) before you can blink twice.   Then, of course, it will leave you with a horrible hangover the next morning. Nonetheless, everyone drinks it, and drinks a lot of it.

It’s common to see a few older men at a korean BBQ restaurant with 15 empty bottles of soju on the table.  It’s not strange to see a couple of young Korean adults pounding bottle after bottle outside of a gas station.  I see these things all the time, almost daily.

At my school, we have these frequent “teacher dinners,” where all the teachers go out to dinner together after school.  When I go to these dinners, the men drink an unimaginable amount of soju throughout the meal.   It’s like they take one bite of the food and then immediately take a shot of soju to wash it down.  For 2 straight hours they’ll do this…   And every time they offer me a shot, I am obligated to take it…

So, when you wake up the next morning after a night out, you can say:

“So-ju do last night?”

Get it? (say that sentence fast)

3) Techno Music = Dancing Machines

Electronic music is huge in Korea and they are literally dancing machines.

In all areas of Korea, Techno music is literally blasted inside of cell phone stores, shoe stores, jewelry stores and even some small restaurants.   In my neighborhood, I hear techno music blasting inside this cell phone store everyday when I walk home from work.  I always think to myself “What are the older people thinking when they are shopping for a cellphone and techno music is blasting in their ears?”

The scene is so big that many big name international DJs make their way to Seoul.  Huge electronic music festivals like Sensation, Global Gathering and Ultra are in Seoul every year.  A good majority of K-Pop (Korean pop) songs are transitioning into all electronic music dance beats.  Gangnam Style, anyone?

It’s hard to explain how Koreans dance, because it’s so unique and hilarious.  Most of the guys (and some of the girls) do this same rhythmic dance move that you have to see it to believe it.

In a nutshell, they get really into the beat and they bob their heads like a chicken, pump their fists together, and move their shoulders up and down in a groovy fashion.

This probably doesn’t sense to you because you just have to see it for yourself. Fortunately, I’m making a video on  “How Koreans dance,” as I’ve been compiling footage of random Koreans dancing over the last 6 months.

You can watch a preview of the video here.  (Please excuse the poor quality!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTOgXffAFUk

4) Vegas-style clubs

Seoul is no joke when it comes to luxurious and swanky nightclubs.

I’ve been to Vegas over a dozen times in the last few years, and I must admit that the clubs in Seoul are on par with the ones in Vegas.  Maybe not the “entertainment” aspect, but definitely the size and quality.

In Seoul, there are at least a dozen multi-level clubs with huge dance floors, incredible sound systems, amazing light shows, and packed to the brim with people.  I’ve seen huge DJs perform like Tiesto, Fatboy Slim and Laidback Luke and it gets more and more fun every time.  This picture is of Club Answer, one of my favorite clubs in Seoul.

The clubs aren’t cheap.  Usually a $20-50 cover charge and drinks are priced like Vegas. For example, a jack and coke is about $15.  So, it’s important to drink up before you walk inside.

But the scene is amazing. I love being the only white person in the entire club dancing with a sea of Koreans. I think it’s something that everyone should experience.

If you want to learn more about the clubbing scene, check out my post on the Ultimate Guide to Clubbing in Gangnam!

5) Nothing closes until sunrise

I took this photo at a Korean BBQ restaurant at 6:30AM, after one crazy night of clubbing.

This is really what sets Seoul apart from the other big party cities around the world.

I am dead serious when I say sunrise.  I’m not even talking about 4AM or 5 AM.  Literally, the sun will be coming up in the morning and people are just stumbling out of the bars and clubs.

Just this last weekend, I was out until 5AM on both nights with my friends.  When we were leaving the club, it was still so crowded that it took a few minutes just to get past the crowd on our way to the coat check in the back.   Additionally, I’ve had several nights in the past where I looked at my watch and couldn’t believe it was 6AM and the music was still blasting and people were busy dancing the night away.  Talk about having good stamina!

Even beyond the bars and clubs, the street food is open 24 hours.  Especially in Hongdae, a fun and hipster area where the young college kids party,  the food joints and restaurants are packed throughout the night.  The street vendors on the side of the street are out serving fried foods, dumplings, and kebabs until someone buys the last one.

It’s honestly like something out of a movie, but it’s real life.

If you come to Seoul, contact me and I will show you a good time 🙂 

P.S. Are you looking for a hostel to stay at?  Check out S.P. Guesthouse in the Itaewon district.  It’s my personal favorite because of the affordability ($15/night), and the positive vibes. The staff is really friendly, and there is always a nice mix of travelers from all over the world. Every time I stay at SP, I make new friends and go out with new faces.   Check their website here to book a room!

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Drew

Hello! Since 2012, I've been traveling and partying my way around 74+ Countries. Shortly after I graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Madison, I took a job as an English Teacher in South Korea for 18 months. Now, I'm traveling and blogging full-time on a never-ending voyage around the world. Please comment with any questions you have, and feel free to join me on Snapchat & Instagram @drewbinsky :)

Drew5 Reasons Why Seoul is the #1 Party City in the World

40 comments

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  • raj - January 15, 2017 reply

    r the clubs open on weekdays or weekends ?

  • Ash - December 15, 2016 reply

    i will be spending a night in seoul on monday 19th december 2016 . does seoul party on monday nights ?

  • michael - September 22, 2016 reply

    wth has techno to do with k-pop 😀 😀 😀 really funny

  • Nadia - June 10, 2016 reply

    Hi, Drew! Do you know any clubs that plays lots of latest kpop songs (not only edm)? I wanted to try Korean clubs but i dont really like edm music..

    Drew - June 14, 2016 reply

    Yes, Club Cocoon in Hongdae!!

  • South Korea is One of My Travel Place – hannahtoy - April 28, 2016 reply

    […] claim Seoul to have the Best nightlife in the world.  Yes, the absolute best.  I’ve partied in over 40 big cities across North America, Europe and […]

  • Sergey - March 22, 2016 reply

    Hi there!
    Thanks for the information!
    Do you know if there are any places with Drum’n’Bass music in Seoul?

    Drew - March 22, 2016 reply

    Hey Sergey — nope I dont know — hope you can find one!

    Martin - April 7, 2016 reply

    Hi, nice article! I’m going to Seoul for the weekend and I want to experience as much of the nightlife as possible. Are there any spesific streets/bar streets, where many bars and clubs are locateded close to each other that you can reccomend? or are they spread out troughout the districts?

    Drew - April 15, 2016 reply

    Itaewon is your answer! Enjoy

  • Cc - March 10, 2016 reply

    Hi! I wanna know is it easy to enter all the clubs in Gangnam? Heard that some of the clubs are only for the locals, how about Arena club? Thanku!

    Drew - March 10, 2016 reply

    yep they are easy as long as you are over 18! Enjoy!

  • 10 AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – traff>travelbuff - March 8, 2016 reply

    […] best concentrated area for nightlife in the entire city, and that is saying a lot for my announced #1 Party City in the World. Hongdae itself is known for its urban arts, indie music culture and entertainment, because it is […]

  • coka - January 28, 2016 reply

    hey im gonna go to Korea next week.can u tell me which club i should go ? thanks

    Drew - January 30, 2016 reply

    Octagon

  • GM - January 10, 2016 reply

    Great post, man!
    And what about the girls? Is it easy/possible for foreigners to know/talk/pick-up korean girls at bars and clubs?

    Drew - January 11, 2016 reply

    Haha, yeah it’s pretty easy in Itaewon. Don’t even try in Gangnam. Have fun!

    Peter - May 23, 2016 reply

    Why can’t u try it in Gangnam?

  • Paramveer Bhatia - December 11, 2015 reply

    Hi.. We intend to travel in late January.. Is nightlife still rocking in winters? Waiting for your reply.. And how are Indians treated in Seoul? Thanks

    Drew - December 22, 2015 reply

    Yes it’s still crazy in Winter! Have fuN!

  • Heffe - October 7, 2015 reply

    I’m headed to Seoul in about an hour (from Vancouver) and planned an overnight layover. I intend to get crazy, as I’ve done on similar layovers in Tokyo and Shanghai over the years many a time. This article made my smirk. Gun bae!

    Drew - October 7, 2015 reply

    Awesome – have a blast!!

  • 10 reasons why Seoul is the best City I have lived in. | soundreams are made of this - May 10, 2015 reply

    […] best concentrated area for nightlife in the entire city, and that is saying a lot for my announced #1 Party City in the World. Hongdae itself is known for its urban arts, indie music culture and entertainment, because it is […]

  • 10 reasons why Seoul is the best city I have ever lived in. | soundreams are made of this - May 10, 2015 reply

    […] best concentrated area for nightlife in the entire city, and that is saying a lot for my announced #1 Party City in the World. Hongdae itself is known for its urban arts, indie music culture and entertainment, because it is […]

  • lilluc - April 25, 2015 reply

    This is the raddest guide I’ve ever read! I lived in Beijing for a few years and thought that was amazing but what you’ve just described is all that and more. Definitely will be taking a trip sometime, damn! Also, which district/club would you say has a younger, more attractive crowd of people? (That question couldn’t be avoided haha) I’m talking cute korean peeps my age who want to get crazy!

    Drew - April 27, 2015 reply

    I’m glad that you want to go to Seoul! It’s the best! I would say to def got o Gangnam. It’s the most happening place in Seoul for young and sex crowd. Have fun!

  • Desmond - February 14, 2015 reply

    Hi Drew, cool blog! Going to check out Itaewon tonight (Feb 14th). Was debating between B One or Club Move. Would prefer deep house / electric swing / dubstep over Hip-hop / Rap, but good local “scenery” would trump all! What’s your recommendation?

    Drew - February 16, 2015 reply

    Desmond – sounds great!! Go to B1 .. It’s one of the biggest clubs in Seoul and it’s awesome! Enjoy!

  • Indra Diky - December 20, 2014 reply

    Thank you for the information. I’m from Indonesia and will visit Seoul next month. Let’s party hahaha

    Drew - December 20, 2014 reply

    Awesome you are going to have a fun time! I will actually be traveling for the next 5 weeks.. When will you be here?

  • Dwayne - December 13, 2014 reply

    I’m quite amused that you pick seoul to best party city.

    maybe you know much better about seoul night culture than me, eventhough i’m korean

    nice post 🙂

    Drew - December 14, 2014 reply

    Dwayne- yes, it’s not even debatable to me that Seoul is the best! Where in Korea are you from?

    Dwayne - December 20, 2014 reply

    I’m linvin in seo-bing-go not far from itaewon. Actually it’s like 10 minute from there.

    Drew - December 20, 2014 reply

    Nice- do you ever go to Itaewon?

  • vikashdio - November 8, 2014 reply

    Great post man,gonna be visiting seoul soon.Any recommendations on where to go?

    Drew - November 10, 2014 reply

    Thanks man! Yeah I have tons of recommendations, did you see my post about Top 10 things to do in Seoul? If you have any more questions, then send me an email!

  • Laco - September 10, 2014 reply

    Hey Drew, you just fixed image of that country, thanks man!
    I am living in Bangkok, so hopefully will stop there soon…)

    Drew - September 10, 2014 reply

    Hey Laco- let me know if and when you come by, and I will show you a good time! Have fun in BKK!

  • Shaun - March 17, 2014 reply

    Great list! I’m aiming to get to Korea for the 2016 games. Hopefully this holds true in 4 years!

    Shaun
    http://www.thislifeintrips.com

    Drew - March 17, 2014 reply

    Thanks for the comment, Shaun! You’ve gotta come for the games! It will be an unreal atmosphere! And this will most definitely hold up in 4 years.. and I think it’ll be more mainstream by then 🙂

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