Seoul’s 10 million people have a variety of interests and sleeping habits. Because of this, there are plenty of places open 24/7 for both locals and visitors in Seoul. Whether you’re out partying late into the morning and need a place to crash or have a short stopover and want to get your money’s worth, there is plenty to do in Seoul at any hour of the day.
Although there is typically some sort of corner bodega or mini mart open around the clock in most major world cities, Korean convenience stores have challenged themselves to surpass the expectation of only stocking overpriced bottled water and junk food. They aim to be all-in-one shops offering a variety goods and services.
On top of providing basic food, water, and ATM services, many Korean convenience stores offer parcel delivery services where you can have a package delivered to the store and pick it up there for a small service fee. Some offer the option to charge or exchange your low phone battery and you can also reload your T-money card, which gives you access to the city’s transportation. CU, Korea’s largest convenience store chain, has storage lockers in certain locations that are popular for tourists or those going out at night who don’t want to drag their belongings around with them.
The food offered at these shops is of much higher quality than many foreigners would expect. Convenience stores have tried to create whole meals that are affordable and easy for students and seniors who are a large part of their clientele. Several store chains also have apps that allow customers to buy deals now and store their purchases on the app for later use.
In addition to CU, the most common chains of convenience stores that you will see in Seoul include 7-Eleven, Ministop, GS25, Buy the Way, and Storyway.
Seoul’s public bathhouses provide a relaxing place to unwind with gender-segregated baths of different temperatures and settings. Some even have things like salt, mugwort, or loess added to the water to offer extra therapeutic properties. And don’t forget the steam rooms.
After hitting up the baths and saunas, you can make your way to the non-segregated areas to meet up with your friends of the opposite gender. There you can usually buy snacks or enjoy a full out meal at the jimjilbang restaurant. You can also bask in rooms of various temperatures with more healing properties like jade and charcoal. Many jimjilbangs also offer sleeping rooms at no additional cost. You can set up camp in any of the public areas or the healing rooms as well. Many foreigners choose to stay at jimjilbangs when visiting Seoul because they are cheaper and offer a more relaxing environment than hostels. They usually cost 15,000 won or less. Locals and foreigners living in Seoul also head to the jimjilbangs after a night out if they don’t want to pay for a taxi home when the subway stops running.
Korean street food is a cultural experience that offers an introduction to popular local foods and dishes. You can find vendors set up at any hour of the day near most subway stations and tourist attractions. Some street food stalls only open up at night to cater to those out late. These usually intoxicated crowds are especially vulnerable to the fried and skewered options that vendors offer. For the full cultural experience, you can even sit on stools in front of the stalls and continue drinking. When the weather’s cold, stalls will have plastic coverings to trap the heat and smells inside for their customers’ enjoyment.
Here’s a basic guide to Korean street food although the offerings are always expanding
If you have a late night or early morning craving or just need a place to use free wifi, many cafes and restaurants stay open all day and all night. Large chains like McDonald’s and Lotteria (Korea’s version of McDonald’s) are 24 hours around the city. But, neighborhoods near universities or popular nighttime areas also have many cafes and restaurants that never close.
Two of dal.komm’s cafe locations stay open 24 hours. One is in Nonhyun (737-20 Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu) and the other is in Itaewon (123-31 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu).
You can also order delivery services from fast food giants like McDonald’s and pizza places like Lugano Pizza.
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to going out and stuffing your face with street food in the middle of the night, many gyms stay open 24 hours. Seogyo Gym in the Hongdae area and Spoany gym (a chain with several locations in southern Seoul) are open whenever you feel the need to work out. Many hotel gyms are accessible 24/7 also.
PC Bangs (Computer Rooms)
The Korean word bang (방) means room in Korean. So, PC bangs are exactly what they claim to be: rooms with computers. The computers housed in PC bangs typically offer high speed internet connections, so many Koreans use them for games although you can use them for any computer need you have. They typically cost about 500 to 1,500 won per hour and there are usually snacks and drinks for purchase. PC bangs are located around the city and it feels like there is at least one on every street. Look for “PC” especially on the second, third, and fourth floors of buildings.
Noraebangs (Karaoke Rooms)
Combining the two Korean words norae (노래) meaning song and bang meaning room (see above), noraebangs are Korea’s version of karaoke rooms. Inside, you can rent a room for an hourly rate. Prices vary by location and time of day. Each room comes with a TV, remotes, microphones, colored lights, and other amenities to make you feel like a K-pop star. There is a list of songs to choose from, which usually includes a mix of Korean and foreign language music. Noraebangs are typically open late so you can choose to go after a night out when you feel more loosened up and ready to sing.
Manekineko has two locations that are open 24 hours. Their first location in Gangnam is 24 hours all the time while their Jongno location is 24 hours on the weekends only. Like many noraebangs, they also sell drinks and snacks.
Seoul’s Dongdaemun Market is open 24 hours to accommodate shoppers looking for steals on the latest fashions. Selling all kinds of clothing, accessories, and wholesale fabrics, Dongdaemun is especially popular at nights and on the weekends. With prices that are affordable for the average consumer, the market is a good place to wander around at any hour of the day and possibly find some new additions to your wardrobe.
Dongdaemun is in Jung-gu and can be reached on the subway by lines 2, 4, and 5.