Cheap shopping, a decent burger and huge nights out!
Itaewon is one of those areas you’re going to have to visit at least once – and you’ll either love it, or swear blind never to go near place again.
Similar to the Roppongi district in Tokyo, Itaewon is one of the traditional ‘international’ areas in Seoul. Bordered on one side by a huge US military base, and home to many of the embassies and older tourist hotels, it’s probably inevitable that Itaewon is an area of cheap souvenir shops and seedy bars. While the days are now long gone that you wouldn’t think of going into Itaewon after dark unless in a group of your largest friends, it’s still the part of Seoul that you’re most likely to find yourself in trouble…though these days, you’ll probably have to really go looking for it.
Itaewon has endless selections of generally very impressive clubs. Try Rococo to get you started, and go on from there. Itaewon is also home to one of Korea’s few ‘gay districts’, with some great bars and clubs tucked away down side streets. Utopia Asia (www.utopia-asia.com/seoubars.htm) can point you in the right direction to the charmingly named ‘Homo Hill’.
During daylight hours, Itaewon is one of the few places in Korea where you can still find cheap ‘knock-off’ counterfeit goods and clothing. These are cheap, but check the quality before buying. Leather goods are generally of excellent quality, and you can pick up a tailored suit for much less than you’ll pay at home (good luck with the touts, though).
If you need a break from kimchi, Itaewon is also known for having Seoul’s best selection of international restaurants, with just about every taste catered for. ‘DiscoverKorea’ have a short youtube guide to some of the dining options – www.youtube.com/watch?v=AII8lAhaG-w . Oddly enough, the Korean dining options in Itaewon seem to be generally pretty poor and grossly overpriced…it’s definitely a place to get your burger fix in (or sample the delights of Seoul’s only Bulgarian restaurant, apparently!).
Hint: A little on the chunky side and struggling to find clothes to fit? Try Hamilton Shopping Centre or Hyundai Town for western-sized clothing options (plus just about everything else you could ever possibly need).