Introduction

Gangnam (meaning South of the River) is booming with new luxury high-rises bisected by broad highways. Expansive areas of greenery figure, too, in the shape of Olympic Park, the strip of recreation areas along the Han River, and Seonjeongneung Park, home to royal tombs. Luxury label boutiques are clustered in Apgujeong and Cheongdam. You’ll also find several major performance-arts centres across the district.

Explore

Gangnam refers to an administrative area, Gangnam-gu, and the parts of Seoul that lie south of the Han. Interesting sights are spread out and can feel suburban (though ritzy) after Itaewon and Myeongdong. Ranks of tower blocks bisected by highways can be intimidating to traverse on foot between areas, but it's interesting to see how wealthy Koreans live. Planning what you see by metro station helps to organise your time. Otherwise, the Gangnam City Tour Bus is worth considering.

If you are into theme parks and nature parks plan a day around Sports Complex and Jamsil stations. The Olympic Park area, the legacy of the 1988 Olympics, is a main sight with its green space, museums and galleries. Gangnam’s wide open spaces allowed Lotte to create its giant theme park, plus Seoul's tallest building nearby, filled with tourists.

For a taste of the high life 'Gangnam Style' then the area between Apgujeong Rodeo, Cheongdam and Hak-dong stations will have you in designer heaven. Boutique shopping, galleries, restaurants and K-Pop studios gather at Seoul's Fifth Ave. A Saturday lingering over brunch can turn into a night of world-class clubbing.

More affordable is the shopping on nearby tree-lined Garosu-gil, which buzzes with students at night eating at interesting, budget-friendly restaurants near Sinsa station.

Bongeunsa station is a mixed bag of a lofty temple and the tourist-heavy mega shopping plaza COEX Mall, offering a K-Pop museum and a neon-lit library.

The Banpo Bridge area near(ish) Express Bus Terminal station comes alive in warmer weather with a night market and Rainbow Fountain.

Highlights

  • Olympic Park Strolling around 1700-year-old fortifications, museums and 200 quirky sculptures in a green space.
  • Bongeun-sa Making a lotus lantern and sipping tea with monks at the venerable temple juxtaposed against skyscrapers.
  • Lotte World Getting high on an amusement-park thrill ride and in a fairy-tale carousel and castle in the tallest building in South Korea.
  • SMTown coexartium Electric-kissing K-Pop holograms at a five-level museum to some of Korea's biggest idols.
  • Apgujeong Checking out eye-boggling price tags then dining and partying at world-class restaurants and clubs.

Top Tips

Get a taste of world-class eating at a more budget-friendly price by visiting in the day. Plenty of top restaurants do set-lunch specials that are very similar to their night offerings, with the added bonus of including an entree and drink.