During my first visit to Seoul in the winter of 2019, Myeongdong was the area we kept going back to. If you are wondering why, from this article, you will learn that there are so many things to do in Myeongdong. Especially if you are a woman.
Set in Seoul’s very heart, there’s no wonder this area attracts mainly tourists. Packed with cool cafes and shops, Myeongdong lights up as night falls and becomes one of the most vibrant areas in town.
Even though I visited Seoul with a friend during a cold winter (before actually living there), no matter how cold the weather was, we couldn’t help but go back to explore more of this area.
Thus, without further ado, here are my favorite things to do and see in Myeongdong, Seoul.
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Getting from Incheon to Myeongdong
As mentioned before, Myeong-dong is set at the center of Seoul. From here, you will be within walking distance of some of the most important attractions in town such as the Namsan Tower, Bukchon Hanok Village, or Seoul’s Palaces.
Getting from Incheon Airport to Myeong-dong is not too complicated, with only one change at Seoul Station.
As you arrive at Incheon Airport, hop on the Airport Railroad Like (marked with blue on the map). Get off at Seoul Station, and take Line 4 towards Jinjeop, for 2 stops.
The cost of the ticket will be 4,850 KRW and it will take roughly 75 minutes, depending on the time of the day. On the app and on the website you can calculate the itinerary, lead time, and expected fee.
Things to do in Myeongdong
Shop for K-Beauty
I must admit that as I landed in Seoul for the first time, I knew close to nothing about cosmetics in general, and K-beauty in particular. Therefore, I was blown away by the number of shops and cosmetic brands available in South Korea’s capital.
Since I was traveling with a friend, we ended up spending hours on end moving from one cosmetics store to the other in Myeongdong. It is literally unimaginable how many options there are, and every now and then there is someone luring you inside with a special offer. We couldn’t stop shopping and we ended up with a suitcase filled with masks, serums, cleansers, toners, and whatnot.
The good part about K-Beauty is that they are not only super affordable, but they are also great for your skin. They did wonders on my dry skin, and I would never go back to other cosmetics.
Again, this was back in 2019. As we moved there in early 2021, things changed and this area transformed a lot due to the lack of tourists. Walking on the streets of Myeongdong felt a bit sad with so many shops closing down.
However, as things are changing, I am sure Myeongdong will come back stronger than before.
The moral of the story is that on the lined-up streets of Myeongdong, you will find everything your heart desires when it comes to K-beauty. Come already prepared with some room in your luggage! From some stores, you can also have your orders sent to the airports and pick them up before you leave.
Moreover, you can ask for a VAT refund at Incheon Airport for amounts over 30.000 won. Just make sure you ask for the tax refund receipt from the store and at the airport, and head over to the customs clearance desk at Incheon Airport.
Shop for K-Fashion
Since we are in the shopping mood, let’s talk about K-Fashion. Another phenomenon taking the world by storm, it is true that Korean fashion brands are not precisely for everyone.
However, they do have pretty items you should at least check out. And Myeongdong is the place for that. With so many small shops lined on the backstreets, or even small stalls set outside, I am sure you will find at least one item to take back home.
It is worth knowing that the branded goods sold on the street might not be original, and you can easily tell that by looking at the prices. Nevertheless, if you are looking for dresses, skirts, or shirts in the small shops there will be plenty of cute options, usually the most popular pieces at the moment.
Nanta Cooking Show
One of the most popular and entertaining activities you could attend in Myeongdong, the Nanta Cooking Show should not be missed!
Get ready for a performance of acrobatics, comedy, and the percussion of kitchen utensils, and listen to some of the most popular songs performed on the stage of the Myeongdong theater.
As you might imagine, this is a popular activity, thus we would strongly encourage you to book your preferred seat ahead of time.
Another thing worth knowing is that if you try to book directly on their website, you might encounter issues – many local websites don’t accept payments by international cards. The workaround for that is to book on an international website such as Klook. They always have offers and special prices, and you won’t have any issues related to payments.
EAT your heart out
Choose from the countless food options around Myeongdong, because here is where you will find something for any occasion.
Look for the colorful signs telling you what to expect, check out the outside menus with pictures, or go for the fancier versions inside department stores.
Don’t skip the Korean barbeque while in Seoul. You choose the meat you want and all the rest side dishes come along with it. The lady or guy serving you will help you prepare the meat until it is perfect to savor.
Another one of our favorite restaurants set in Myeongdong is the Taiwanese Din Tai Fung. If you still haven’t heard of it, trust me when I tell you once you try it you will look for it everywhere you go.
It is a Michelin-star restaurant known for its dumplings, but all their food is delicious and they have branches in many places around the world. Try their soup-filled dumplings, fried rice, and my all-time favorite beef soup.
Another place worth trying is the Chinese restaurant Haidilao. This is a hot pot place where you will eat your heart out.
Of course, during normal times, there is always the street food option. The main street in Myeongdong is lined-up with small food stalls frying, baking, or boiling all kinds of different food.
Pet a cat at a cat cafe
As Hongdae, Myeongdong is packed with cat cafes, or cafes with other types of animals as well. While I wouldn’t encourage keeping big dogs in a small space together, cats are smaller and more independent.
You will see signs everywhere around Myeongdong and can choose based on your preferences. It is just worth knowing that they open at around 12 PM and close at around 10 PM.
Also, most cafes have specific rules when dealing with animals. You cannot pick them up, you must only pet them when they want to, feeding them is not allowed unless you purchase certain treats from the cafe, and you must take off your shoes and wash your hands before touching the cats. On top of that, the time spent there is limited (depends from place to place) and you must pay an entrance fee.
Most cats are friendly and curious, and they are used to people, thus spending one or 2 hours in a cat cafe is a fun thing to do in Myeongdong.
Go for a massage/facial
Who wouldn’t like to be pampered after a day of walking around exploring the city? I sure know I need a massage every now and then.
On top of that, why not enjoy a facial with some of the best Korean cosmetics out there? The good news is that you won’t have to travel too far in order to do that, with so many options available around Myeongdong.
In the area, most places are specifically for tourists and mostly for women.
In South Korea, department stores are a big thing, and some of the most important ones are to be found in Myeongdong. Shinsegae or Lotte Department Stores are some of the most luxurious, where you can shop for designer goods and luxury Korean skincare.
The food in their food court is also delicious and you can choose from countless options from all over Asia. Additionally, on the higher levels, you will also find fancier restaurants with top-class food options.
Moreover, these particular department stores get beautifully decorated during winter for the Christmas celebrations. Every year they have a different setting and you should go there for some Instagram-worthy pictures.
Across the street, from Lotte Departments Store you will find the more low-key Noon Shopping Mall. Here is where you can shop for brands like Zara or other more affordable options.
Take a picture at the Line Friends Myeongdong Branch
These stuffed animals are just so cute you won’t be able to resist taking a picture with them. You will easily understand why people line up and patiently wait to take a picture with a cute oversized bear.
Go for dessert at the Innisfree Cafe
Innisfree is one of the most famous K-beauty brands and the number-one seller in South Korea. Their philosophy is based on using the power of nature, specifically the ingredients found on Jeju Island, for beautiful skin.
As expected, within their flagship store in Myeongdong, you will find a cafe set on 3 floors. Shop for your favorite products on the ground floor, and once you are ready, head to the second floor for a healthy snack.
The place is really nice, built with sustainability and natural ingredients in mind. And you can of course have green tea from Jeju island as a drink.
Grab a table by the window and you can admire the main street in Myeongdong from above.
Set on top of a small hill in Myeongdong, this is one of the prettiest buildings around. The interiors are beautifully decorated and it should be a stop on your list no matter if you are religious or not.
This large Japanese franchise is one of the most popular shops in South Korea, mainly because they hold anything you could ever think of. And on top of that, products are extremely affordable.
If you are visiting for the first time, you can easily spend a few hours walking from one floor to the other and looking at things you never thought you needed.
Depending on the season you choose for visiting Seoul, Daiso always has a special collection.
StyleNanda pink hotel cafe
Another popular cafe, this place mainly attracts girls in search of the perfect picture. The interior is so pink, that you can buy popular Korean make-up, clothes, and accessories, or simply have a drink at the cafe on the terrace set on the 6th floor.
The design is inspired by a girly pastel pool, and while the place is not too big, it still is one of the most popular cafes in town.
Where to stay in Myeongdong
Luxury hotels in Myengdong
The Westin Josun Seoul – a 5* hotel perfectly set behind Lotte Department Store, offering luxurious rooms and an indoor swimming pool and SPA center. You will have an impressive city view and access to some of the best restaurants in Seoul.
Lotte Hotel Seoul Executive Tower – enjoy the swimming pool and SPA, just before dinner at a 3* Michelin restaurant.
Mid-range hotels in Myengdong
L7 Myeongdong by LOTTE – with a simple, fun, and colorful interior design, this hotel also has one of the few rooftop bars in town.
Nine Tree Hotel Myeongdong – I must admit this was our first choice when we visited Seoul for 3 days as tourists, but somehow we ended up at Marriott (and I don’t regret it a bit). This one is perfectly located and offers a great quality vs price ratio.
Budget accommodation in Myengdong
Crib 49 Guesthouse – hosted in a small building, with a rooftop terrace, very conveniently located close to the main tourist attractions, shops, and restaurants.
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