Itaewon is a district in the city of Seoul, South Korea. Itaewon nightlife is well known around Seoul, as this is an area that draws throngs of tourists year round. It is a multinational group to be sure in this part of the city and the U.S. presence is felt because of the nearby military base. Itaewon is not the place to go if you are seeking out authentic Korean culture because of the fact that this area caters primarily to international tourists and military personnel. As an example, you are not likely to see as many American fast food and chain restaurants in other parts of Seoul as you are likely to see here.
For some, having the ability to go to Subway or McDonalds is reassuring, while for others this somewhat detracts from the experience they would like to have in Northeast Asia. The bottom line is that Seoul is a massive city, so the influence of international tourism is unavoidable. You can, however, choose in which parts of the city you would like to stay based upon what goes on there. Itaewon is for those who are okay with there being a lot of tourists, all of the time.
The popular Itaewon clubs are teeming with people looking to have a good time all night long. Itaewon-dong Street is the primary location for the majority of the varied nightlife and after hours entertainment in this South Korean city. Although the district has tried to crack down on prostitution, the area still has something of a bad reputation because of the location of several brothels in the area. Be aware of this and it is unlikely to cause you any issues. Knowledge is empowerment and you can avoid the shady areas, and enjoy the nice ones. Ask your concierge for a referral to a nice restaurant or place to have a glass of wine. Despite the reputation of some areas of Itaewon, there are many more bright spots. Cuisine is just one of them.
There are a lot of things to do in Itaewon Seoul, and the most popular besides shopping has got to be dining. Itaewon nightlife is renowned for offering some of the best and most varied dining experiences in the city. As this is an area that caters to travelers from all over the world, you will find restaurants that are representative of French, Italian, Chinese, and many more culinary traditions. It’s not all about the Itaewon clubs in this district, (although there are plenty of those as well). People come to this district to enjoy the wide selection of excellent restaurants. It should be noted that there are plenty of options from budget restaurants where you can grab a quick meal, to much nicer, fine dining establishments with exhaustive wine lists and excellent food. When you take in the exciting Itaewon nightlife, you will be able to enjoy great food, an exciting and vibrant atmosphere, and of course, shopping.
Besides visiting the various Itaewon clubs and restaurants, you will want to make it a point to check out the shopping scene. Be wary of people with knock-off goods as you peruse the markets and shops. In this area you will be able to find a wide range of traditional South Korean goods, from arts and crafts to clothing and jewelry. Just be aware of what you are purchasing so you do not get taken advantage of. People are willing to bargain, but you will want to check for serial numbers on designer purses, and other high-priced items.
Image: US Army Korea IMCOM (Flickr)