Guide to Yeonnam Dong, Seoul: 15 Best Things to Do

15 Spots to Check Out in Yeonnam-dong — Seoul’s Hip Yuppie Neighbourhood

Welcome to the vibrant urban oasis that might as well be Seoul’s best-kept secret.

Seoul has always been known for being quite the ever-changing metropolis, with new and shiny structures popping up faster than pop culture trends. It’s no wonder that finding underrated spots that exist in a well-preserved state is practically like stepping into a time capsule. Case in point: Yeonnam-dong, a neighbourhood in the Mapo-gu District that’s merely blocks away from the more popular Hongdae area. While the latter is the place-to-be among university kids, Yeonnam-dong caters to the cool 20-somethings who enjoy leisurely brunches as much as finding the next ‘it’ spot that no one has heard of yet. 

Anyway, to describe Yeonnam-dong, Seoul in a nutshell: it’s like the chill, sophisticated older sibling of Hongdae. Here, you’ll find a hillside labyrinth of alleyways filled with pretty cafés and eateries, artisan boutiques, indie bookshops, and more. And while it has certainly retained most of its original charm through the decades, it has also seen some subtle transformation in recent years. Thanks to an influx of young creatives who have decided to put down roots here, Yeonnam-dong has gone from a typical quiet residential area to one with a youthfully hip pizzaz. 

If that doesn’t make you excited to visit this hidden gem of a neighbourhood, then we don’t know what will. That said, here’s a rundown of the best places to visit and things to do in Yeonnam-dong, Seoul. 

Also read: 30 Fun Things to Do in Seoul on Your Very First Visit

How to get to Yeonnam-dong, Seoul

Image credit: Integral

You can reach the neighbourhood of Yeonnam-dong by taking the Seoul Metro to Hongik University Station and walking out of Exit 3. This will lead right next to Gyeongui Line Forest Park (more on that later) — you’ll know it when you see a long yet narrow grassy walkway. Follow this tree-lined path before you reach the intersection of Yeonnam-ro and Seongmisan-ro. From here, turn right and you’ll find the streets and alleys that’ll take you to the different restaurants, cafés, and bars. And on that note…

A guide to the Yeonnam-dong food scene

1. Cafe Yeonnam-dong 223-14

Even before its cameo on the latest To All the Boys movie, Cafe Yeonnam-dong 223-14 has already been one of the trendiest cafés in Seoul! Despite its very straightforward name (basically, the address), the 2-D drawing concept — from the interiors to the tableware — is a study in optical illusions. You’ll certainly feel like you’ve stepped right into a comic book! Pretty cool, right?

Fun fact: The concept was inspired by the hit K-drama, ‘W: Two Worlds Apart,’ where the main character ends up in an alternate webtoon dimension. 

2. Permil (퍼밀)

yeonnam dong seoul

Image credit: Permil Instagram Page

Situated in a back alley, Permil would be hard to find if not for its eye-catching sign and facade. This repurposed hanok (traditional Korean house) is well-known in the Yeonnam-dong food scene for having the best pasta and paella in the area. And if you’re dropping by at nighttime, you might wanna pair these with something from their wine collection! To top it all off, the place has a chic yet cosy ambience that’s perfect for feasting after a long day of sightseeing. 

Fun fact: If this place looks familiar, that’s because you’ve probably seen it on ‘What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim?’. It’s the pasta resto where Lee Young-joon (Park Seo-jun) brings Kim Mi-so (Park Min-young)! 

3. Fluffy Doughnut (플러피 도넛)

For the avid doughnut fan, Fluffy Doughnut is definitely a must-add to your things to do in Yeonnam-dong! Aside from mouth-watering flavours like maple bacon, raspberry, and meringue lemon custard, they also offer coffee and matcha latte that comes with tiny doughnuts on skewers. We also can’t get enough of the cute ’80s-inspired interiors that look straight out of a K-pop music video.

Also read: Top 10 Cafés in Seoul for The Best Pastries & Baked Treats

4. SF Bagels (샌프란시스코베이글)

Prefer something else other than doughnuts for breakfast? Then head over to SF Bagels: another staple in the Yeonnam-dong food scene. It’s rather hard to miss when you’re passing by, what with the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting from this hole-in-wall. While it’s best known for San Francisco-style sourdough bagels and homemade cream cheese, they also offer other yummy pastries like coffee cake, cinnamon rolls, and Portuguese custard tarts. 

5. Coffee Nap Roasters (커피냅 로스터스)

Another must-visit café in Yeonnam-dong, Seoul would be Coffee Nap Roasters. Tucked in a quiet street corner, its all-white exterior easily stands out amongst the row of rustic shophouses. Inside, the whole area is tiled with red bricks that slope upwards, somewhat like an actual roof. And the most interesting part? You can sit on this ‘indoor hill’ while sipping on good ol’ speciality coffee, too! 

Also read: A Coffee Lover’s Guide to The Hippest Cafes in Seoul & Beyond

6. VER’s House

Granted, there’s never a shortage of soothing, nature-filled sights in the neighbourhood of Yeonnam-dong, Seoul. But if you’d rather enjoy these from the comfy indoors, then VER’s House is your best bet. It’s a literal house of flowers, with a café, garden lounge, and a plant shop inside. Even their drinks and desserts come with floral elements, so better get your cameras ready! 

Fun fact: The entrance of VER’s House made a cameo in the 2020 K-drama, ’18 Again.’

7. Tuk Tuk Noodle Thai (툭툭누들타이)

Tuk Tuk Noodle Thai is one of the pioneers of the Yeonnam-dong food scene, and the constant long queues (especially during lunch and dinner hours) prove just that! That said, we recommend dropping by during off-peak times if you’d like to avoid waiting. Oh, and you also might want to bring a couple of friends, just so you can try more of their delish selections for sharing.

This Michelin-starred resto is a joint venture by a local and a chef who hails from the Isaan region in Thailand. So, if you’re wondering where to get the best spicy Thai food on this side of Seoul, then you know where to go! The place also has a bar, if you’re thinking of having a nightcap. 

8. Makgeollism (연남동막걸리즘)

Speaking of nightcaps, Makgeollism is an excellent pick if you’d prefer a quieter yet eclectic atmosphere. This hip bar specialises in cocktails that are based on makgeolli: a type of Korean rice wine that’s thick, milky, and like a sweeter version of soju. Take your cue from the trendy Seoulites and try out the many different takes on makgeolli, while pairing it with their yummy bar chows! 

Where to shop in Yeonnam-dong, Seoul

9. Dongjin Market (연남동)

Wondering where to get unique souvenirs in Yeonnam-dong, Seoul? Well then, look no further than Dongjin Market! Enter this weekend flea market and browse through different stalls ranging from vintage clothes and local delicacies to all sorts of handmade items made by local artisans. There are also several restaurants and cafés nearby if you need a quick bite while deciding on what stuff to buy!

10. Pinokio Bookshop (책방 피노키오)

With its bright yellow and blue facade that looks straight out of a whimsical K-drama, it’s hard not to notice Pinokio Bookshop when you pass by. This independent bookstore sells mainly picture books and graphic novels; some local, some sourced from other countries like Canada, Portugal, and Japan. There are only limited copies of each book, so you might want to hold on to the ones that catch your interest right away! 

11. Neon Moon (네온문)

For those with an undying love for all things fun and young, make sure to add Neon Moon on your things to do in Yeonnam-dong. In this quaint vintage and novelty boutique, you’ll find an array of unique items ranging from retro cartoon plushies to cute trinkets. It’s almost like you’ve stepped inside a neon-filled time machine! 

12. Art Platz (아트플라츠)

Looking for cool finds that emulate the Seoul hipster aesthetic? Then Art Platz is the way to go! Compared to the previous shop, this one offers mostly practical items, such as mugs, mobile cases, canvas totes, and statement t-shirts. Though, you can also get artsy stuff here, such as paintings with dried flowers and flamingo floaties! Oh, and don’t even get us started on the absolutely IG-worthy storefront.

Other things to do in Yeonnam-dong, Seoul

13. Lounge around Gyeongui Line Forest Park

Named after the former train line on which it was built (before the Seoul subways were built), Gyeongui Line Forest Park stretches over six kilometres. Its Yeonnam-dong section, situated right in front of Hongik University, has earned the nickname ‘Yeontral Park.’ Many locals come here for picnics, people-watching, or simply enjoying the scenery in this urban oasis. Alternatively, you can enjoy your takeout food or drink here, in case some of the cafés and restos nearby are packed! 

14. Get cultured at Place Mak (플레이스막)

Over the years, there have been a handful of art galleries emerging around Yeonnam-dong, Seoul. But if you only had to pick just one, then we definitely recommend Place Mak. It showcases works by local artists of various forms ranging from painting and photography to installation and performance. 

Speaking of the latter medium, the owners of Place Mak also operate Maksa — an exhibition space right beside Dongjin Market. This one hosts various performances such as short plays and live music. 

15. Make neon signs at Hongdae Youth Workshop (홍대청년공방)

It’s impossible to explore Seoul at night and not be mesmerised by the many neon lights all around. So, why not attend a neon sign workshop at Hongdae Youth Workshop (don’t be confused by the name — it’s technically still in Yeonnam-dong)? A professional will guide you on how to make your own vibrant piece, which you can bring home, too! Just make sure to check the schedule and book in advance, since slots are usually limited. 

Also read: How to Save Money in Seoul: 12 Ways to Travel in Seoul on a Tight Budget

Suffice to say, there’s never a shortage of burgeoning cool neighbourhoods in Seoul that go beyond the usual touristy spots. Although, if you prefer the humongous works of art (read: architectural marvels), then may we suggest checking out the best buildings in the city

And, of course, if you want to get a headstart on your trip-planning as early as now, then might as well check out the best places to stay in Seoul

About Author

Marcy Miniano
Marcy Miniano

A fast-talking caffeine-dependent wordsmith, Marcy has never been one to shy away from sharing a good story or two. If she’s not in a quiet coffee shop somewhere, she enjoys spending afternoons in a museum or art gallery — whether it’s around Metro Manila or a foreign city she’s visiting. She wishes to retire in a winter village someday, so she can fulfil her lifelong dream of wearing turtlenecks all year round and owning a pet penguin.


Related Posts