I just got back from Ho Bar from HongDae in Seoul. There are several of these in the neighborhood and I am only talking about the bar on the main street to the main gate to Hogik University. My friend and I ( all foreigners and not Americans) were ousted from the place by local patrons that claimed that English-speakers were not welcome in the place. Local personnel didn't seem to have much of a personal stake when we tried to talk about and eventually leave. HO BAR is supposed to be a foreigner friendly bar in Seoul, South Korea, but in practice its local patrons make it not so. Edit
Hahaha ~ the Ho Bar in Hongdae --- right near the gate to Hongik Univerisity --- is not one of the best bars; but, a good bar if there are no other "western-themed" bars looming around. Prices and sets are well-priced and geared towards the younger crowd. And, sure ~ if you're party is the only group that bears the look of a horse of a different color -- then sure, you'll get some "occasionally" looks (then again, while in Korea --- when would you ever not?). Not sure what the poster did or said that must've pissed off Mr. Chang Shik and his staff, but they DO try to accommodate customers who aren't fluent in Korean. My girlfriend, a few friends, and I went there a few months ago, as neither one of us can speak a lick of Korean (as of 4/29/15). Not once did we try to enforce an "ignorant" attitude towards why they couldn't understand our English. I can safely attest that we were treated with care and good enough attention, considering how packed the place can get. And finally, Nobody did any kind of "ass kicking out the door" and drove a Korean flag into the floor while screaming "Korea!"
There are a million bars in Seoul. They can be basically lumped into 5 categories:
- Western Bars -- this doesn't mean there will be any western people, just lots of beer. Number 10, Wa Bar and others fall into this category.
- Real Western Bars -- replete with real western people. And you can actually stand by the bar.
- Korean bars -- Places that serve different Korean liquors.
- Soju Tents -- Little tents set up serving Soju. Often frequented by middle-aged men and less expensive than any other places.
- Juicy Bars -- The deal here is that you go in and a girl (employee of the bar) will sit down and chat with you, usually wearing skimpy clothing. She'll ask, "Can you buy me a drink" and the drink will cost 20 000 won. Apparently half of the price of a drink will go directly to the girl working there.
- Nightclubs -- Entertaining if you're feeling frisky. The waitstaff will drag unaccompanied girls to your table to enjoy your company and alcohol for as long as you're able to keep their attention. You're free to send them away when you get bored, and they're likewise free to leave if you're a lout.
Areas in Seoul that have bars worth frequenting:
Bars by Area Edit
The Jet Lagged Lizard Located near the Incheon Airport. Western Bar, Irish pub, Sports bar. Place where a lot of Flight Crew Hang out. Staff speaks very good english and is very friendly. Open till late.
- Find the bar on Google maps, search for The Jet Lagged Lizard Incheon. Located Close to the Hyatt and Best Western Hotel. Just walk along the main street you can't miss it.
Liquor Burger This is Yeonsu dong's western bar and the go-to for beer, burgers and events. The bar is owned by a very friendly American guy and his Korean wife. They have dart leagues, foosball, trivia nights, live music, movie nights and on-demand music videos for free. It's a small neighborhood, so everyone knows everyone. You'll never go there without seeing a friendly face. Every couple of months they do big events in which they take 40 of the locals on weekend getaways. Great mix of foreigners and Koreans! Address: Incheon, Yeonsugu, Yeonsu2dong, 600-1, Third Floor. www.liquorburger.com. 032-816-8988.
RAndy's Bar Located in front of Hankook Univesity of Foreign Studies, this bar is owned by an American. On most nights it's is populated by Students and Professors from HUFS and Kyungghee University (quite a cast of characters, indeed) as well as pool aficionados. The music is always fun, the atmosphere is friendly, the bathrooms are clean, and the prices are geared at students.
- Find the bar on google places or find the front gate of HUFS and look toward the subway station till you see the Coffee Bean. Walk past Coffee Bean into a little alleyway. RAndy's is on your left in about 20 meters, downstairs from the Frypan.
The quickest way to get to the area is out of exit 6. Make your first left (at the traffic light) and go uphill to the Hongik University gates by the McDonalds. To your right will be most of the bars listed.
Ho Bar II Across from the park katycorner to the Hongik University gate is Ho Bar II. It's loud, friendly and cheap. Ho is the Korean pronunciation for the hanja 好, meaning good (Hao in Chinese, as in 'Ni hao').
"Watt's on Tap" Great music of all styles, an open-air terrace, Western food, wide selection of beers and liquor, good personality, and good prices. Highly recommended. A staple of Shinchon for many years.
- Go down the main road from Shinchon subway station towards Yonsei University. Take a left in an alley when you see SK Telecom and Starbucks (careful, there's many Starbucks!). Walk about 25 meters and look up towards the 4th floor. It's a corner spot across from a convenience store.
Woodstock This bar is crusty as hell and the bathroom stinks. Nonetheless its really fun to go to on a friday or saturday night. Unlike most Korean bars, they don't seat everybody in their own seperate little groups so its a good place to meet people. And Mr. Moon will play any 60's, 70's or 80's requests you can make. If you are a newby there, just tell him that "Ken" sent you!
- Go down the main road in Shinchon towards Yonsei. Take a left at the Pizza Hut. Go past one alleyway and take a left at the next. On your left
- I'd recommend the Woodstock music bar in Gangnam, Yeoksam-dong side - same concept, i.e. playing music requests but totally cool! Woodstock.Music.Bar.Gangnam
The Bar An unusual little place.
- Go down the main road in Shinchon towards Yonsei. Take a left at the Pizza Hut. Take a left at the first alleyway.
노리하는사람들" Despite the fact that it has no English name, this is a refuge (i.e. cesspool) for foreigners in Shinchon. Has a semi-clubby atmosphere where a lot of people are dancing and stuff.
- In the basement below The Bar
Mike's cabin This a bar- dancing club with a unique wood interior design. Most people are foreigner with a lot students playing game... foosball table, dart, boardgame etc. Draft beer start 3,000w with a lot of cocktails and shooter. A really nice place to enjoy your night. must go.
- In the basement www.mikescabinseoul.com or facebook/mikescabin
Sam Ryan's Sports Bar (above the 3 Alley Pub)
Great place to watch any sport you want from Rugby, Football (any kind you can imagine), Tennis to Cricket. There are TV's everywhere including the restrooms! You tell them what you want, you got it! Kitchen is extraordinary, excellent menu. The drink selection is great, better than most in Itaewon besides the 3 Alley Pub. The English speaking staff is friendly as well, they still run a tight ship though. In other words, the foreign owner is a fat slob who is belligerent to his staff and his customers alike! Who needs it? Spend your hard-earned dough somewhere else. Potential to turn into another Rocky Mountain Tavern. www.samryans.com
Really classy establishment with a great beer menu and outstanding food. Steaks, Burgers, and Wings will definetly please your pub grub hunger! Nice bar and plenty of tables for all sizes of groups. The pool table and dart boards are of the highest quality. The staff speaks exceptional English with the location close to the subway and shopping district. Great atmopshere to have a drink with good people. Location: Itaewon Station (Line 6), Exit #4. Located one block south in alley behind Geckos before the Wolfhound. https://www.facebook.com/pages/JR-Pub-Seoul/143742312345580?sk=info
Sin Bin Sports Pub
One of the best if not the best western sports bar in Seoul. The drinks are affordable and the food is out of this world. Pizza, winger, burgers, you name it. Darts (Tournaments for prizes), Shuffle board, and pool! English speaking staff that will assist you in watching whatever sporting even requested, just have to ask. Rooftop parties during the summer. A mix of all cultures, Korean, Expats, a little sprinkle of GI's but not the crazy ones, haha. Check it out!
This is a newer sports bar opened up in Kyoenglidan above the money exchange. They show whatever sports events that is playing and you can also request games. Great prices of beer and food with a pub feel that rivals many in Itaewon. Mostly pub grub and American style food on the menu. Perfect place to hideaway from the wife or husband. https://www.facebook.com/Upper.Deck.Seoul
The bar used to be one of the top hot spots in Itaewon but it still draws a crowd. The place is getting a little run down but still a good time. Can't beat the happy hour W2,0000 OB. Witnessing Mr. Jung's hi-jinks and drinking skills brings a fun atmosphere. Late nights are for Junior who is the life of the party. Try the Boot and the speed game. This place is an interesting melting pot of crossovers from every bar in Itaewon (All classes of life, tops and bottom!).
The ultimate foreigner hang out but many Korean women come to meet friends and even find boyfriends. You can relax at lunchtime, read a book or paper so trust me on that one. The pool table is gone, the Sunday night crowd is very diverse. The food is good, we recommend the fried noodles! They open about 1100am which makes them the early drunken junction point. Ladies, watch out for a tall American guy wearing a leather hat backwards (바보) also wears the same shirts usually, Tony, i believe is his name. A few of my ESL friends say he will go on singles websites, meet Korean girls outside of the KFC but he waits to see if he approves of their looks, he meets her if he likes, if he doesn't, he leaves. We think he is a retired soldier or contractor who is now working Yongsan base but he likes to start fight with whomever calls him out. He has a high pitched voice so don't fall for his act! He looks for innocent and unknowing Korean girls but all in all, full of poop. I don't believe he has the capabilities to find a women inn the real world. Besides the tall guy, it's a cool bar to kick back, get a pitcher of margaritas for 10,000 Won ($10). http://www.geckosterrace.com/
A dark little bar that plays trance music. Good atmosphere, cheap beer, tons of weird-ass shots. The one Korean chick who used to be an English Teacher recruiter and rides on a scooter is still there. She has lost weight and gained it many times. People seem to change around there like a bartender that worked there was all tranced out and a few months later he turned preppy. He acted like nothing ever happened, son, we all noticed! Crap cheezy trance and New Zealand queer-boys make up most of the clientele. In addition, waiters and waitresses fabricate stories about ostensibly gay foreigners 'touching' the female staff in the girls' bathroom " two weeks prior--when said foreigner was neither in the women's bathroom, nor had he been touching anyone in any way whatsoever. Evidence consisted of a single picture of the gay man and his friend exiting the bar, which was used to ban him from the bar. One of these bars that clique people think really makes them socialites around Itaewon.
Burn Cigar Bar and Lounge
Pretty good place with a good selection of Scotch and cigars with somewhat reasonable prices. They have Smokers all the time (Cigar and Pipe)! Check it out if you get a chance.It's on second floor across the street from the church behind the actual Kyeongridan (11 Hoenamu-ro). It's above the money exchange next to the old Maloneys. Stop by and say hi to Hal and Leo!
There's some live music here. And beer. Mr. Woo runs the place but his music knowledge is pretty good! The larger OB's make the grade, hahaha! Bartenders are pretty cute to.
The Debut Bar
This bar is a late night spot that kicks Rock N' Roll to the wee hours of the morning. Usually opens at 9 pm and closes 7 am. People usually hit the joint the tail end of the night. It's a small place but the cast and characters of the place make in an enriching experience. Say hello to Polly, the owner. & Lovely Juyeon, too.
The Old town tavern
This place is where the action is after everywhere else closes in Seoul! It's filled with crazy characters at all hours! For example, you can walk in at 7 am and there will be 60-70 people still partying, women dancing on tables, music blasting and drinks flowing. Check it out! Beware: While this place is full of people from all over the world, there are some very dangerous characters alike. Because it's located near the top of 'hooker hill,' it has its run of Nigerian Pimps, prostitutes, and general low-lifers but they have excellent security. Exercise caution and good sense here!
Helios This is the busiest dance club on the weekend in Itaewon, Thursday is Ladies night (Ladies drink for free, certains drinks only). Usually crowded after midnight. Has the potential to become a meat market.
Kings Club Sleezy bar across the street from Our Place that, were it to claim something, claims a ceiling with a lot of glow in dark planets stuck to it.
This is a glorified soju tent. You can get totally drunk here for about 9000 won.
There's actually two woodstock bars in Gangnam: the nicer one is in Yeoksam-dong side close to the Dublin pub on the hill - woodstock music bar: actually the best place to hang out in all of Korea, if you like some old-school rock & roll and blues. Music on request, good selection of booze, always fantastic people around. To some it's known as woodstock2. https://www.facebook.com/Woodstock.Music.Bar.Gangnam
Hookah (shisha) bar across the street from Woodstock. Drinks are a few bucks more than other bars. Atmosphere is really chill. Hookah runs between 12000 to 18000.