Eating delicious food is always enjoyable, but staying out and eating late at night in Korea is a special experience that is sure to create memories that will last. In particular, the vibrant night culture of Seoul serves as the perfect backdrop for hungry travelers to fill their empty stomachs after a full day of exploring. Night buses in operation throughout major areas provide travelers with the best means of enjoying a late night tour without having to worry about excessive cab fares for the return trip. Read on to learn more about these late night tours to discover more fun and great eats by riding on a night bus!
What is a "Late Night Bus?"
Late night buses in Seoul refer to buses operating from midnight to early dawn. These buses are a great way of moving around town on public transportation during the hours when most buses are not in service. Currently, nine late night bus routes are in operation with various timetables. Each bus route starts with the letter “N” to signify it is a ‘night’ bus. These late night buses cover the high traffic areas around popular tourist areas such as near Gangnam Station. The fare is a bit higher than day buses, priced at 2,250 won when paying with cash.
♣ Operating hours: First bus 00:00, Last bus 03:10 / Intervals approx. 30~35min.
♣ Major bus stops: Gangseo Bus Depot (강서차고지) → Songjeong Station (송정역) → Balsan Station (발산역) → Deungchon Station (등촌역) → Dangsan Station (당산역) → Hapjeong Station (합정역) → Hongik Univ. Station (홍대입구역) → Sinchon Station (신촌역) → Jonggak (종각) → Dongdaemun Station (동대문역) → Sinseol-dong Station (신설동역) → Cheongnyangni Station (청량리역) → Sangbong Station (상봉역) → Jungnang Bus Depot (중랑공영차고지)
Hapjeong-dong Café Street
Hapjeong-dong is a hip and artistic zone, dotted with dozens of vintage coffee shops and dessert cafés. More than just cafés, Hapjeong-dong Café Steet also has pubs, wine bars, and restaurants serving a blend of East and West cuisine. Each establishment is aimed at various themes of youth culture. These businesses are not only popular spots to wine and dine with great eats, but also cultural spaces where visitors can witness the true aspects of modern Korea. The mix of cultures has created a unique atmosphere.
☞ Address: Area of Eoulmadang-ro 5-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Sinchon is becoming well known for delicious dakgalbi (spicy stir-fried chicken) through word of mouth among epicureans. Dakgalbi is a dish made of chicken and a variety of vegetables including cabbage and onion that is covered in a spicy seasoning and stir-fried at the table in front of you. In bustling Sinchon, restaurants specializing in this dish are thriving, including restaurants selling cheese or seafood combos and even some all-you-can-eat! With the many dakgalbi and fried chicken restaurants in the area, Sinchon is a must-visit place for lovers of chicken.
☞ Address: Area of Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
Cheonggyecheon Café Street
Cheonggyecheon Stream is full of visitors all year round. The stream is dotted with people dipping their feet in the cool waters to escape the unbearable heat of summer nights, and in fall, beautiful lanterns reflect off the stream during the Seoul Lantern Festival. The length of Cheonggyecheon Stream is lined with cafés, making it easy to stop for a cup of coffee while enjoying the relaxing view of the stream.
☞ Address: Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
In the vicinity of Dongdaemun Shopping Complex is a narrow alley, densely packed with small restaurants selling saengseon gui (grilled fish). Your meal will pass quickly as bite after bite of freshly grilled fish and warm rice sates your appetite. The fish are grilled in advance, and lightly grilled again after an order is placed so you can still enjoy a warm meal in record time.
☞ Address: Area of 5, Jong-ro 40ga-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Street food from food stalls
It’s easy to find pojangmacha (food stall) on the streets of Dongdaemun at all hours, as the wholesale fashion market is open until the early hours of the morning. Among the variety of late-night snacks available, most foreigners prefer dak kkochi (chicken skewers), tteokbokki (spicy rice cake), and gopchang-bokkeum (stir-fried tripe). Dak kkochi are made by skewering pieces of chicken and spring onion onto a stick, which are then grilled and coated in either a sweet soy sauce or a spicy seasoning for a taste loved by all. Another popular food is mayak gimbap (literally translated to “narcotic gimbap” because it is that delicious) dipped in spicy tteokbokki sauce and eaten in one bite.
☞ Address: Area of Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
♣ Operating hours: First bus 00:00, Last bus 03:10 / Intervals approx. 25~30min.
♣ Major bus stops: Garak Market Station (가락시장역) → Irwon Station (일원역) → Hangnyeoul Station (학여울역) → Yangjae Station (양재역) → Gangnam Station (강남역) → Sinsa Station (신사역) → Jonggak (종각) → Hongje Station (홍제역) → Bulgwang Station (불광역) → Jingwan Bus Depot (진관공영차고지)
Those in the know will tell you that Yeonsinnae is synonymous with kalguksu (noodle soup) due to the high concentration of food stalls selling kalguksu in the area. Kalguksu is a bowl-full of handmade noodles that substitutes for a single meal. The thick noodles in eomuk (fish cake) broth and spicy seasoning make the perfect late-night meal to appease your appetite, especially during cold winter days.
☞ Address: Rodeo Shopping Street Entrance, Yeonsinnae, Galhyeon-dong, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul
Jonggak Avenue of Youth
Lit up as bright as day all through the night, the Avenue of Youth at Jonggak Station is the top spot for enjoying Korea’s night life. Visitors can get their first taste of the Korean drinking culture at the pubs here. There are also many restaurants serving various foods from samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly), galbi (short ribs) and other barbecued meats to chicken, kimchi jjigae (kimchi stew), jeon (pancake), hoe (sliced raw fish) and more. All you have to do is decide what delicious Korean food you want to eat!
☞ Address: Area of Jong-ro 12-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Garak Market is the nation’s largest agriculture and marine products market. Fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood and other products are brought directly to the market from the countryside and sold in auctions from evening until dawn. If you’re looking for a unique experience, watch the products going so fast that it will leave even bystanders breathless trying to keep pace. For dinner, visit the marine products section, where you can pick the seafood you want to eat at prices cheaper than anywhere else in the city.
☞ Address: 932, Yangjae-daero, Songpa-gu, Seoul
♣ Operating hours: First bus 23:40, Last bus 03:00 / Intervals approx. 30min.
♣Major bus stops: Yangcheon Bus Depot (양천공영차고지) → Mokdong Station (목동역) → Deungchon Station (등촌역)→ Hapjeong Station (합정역) → Hongik Univ. Station (홍대입구역) → Sinchon Station (신촌역) → Jonggak (종각) → Dongdaemun Station (동대문역) → Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (동대문역사문화공원) → Wangsimni Station (왕십리역) → Konkuk Univ. Station (건대입구역) → Gunja Station (군자역) → Myeonmok-dong (면목동)
Various bingsu flavors
Bingsu (shaved ice), originally a summer dish, is now loved and enjoyed by people year round. Dessert cafés in the area around Hongdae (Hongik University Street) are especially popular among young people for offering unique bingsu flavors that fill the senses. From cheesecake bingsu topped with real cheesecake to bingsu shaped like a snowman or sweet bingsu made from frozen fruits, the offer of charming and delicious bingu is non-stop!
☞ Address: Area of Hongik-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Sindang-dong has been well-known for tteokbokki since the late ‘70s. Many of the food vendors here remain open 24 hours so you can find people enjoy the sweet and spicy snack at all hours of the day. The shops all make their own sauce, making the taste unique to each vendor. They also sell sets with toppings to choose at will such as eggs, ramyeon noodles, mandu (dumplings), fish cakes and more. Choose your favorite toppings and chow down!
☞ Address: Area of Toegye-ro 76-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Kondae Food Street
All kinds of food are available at Kondae’s Food Street, from Korea’s beloved grilled samgyeopsal and galbi to western foods and trendy dessert cafés. The restaurants and cafes remain open late into the evening, drawing customers into their bright and warm interiors.
☞ Address: Area of Dongil-ro 22-gil, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul
♣ Operating hours: First bus 00:00, Last bus 03:30 / Intervals approx. 25~30min.
♣ Major bus stops: Nowon Station (노원역) → Hagye Station (하계역) → Taereung Station (태릉입구역) → Dolgoji Station (돌곶이역) → Cheongnyangni Station (청량리역) → Sinseol-dong Station (신설동역) → Dongdaemun Station (동대문역) → Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (동대문역사문화공원) → Sinsa Station (신사역) → Gangnam Station (강남역) → Samseong Station (삼성역) → Jamsil Station (잠실역) → Garak Market Station (가락시장역) → Songpa Bus Depot (송파공영차고지)
♣ Operating hours: First bus 00:00, Last bus 03:20 / Intervals approx. 25~35min.
♣ Major bus stops: Ui-dong (우이동) → Banghaksageori Four-way Intersection (방학사거리) → Ssangmun Station (쌍문역) → Suyu Station (수유역) → Gireum Station (길음역) → Sinseol-dong Station (신설동역) → Dongdaemun Station (동대문역) → Jonggak (종각) → Seoul Station (서울역) → Sinyongsan Station (신용산역) → Noryangjin Station (노량진역) → Jangseungbaegi Station (장승배기역) → Sindaebangsamgeori Station (신대방삼거리역) → Sillim Station (신림역) → Seoul Nat'l Univ. Station (서울대입구역) → Sadang Station (사당역)
♣ Operating hours: Dobongsan departure - First bus 00:10, Last bus 03:35 / Onsu-dong departure – First bus 00:20, Last bus 03:45 / Intervals approx. 25~30min.
♣ Major bus stops: Dobongsan (도봉산) → Banghaksageori Four-way Intersection (방학사거리) → Ssangmun Station (쌍문역) → Suyu Station (수유역) Gireum Station (길음역) → Hyehwa Station (혜화역) → Dongdaemun Station (동대문역) → Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (동대문역사문화공원역) → Seoul Station (서울역) → Yeongdeungpo Station (영등포역) → Sindorim Station (신도림역) → Guro Station (구로역) → Onsu Station (온수역)
♣ Operating hours: First bus 23:40, Last bus 03:40 / Intervals approx. 30~35min.
♣ Major bus stops: Gangdong Bus Depot (강동공영차고지) → Myeongil Station (명일역) → Cheonho Station (천호역) → Gunja Station (군자역) → Sinseol-dong Station (신설동역) → Dongdaemun Station (동대문역) → Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (동대문역사문화공원역) → Seoul Station (서울역)
♣ Operating hours: First bus 23:50, Last bus 03:45 / Intervals approx. 20~25min.
♣Major bus stops: Yangcheon Bus Depot (양천공영차고지) → Gaebong Station (개봉역) → Sillim Station (신림역) → Seoul Nat'l Univ. Station (서울대입구역) → Sadang Station (사당역) → Seoul Nat’l Univ. of Education Station (교대역) → Gangnam Station (강남역) → Samseong Station (삼성역) → Konkuk Univ. Station (건대입구역) → Gunja Station (군자역) → Taereung Station (태릉입구역) → Hagye Station (하계역) → Nowon Station (노원역)
♣ Operating hours: First bus 00:00, Last bus 03:10 / Intervals approx. 25~30min.
♣ Major bus stops: Gaehwasan Station Transfer Center (개화산역 환승센터) → Gaehwasan Station (개화산역) → Magok Station (마곡역) → Balsan Station (발산역) → Ujangsan Station (우장산역) → Mok-dong Station (목동역) → Sindorim Station (신도림역) → Daerim Station (대림역) → Guro Digital Complex Station (구로디지털단지역) → Geumcheon-gu Office (금천구청)
Photo credit: Korea Tourism Organization