Songtan is in a rural area of Korea and is surrounded by farmland. Wandering through the countryside will show you just how hard the Koreans work to get by, often working in the fields by hand.
No, there are not a lot of great historic sites, museums, or classic Korean architecture in Songtan, but that doesn't mean you can't learn a lot about Korean culture in the area. Though the architecture is nothing special for Korea, it is definitely different from in the US or Europe. Around town you can check out the markets, local shops, and Korean-style bars.
Compared to an American restaurant, Happy Teriyaki is about 2 out of 4 stars... compared to other Songtan restaurants, it rates about 3 1/2 stars. It is one of the few Japanese restaurants in town.
We always enjoyed coming here for their tempura dinners and soups.
The inside of the second floor restaurant has steel rails running through the middle as if to resemble railroad tracks... kind of a tripping hazard... odd.
Favorite Dish: Tempura
The Big Ten Club is a nice quiet bar to grab a beer and talk sports. The music is mostly classic rock and they have a few TVs.
It's a nice quiet second-floor place above the hustle and bustle of the nearby juicy bars and shops hawking rip-off American junk.
There is a tiny Irish Pub in Songtan, owned by a Korean woman named Carrot. It is a nice, new place with a good atmosphere and friendly staff.
We sat down here one afternoon and enjoyed a few moderately priced draft beers in a newer, cleaner bar in town. Very small, but good bar.
Songtan is full of 'Juicy Bars' which have dancers from Korea, the Philippines, and the former USSR. The girls will try to get men to buy them drinks for about 8 USD each (a drink for anyone else is about 2 USD). In exchange for the drink, they will sit and talk to you for a short time. The profits from the drinks are shared between the bar owner and the women. Some of the better places, if you must indulge, are The Zone, Young Chon Hotel, and My House.
Many of these bars with foreign women are suspected of human trafficking, and they are rumored to hold a girls passport until she makes enough money for the bar to buy it back. Until then she lives in dormitory-style loding owned by the bar, and is forced to work whatever hours they demand.
Dress Code: casual
The Seoul subway was recently expanded south and now has stops near Songtan and even further south. This will greatly improve transportation to and from the area.
It costs about 1500 Won to get from downtown Seoul to Songtan station, and the 63 km route takes more than an hour.
This area is one of Korea's best shopping districts. It has a huge variety of stores selling everything from traditional Korean pottery to Nike shoes. This is a great place to shop for souvenirs, custom made suits, coats and jackets, and Korean art work. Typically the prices here are about 1/2 of the prices in Seoul -- if you remember to barter!
Many American soldiers spend their entire year in the bars of Songtan. For them, I say LEAVE TOWN! Songtan's sleaze and dirt represent all that the rest of Korea is not. Even to just go for a run or bike ride through the farmland around town can be an eye-opening experience.