Itaewon, Seoul

14 Reviews

Know about this?

hide
  • Itaewon
    by Ewingjr98
  • Itaewon
    by Ewingjr98
  • Itaewon
    by routnom
  • kdoc13's Profile Photo

    Mafia Stuff In Itaewon.

    by kdoc13 Written May 24, 2004

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you see this man in Itaewon, run for your life!

    I normally feel pretty safe in Seoul, even in Itaewon. Rarely if ever do I put myself in a position to find trouble, and even less often do I go out looking for it. That's not to say that it doesn't happen though.

    Itaewon can be a lot of fun, but there is also a bit of risk if you are all alone. Take for example my Russian Mafia story from my 2001 trip.

    I was coming back from having my Bulgogi Pizza at the Pizza Hut in Itaewon and decided to walk some of it off. I figured I would walk down to the Hanvit Bank and catch a taxi home. Instead, I was cornered by some Russian men who (very persuasively) insisted that I join them upstairs at a strip club with real Korean women. I was escorted up a large amount of stairs by four very large men and made to pay a cover charge. Soon, I was in a dark room with two other men who looked scared to death. All three of us were at tables far apart from each other, and a group of russian women were all seated in a corner. Not sure why, but a record was put on, and they took turns going over to a shower curtain where they would change into a bathing suit and then to a small platform where they would gyrate for a few minutes to the music.

    Unique Suggestions: To continue the story. This continued for about an hour as bills for beer and a plate of fruit I never ordered appeared. Finally a young Korean woman showed up, shaked herself in a bathing suit and flirted with the Russian guys. I made a dash for the restroom and left when the coast was clear (naturally leaving the bills paid for, so as not to incur the wrath of these guys.)

    In short, if you see a bunch of men grouped together and trying to get people to go into a building, give them a wide path. Also, try not to make eye contact and just keep going in the direction you were, without stopping. If this doesn't work, not sure what to tell ya. But I would avoid be persuaded to go into strange buildings with large groups of strange people who apply pressure to you.

    Fun Alternatives: For the most part, I found Itaewon to be a safe place to hang out. And if you were there with locals, or groups of people you won't have any trouble. Best alternative is not to go around alone, but if that isn't possible, just keep you eyes open and avoid anything suspicious.

    Related to:
    • School Holidays
    • Study Abroad

    Was this review helpful?

  • Ewingjr98's Profile Photo

    Itaewon

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Dec 15, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Itaewon shopping area
    4 more images

    Do not shop for souvenirs in Itaewon unless you have money to burn. If you do decide to shop here, be sure to barter. If you start at half the marked price, you may end up with a fair price.

    Itaewon does have a huge variety of souvenirs such as faux mink blankets, traditional masks, paintings and drawings, lamps, pottery, and just about anything else you can think of... Prices are just cheaper elsewhere. In Songtan, 45 km to the south, most things are about 1/2 price. In Insa-dong just a few km north, quality is much higher. Even in Namdaemun, things are typically more authentic and higher quality, while at lower prices.

    Itaewon does have a large number of name-brand American stores such as Nike, North Face, Columbia, and Reebok, but prices are very high, even when compared to the states. You can often find better prices just by shopping online.

    Fun Alternatives: Any of the smaller cities throughout Korea have much less expensive shopping.

    Related to:
    • Backpacking
    • Trains
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • pranayama's Profile Photo

    Only if you're craving western food

    by pranayama Updated Oct 24, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The shopkeepers may speak some English, but the items are over-priced. Not worth the subway ticket. The atmosphere seems forced and disengenous, as though the whole place was designed solely for foreigners.

    Unique Suggestions: I understand that the western restaurants here aren't bad, but I didn't have the opportunity to try them out. I went in the morning when it was dead, but I hear nightlife here can get interesting.

    Fun Alternatives: I think Insadong has much more of a traditional shopping atmosphere, although it's not much cheaper. And if you're looking for a real bargain, Dongdaemoon or Migliore may be a better bet.

    Was this review helpful?

  • darthmilmo's Profile Photo

    Itae Won

    by darthmilmo Written Mar 21, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Itae Won

    I do not know why so many tourists fall for this poor excuse of a market. It?s not even a third of the size of the 'Dongdaemun Market' and 'Namdaemun Market.' In fact, the only reason I visit it is that I was near the area. Its a few minutes walk from the War Memorial and since I was done early I walked to Itae Won to see what I was missing. Indeed, I wouldn?t have missed much. I wouldn?t buy anything in here folks for you can get it cheaper on the other markets.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Family Travel
    • Business Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • ShaneBarber's Profile Photo

    Itaewon- visit once, then try visiting Korea

    by ShaneBarber Written Dec 19, 2005

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Hooker hill- go left at first  road, toward Polly'
    4 more images

    Itaewon is either a blessing or a curse, depending upon what sort of traveler you are. If you are a typical American, having little interest in culture or assimilating, then by all means, yes, head to Itaewon. Some of the tailors speak better English than you. You can find Western-style lunch on every corner, often over $20.00 for lunch (ask before you get it- a mistake I made several times). Personally, I don't like Itaewon at all- I feel ill when I am there. They are selling goods on the street for often more than triple what it cost them in Dongdaemun. They do speak English, but are very pushy, and don't mind getting upset if you don't buy their goods. I advise letting James, the tailor, give you his spiel. There's also that Pavoratti tailor, hah, but James- I thought he was an American Porsche salesman, he was that good. But $260-420 for a suit is steep- they are $110 in Pyongtaek or Osan; also, I don't like how the Koreans in itaewon make up these silly Romanized names, like "John Steadman," as I feel that it presume that Americans are too ignorant to remember or pronounce Korean names. I was unhappy with the food everywhere, as it is so overpriced, except for Korean food. If you are nervous when you first get to Seoul, this should be your first destination, and hopefully, your only visit. A good primer, if you are afraid to deal with the locals.

    Unique Suggestions: You can find an Outback, Starbucks, Paris Baguette (the awesome Korean bakery chain), Baskin Robbins, Subway, Taj Mahal Indian food, and Taco in Itaewon, and of course, McDonalds and Burger King. Definitely go to the Burger King, so you can appreciate how much better it tastes in the US, but also, the unique, multi-step trash-disposal (pour out your liquids, cups go here, paper goes here, leftover food goes here- damn they are efficient). Truly, a Western haven, if you can afford it and don't want to venture anywhere else (or late at night, when many deals elsewhere become available). Otherwise, it seems to be controlled by jaded Korean street vendors, peddling counterfeit wares at marked up prices. If you have to shop there, they do have Burberry scarfs, some Burberry shirts (they are REALLY nice), Polo shirts and sweaters, designer belts (Gucci, Cartier, &c), Prada jackets, Chanel everything (bags, wallets, jackets), Coach, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Armani, and any other designer label that exists, in most forms. Go to Taco, which is on the road perpendicular to Itaewon, for a cheap burrito (plan to wait 30 minutes though) in an othewise expensive area.

    Fun Alternatives: Alternatives? Anywhere else in Seoul. Dongdaemun, Myong Dong, Seoul Station, Yongsan Station, Hongdae.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Business Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • itsCharlie's Profile Photo

    itchywan

    by itsCharlie Updated Jan 28, 2007

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    1 more image

    Ahh Itaewon... Love it and hate it. Don't be fooled ~~almost everything here is marked up in price! From photo development to tea sets. The replica antiques shop under Helios seems to be on the up and up though. There are also alot of prostitutes and girly bars up on the hill.

    Unique Suggestions: But as far as foreign food- it can't be beat for quality. Great Thai, Indian, Italian, French food places as well as foreign food supermarkets offer reasonable prices. (since you can't get them anywhere else!)

    Fun Alternatives: If you're looking for souveneirs- insdie the Mall in Namdaemoon has much better selection and better prices. Insadong also has many beautiful things- but is also pricy... better value than Itaewan though.

    Related to:
    • Study Abroad
    • Work Abroad
    • Budget Travel

    Was this review helpful?

  • slang75's Profile Photo

    Not really Seoul

    by slang75 Written Sep 7, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We walked through on the way to the Korean War Museum. I was pretty shocked to see how americanized this area was. On the outskirts it's your basic Korean neighborhood. But, the more touristy parts are not worth going to at all. Most of the people we saw were western and probably soliders (not that there is anything wrong with that, but not really a reason to travel). Stay away unless you know someone on the base. There are much nicer places to spend your time.

    Unique Suggestions: Get off Itawon St. and into the back streets. Atleast you can experiance a true Seoul meal there.

    Was this review helpful?

  • itsCharlie's Profile Photo

    itchywan

    by itsCharlie Updated Jan 28, 2007

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    1 more image

    Ahh Itaewon... Love it and hate it. Don't be fooled ~~almost everything here is marked up in price! From Photo delevopment to tea sets. The antique replica market under Helios seems to be on the up and up though and prices are reasonable. There is also visible prostitution on the hill and girly bars scattered around if this offends you.

    Unique Suggestions: But as far as foreign food- it can't be beat for quality. Great Thai, Indian, Italian, French food places as well as foreign food supermarkets offer reasonable prices. (since you can't get them anywhere else!)

    Fun Alternatives: If you're looking for souveneirs- insdie the Mall in Namdaemoon has much better selection and better prices. Insadong also has many beautiful things- but is also pricy... better value than Itaewan though.

    Related to:
    • Food and Dining
    • Arts and Culture
    • Work Abroad

    Was this review helpful?

  • Clothes and such...

    by OneWill Written Dec 19, 2004

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    As you're traveling through, you'll have a number of people trying to convince you to come to their stores to get hand-made suits and shoes for ridiculously low prices. Some of these shop owners are very good, but some will sell you crap and you won't figure it out until you get home. You will also find fake Rolex, Tag Heuer, Ralph Lauren, etc. Some of the stuff you'll find (namely clothing) is the real deal, but for some reason it didn't pass the quality check by the company so local vendors sell it.

    Unique Suggestions: When buying those discounted Polo shirts, make sure the name is spelled properly (eg. Ralph Lauren and not Ralf Lavren). If ou're shopping for suits or other clothes, know what you're looking.

    Fun Alternatives: You can shop at the places where the locals shop for suits and shoes, but you'll generally pay more. Find a local U.S. military person there...they are usually there for one or two years and have scoped out the best places to buy quality suits and other clothes.

    Related to:
    • Family Travel
    • Business Travel
    • Work Abroad

    Was this review helpful?

  • san_miguel's Profile Photo

    If you ever find yourself in...

    by san_miguel Updated Aug 26, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    If you ever find yourself in an area full of americans, such as the Itaewon Clubbing District, or around the Yongsan U.S. Army Garrison, stay away from the parked cabs looking for customers! They target foreigners, and double their prices! Just stand on the street and hold your hand down and wait for another one.

    Was this review helpful?

  • AudiA5's Profile Photo

    No Big Deal

    by AudiA5 Written Oct 26, 2008

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    My 1st time in Korea, read a lot about Seoul and Itaewon.
    It is a very big let down, day and night. Its raining, and the fake apparels by the road side is not as I had expected. Compared to the sprawling bangkok with lots more everywhere. At night, the bars are too mild for my liking. I ended up early to bed and read the emalis.

    Unique Suggestions: I wanted to get a korean handphone as mine doesnt work in Korea.
    Too bad, the salesmen dont speak english and they arent any cheaper back home in Malaysia or Singapore.
    I went to 2 so called 'Guro and Gassan digital complex' on the metro map, got lost somewhere down in the metro changing trains. Both has NO digital complex anywhere near them!

    I ended up just looking at stadiums, the sport complex which had a design Olympiad on, and the world cup stadium.

    I like the area around Hongik Uni sation for shopping and nightlife, catering to the young koreans (there was a scuffle with police when I was there last night, but well under control).

    Was this review helpful?

  • leonik's Profile Photo

    ITAEWON - As there is a major...

    by leonik Written Aug 26, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    ITAEWON - As there is a major US Army base in the area, the shops here grew up to serve foreign clientele. The prices can be quite expensive but most of the shop owners can speak and understand English and Japanese. Get your souvenirs at Namdaemun Market instead!

    Was this review helpful?

  • ancient_traveler's Profile Photo

    ITAEWON

    by ancient_traveler Written Mar 18, 2008
    Itaewon shopping district
    1 more image

    ITAEWON
    Itaewon leads Korea’s fashion and bars & clubs there have an exotic atmosphere.

    www.itaewon.go.kr

    Unique Suggestions: Itaewon is such a popular shopping location for tourist.

    Fun Alternatives: Apgujeong Rodeo Street is described as the ‘no 1’ Fashion area in Korea. It has developed into representing the newest fashion trends and cultural spot for young people.

    Related to:
    • Budget Travel
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Arts and Culture

    Was this review helpful?

  • I loved it

    by routnom Written Jul 2, 2008

    My Fiance lives in Itaewon. I spent 2 weeks there with her in February of 2008. She lives at the very edge of the market area. Yes, there are some places to avoid, but so also on Park Ave, or Rodeo Drive. If you want American food, there is almost every major franchise. The prices are a bit high, but the food was ok. We ate at a lot of local korean places, and the food was much less expensive, the service was good, and the food tasted great. I bought her diamond ring in one of the jewlry shops on the main drag, and the prices were a bit less than the ones I had priced in Phoenix before I left. I took eight members of her family to the Chinese Buffet in the Hyatt Hotel, we had a great time, but the tab was just under $500 w/o the tip. We bought some very nice stuff to take home for my familly, and the prices, after haggling, were very reasonable. I guess having someone who has lived in Itaewon most of her 51 years is an asset. All in all, a very enjoyable experience. If you go, and you see the Manchester Custom Tailor Co. at #58-5 Itaewon-dong, stop in and see David Littleman, and tell him I said hi. They made me a very nice Cashmere Suit(the one I have on in the picture)

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
    • Food and Dining

    Was this review helpful?

Instant Answers: Seoul

Get an instant answer from local experts and frequent travelers

62 travelers online now

Comments

Other Tourist Traps in Seoul

View all Seoul hotels