Guide to Seoul

Out on the Town

Seoul nightlife is hot, hot, hot, with megaclubs that rock through the night, but there are also bars to suit all tastes. Hermits with a reading habit should check into the inner sanctum at the Chaeg Bar in the Yeonhui-dong university district, a bookshop/cocktail hideaway that caters to groups of no more than three. Its motto is “keep calm and drink a book,” an instruction easy to obey as the menu matches the length of your reading material to the right measure of alcohol.

Moving toward brighter lights, head for Mmm Records, a recently opened analog music shop with 80,000 vinyl albums for sale. The rooftop terrace serves grapefruit beer, egg coffee and Vietnamese bánh mì sandwiches, with outstanding views of the Namsan foothills and the Han River unimpeded by high-rise buildings.

Seoul’s rooftops come alive at dusk. My Sky is an edgy showcase for contemporary artwork, ranging from pearl-inlaid chests to large black-and-white portraits. Eat barley risotto made with squid ink on a terrace that divides attention between the quaint houses below and the flashy purple and pink neon of the Seoul Tower landmark across the void.

Make reservations at the top clubs in sophisticated Gangnam, bearing in mind that you’ll be on your own before midnight. Leading contenders Octagon and Syndrome have VIP balconies overlooking the action.

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