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Top 7 places for street photography in Seoul

Updated: Feb 8


Men with umbrellas on neon coloured street on rainy night in Seoul

Seoul is a fantastic city for street photography. It offers a blend of ancient and modern, with huge skyscrapers towering over traditional Hanok buildings that line the narrow alleys. It also offers good day and night street photography, with the night lights illuminating the streets.


Is it safe to do street photography in Seoul?

Seoul is a very safe city and is considered one of the safest capitals in the world. I have been doing street photography here for over five years, including taking my camera down dark and narrow alleys at night and never having an issue. As always, remain vigilant - but you can enjoy yourself in Seoul without worrying about turning down the wrong street.


How can I get around Seoul?

You can use public transportation to get around the city, but be warned the subway closes before midnight which is surprising considering how lively the city is all night. Should you miss the last train back to your accommodation, taxis are affordable and easy to find.


I do film photography, is there somewhere to buy and develop film in Seoul?

You can find several places to buy and develop film in Seoul, but my favourite is Owl Studio at Euljiro-Sam(3) Station, exit 11. Coincidentally it also happens to be around my favourite place to do street photography. They will develop your photos and message or email you a download link the next day, they’re pretty quick, very reasonable with price and I find them very reliable. 


The must-visit street photography locations in Seoul

This list is in no particular order and is useful for all genres of street photography that you may wish to do. Also, download the Naver Map app to navigate around Seoul. Google Maps doesn’t get much coverage out here, and you can also use English with the Naver Map app too. 


7. Mapo-gu

Group with umbrellas on rainy street in Seoul with lots of neon lights.

Recommended Station: Hongik University, Sinchon, Hapjeong

A lot of people tend to stay around this area when visiting Seoul, it’s lively and not short of neon lights at night. It can offer a lot for night photography in particular and is very fun to explore. That being said, Hongdae can get a little crowded and feels a bit more spread out than the other locations on this list. That being said, Sinchon is also in the area, and some of my all-time favourite photos have been taken there, it’s quieter than Hongdae and is very good for night photography. Still, Hongdae is not to be missed and you have many food options with all the restaurants in this area.


6. Jung-gu

Traffic on a rainy night in Seoul

Recommended Station: City Hall, Seoul Station

Jung-gu covers a larger area than others mentioned on this list but here are a few highlights. City Hall offers both good day and night street photography, and it’s in between Seoul station and Euljiro so it means you can’t go wrong with exploring in any direction. This area is more of a business district so you will find smartly dressed business people during the day and there are bars and restaurants in the area too with nice lights. You will also find Deoksugung Palace nearby which is worth visiting too and has traditional palace guards stationed outside. You also have N Seoul Tower in this area, the streets around it are great for photography and you can of course make use of its observatory tower. Jung-gu is also home to Myeongdong which has an outdoor market that may deliver not only good shots but also some good food. 


5. Dongdaemun

Recommended Subway station: Dongdaemun History and Culture Park

Here you will find a mix of modern and traditional. Dongdaemun is home to the “spaceship-looking building” Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) which looks good day and night. Moreover, Dongdaemun is home to a few markets, notably: Dongdaemun and Gyeongdong markets which offer good shots with moody lighting. You can enjoy exploring the narrow streets that connect all of these places, overall a fun place to explore with a camera.


4. Jongno

Corner view of Gyeongbokgung palace in Seoul

Recommended Subway station: Anguk

This area of Seoul is home to a lot of tradition and Korean culture. From here you can explore Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok village and many narrow streets and alleys all home to museums, galleries, contemporary architecture and much more. I typically like to shoot around this area during the day, you won’t find many neon lights at night, the overall aesthetic here is traditional and peaceful. I typically ride the subway to Anguk station as it is in the middle of everything. A golden tip, if you are interested in exploring the palaces around Seoul, wearing a Hanbok (traditional Korean dress) will get you in for free, however, admission isn’t all that expensive. 


3. Jamsil

Person entering restaurant on rainy night in Seoul.

Recommended Subway station: Jamsil

I couldn’t write up this list and not mention Seoul’s tallest building, the Lotte Tower. It is the sixth tallest building in the world and can be seen down almost any of the long streets in the surrounding area. There are quite a few residential neighbourhoods around the tower so there isn’t too much to see, but there are a few streets with lots of bars and restaurants so it’s great at night. The main attraction, however, is the Lotte Tower which also happens to have an observatory at the top. 



2. Seongdong-gu

Woman with umbrella walking down street on rainy night in Seoul

Recommended Subway station: Seongsu, Konkuk University

This area offers both great day and night photography. Seongsu, in particular, has become extremely popular in recent times - here you will find uniquely styled buildings and storefronts offering nice backdrops for street & portrait photography. It has become well known for its pop-up stores and Instagrammable locations and products, so it can get pretty hectic at the weekend so you may want to stick to weekdays. Then, just a short walk away from this area you will find Konkuk University station. Around here you will be able to find many lights for night photography so it’s worth paying a visit, especially on a rainy night.   


1. Euljiro

Two women on colourful street with neon lights on rainy night in Seoul.

Recommended Subway station: Euljiro-Sam(3).

Without a doubt, one of the best places for street photography in Seoul is Euljiro. It is also in the Jung-gu area but it is special enough to mention separately. It is a labyrinth of narrow streets that you can endlessly explore. It is home to tiny metal and printing workshops that are bustling with life which makes for excellent photography during the day. You will also be able to glimpse Seoul N Tower often down its long main roads or through cracks between the buildings of the alleys. Not only that, it also has the best neon lights in Seoul. 

The best area for the neon lights is if you get off at exit 11 of Euljiro-Sam(3) station. Exit right and follow the sidewalk around and keep following the road for about 100 meters before an alley opens up on your left - head down there and start exploring, all of the lights are concentrated in that area that’s hidden away from the main road. 



Is Gangnam good for street photography?

I have never got on well with street photography in Gangnam. I think it’s due to how crowded it is and even in the side streets it always feels like there is a constant stream of traffic making it hard to take your time to line shots up. This is just my personal experience with this area, I’ve tried quite a few times and never got great results. You may have different luck, and I hope you do! 


Update

I have since gone back to shoot in Gangam since I wrote this blog post and I've updated my feelings about it - you can find more information here.



Last Golden Tip!

Don’t wear headphones when shooting in Seoul. You need to be able to hear mopeds coming at you from every angle, and they like to use the sidewalks at times too. 


Enjoy your time doing street photography in Seoul!



If you need to edit your Seoul night photos in a flash, try my Preset pack:



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