Cheering with good friends on my food tour of South Korea.

BEST Food Tour In South Korea 2024: The Ultimate Foodie Guide!

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Travelling to South Korea and looking for the best food tour?

Of all the countries I’ve visited, South Korea is definitely the best when it comes to food. The country has become a foodie’s paradise in recent times, so knowing which food spots to hit when visiting is a must.

I was very lucky to be given a food tour of Seoul from an actual local on my very first day in the country.

My travel buddy when visiting Seoul is good friends with a local Korean who agreed to take us on a unique food tour of the city and it was epic!

In this blog post I’m going to share with you some of the best local restaurants to visit in Seoul that most tourists don’t know about as well as the top things to do and places to stay!

In a rush? My Top Food Tour recommendations for Seoul:

Drinking and Eating Through The Alleys of Seoul Tour
Best Night Time Food Tour in Seoul

🏨 Hotel Recommendations for Seoul:

Hotel The Designers Hongdae
Holiday Inn Express Seoul Hongdae

Best Food Tour In Seoul, South Korea

I was very lucky to be given a food tour of Seoul from an actual local on my very first day in the country. A good English friend of mine knew a local Korean who ran his own bar in Seoul, who agreed to take us on a food tour of Seoul.

And it was epic! Here is a full account of everywhere the three of us visited and all the amazing food we tried, on what turned out to be the best food tour in South Korea!

Gwangjang Market, Seoul

Take my advice, if you ever have the chance to be taken around a city by a local then do it! Our food tour started around midday and our first port of call was Gwangjang Market (formerly known as Dongdaemun Market).

This is one of the biggest and longest running traditional markets in all of South Korea! There are literally several thousand food shops inside the market and it’s a totally overwhelming experience.

We sat by a store and our local tour guide ordered us several vegetable pancakes (otherwise known as mungbean pancakes, or bindaeddeok). They were quite greasy, filling but very delicious.

He also ordered us some makali or makgeolli, a popular and traditional rice alcohol drink served in big saucers.

The drink is quite sweet and bitter and is a bit of an acquired taste. But by the end of my tour in South Korea I couldn’t get enough of it!

Trying makali for the first time at Gwangjang market.

Visiting a small pub in Euljiro

After Gwangjang market we had a short walk to our next stop, which was a tiny pub called: ‘Eulji Ob Bear pub‘ which was situated down an alleyway, close to Euljiro 3-ga station.

This bar has since moved to another location, but are famous for serving dried pollack known as ‘Nogari‘ along with mayo, ketchup and lots of cold draft beer!

Although it was a small place it was very popular with locals and was a great way to experience authentic Korean culture!

Trying: ‘Nogari’ and some craft beers!

Trying a seafood dish and hangover cure drinks!

We then went to another small backstreet bar and had an incredible feast of raw fish. That was possibly one of the greatest dishes of food I’d ever tried!

It was at this point that we enjoyed our first taste of soju, more on which later in the post.

At this point in the tour, our guide was concerned about the amount of alcohol we were consuming (even though it was early afternoon!) So he ordered us a Korean drink called: ‘Morning Care‘ which is well known to help relieve hangovers.

Trying soju, seafood and: ‘morning care’!

Masan Seafood Agu Stew Restaurant

Our next stop was was a seafood restaurant that specializes in spicy monkfish dishes! This place was a short 10 minute metro ride away to Anguk station, and from there just a few minutes walk, very close to Bukchon Hanok Village.

This was a busy restaurant and we went upstairs where you have to sit on the floor in front of really low tables. This was a bit unusual and uncomfortable at first, but travel is all about embracing other cultures and customs!

Our local tour guide ordered us a huge plate of very spicy seafood, along with more soju! To be honest I was already really full at this point but tried my best to eat as much as I could!

Cheering with more soju at a spicy monkfish restaurant!

Most Koreans are big meat lovers, especially chicken, but as a vegetarian/pescatarian, our local food guide accommodated for my diet which was very kind of him.

Darui Dwitpyeon – traditional Korean pub

Our food tour continued through into the night, and the food kept on arriving! Next we visited ‘Darui Dwitpyeon‘, a traditional Korean pub located just a few minutes walk from the Gongpyeong Historic Sites Museum.

This bar had an outdoor seating area and this time round we tried some tofu dishes which were really delicious!

We switched from soju back to makali and by this point I couldn’t believe the amount of food and drink we had consumed! That’s one thing you soon learn about Koreans; their love of food knows no limits!

Trying a tofu dish and more makali being consumed!

Food is such an important part of Korean culture. Unlike the UK where people go for a beer in a pub, in South Korea you go for a meal instead, with alcohol playing second place to the great food. 

The amount of food you are served at a restaurant is simply astonishing. You are given so many small dishes to go along with your main dish, most of the time without an extra cost.

It wasn’t unusual for our table to be completely filled with countless dishes; every night was a total feast!

Our table typically overloaded with dishes!

Street Food in Seoul at night

Our food tour continued at what’s known as an outdoor Korean style tent bar. These are very common in Seoul and South Korea and are a great option as the food is really cheap! Street food is a fantastic way to experience culinary delights at a cheap price.

These places are situated away from the typical touristic parts of Seoul such as Itaewon, and are a far more authentic experience! They’re very popular with locals and a great cheaper alternative.

Trying some street food (and more soju) in Seoul.

Food Tour continued!

Here’s a quick look at some other places we visited and food we tried:

🥞 Seafood Pancake pub and bar – Pancakes are a real delicacy in South Korea and they are totally different what we think of as pancakes in the west (more fried with vegetables or fish/meat and they can be a bit greasy).

An array of Korean pancakes, looking tired and another great seafood dish.

🍻 Four and a Half Bar – It would be wrong of me not to give a special shout out to my tour guide’s bar, so here it is! It’s a lovely little bar which you can reach from subway Noksapyeong Station exit 2, which is only one stop away from Itaewon.

🎵 LP Music Bar – These kind of bars are very popular in Seoul, you’ll find bars packed with hundreds of vinyl records adorned along the walls, with great music playing. Highly recommend!

Drinking soju in South Korea

The food tour continued into the early hours. More makali was drunk, along with soju which is probably the most popular alcoholic drink in South Korea. Soju is quite similar to vodka and is usually drunk by its own, which is quite strong!

By the end of the night our stomachs were close to bursting! We had drunk way too much, but it was the most incredible day of food and drink!

Our entire week in Seoul was one big food tour to be honest. We ended up eating and drinking with our local guide way into the early hours quite a few more times at random backstreet bars and restaurants.

My British friend and I would never have visited these places if it wasn’t for our local tour guide. Visiting the best places on the best food tour in South Korea which most tourists don’t know about was an absolutely incredible experience!

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    Best Things To Do & Tourist Attractions In Seoul

    After recovering from our epic food tour on our first day in Seoul, South Korea, it was time for my travel buddy and me to experience all the typical tourist sights that Seoul has to offer. Here are the best places that we visited:

    🏯 Gyeongbokgung Palace

    This is the largest and probably most well known palace in all of South Korea. It was the main royal palace of the Joseon dynasty.

    It’s a really amazing sight that takes you back in time. It’s quite common to see Koreans dressed in traditional period costumes when visiting the palace!

    Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul.
    Gyeongbokgung Palace, Seoul.

    🗼 N Seoul Tower, Seoul, South Korea

    Whether it’s Berlin, Toronto or Tokyo, every big city should have an observation tower and Seoul is no different!

    Located in central Seoul, there is however a two mile hike via Namsan Mountain Park. It takes around thirty minutes if you decide to walk to the base of the tower from central Seoul.

    It is worth it though as the views are incredible! You can see all of Seoul from the observation deck in the tower. You really get an appreciation of the size and scope of this vast city.

    Views of Seoul from the observation tower at N Tower.
    Views of Seoul from the observation tower at N Tower.

    ⛵ Chilling out by the Han River 

    Han River is one of the major rivers in South Korea. It is very popular with local and tourists visiting Seoul. When the weather is good then many people partake in various activities along Han River.

    Some of the most popular activities include biking, picnicking, crossing one of the big bridges or taking a ferry cruise. It’s the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the centre of Seoul.

    🌲 Bukhansan National Park

    If you really want to spend a day getting out from city of Seoul then you can’t go wrong with a visit to Bukhansan National Park.

    Especially if you’re a nature lover and love hiking! Bukhansan translates to: ‘mountains north of the Han River’ and is a huge forest area full of Buddhist temples and numerous trails.

    There are three main peaks in the park which have amazing mountainous vistas at the top. Unfortunately my friend and I decided to quit after an hour or so of arduous trekking. Be warned, it’s not an easy climb!

    Bukhansan National Park signage.
    Bukhansan National Park signage.

    🏛️ War Memorial of Korea

    If you want to learn about the history of the Korean War then you simply must visit the War Memorial of Korea when in Seoul.

    The memorial features a pretty humbling exhibition that showcases the story of the Korean War that affected the country so much.

    It’s also surprising to learn just how many soldiers from countries all around the world lost their lives fighting in the war.

    🏘️ Bukchon Hanok Village

    Located not too far from Gyeongbok Palace is Bukchon Hankok Village, a traditional Korean village based on top of a hill and quite a popular tourist destination.

    It’s quite amazing to walk through the village and appreciate the traditional architecture having just come from the modern city of Seoul.

    There are plenty of cultural activities, displays and museums on show within the village. It really showcases what life was like during the Joseon dynasty and how it has been preserved to this day.

    🍜 Itaewon

    One of the most popular areas for nightlife in Seoul with tourists is Itaewon. It is a bustling area with plenty of bars and restaurants and everything else in between. For me, it was a little too touristy for my liking.

    I was surprised with just how many English speaking foreigners descend on this area. It’s maybe not a true reflection of Seoul to be honest. But if you want a lively night out in Seoul then this is the place for you!

    🎖️ Visit the DMZ border between South and North Korea

    Visiting the demilitarized zone border between South and North Korea is a really fascinating experience! You do have to book up online in advance; such is the demand from visitors.

    You get picked up in a bus in central Seoul and the journey takes around an hour or so to reach the border that lies thirty miles north of Seoul.

    The DMZ is a no man’s land that was established between South and North Korea in 1953. It’s a fascinating place to visit for sure.

    You get to see the tunnels that still exist underground which can be a little bit of a cardio work out and quite claustrophobic, but well worth it.

    The best part of the tour for me was the Dora Observatory, where you can see North Korean territory through binoculars! To be that close to North Korea was just incredible, and I fully recommend a day trip to the DMZ.

    Visiting the DMZ border between South and North Korea.
    Visiting the DMZ border between South and North Korea.

    Alternative Food Tour Options In South Korea

    Of course, there are a lot of food tour options in South Korea! Here are two of the very best to go on when visiting:

    👉 Best Street Food Tour SeoulDrinking & Eating through the Alleys of Seoul by ItSeoulGood: This tour lasts for 5 hours and promises to take you off the beaten track where you’ll discover hidden culinary gems!

    👉 Best Night Food Tour SeoulNight Food Tour in Seoul with Traditional and Modern Cuisine by OnedayKorea: This 4 hour evening tour is a great introduction to Korean cuisine, including both classic, contemporary and street food cuisine.

    Where To Stay In Seoul, South Korea

    There are a lot of options when it comes to accommodation in Seoul! Your choice may be limited by your budget as hotels can get quite pricey, so here are a couple of options that I wholly recommend considering:

    ⭐Budget recommendation: Hotel The Designers Hongdae: I stayed at this hotel during my stay in Seoul and it was very nice! Good location, nice friendly staff with an easy check in.

    ⭐Mid-range recommendation: Holiday Inn Express Seoul Hongdae: I also stayed at this hotel and it was fantastic! Lovely room, great central location, great view of Hongdae and the breakfast buffet is a must!

    My hotel view of Hongdae from the Holiday Inn Express hotel!
    My hotel view of Hongdae from the Holiday Inn Express hotel!

    FAQs: Food Tours in South Korea

    Still got questions when it comes to food tours South Korea? Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions:

    Is it expensive to eat out in South Korea?

    Yes it can be expensive in South Korea, but it all depends where you eat out! If you’re in Seoul and only want to experience fine dining restaurants, then of course it’s going to be very expensive!

    But, it’s easy to discover small backstreet restaurants popular with locals and street food is definitely a great choice if you want to keep your budget low! Generally, food in South Korea is considered to be quite cheap compared to Western countries.

    What is South Korea famous for?

    The food, of course! But apart from great food, South Korea has become very famous in recent years for it’s contribution to world culture.

    Whether that be K-Pop, which has dominated Western music charts in recent years, or cinema and TV, with films such as ‘Parasite‘ winning several Oscars in 2020, and ‘Squid Game‘ being a massive hit worldwide on Netflix.

    Which part of South Korea has the best food?

    This is a great question as a lot of people may assume that Seoul has the best food in South Korea. But that’s not entirely true! The cuisine is considered better the further south of the country you go.

    Here are the best places in South Korea that is renowned for having the best food:

    📍 Jeonju: this is the largest city in the southwest of South Korea and is regarded by most Koreans as the food capital of the whole country. It’s where the famous dish bibimbap originates from and the city has a fantastic food scene!

    📍 Gwangju: the fourth largest city in the country, Gwangju is a culinary city famous mostly for it’s duck stew dish: Ori-tang.

    📍 Busan: the southern capital of South Korea is another must visit place for foodies! It’s known for it’s seafood dishes as it is a port city and I highly recommend visiting!

    Conclusion: Best Food Tour in South Korea

    Overall, I absolutely loved my time in South Korea. It’s a culturally thriving place, and Seoul is probably the most culturally advanced city I’ve visited in all of Asia.

    I’ve talked a lot about how great Korean food is in this blog post and that was certainly the main highlight of my trip.

    But also the Korean people I met in Seoul were very friendly, warm and open and you have no reason to be concerned about your safety.

    In short, South Korea is one of the coolest countries I’ve been to and I can’t recommend it highly enough. And it goes without saying that it’s an absolute must that you try at least one of the best food tours of South Korea when visiting!

    ➡️ Planning your trip? Here are my favourite resources:

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    🚙 Rental Car: Use Discover Cars for the best car rental prices
    ❤️ Travel Insurance: I recommend using Visitors Coverage
    ✈️ Flights: Use for the best prices on flights