Since we provide quite a bit of information on clubbing and attending events, we thought it would be appropriate to include some useful tips on nightlife. Although these are geared towards the South Korean scene, many of them can be applied to going out in any city around the world. We have several years of experience partying in this country, so we’ve thought about our nights out and put together this list. We hope that you will avoid some of the mistakes that we made. This especially rings true if you live here and are going out every weekend. Read the tips and put them into practice. Leave us a comment at the end and let us know if we missed any important tips. We’ll probably be revisiting this with a second or even third edition.
I’m sure almost all of you are familiar with this term, but if you aren’t, “pre-game” is used to describe drinking at home before you go out. Essentially this is a common practice because it is far more affordable to buy your alcohol at the grocery store than from a bar. This becomes increasingly important if you plan on heading to Gangnam, where the drink prices can be fairly high. Also, the bartenders aren’t always generous with the amount of alcohol they pour. (We’ll talk more about how to fix this later on.) By drinking at home, you can get a good buzz going and avoid the stress caused by long lines, coat checks, or whatever else you might encounter before you even get the chance to drink again.
Make friends with promoters
If you are the type of person that is trying to save as much money as possible while you are living or even just visiting Korea, then this is a good one to remember. Nobody enjoys spending money to enter a building where they are going to be spending money. One good way to avoid the cover charge is to get on guest lists. Promoters work hard to get people in the door, and usually they have plenty of room on their guest lists. The easiest way to find out who is promoting an event is to check the advertising. Most of the time, you’ll find the promotion company logos on the posters or they’ll be tagged in social media posts. Then, it’s as easy as asking. The only downside to this is that you usually have to be there before 11 PM or midnight. That may sound late to those of you going out here for the first time, but believe us – it’s not. However, getting in without having to pay a cover charge still outweighs the fact that you might have to wait for the place to fill up.
We’ve worked hard to provide the best information we can on our site to help you party with ease. With that being said, utilize the tools we’ve given you. Start with the calendar and find artists that interest you. If you have no idea who an act is, then simply click the ‘more information’ link and you can find out what they are all about. After you’ve found a party that interests you, take note of the location and head to our venue list. You’ll find the address, nearby subway stop(s), hours, and more. The easy-to-read map is very useful when you’re under the influence. (Trust us. We’ve been there.) Also, look up the websites for these venues and make sure you are clear about the price you’ll be paying and the dress code. They will turn you away at the door if you aren’t dressed properly.
Get in good with the bar staff
Even if you aren’t a big drinker, this suggestion can still be beneficial to you and your friends. For those that don’t know, tipping isn’t a common practice in South Korea. If you come from a country where tipping is always practiced, drinking and eating here will almost feel unnatural. After spending several years in South Korea, we’ve noticed that tipping is the easiest way to get on a bartender’s good side. They aren’t expecting tips, so they are surprised when they get them. They’ll almost always refuse, but if you insist, they’ll settle. Then comes the good stuff. After they know you are a good customer, you’ll get better drinks (read: more alcohol), quicker service, and sometimes even free shots. The other night, we witnessed a guy tip 3,000 won (about 3 USD) and get a whole round of free shots for himself and several friends. You can’t beat that!
If a club or lounge is strict on not accepting tips, they’ll still appreciate the gesture. You can always smile and give them a big “thank you” instead. This will probably not have as an extreme of an effect, but it will still work if done repeatedly. Another workaround for tipping is to actually buy the bartender a shot or drink when you order. They appreciate that just as much, if not more sometimes!
Be smart about taxis
If you already know how much a taxi fare should be when you are changing neighborhoods, don’t let the taxi drivers try to offer you a fixed fare. For example, if you are in Itaewon and grabbing a taxi to head to Gangnam, this should cost somewhere between 8,000-10,000 won most of the time. However, you’ll run into a lot of drivers that will quote you as much as 30,000 won. While they might be convenient, you are wasting cash. If you are patient and spend a few minutes looking, you’ll find a taxi that will agree to use the meter. Tell them your destination and ask “meter?”. If they say yes, you just saved yourself quite a bit of money. If they say no, don’t bother.
Soak in the culture
After a long night of clubbing, don’t hesitate to experience the cultural aspects of Korean nightlife. Eat some street food. There are stalls decorating almost every street nearby the major venues. Walk up, point to what you want to eat, and give them the cash. If you feel like sitting down, there are many restaurants that stay open at all times. You can grab some delicious BBQ and a few more beers and shots of soju while the sun rises. Another Korean pastime is the noraebang, or singing room. Grab a few friends and rent a room for an hour or two. Some allow you to even bring in your own alcohol, which is great news for your wallet. Once inside, choose your songs and start singing. If you’re lucky, you’ll find some of the special noraebangs that even have all-you-can-eat ice cream!