new year's eve seoul korea things to do

Can you believe 2018 will be over in two weeks? Whether you want to experience a bit of culture in Bosingak or count down to 2019 in style, here are the best options to celebrate the new year in the capital city of Korea. Scroll down for the best things to do on Dec. 31, 2018, and the best places to watch the sunrise on New Year’s Day.

Related: Christmas 2018: Top Things to Do in Seoul

1. Bosingak Pavilion (Jongno) 

Bosingak pavilion on New Year’s Eve is much like the Times Square in New York City. Expect to be surrounded by thousands of people as you wait to watch the bell ring to signal the new year. After the countdown, walk down to Myeongdong to celebrate the new year with the massive crowd.

The Bosingak bell is over 600 years old. The surrounding area is called Jongno, which literally means “bell street.” (Read more here)

Bosingak Belfry (website): 54 Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (Jonggak station)

2. GSM Floating Palace Countdown Party (Banpo)

When: Dec. 31, 9 p.m. – 3 a.m.
Where: Sebitseom

Welcome 2019 with style! Join 3,000 others in Sebitseom, a five-story floating island on Han River in the middle of Seoul. It’s the world’s biggest floating island and has scenes from the Avengers. 

This is the most luxurious experience you can get at the lowest price. The ticket will get you access to full five stories on Sebitseom, midnight fireworks, finger foods, all you can drink wine, Grolsch beer and Bernini champagne (last call 2:30), performances (lazer show, dances, live bands and more), DJ party (hip hop and house), free ticket to clubs in Itaewon and Gangnam and more. 

Tickets are $70 at the door. Early birds and groups of 3 or more can save, so get your tickets today

3. Countdown Seoul 2019 (Yeongdeungpo)

When: Dec. 31, 11 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Where: Yeongdeungpo Times Square

If you’re a K-pop fan, why would you miss the chance to watch live performance of your favorite artists? Last year, BTS, Jay Park, Beenzino and Zico celebrated the new year with the fans. This year, it’s Zico, Crush, SIK-K, Nafla, Loopy and Dynamic Duo.

The ninth Countdown Seoul will kick off the new year with great music and hundreds of balloons dropping from the ceiling. Ticket is $88 and available on Interpark

Times Square Mall (website): 15 Yeongjung-ro, Yeongdeungpo-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul; 02-2638-2000

4. 2019 Countdown party at Vista Walkerhill

When: Dec. 31 7 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Get together at Walkerhill’s Re:BAR on New Year’s Eve for a chance to see Sleepy, Mommy Son, Droplex and more perform. Ticket is $23 and includes one welcome drink. Get yours on Coupang or at the door. 

Sheraton Grande Walkerhill (website): 177 Walkerhill-ro, Gwangjang-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul; 02-455-5000

5. Buffet Dinner at the Millennium Seoul Hilton (Jung-gu)
Photo: Millennium Seoul Hilton

The English-style bar Oak Room at the Millennium Seoul Hilton is hosting a New Year’s Eve buffet dinner on Monday, Dec. 31. While at the Millennium Hilton, check out the 30-feet-tall Christmas tree and miniature Christmas village and train tracks, which they have been displaying since 1995. (Click here for more Christmas things to do in Seoul)

Millennium Seoul Hilton (website): 50 Sowol-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul; 
02-753-7788

New Year’s Day Sunrise

The sun rises every day, but why does the sunrise on New Year’s Day feel more special? If you’d like to watch the sunrise with a view, here are some options.

(1) Haneul Park Sunrise Festival (Mapo)

Photo: Michelle Franc Lee

When: Jan. 1, 7 – 8 a.m.

The Mapo district office is hosting the sunrise festival (하늘공원해맞이행사), which includes traditional performances and a postcard writing event. Get off at World Cup Stadium Station (line 6) for a short walk to the park. Stroll through the tall, lush reeds, which are Instagram-worthy, and reach the hilltop with sweeping vistas. 

Haneul Park: 487-48 Sangam-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul; 02-300-5501

(2) Bukhansan National Park

Photo: The Art of Backpacking & Adventures

Mt. Bukhansan in the north of Seoul is a popular destination for hikers. Get off at Dobongsan station (line 1) and follow the crowd of hikers to get to Bukhansan either late night on the 31st or early morning on New Year’s Day. Here’s detailed information on how to climb Bukhansan.

If you’re a dedicated hiker, consider joining Seoul Hiking & Nature Facebook group’s New Year Sunrise at Seoraksan event. 

(3) Head to the East Sea

Photo: Korea Tourism Organization

Something about sunrise over the ocean is so magical and beautiful that many Koreans would drive all the way to Gangwondo to watch the sun rise over the East Sea. Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park is a good place if you’re traveling from Seoul. If you’re in the Busan area or up for a trip, check out Ulsan’s Ganjeolgot.

Jeongdongjin Sunrise Park (website): Jeongdongjin-ri, Gangdong-myeon, Gangneung-si, Gangwon-do; 33-640-4536

Ganjeolgot: 39-2 Ganjeolgot 1-gil, Seosaeng-myeon, Ulju-gun, Ulsan; 052-204-4668

For more new year’s sunrise spot ideas, click here

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