NOTE: I have a much more updated posting about Yongsan available at this link.
The Garrison – Yongsan Garrison is a large compound located right in the middle of Seoul. It is truly an odd sight for such a big base in the middle of one of the world’s largest most vibrant cities. Could you imagine a large military base in the middle of Manhattan? That is why there are currently plans to move the compound within the next three years.
If you are lucky enough to get stationed here enjoy the place while it lasts because it is a great place to be stationed. Yongsan is one of the nicest military posts I have been on to include anywhere in the United States.
The camp houses some 6,000 soldiers, 1,000 ROK Army KATUSA soldiers that are augmented by 1,000 US civilian workers and 6,000 Korean civilian workers. The on post housing is outstanding with many new barracks buildings for the soldiers. There is also the newly renovated Hanam Village for families that are housed off post. For those that choose to live on the economy off post beware that there are numerous people willing to swindle you, so make sure you read your housing lease very closely. Click Here for the latest Yongsan housing information.
The shopping on the post cannot be beat. The PX is the largest I have seen in the army accompanied by the largest commissary I have ever seen. The post also has numerous mini-malls to augment the already great shopping at the PX.
The Post also has a multitude of eating establishments to choose from all over the post. The nicest restaurants are located at the 5-Star Hotel The Dragon Hill Lodge.
That’s right, Yongsan has it’s very own 5-Star Hotel. The Dragon Hill is one of the nicest hotels in all of Korea and is affordable to the average GI. Not only are the rooms and restaurants great but the hotel also has numerous bars and shopping areas to keep you occupied not to mention the fitness center and swimming pool.
Shopping – The Itaewon district just outside of the Yongsan garrison offers plenty of both shopping and entertainment. The district is the easiest market for shopping for foreigners in Korea. The shop owners in Itaewon all can speak some English and are familiar with western tastes. Unbelievable discounts on suits, leather jackets, hand bags, wallets, jewelery, etc. can be found in Itaewon. You will be absolutely amazed by the bargains there. Make sure you always haggle for the best price because in Asian culture haggling is expected so don’t by shy to negotiate for a lower price. Just tell them “kaka-chu-seyo!” This is Korean for, “I want a discount.” Use this phrase because it will save you money. Don’t pay more than you have to because if you do it encourages the shop keepers to raise their prices to rip off other foreigners.
Nightlife – The nightlife in Itaewon is outstanding. There is a club for everybody’s taste in Itaewon. There are rock clubs, jazz bars, Irish pubs, rave clubs, and your typical “juicy girl” bars. One of the most popular bars in Itaewon that is great for meeting other foreigners is Geckos just across the street from Burger King. Definitely a good place to start your Itaewon adventures at. However, do be careful what bars you go into at Itaewon because many of them have been put off limits by the army.
You do not want to get busted by the MPs. The MPs do have people in uniform and plain clothes monitoring the off limits establishments. The penalties are severe for infractions. Overall you can have a great time partying in Itaewon without visiting the more shadier establishments. So don’t feel like you are missing out on anything.