Shopping is on everybody's itinerary no matter it's just buying souvenir for self or family and friends. Moreover Korea is famous for skin care & cosmetic products along with some fashion clothing. Here's a list of shopping spots in Seoul where you can get the items at a bargain price!
Myeongdong is truly the mecca of Korean beauty products. From low end brands such as Innisfree and Etude House, mid tier brands such as Laneige to high end brands like IOPE, the area has got you covered. Walking along the streets in Myeongdong is literally like heaven on earth, with rows and rows of shops within reach and freebies being passed out to you like you’re the most desired person ever.
Prices here are definitely a lot cheaper than Singapore, with special bundle sales and of course lots of samples given out for you to try. Almost all the shops here are tax free so do remember to bring along your passport for the automatic deduction of taxes, otherwise you would have to head to the airport to do it manually.
The range of products available is amazing! From BB cushion, primers, moisturizers and essence to masks and serums, you can surely find what you’re looking for and get started on your 10 step korean beauty skincare routine.
Besides beauty shops, there are also some fashion stores like H&M, local korean stores and my personal favourite Aland, which is the Urban Outfitters of Korea. You can also expect some huge sneakers stores that sell a wide range of kicks at discounted prices.
I’m pretty sure you’re going to get hungry after all the shopping. In the daytime, you can head to the korean restaurants for korean bbq, ramen or the bulgogi. Try the Myeongdong Kyoja, which is a famous handmade noodle store that has been around for about 40 years. At night, there will be many food carts lining the streets, selling items like cheese scallops, strawberry mochi, egg bread and other korean snacks that will keep you full throughout your night time shopping adventures. For desserts, try the Milky Bee Ice Cream that is shaped like a rose, making it the perfect prop for the capturing the background of the crowded streets of Myeongdong.
I suggest heading to Myeongdong during the day to get the products you want as it gets pretty crowded at night and the streets look more confusing. Myeongdong is a great place to enjoy the street food and atmosphere at night.
If you are into korean street style and cheap things, then Hongdae is the place for you. Take the exit from Hongik University Subway station and you will be immersed in the cool atmosphere of Hongdae. There is a wide range of fashion shops from local boutiques to the your favourites like H&M and Forever 21.
Prices here are pretty reasonable and there is the option of haggling in the local boutiques. Accessories sold in this area are very cheap and you can get anything from cool hoop earrings to dainty necklaces at around 1000 won onwards. Nice vintage looking bags are also available and there is this one shop along the street that sells all bags at 10,000 won! The local boutiques are pretty small, so the trying on of clothing might not be possible for some. Also, most of the items are one size fits all but there are also some clothing which are much larger in cut.
Food options are aplenty too, from cafes to KBBQ, you can literally spend a whole day in the area and not get bored at all. Head down to Hongdae at night and you can witness the change in atmosphere to one that is bustling with band performances, buskers singing their hearts out and various street performances. Since Hongdae is also known for its partying scene, you can choose to wind down after a day of shopping at the bars and clubs in the area. There are also 24hour cafes for you to chill at after a night of partying so you can catch the first subway from 5am onwards.
Lined with rows of huge shopping malls with multiple levels, Dongdaemun is a great place for ready made clothes, wholesale items and art supplies. The shopping malls are not exactly fancy but they are packed with rows and rows of shops selling similar items and largely caters to wholesale demands. Some popular malls include the apM place, Lotte FITIN and Migliore.
There is also an open market near Exit #4 of Dongdaemun History and Culture Park Station starting from 10pm. It consists of endless rows of yellow tents selling a wide variety of items at discounted prices. After exploring the open night market, you can take a stroll along Cheonggyecheon which is stream over 3.7km long that is connected to the Han River. Enjoy the serene lighting displays after a day of crazy shopping.
The streets are also lined with carts selling a bunch of korean street food from Tteokbokki, Odeng, dumplings and Gimbap. If you are looking for something more substantial, there are also some famous chimek restaurants where you can get flavoured fried chicken and beer for a complete relaxed night out.
4. Express Bus Terminal
We are all familiar with underground shopping but the size of the Express Bus Terminal shopping centre is massive. Consisting of 600 shops along the 800m long alley, it is the largest underground mall in Seoul.
Types of shops include fashion, accessories, furniture and lifestyle items. Most of the shops cater to women and you can easily find items that are priced from 5000 to 10000 won. Be prepared to tire yourself out from shopping and wear comfortably if you’re heading there as it can get quite stuffy due to the crowds. Also, eat something before heading to the terminal as there aren’t many food options available.
5. Sinsa -Dong Garosugil (Gangnam)
This is literally like Orchard Road but a lot prettier and aesthetically pleasing. Lined with trees and multilevel cafes, luxury shops and expensive cars parked alongside both sides of the street, you might think that you’re in a movie. Everyone here looks on point, with their fashionable clothing, unique styles and perfectly made up face. Don’t be shocked if you see women with bandages on their faces or bruises around their eyes shopping as this area is known for huge plastic surgery clinics and it is a common sight in Seoul especially in Gangnam. The area is perfect for taking ootds if you’re looking for a city background with a touch of luxury and preppiness. Garosugil is a popular hang out place in the autumn when the golden Ginko leaves begin to fall.
The area is also a great option for cafe hoppers as there are many upscale looking cafes great for taking a break in between shopping and for people watching. Everyone looks like a model here so people watching can legitimately be a fun activity for some.