Seoul is an all year round shopping paradise for both ladies and gentlemen. This is especially true with the Korean wave taking the world by storm. You can see so many Korean inspired street wear, casual wear, cosmetic, skin care and even food available in malls all over the world. Even shopping paradise like Bangkok has an entire mall dedicated to Korean pop. There are many places to shop in Seoul so here is a rough guide on what you can find at the different places. So remember to bring a huge or empty luggage.
Myeong-dong is well known for being a shopping haven for all females for the endless rows of stores selling skin care and cosmetics. You can find all major Korean street brands like Faceshop, Nature Republic, Skinfood for skincare and cosmetics here. The main Myeong-dong cluster is made up of different streets joined together like a spider web. Don’t be surprised to find the same shop repeated throughout the entire Myeong-dong area. Just Faceshop itself has more than 5 stores within Myeong-dong and each store is of different size and might offer totally different offers and promotions.
Many of the stores have staff who can speak basic English and Mandarin. This is the place to grab all those crazy cheap sheet masks. Other than skincare and cosmetics, there are also shops selling street wear for young adults as well as many sports shoes shops and Original Adidas stores selling their famous MNDs. There is also a huge LINE store in the center of Myeong-dong. Dotted around area, you will also find many restaurants and cafes to feed your hunger while shopping. Come nightfall, the main street also turns into a night market with street food stores and pull up carts selling socks, plushies and accessories.
How to get there: Exit 6, Myeongdong Station-Subway Line 4
Dong-Dae-Mun the crazy 24 hours shopping zone that can suck up all your time and your money. Dong Dae Mun is almost structured like Orchard Road in Singapore or Siam Square in Bangkok where there are no less than 10 shopping malls. I have been to Seoul for 3 times and I have still not covered all the malls in Dongdaemun.
Firstly, there are malls that cater only to wholesale like designer club mall and apm place. Retail stores from all over Seoul or even blog shops get their goods here. These malls look like any regular mall and items are generally cheaper than the retail malls. Most shops however only sell their clothes in bulk. Minimally you need to buy 3 pieces of the same item before they will sell it to you. As the stores are catered to retailers, they are mostly opened from evening till 5am. However, there has been accounts of a few stores willing to sell single pieces.
Next are the retail malls like Migliore, hello apm and Doota. These are catered to the regular tourist and shoppers like us and are priced slightly higher but you are allowed to bargain on prices for certain shops. The rule of thumb however is just 10% which is very different from shopping in Bangkok. If you try any higher discount, you might just get a scolding in Korean or evil stare.
There is also a small LINE shop and shilla duty free stores within doota mall.
With the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, there are also some designer shops selling quirky household and daily use items. At the basement of DDP, Kakao talk fans can also buy merchandise of their favorite Kakao characters
So what to buy from Dongdaemun? Basically anything from shoes, clothes, bags, accessories, children or baby stuff, cosmetics and skincare and even toys. Just remember to go there with good shoes and an empty luggage.
How to get there: Exit 8 or 9, Dongdaemun Station -Subway Line 1 & 4
Hongdae is known for being a favourite haunt of youngsters with many hipster cafes, karaoke buildings and restaurants. There are also multiple street shops selling apparels and accessories which are generally for the younger fashionistas. It is still a nice place to hang out for nice accessories and more affordable bags even if you are pass the teenage years.
What can you buy here? Caps, bags, haversacks, hoodies, jeans and basically any school attending youngster would like. There are also some huge flagship stores for certain skincare brands, branded items like MCM and Adidas.
How to get there: 500m walk from Exit 5, Hongik University Station -Subway Line 2
Garosugil is fast becoming a popular hangout to young to middle aged working adults with many instagrammable cafes, buildings and shops. You can also find many local Korean brand apparel stores here selling korean styled clothes suitable for the office.
There are also some popular cafe where some korean stars like to hang out.
How to get there: 800m walk from Exit 8 Sinsa Station -Subway Line 3
Insadong is like a cultural village being very near the palaces and hanok villages. Throughout the area, you can still find many old traditional Korean houses converted into modern restaurants and cafes making the entire very Instagram friendly.
There are many shops here selling cultural souvenirs like keychains, cutleries, korean dolls and even the hanbok which is the Korean traditional costume.
Right in the middle of Insadong, you will find a modernised building with stores selling very interesting pieces of accessories, housewares and bags.
How to get there: 50m from Exit 6, Anguk Station – Subway Line 3 or 150m walk from Exit 3, Jongno 3-ga -Line 1, 3 & 5
Last but not least, if you can finish the whole list, leave some space for this last stop. The namdaemun is a known daytime market selling local snacks, fresh kimchi, korean sauces and ingredients for that inner chef!
Apart from food, they sell anything from slippers, umbrellas, korean cutlery and containers, bedding, home wear and anything you expect a market to sell. Do go early since some shops close by 4-5pm.
How to get there: Take Line 4 to Heoyeon Station and get out at either Gate 4, 5 or 6