This post is actually waaaay over due! After living a few years in Korea and loads of shopping, it’s time to share the best places to get your shop on.
South Korea is a shopper’s paradise, and like most Asian countries you won’t be lacking for ANYTHING! The goods available and the variety will make you go nuts and the best part is that there are sales everywhere on everything. If you want something, you’ll get it!
Korean culture is very particular on one’s appearance so dressing well and looking good is essential to daily life. I will be constantly updating this post as fashion spots in Seoul are ever-changing!
So here is my edited list of the best places to shop, whether you are moving to Korea or just popping in for a visit.
A super busy shopping area in the centre of Seoul, Myeong-dong is open till 10pm in the evenings everyday! It’s permanently packed with locals and foreigners getting the best deals on local and international fashion and beauty products! It’s impossible to walk in a straight line. All the big international retail shops like H&M, Forever 21, Zara, Uniqlo, Nike, Adidas and Lush can all be found here. There’s a price range for everyone. Big, fancy department stores are just across the road!
Dongdaemun has many department stores and buildings housing various little stalls selling local goods. There are multiple floors selling fashion, accessories and bags all crammed next to each other. The best thing is that you can bargain the hell out stuff here if you have the guts. Downside is that you cannot try the goods on. Most of the items are locally made unique goods and can only be found in Korea.
Insa-dong is where you will find all the touristy things for collectors and souvenirs. It’s also situated in the centre of Seoul and is always busy. Traditional jewellery, ornaments or paintings can be found here. There is a small shopping complex selling the weird and wonderful called Szamie-gil, but prices are high because of all the foreigner traffic here.
4. Subway/underground Shopping Malls
At almost all subway stops where there are major lines to change over, you will find an underground shopping mall. You are guaranteed a bargain down here. Many stores selling everything are crammed together. You can bargain with the shops too
The best ones are:
4.1. Jeongak Station/Jongno-2-ga:
This little shopping mall only has two lanes of shops, but they are the best for good prices everyday! Most shops here get all the goods from the department stores or factories and sell it at 70% less. Excellent quality and pretty things made in Korea. It’s my personal favourite! It can be found right underneath Insadong!
4.2. Gangnam Station:
A much bigger and more popular subway mall. You’ll find various outlet stores here with many rows to browse. The prices are good here and there are more expensive goods, but the selection is really big! Let’s not forget that above ground is just as good for shopping!
Jamsil has a big underground shopping mall, and they have a mega shopping complex above ground. The new malls sell goods from luxury to retails with Korean brand boutiques in between.
5. Online shopping
Most things you find at Dongdaemun, you can find on G-Market. Korea’s answer to E-Bay. It sells mainly Korean made goods and at excellent quality. The service for English speakers has improved greatly. All you need to do is create an account!
Be sure the item you want will fit, as many of the garment profiles come with the measurements in the advert.
6. Garosugil, Apgujeong
The shops are mostly very pricey, but there are some alleys and corners to get good bargains. 🙂
7. Vintage/second hand markets?
Busan also proved to be great for amazing prices, and their second hand stores and markets were cool too and even cheaper than Seoul!
8. Best Secret Deal
If you go to Seoul, you will see many women wearing designer bags all over. This does not necessarily mean they all super rich. There are markets all over selling good fakes, but there are also stores that sell second hand/used designer goods. They sell these used items for a much cheaper price, and most of it is in excellent quality. It’s still quite pricey, but not as crazy expensive as the brand new ones in the stores. They have websites if you google them or you can see their shops with posters of designer items on with currency symbols plastered all over. So yes, everyone can afford a piece of luxury here.
Note: It’s best you receive a certificate or little warranty card stating the item is an original when you purchase.
10. Techno Mart
Almost every corner in Seoul city and in other cities in Korea, you will find fashion on some kind for sale. They also have your major international retailers such as Zara and H&M, if that’s your thing. This is important for many as the retailers stock a better variety of sizes. Most of Korean brands in the markets and boutiques tend to stock one-size, which really is between a small and medium.
There are other amazing spots and almost all University areas such as Hongdae, Konkuk and Ehwa Womens’ Universities all have really cool trendy fashion stores and markets to check out! If I narowed it down to 1, it would be Hongdae at subway station Hongik University, line 2. You can read more about this cool spot in Seoul here.