5 Must-Go Shopping Districts in Seoul For the First-Time Visitor

5 Must-Go Shopping Districts in Seoul For the First-Time Visitor

Experience the shopping paradise that Seoul truly is by visiting these districts in the city, from the ever-popular Myeongdong to the fashionable Garosugil.

Seoul is known for being a one-stop shopping paradise, especially in the areas of streetwear and beauty products. If you are heading to Seoul to experience heaven on earth, then this article is perfect for you, Here are 5 best shopping districts that you have to visit to get the most out of your trip!

1. Myeongdong

seoul shopping districtsImage credit: Ha Jeong Jeong

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 heaven on earth for shoppers, with rows and rows of shops within reach and freebies being passed out to you like you’re the most desired person ever. The range of products available is amazing! From BB cushion, primers, moisturisers and essence to masks and serums, you can surely find what you’re looking for and get started on your ten-step Korean beauty skincare routine.

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 will have to head to the airport to do it manually.

Besides beauty shops, there are also some fashion stores like H&M, local 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 local 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 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.

2. Hongdae

seoul shopping districtsImage credit: therealrealjd

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 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 onwards. Nice vintage looking bags are also available and there is this one shop along the street that sells all bags at 10,000! 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 clothes which are much larger in cutting.  

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 party scene, you can choose to wind down after a day of shopping at the bars and clubs in the area. There are also 24-hour cafes for you to chill at after a night of partying so you can catch the first subway from 5am onwards.

3. Dongdaemun

seoul shopping districtsImage credit: Republic of Korea

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 they cater largely 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 3.7 kilometres 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

seoul shopping districtsImage credit: KTO

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 800-metre long alley, it is the largest underground mall in Seoul.

Types of shops here include fashion, accessories, furniture and more. Most of the shops cater to women and you can easily find items that are priced from 5000 to 10,000. Be prepared to tire yourself out from shopping and wear comfortable clothes 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)

seoul shopping districtsImage credit: Alejandro

This is like Singapore’s Orchard Road but a lot prettier and aesthetically pleasing. It is lined with trees and multilevel cafes, luxury shops and expensive cars parked along both sides of the street. This area is a great option for cafe-hoppers as there are many upscale-looking cafes great for taking a break in between shopping.

Everyone here looks on point, with their fashionable clothing, unique styles and perfectly made up face. People-watching in Garosugil can legitimately be a fun activity for some. Don’t be shocked if you see women with bandages on their faces or bruises around their eyes – this area is known for huge plastic surgery clinics. The area also offers the perfect setting 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, especially in the autumn when the golden ginko leaves begin to fall.

Get ready to shop till you drop!

Also read: 7 Shopping Places in Seoul You Might Not Know About

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Travelling really did change her life.


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