The Top 10 Places to Shop in Seoul

By Salmah Shahnawaz | 21, Nov, 2017
The Top 10 Places to Shop in Seoul
Seoul is one big shopping heaven, so you are not at a loss when it comes to wondering what to buy in Korea. With millions of shoppers every day, the city is conveniently organised into distinct areas that cater to specific groups of shoppers. Not only does this mean that comparing prices and products is much easier, it also saves time if you are targeting just one kind of item. It has to be noted that the areas in concern are rather large and requires a lot of walking between shops, so get your walking shoes on because you are really going to rack up those steps on your pedometer! Since South Korea understands its shopping vibe so well, almost all the major shopping areas are located near train stations for ease of access, and the stations provide lockers to store your purchases thus far so that you don’t have to lug them around the whole day. How cool is that!
 
Here are the top 10 places to shop in Seoul:
 

For Traditional Items and Souvenirs

1) Insadong Street 

 
Picture credit -  theseoulguide.com
 
You can’t visit Seoul without going back with souvenirs and local items for yourself and friends and family. The best place to get these is Insadong, a 700-meter long street that sells Korean tea, antiques, traditional clothing like the hanbok, pottery, folk craft, and more. You better have Google translate handy as all the signs are in Korean, even Starbucks!
 
Opening hours: 10 am to 8 pm, Daily
Address: Insa-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest station: Anguk Station, Exit 6 or Jonggak Station, Exit 3
 

2) Gwangjang Market 

 
Picture Credit - www.migrationology.com
 
This bustling place is one of the oldest marketplaces and hence, one of the most quaint ones. Open for more than 110 years, Gwangjang Market is THE place Koreans go to purchase wedding wear and wedding food. Even if you don’t require any such items, it is worth visiting it just for the vibe – and they do sell local fabrics and food, amongst other items. Besides, how often do you get to visit such old marketplaces?
 
Opening hours:
Clothing stores open 9 pm to 10 am the next day, Monday to Saturday
General stores open 8:30 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday
Address: 88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Nearest station: Jongno 5-ga Station, Exit 8 or Euljiro 4-ga Station, Exit 4
 
For Local Designer Clothes
 

3) Common Ground 

 
Picture credit - english.visitkorea.or.kr
 
Even though Seoul carries international brand names like H&M and Zara, if you are in South Korea, you should shop like a South Korean. They are known for their trendy fashion sense that is evident amongst the youth, and local designers have many opportunities to showcase and sell their items. Common Ground is a pop-up container mall that has an artsy vibe where you can find small shops set up by local designers with a range of items. An insider tip: Most locals look for the “Made in Korea” tag, not just because of their patriotism, but because they are of much better quality than imported Chinese items, even if they are a bit pricier.
 
Opening Hours: 11 am to 10 pm, Daily
Address: 200, Achasan-ro, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul
Nearest Station: Konkuk University Station, Exit 6

 

4) Hongdae (Hongik University Street) 

 
Picture Credit - theseoulguide.com
 
More of a cool hang-out area than a shopping one, Hongdae caters to the youth and is inspired by Hongik University. Even if you don’t want to purchase anything from the area, it is worth a visit as they have plenty of entertainment in the form of street performances and festivals by the students of Hongik University. There are plenty of fashion stores that are owned by local designers – Koreans label the area as where local retailers go “when they can’t afford to rent in Myeongdong”, but stores that once were in Myeongdong have also moved to Hongdae and blended in with the fun atmosphere, making this a great place to experience.
 
Opening hours: 11 am to midnight, Daily
Address: Eoulmadang-ro, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Nearest station: Hongik University Station, Exit 8 or 9
 

For Street Fashion

5) Namdaemun Market 

 
Picture Credit - www.english.visitkorea.or.kr
 
If you really want to experience street shopping in Seoul, Namdaemun Market is where you need to be. With a whole array of items – not just fashionable clothing – you can find things you didn’t even know you were looking for, at great prices. Namdaemun Market is where you go to find unique items as gifts and souvenirs, and where you can bargain to your heart’s content. Get lost amongst the rows of stalls to have a true shopping adventure!
 
Opening hours: 11 pm to 5 pm, Monday to Saturday
Address: 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest station: Hoehyeon Station, Exit 5
 

6) Goto Mall (Gangnam Terminal Underground Shopping Centre) 

 
Picture Credit - www.english.visitkorea.or.kr
 
While many subway stations are connected to underground malls, Goto Mall is the biggest and has some cheap shopping in Seoul. 800 meters of clothing, cosmetics and accessories, it is most popular amongst locals like Namdaemun is popular amongst tourists. They have the same quality stuff for even cheaper prices, so you might want to check this out first before heading out anywhere else.
 
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm
Address: 128-4 Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest station: Express Bus Terminal Station

 

For Cosmetics

 

7) Myeongdong 

 
Picture Credit - www.korea.net //something else
 
With 1 million shoppers passing through daily, Myeondong used to be a local hotspot but is now a tourist favourite too. It is the largest shopping area in Seoul with some of the biggest department stores and malls housed here. Myeongdong is the perfect place to shop for cosmetics as every single make-up, cosmetics and skincare brand in Korea has at least one store here. So you are not left without a choice, and it is easy to compare prices when shopping in Korea, and you can decide which products and prices suit you best before making a purchase. Check out a Myeongdong shopping map to plan your route if you don’t want to be overwhelmed.
 
Opening hours: 10 am to 10 pm, Daily
Address: Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
Nearest stations: Myeongdong Station, Exits 5, 6, 7, or 8 or Euljiro 1 (ij-ga) Station, Exits 5 or 6
 

8) Lotte Department Store 

 
Picture Credit - visitkorea.or.kr
 
A tourist’s favourite (and extremely convenient if you are staying at Lotte Hotel), one of the offers travel-friendly services Lotte Department Store offers is tax returns. If you show your passport and boarding pass while making a purchase, they also allow you to pick up your items directly at Incheon airport by showing your receipt there, instead of you having to carry it around. So if you have purchased cosmetics that are over 100ml, they are still allowed on the flight as they come in sealed bags. Lotte is home to some big brands, as well as plenty of sales, so it’s worth stopping by.
 
Opening Hours: 10:30 am to 8 pm, Daily
Address: 30, Eulji-ro 11-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Nearest station: Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station
 

9) Ewha Women’s University Shopping Street 

 
Picture Credit - fishavenue.files.wordpress.com
 
Catering to the university students, you will find discounted cosmetic items here in popular local brands. In addition to that, there are fun, trendy items like accessories and jewellery, and of course, street food. If you’re looking for cheap things to buy in Korea, check out Ewha Women’s University Shopping Street.
 
Opening hours: 11 am to 10 pm, Daily
Address: 52, Ewhayeodae-gil, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
Nearest station: Ewha Woman’s University Subway Station, Exit 2 or 3
 
For Snacks
 

10) E-Mart 

 
Picture Credit - english.visitkorea.or.kr
 
 While there are multiple places you can Korean snacks from in Seoul (Home Plus by Tesco being one, and Lotte Mart another) E-Mart is said to be cheaper and less crowded than the others, which is why it is the only one on our list. You need to bring your own plastic bags as the store does not provide any, but check the ingredients with Google Translate or look for a Halal sign before purchasing anything to make for Halal travel in Seoul!
 
Opening hours: 10 am to midnight, Daily
Address: 55, Hangang-daero 23-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Nearest station: Yongsan Station, Exit 4
 
Seoul makes it easy to plan your shopping schedule and make the most of your day. So if you travel to Korea, take empty suitcases and a full wallet and shop till you drop!www

Salmah Shahnawaz is an avid reader, travel enthusiast, and a busy body in general. Mostly you will find her daydreaming about her next getaway, nursing a mug of coffee; or with her nose in a book when she can spare the chance.