Shopping in Seoul: An Understated Shopper’s Paradise

You know how there are times when life doesn’t seem to go your way. But, there is always one thing you can indulge in to make yourself feel better – retail therapy! It always works! When you buy that top or shirt that looks great on you or make an online purchase for a fancy thingamajig to brighten your home, you feel a sense of excitement. The joy of purchasing things is sometimes unrivaled. If that resonates with you then shopping in Seoul is for you.

Read on for recommendations for some seoul-satisfying (see what I did there??) retail therapy.

Get your souvenirs

Masks on display at a Souvenir shop in Insadong Ssamji shopping street in Seoul South Korea - shopping in seoul
Souvenir shop in Insadong Ssamji shopping street in Seoul South Korea

You know how when you go to some people’s houses they have art and artifacts, souvenirs and other junk from all the places they’ve been to? It piques interest and it is something they can casually build into a conversation by talking about how they just ‘picked this up’ from some random city or the other. You can be one of those people! Head to Insadong in Seoul to find all your traditional souvenirs and handicrafts. You can explore the myriad alleyways to find that perfect piece for your mantel shelf and also chill out in one of the many tea-houses for breaks.

When you want to change your face

Seoul, Korea - Myeongdong street - shopping in Seoul
Seoul, Korea – Myeongdong street.

No, Braavos doesn’t exist, that’s not what this is about. This is about cosmetics and makeup. It is something that can transform you (into a better version of yourself or something hideous depending on your skills). So, if you love your cosmetics Myeongdong should be your next destination.

It is the Mecca for popular Korean brands and a couple others besides. Most of the stores here offer bargains such as buy-one-get-one-free and discounted rates on certain products. But the best part? Lots of stores offer free samples, so be shameless and collect ‘em all (you know you want to).

Apart from just cosmetics, Myeongdong is popular for other shopping experiences. And if you happen to visit between June and October you can also check out the Myeongrang flea market for some handcrafted items. It’s usually open on Fridays between 5 pm to 9 pm, located at the KEB Plaza in Myeongdong.

Bring out your bargaining skills while shopping in Seoul

Hanging dolls at the flea markets in Seoul - shopping in Seoul
Hanging dolls at the flea markets in Seoul

Seoul hosts quite a few flea markets at different times of the year or during a particular day of the week (depending on the market). This is the perfect place to find unique items, polish your bargaining skills and walk away with tons of goodies and memories.

Check out the Hongdae flea market, Ttukseom Beautiful flea market and Seocho Saturday flea market. I’ve already mentioned the Myeongrang flea market up above.

And last but not least is the relatively new Bling Night flea market where you can not only shop but will also be able to drink, eat, and listen to the latest tunes by live DJs. The Bling market is hosted by the club culture magazine ‘The Bling’ and the venue keeps changing, hence you might want to follow their Facebook page if you want the details.

Last but not least

Seoul is known for their amazing underground shopping centres. Find the best pieces for reasonable prices in these labyrinthine series of shops. You can find several of them right as you get off the subway.

The most popular ones are Express Terminal Underground Centre, Gangnam USC and Yeongdeungpo Underground Mall. If you visit Express Terminal you can also hop on over to the Gangnam New Core Outlet for some mad discounts on brand names.

If you don’t mind going a little out of the way you can also visit the Bupyeong Underground Shopping Mall that’s located away from the main city.

Honorary mentions for shopping in Seoul

Gwangjang market in Seoul South Korea - shopping in seoul
Gwangjang market is one of the oldest and largest traditional markets in South Korea with more than 5000 shops, shopping in Seoul might be incomplete without visiting it.

Shopping in Seoul leaves you with plenty of options. If vintage fashion is your deal head to Gwangjang vintage market, but get there early as they tend to shut shop by 7 pm.

The university areas of Daehangno and Edae not only have reasonably priced stores but also tons of cafes where you can take a break from carrying your shopping haul.

Kondae is touted as the next Gangnam (thanks to PSY that place doesn’t need an introduction) and along with some great inexpensive clothing stores you can also find amazing food and get your hair done at one of the many, many salons.

It’s time to save up, head to Seoul and get your shopping game on! Meanwhile, you can read more about Seoul here.



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