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The Final Information to Procuring in Seoul, From Skincare to Luxurious Model Gadgets

The Final Information to Procuring in Seoul, From Skincare to Luxurious Model Gadgets

Did you really go to Seoul if you didn’t go shopping? South Korea’s capital the stop for most travellers who are travelling to the country. Read our ultimate guide to shopping in Seoul, from what to buy to the best shopping malls and streets.

What we love about shopping in Seoul is how spoiled we can be. There are shopping malls, shopping streets, boutique shops, and markets to choose from. And whether it’s skincare products, clothing, gadgets, or food products, Seoul has them all. Shoppers of all kinds can easily find what fits their fancy and budget. All you have to do is shop until you drop. Read our ultimate guide for shopping in Seoul.

It’s time for some retail therapy. Read on for the best shopping malls, markets, and streets to shop at in Seoul below.

Shopping in Seoul: What to buy and where to shop 

The best things to buy in Seoul

One of the best things about shopping in Seoul is the plethora of items and products that you can buy. Whether you’re browsing at any of the shopping malls or streets, you’ll find both common items and unique products.

shopping in seoul
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Skincare items

We’ve all heard of K-pop and K-dramas but what about K-beauty? Korean beauty products are among the best of the best. So, it’s not even surprising that they’ve also started taking the world by storm. One of the most famous products to get is face masks, which help your skin in a variety of ways. Other items to put on your shopping list include cleansing balms, toners, serums, and exfoliators. You’ll have flawless skin like your favourite Korean celebrities in no time.

Clothing

K-fashion is also sweeping the world, no doubt backed by the popularity of K-pop and K-dramas. And there’s no better place to shop for clothes than on home turf. Seoul has so many clothing shops and all you have to do is turn to a corner and you’ll likely find one.

Luxury items

Seoul is home to a staggering amount of shopping malls so you can easily purchase a luxury item here. Plus, they’re tax-free, or at least, you can claim the tax back before leaving the country. Either head to top department stores like Lotte Mart of Shinsegae or make your way to Apgujeong for the ultimate luxury experience.

Home decor

Need to refresh or upgrade your home? We argue that the home decor products in Seoul are among the best. Whether you need something adorable, creative, or lavish, there are plenty to choose from the department stores or shopping streets.

Food and spices

Don’t miss out on the best Korean food products. Bring home the famous ramen noodles or better yet, try one of the hottest instant ramen noodles in the world. It’s so popular that they even made a spicy ramen challenge. Other common food products include kimchi, instant coffee that comes in a variety of flavours, snacks, and candies. We also recommend buying some Korean seasoning products to use in case you miss Korean food too much.

The best shopping malls in Seoul

shopping in seoul
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COEX

Heard of COEX? chances are you’ve probably seen it on social media. COEX is home to Starfield Library, one of the most pictured “libraries” in the world. It has a whopping collection of about 50,000 books. But it’s just one of the many shops inside the mall. In fact, COEX is the largest underground shopping mall in Asia. It boasts over 200 stores and 300 brands ranging from retail to tech. The mall offers a great day trip option for friends and family. After all, kids can spend their time at Bricklive while parents can go shopping at COEX. At the same time, you can hang out with your friends at the nearby Gangnam and look for the best eats.

Lotte Mart

Lotte Mart is probably South Korea’s number one shopping mall. There are so many of them across the country, not just in Seoul. And they have everything from groceries, clothing, toys, entertainment, gadgets, and more. Besides, what lures shoppers to Lotte Mart are the discounts, schemes, and various offers. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself leaving Lotte Mart with bags filled with different products. Myeondgong alone has three Lotte malls that are all connected via walkways, including the flagship department store.

Shinsegae

Shinsegae is one of the largest departmental stores in South Korea with several branches spread across the country. Shisegae is a pioneer when it comes to retail shopping as it was one of the first brands to introduce the idea of “shopping centres” in South Korea. Just like Lotte Mart, the flagship store is also in Myeongdong. You’ll find all the international luxury brands in the mall including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and more. Besides shopping, the Mydeong branch also has an incredible food hall in the basement.

shopping in seoul
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Common Ground

If you’re tired of malls, why not head over to Common Ground? Although it’s located in the outer edges of Seoul, the neighbourhood has a very hipster and youthful vibe. It’s evident in its design and concept, being one of the most creative shopping malls in South Korea. The mall is built out of shipping container units and is said to be the biggest of its kind in the world. You can find popular sports brands like Nike and Under Armour inside. There are also plenty of dining options both inside and outdoors such as food trucks.

Times Square Mall

This mall is one of the largest shopping malls in Seoul and has the largest shopping atrium in all of Asia. So, expect a bright and spacious shopping experience. The mall is a mix of retail stores of both local and international brands and various dining options. Times Square also has the largest cinema screen in the world at CGX Starium. It boasts over 2,000 seats and 12 screens spread across five floors. Besides shopping, visitors can also go bowling, try archery, or drop by the indoor animal theme park.

Olive Young

While not necessarily a shopping mall, we’ll include Olive Young here because some of its multi-storey stores are like shopping malls. If you’re into beauty and skincare, you must have heard of Olive Young. It’s a crowd favourite when it comes to all things K-beauty. Whether you’re looking for skincare products, makeup, beauty tools, and supplements, they have it. And at great prices too. Olive Young also often has discounts, sales, and other offers available.

Underground shopping malls

Want to know South Korea’s best-kept secret? Underground shopping malls. Actually, they may not be so much of a secret but because they’re not as obvious as giant shopping malls, tourists may miss out on them. Underground shopping malls are the best places for affordable shopping and there are many of them to choose from. Among the best underground shopping malls in Seoul are the ones in Myeondgong, Namdaemun, Yeongdeungpo, and Goto Mall. You can get everything here from clothing, accessories, posters, CDs, electronics, and of course, food. Most of the shopping malls are also connected to subway stations, making travel even more convenient.

The best shopping streets in Seoul

shopping in seoul
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Myeongdong

When it comes to shopping streets, you can’t leave out Mydeongdong. Although it’s a little more on the pricier side, this tourist shopping hotspot is known for its range of skincare and cosmetic brands. There are more than 1,000 Korean brands available here including popular names such as Etude House and Nature Republic. Beyond its beauty offerings, Myeongdong also has fashion brands available ranging from big brands to smaller fashion boutiques. In fact, the neighbourhood is where the flagship stores of Lotte Mart and Shinegae are located. So, whether you want new additions to your beauty collection or wish to upgrade your wardrobe, this is the place to be.

Gangnam

Who doesn’t know Gangnam? Even if you haven’t been there, you’ve probably heard of it because of the smash hit song, ‘Gangnam Style’. This exclusive neighbourhood is lined with several flagship stores like those of LINE Friends, Kakao Friends, Uniqlo, and Muji. Gangnam-Daero, the section between Gangnam Station and Sinnohyeon Station, is the best place to shop. Both sides of the boulevard are filled with different brand stores so you’ll be able to find something that tickles your fancy. And in case you become hungry after shopping, the area also has plenty of dining options.

shopping in seoul
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Hongdae

Hongdae is a crowd favourite when it comes to affordable yet high-quality shopping in South Korea. This popular tourist and shopping destination is located near Hongik University so the products available here are the latest trends too. The street is bustling with the newest fashion pieces, from clothing to bags and accessories. If you look close enough, you’ll also find hidden thrift shops, mostly located underground, for vintage shopping. The youthful and buzzy atmosphere is alive even at night when street performers flock to the area. We recommend a visit to the Hongdae Art Free Market (from 1 pm to 6 pm only) where you can browse through paintings, accessories, and secondhand goods, and even meet the artists themselves.

Euljiro

Some may dismiss Euljiro as a place where only parents and grandparents may shop. After all, Euljiro is known for its print shops, lighting shops, and metal goods shops. While there’s no denying that, the neighbourhood has also transformed over the years, becoming trendier even among the local crowd for its retro vibe. At Bangsan Market, you’ll find several stores selling DIY supplies to make candles, perfumes, and other little trinkets. And speaking of retro, Euljiro has plenty of vintage stores where you can find all sorts of knick-knacks.

shopping in seoul
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Insadong

Not a fan of luxury and international brands? Insadong is the place for you. Often a pit-stop for tourists after visiting the Gyeongbukgung Palace, this quaint street is the perfect place for local shopping. You’ll be able to spot ancient hanok houses along the cobblestone streets as well. Shop for local souvenirs at independent and boutique shops that sell anything from clothing, accessories, crafts, lacquerware, chopsticks, antique pieces, and handkerchiefs. Insadong is also home to several small galleries exhibiting artworks by local artists. One of our favourite spots is Ssamziegil, which is part shopping space, part cultural space. Sometimes, there are art exhibits and concerts there too in addition to the little shops that sell all kinds of things.

Apgujeong

Think Gangnam is the place for the rich and famous? It’s actually Apgujeong. The upscale neighbourhood is where you’ll find all the luxury boutiques and high-class department stores. So, it’s not surprising it’s where the elite and socialities shop. While Gangnam is also known for its beauty clinics, Apgujeong doesn’t trail behind. So, if you need a beauty treatment, this is the place to be. Plus, Apgujeong is full of Instagram-worthy cafes that deserve a visit. 

Dongdaemun

Dongdaemun is an interesting neighbourhood. On one hand, you have the futuristic-looking Dongdaemun Design Plaza and on the other, the very local food alley, Meokja Golmok. But did you know that Dondaemun is also home to over 25 shopping malls? It’s one of South Korea’s (not only Seoul) largest shopping districts. In total, there are around 20,000 speciality stores comprising about 50,000 brands. And the range is unmatched, from electronics, clothing, furniture, textiles, food, and so much more. Our favourite here is the different handmade shoes at the traditional market. It’s affordable but also high-quality.

seoul shopping
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Traditional markets

Seoul has some of the best traditional markets out there especially if you’re a foodie. If you’ve seen the Netflix show, Street Food Asia, then you might want to drop by Gwangjang Market. Taste all the different Korean dishes from gimbap (rice rolls) to tteokbokki (rice cakes), and the famous kalguksu (noodles) featured in the show. And if you love what you’ve tried, then shop for the food and snacks around the market. If you look around, you’ll also find vintage stores and other items for bargain.

Namdaemun is also another popular market, founded as early as the 1400s. The market is particularly famous for its household items and wholesale products. Other places to visit include Dongdaemun Market for its range of products; Noryanjin Market for seafood; Gyeongsong Market for homemade medicines, herbs, and spices; and Seoul Folk Flea Market for secondhand items including toys and electronics.

(Hero image credit: Sava Bobov/Unsplash; featured image: parlonscoree/Unsplash)

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

-Can I get tax refunds on my purchases in Seoul?

You can receive tax refunds on your purchases. Simply show your purchased products, VAT refund receipt, passport, and international credit card to claim a refund. The purchase receipts must not exceed 5,000,000 South Korean won each during your whole trip.

-Are there size limitations for clothing in Seoul?

Most of the sizes for clothing in South Korea are on the smaller side. 

See Also

-How do I navigate language barriers while shopping in Korea?

You can learn some commonly used Korean phrases when shopping. But most department stores and shops in tourist areas have staff that can speak in English.

-Are there traditional markets in Seoul?

There are traditional markets in Seoul like Dongdaemun Market.

-What are some popular Korean beauty and skincare brands to buy in Korea?

Popular beauty and skincare brands include Etude House, Face Republic, Innisfree, Sulwhasoo, and Laneige.

-Can I use credit cards for shopping in Seoul?

You can use credit cards in most department stores in Seoul.

-Are there duty-free shopping options in Seoul?

There are duty-free shopping options in some department stores in Seoul.

-What is the best time to shop for discounts and sales in Seoul?

The best time to shop for discounts and sales in Seoul is between holidays and seasons. For instance, when you shop during summer, there may be discount items for winter clothing. There may also be discounts and sales during Christmas and New Year.

-Are shops in Seoul open on weekends and holidays?

Most shops in Seoul are open during the weekend and holidays. But some traditional and independent stores may be closed during holidays.



Source: Prestige Online

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