Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping. — Bo Derek
Where to Shop/Sightsee in Seoul?
- Goto Mall (Express Bus Terminal Station)
Goto Mall (Gangnam Terminal Underground Shopping Centre) is an 800m long underground shopping alley of clothes, accessories and cosmetics. Many subway stations are connected to such underground malls, and Goto Mall is one of the biggest in Seoul.
It is more popular among locals, as compared to Dongdaemun which is more touristy. For the same products sold, the prices at Goto Mall are slightly cheaper (trust me, I compared several items). You should make Goto Mall as your first shopping stop before checking out the others!
- Garosu-gil (Sinsa Station, Exit 8)
Garosu-gil in Gangnam is easily my favouritest area in Seoul.
Catering to high-end fashionistas, you can witness ‘Gangnam Style’ at its best — chic art galleries, lifestyle boutiques, elegant ateliers, quaint cafes, ETC.
There are plenty of gems waiting to be discovered at Garosu-gil.
Be it cafe-hopping or window shopping or simply people watching, the entire place radiates charm like no other.
- Dongdaemun (Dongdaemun Stadium Station, Exit 8/9)
You can literally shop till you drop at Dongdaemun. Well, the sky’s the limit when you’re at a shopping district that closes only at 5am. Both wholesale and retail goods can be found at the 26 malls and 30,000 shops in Dongdaemun.
The must-visit malls are HELLO APM, Migliore, Doota Tower and Good Morning City. Countless street stalls surround these malls, hawking accessories, clothes, shoes, and yummy food.
- Myeongdong (Myeongdong Station, Exit 5/6/7/8 or Euljiro 1 (ij-ga) Station, Exit 5/6)
Myeongdong is by far the largest and most touristy shopping spot in Korea. It is the TO-GO place for skincare and cosmetic brands, as well as a great place to shop for clothes and fashion items in general.
Every skincare and cosmetic brand in Korea (e.g., Nature Republic, Innisfree, Too Cool For School, etc) has at least one store in Myeongdong. There could be as many as twenty makeup stores in a single block. And the best thing yet — most of these stores offer an immediate tax refund (PS: remember to bring along your passport when shopping!).
There’s also the oh-so-famous Lotte Department store, which has several floors of duty free shopping where you can shop hands free (buy and pick up at the airport). And don’t forget to check out Lotte Mart — Korea’s top discount store which sells everyday essentials, clothes, and lots of SNACKS!
- Ewha Woman’s University Shopping Street (Ewha Woman’s University Station, Exit 2/3)
Ewha Woman’s University Shopping Street caters mainly to the young and trendy students in the university area. It is a shopping heaven that sells everything under the sun — clothes, shoes, cosmetics and cute accessories like necklaces, socks and rings.
There are many discounts going on and you can find all the popular brands that local Koreans love. This also means that prices at Ewha are cheaper compared to other touristy areas (similar to Goto Mall’s prices).
- Hongik University Street, Hongdae (Hongik University Station, Exit 8/9)
Being a college town like Ewha Woman’s University Shopping Street, you can also get good bargains at Hongdae. There are some international retail brands at Hongdae, but most of the shops are run by local retailers/designers.
Many of the shops were initially from Myeongdong but have now moved to Hongdae because of the underground culture and vibrant atmosphere. Do check out the Hongdae playground when you take a break from shopping – Hongik university students gather here for crazy street performances and festivals! Super happening!!
- Insadong (Anguk Station, Exit 6)
If you’re looking for items unique to Korea, I’d totally recommend Insadong. It is a great place to pick up a souvenir as well as shop at local specialty boutiques and gift stores.
Through the streets of Insadong, you can find local antiques, traditional artwork (including paintings), tons of galleries, and so on. Have loads of fun shopping!!
- Before your trip to Seoul, check out the Korea Tourism Organisation’s website for the various sale seasons. You can find the participating outlets and sale periods there.
- If you spend above a certain amount, you’re qualified for a tax refund. (Fun fact: Korean taxes can be as high as 10% of the total price.)
You can deposit your shopping loot in the many coin lockers found around Seoul’s train stations. They are really easy to use and super convenient! With them, you can explore a place freely without having to lug all your shopping goods from a previous stop.
Do check out my list on best places to eat in Seoul here.
As well as day trips out of Seoul and Hanbok rental here!