Many people who come to Seoul explore only the shopping hotspots – Myeongdong, Gangnam, and Dongdaemun to name a few of them.
While these places are all great (well, maybe not Gangnam), they are far from the best places to shop. Not only will they charge (sometimes big) premiums, but you will also have to fight with the crowds.
Don’t believe me? On average 1 million shoppers pass through Myeongdong on any single day! However, luckily it’s quite easy to avoid Myeongdong if you know where to shop!
Seoul has many shopping centres, and each of them specialises in different goods. There are a ton of different areas to check out, and in this post, I want to cover some of the best areas for specific types of shopping.
With that being said, let’s get started!
Shopping in Seoul
Seoul is a city with stark contrasts. On one hand you have the hyper-modern areas such as Gangnam and Jamsil, and, on the other side of the spectrum, you have traditional markets. This spectrum also exists for shopping in Seoul.
Seoul has everything that you could want in terms of shopping. If you are looking for the latest brands they are here. But, at the same time, you can also find traditional Korean goods and foods in markets that have stood for decades.
There is a lot to explore when it comes to shopping in Seoul and this article just touches on some of the places you can shop!
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A customer gets some clothes tailored at Namdaemun.
This may seem contrary to what I just said above, but the best locations for clothes shopping in Seoul are Gangnam, Dongdaemun, Jamsil and Ewha Women’s University. However, not just anywhere in Gangnam! Particularly, in the metro station.
Both Gangnam station and Jamsil station have big underground shopping markets which sell thousands of different clothing items and are both competitively priced and good quality. You can find vast amounts of clothing for under 20,000KRW (about $18USD) and there is a LOT of variety.
If you are interested in brand names then Gangnam and Myeongdong are your top picks as they both house some of the most expensive real estate in Seoul – a luxury only the biggest brands can afford. For more information on these underground shopping malls check out this link.
Dongdaemun is the fashion capital of Seoul, and Seoul is widely considered to be the new fashion capital of the world. Hopefully, that speaks for Dongdaemun’s viability as a clothing shopping destination!
Dongdaemun has a multitude of shopping malls and thousands upon thousands of clothing stores within them. Further, twice a year Dongdaemun Fashion Week takes place and you can see all the latest clothing trends.
Finally, Ewha Women’s University (Often called E-dae) is a great spot for women’s clothes. The stores are located right next to a university and therefore have great student prices. You definitely won’t be disappointed! If you are a woman then this is my top recommendation for clothes shopping in Seoul.
If you are looking for the largest variety of clothes though, why not check out the best clothes shopping sites in Korea? While you can’t try the clothes, there is a massive variety and it’s easy to browse from the comfort of your own home (or hotel!).
Changsin is famous for its children’s and stationery market. While it isn’t as popular now as it was in the past, it is still a great spot if you are interested in doing some shopping for children! Thousands of different toys can be found here, both traditional and brands (such as Lego) are showcased side-by-side.
The market is usually 30-40% cheaper than other stores (source) which makes it a tempting proposition for both children and adults alike!
If you are looking for electronics for children (such as consoles and handheld devices), you can also check out Yongsan Electronics Market as it has a whole section for children.
Souvenirs are hard to pinpoint as they are scattered all around the city. However, there are still a few good spots shopping in Seoul for souvenirs. Insadong is a popular place for tourists and as such many souvenir stores have popped up there.
Traditional art, travel mementoes, and lots of other cool goods can be found here. Further, it is located right next to the Bukchon Hanok Village (a traditional village) which makes it perfect for a day trip.
Namdaemun Tour: Insadong, Namdaemun, and palaces
Dongdaemun also has a lot of good souvenir stores located outside of the big malls. These stores are a bit more spread out though, so if you are just wanting souvenirs I wouldn’t recommend coming here. However, if you are already visiting Dongdaemun then it is perfect!
Lastly, Namdaemun Market is also a great spot for souvenir shopping. The market isn’t specifically for souvenirs, but being a tourist hotspot means you will have no trouble finding them. If you are looking to spend a few hours looking around and shopping Namdaemun is great and will keep you interested for sure!
The backstreets of Kwangjang Market. Don’t worry! Only the adventurous will get this deep into the market.
Ah, finally! My favourite part. Electronics shopping is great in Seoul and can primarily be found at Yongsan Market. Yongsan houses nearly any type of electronics you can imagine. Whether you want circuit components, PC components, cameras, mobile phones, lights… Literally anything related to electronics, it will be here.
However, as with any market sometimes bartering is required. Don’t worry though! I wrote a post here about the basics of bartering in Korean markets. Just scroll down to the bottom of the post!
Yongsan is really the undisputed best place for shopping in Seoul in terms of electronics. However, there is one more place worth mention. Namdaemun is once again on this list! If you are interested in cameras specifically then Namdaemun will cover any need you could have.
While Yongsan has cameras, it is usually focused on just Canon and Nikon. Namdaemun on the other hand houses every brand of camera you can think of! The prices at both of these markets are competitive and for second-hand goods, they are both fantastic.
Food and Street Food!
Preparing food at Namdaemun!
Two locations really stood out to me for offering great street food – Kwangjang Market and Namdaemun. Myeongdong is also famous for street food, but the food is overpriced (sometimes extremely so) and is usually not Korean food.
If you not interested in bankruptcy or simply want to experience Korean street food then head to Namdaemun or Kwangjang. Both also offer food markets (for ingredients) and you could easily spend weeks trying all the food at both!
Explore Seoul with a food tour!
If you are interested in seafood then be prepared to add Noryangjin to your bucket list! The market is gigantic and is just for seafood! There are tons of different vendors selling both unprepared and prepared seafood. Here is a far more detailed post I found covering the market.
If seafood isn’t your thing then maybe meat is. How about a meat market? Majangdong has you covered! Majangdong is famous just for meat and that means it does meat well! Once again, both prepared and unprepared meat can be bought here. If you are looking for the best Korean BBQ around then I suggest you visit Majangdong as soon as possible!
Shopping in Seoul FAQ
Where Is the Best Place to Buy Clothes in Seoul?
You can buy all kinds of clothes nearly everywhere in Seoul. However, there are some places that are better than others. If you want brand names, try Gangnam, Myeondong or Hongdae. If you are looking for cheaper clothes (especially for women) check out university areas such as Hongdae, Sungshin Women’s University and Ewha Women’s University.
Where Is the Best Place to Buy Electronics in Seoul?
If you are looking to buy new and don’t care about the price, Seoul has many malls with electronics stores within. If you want something a bit more obscure, or cheaper/secondhand products check out Yongsan Electronics Market. If you want camera gear, check out Namdaemun or the back streets of Myeongdong/Chungmuro.
Where Is the Best Place to Buy Street Food in Seoul?
If you want the widest variety of street food in Seoul then I highly recommend visiting Gwangjang Market. While there are more specialised markets, Gwangjang has a wide range of Korean dishes available.
Where Is the Best Place to Buy Souvenirs in Seoul?
If you are looking for souvenirs, make sure to check out Insadong, Namdaemun and Gwangjang market.