Many people who come to Seoul explore only the shopping hotspots – Myeongdong, Gangnam, and Dongdaemun. 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 in any single day! Shopping in Seoul doesn’t have to be painful though. Here is my list of the best places in Seoul to 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, the 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!