Here is a list of the best shopping areas in Seoul.
These places offer cheaper prices and wide variety of styles.
If you have limited time, I recommend that you go to the first 2 on my list – Express Bus Terminal Underground Shopping and Myeongdong.
Also, you should download the free Subway Korea App to move around in Korea. See more in my previous post: Tips for travelling in Korea | Trails and Destinations
1. Express Bus Terminal Underground Shopping
Want to shop for cheap clothes, shoes and accessories? Look no further! Express Bus Terminal Underground Shopping is THE BEST!! It is hundreds of small shops there filled with tonnes of clothes, shoes and accessories. You can also find the major cosmetics and skin care brands there, such as Innisfree, Aritaum and Nature Republic.
There are 4 rows of shops, labelled A, B, C, D. There is a rest area in the middle to rest your tired legs haha 😀 And there is free wifi at several spots including the rest area 😀
This underground shopping area is frequented by the locals too. Expect to spend a few hours there!
Most of the clothes, shoes and accessories cater to females. Only a few shops (less than 5) cater to males.
TIP 1: To avoid the crowds, you may want to avoid the weekends.
TIP 2: Many shops sell the same item. So when you see an item you like, take down the shop number and the price of the item. You can then compare prices and save money!
To get there: Express Bus Terminal station (Line 3,7 & 9). Walk towards exit 8.
Myeongdong is home to MANY cosmetics and skincare brands in Seoul!
You can find brands such as Innisfree, Laneige, Etude House, Face Shop, Aritaum, Banila & Co., Nature Republic, Too Cool For School, VDL, etc.. Myeongdong is your one-stop destination for all your skincare and makeup needs!
There are several branches of each shop there so if there is no stock for the item you want, head over to the next one nearby! There is also a Lotte Department store at Euljiro-1-ga station.
There are many international brands at Myeongdong too – Zara, Forever 21, H&M, Mango etc. Forever 21 in Seoul is awesome because they often have sales! They will first start with the discounted price, then after a few days or a week, there will be additional discount on the sale item!! :O It used to be 50% off the sale price but I heard that it is now 30% off the sale price (as of May 2015). If you don’t see signs telling you that there is additional discount off the sale price, wait a few days! 🙂
Other popular shops in Myeongdong are ARTBOX (a stationery store), 8 seconds (my favourite clothing shop in Myeongdong), ALAND (a clothes and accessories store), and Brand Market (this store is underground as pictured below).
There are also many individual small shops selling clothes and accessories. Moreover, in the afternoon after 4pm, the street stalls at Myeongdong come out till late! You can buy clothes, hats, accessories, socks (only 1,000 won per pair!!) and street food from these street stalls.
AND there is underground shopping at Myeongdong station and Euljiro-1-ga station! You can shop there even before stepping out of the station!!! Many people like to go to Myeongdong station to buy KPOP CDs. It is much cheaper to buy CDs from here than other shops in Seoul. The CD shop is located at Myeongdong station, at the underground shopping area BEFORE you leave the station through exits 5 or 6.
Also, you can do tax refund at Myeongdong. Just ask the cashier for tax refund and she will give you an envelope with your receipt and directions to the tax refund counters in Myeongdong.
There is just so much shopping to do at Myeongdong and I highly recommend that you go there!! 😀 Expect to spend at least half a day there!
Also, read about restaurants in Myeongdong in my previous post: Food in Seoul: Myeongdong | Trails and Destinations
If you get lost in Myeongdong, just approach the staff in red vests and hats, marked with an ‘ⓘ’ information logo and they will help you in the language you are comfortable in (English, Mandarin, Japanese).
To get there: Myeongdong station (Line 4) exit 5 or 6; or Euljiro-1-ga station (Line 2) exit 5 or 6 too.
The shopping area is between these 2 stations.
3. Ewha Women’s University
Shops located outside Ewha Women’s University sell very cheap clothes and shoes since it is a college area. Most shops cater to females.
There are also lots of street food there. Do check out the Cup Chicken and Fish Cake (Odeng) street stalls on the left. You should see them after coming out of exit 2.
Also, try the oven baked hoddeok there! It is different from the usual fried hoddeok. This oven baked hoddeok is crispy, airy and sweet. You’ll love it! This street stall is on the left of Ewha Women’s University, on the same street as the shoe shop called “I Love Flat”. This small shoe shop sells reasonably priced shoes that are super comfortable, due to the thick cushion in the shoes/sandals.
To get there: Ewha Women’s University Station (Line 2), exits 2 or 3.
Walk towards Ewha Women’s University and the shops are mostly on the left side. Do turn into the alleys on the left side for more shops!
Hongdae is home to many cafes, shops and flea markets.
The flea markets are only open on Saturdays and Sundays, and sell hand-made accessories and crafts there.
The shops at Hongdae are more expensive than those at Ewha Women’s University and Express Bus Terminal. However, there are some unique items that are only found in Hongdae.
To get there: Hongik University (Line 2, & AREX – Airport Express Line), exit 9
Visit Insadong for souvenir shopping! There are many shops selling similar items so prices are competitive. Also, there are 2 bag shops at Insadong selling bags for 10,000 won only!
There is a mall at Insadong called Ssamzigil (쌈지길). It is pretty popular and there are many shops selling crafts and accessories there. The mall’s architecture is pretty unique as the floors are sloped so you don’t have to climb the stairs to go up or down each floor.
While you are at Insadong, you may want to try on a hanbok (Korean traditional dress) at the Visitors Center.
To get to the Visitors Center, go to the small lane opposite Ssamziegil mall and walk all the way in. You will be given about 20mins to try on as many hanboks as you want and take pictures. It costs 3,000 won per person.
To get to Insadong: Anguk Station exit 6
Samcheongdong is a street near Gyeongbokgung that is filled with shops selling accessories, cafes and restaurants.
To get there: Anguk Station, Exit 1. Turn right and walk straight till you see this brick wall on your right (pictured below). Follow the brick wall and you will reach Samcheongdong.
7. Jamsil Underground Shopping
Jamsil subway station also has an underground shopping area! There are again many shops selling cheap clothes, bags and shoes but it is definitely a lot smaller than Express Bus Terminal Underground Shopping area, but still worth visiting. It is located near exit 7 of Jamsil station.
At Jamsil station, you can also find Lotte World, Lotte Department Store, and Lotte Mart. You can go to Lotte Mart to stock up on all your favourite Korean snacks! 😛 The area near Lotte Mart also has lots of food and also cheap and pretty shoe shops called “I Love Flat” (mentioned above in Ewha too) and “Spur”.
To get there: Jamsil Station (Line 2), exit 7 for underground shopping, exit 4 for Lotte Mart.
8. Gangnam Underground Shopping
Gangnam is known as an expensive area in Seoul, but it also has cheap underground shopping at Gangnam subway station!
This area is smaller than Express Bus Terminal though, but still worth going to if you are visiting restaurants in Gangnam. (There are several famous restaurants in Gangnam that you may want to check out! e.g. Butterfinger Pancakes & MIES Container. Will do a post on this soon)
To get there: Gangnam Station (Line 2) That’s all for now! Enjoy shopping in Seoul! 😀