GuideKoreaShoppingSouth Korea

Seoul Shopping Guide: Where to Go and What to Buy for all Budgets

Where to Shop in Seoul Guide (image via @fdabear, Instagram)

Seoul is a shopping mecca. Markets, malls and boutiques line the streets of this city. In fact, it can get downright confusing when it comes down to where to shop in Seoul, especially if you only have a few days. And even if you find a few shops to browse in, how can you tell if these spots will have what you’re shopping for or if it’s within your budget?

We’ve put together this handy and comprehensive guide to shopping in Seoul. Scroll down to see where to shop in Seoul, what to shop for and what stores or malls to hit up, depending on how much you’re looking to spend. Whether you’re in a splurging or saving mood, we’ve got the store for you.

Guide to Where to Shop in Seoul:

Skincare and Cosmetics

Where to Go: Myeongdong

Shopping in Seoul: Myeongdong (image via Doug Sun Beams, flickr)

Myeongdong is one of the major shopping districts in Seoul. We suggest shopping here for Korean skincare and cosmetics but clothing, home goods, and snacks can be found here, as well. The area also contains restaurants serving up traditional Korean fare, so no need to worry about getting hungry while you shop. Two main shopping streets, one coming from Myeongdong Subway Station and the other from Lotte Department Store at Euljiro, intersect. Once a local haunt, it’s now turned into a popular tourist shopping spot. The area is densely packed with both wholesale and retail stores.   

How to Get There:

It’s easy to make your way here from the subway. Head to Myeongdong Subway Station (Exit 6) from Line 4 and walk for about 5 minutes.

Budget Shopper Option: A’Pieu

Budget Shopper Option: A’Pieu (image via @apieu_cosmetics, Instagram)

Find quality makeup and skincare at A’Pieu on a shoestring budget. Pick up eyeshadows for under US$4.00, foundations for under US$12.00 or even a cleanser for about US$3.00! At prices like this, it will take a heck of a lot of self control to limit yourself to just a few items.

Must-Buy Item: A’Pieu Water Light Tint, US$6.00 

One of A’Pieu’s most popular products, this lightweight lip tint provides a punch of color without the heavy lipstick look.

Address: South Korea, Seoul, Jung-gu, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, 50-20-ga、

Mid-Range Shopper Option: Etude House

Mid-Range Shopper Option: Etude House
Mid-Range Shopper Option: Etude House (image via @etudehouseofficial, Instagram

With its pink and white exterior fit for a princess, Etude House is a haven for all things cutesy. Fill your basket with lip tints, nail polishes and face masks in adorable packaging. Their offerings are made with the Korean beauty trends in mind so be prepared to stock up on lip and cheek tints, eyebrow pencils, and BB creams. Most makeup products will run you about US$10.00 – $15.00 and skincare from US$20.00 – $45.00.

Must-Buy Item: Tint My Brows Gel, US$11.00

Looking to get your brows on point? Apply this tint to your brows, let it sit for a few hours and peel off to reveal darker, filled in brows.

Address: 24-1, Myeongdong 8na-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul

Mid-Range Shopper Option: Tony Moly

Mid-Range Shopper Option: Tony Moly
Mid-Range Shopper Option: Tony Moly (image via Maxim Tsaregorodtsev, flickr)

Tony Moly products are so. darn. cute. n fact, that you’ll want buy them just to display them on your shelves. A bubbling face mask in an octopus package for US$9.00? Yes, please! Peruse their lip balms and hand creams and pick up way-too-adorable items in the shape of fruits and bunnies.

Must-Buy Item: Tony Moly Perfect Lips Shocking Lip, US$11.00

This bright, pigmented lip stain will turn heads.

Address: 66-23 Chungmuro 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Mid-Range to Expensive Shopper Option: Olive Young

Mid-Range to Expensive Shopper Option: Olive Young
Mid-Range to Expensive Shopper Option: Olive Young (image via @an_ssohing, Instagram)

Olive Young is a Korean drugstore so you’ll be able to find one no matter where you are in Seoul, but with its extensive beauty selection, it’s still worth dropping by while in Myeongdong. Grab budget beauty products from Korean cult-fave brands like Peripera, 3CE, and Clio or get your hands on higher-end brands like Dr.Jart, DHC, gm+, or La Roche Posay. Browse their amazing face mask section and stock up on cheap n’ cheerful sheet masks to bring home for yourself or friends.

Must-Buy Item: Isoi Bulgarian Rose Blemish Care Serum Plus, US$37.00

As the winner of Editor’s Choice at the Global Beauty Awards, Isoi Blemish Care Serum aims to improve uneven skin tone and provide 24-hr hydration for your skin.

Address: 53 Myeongdong-gil, Myeongdong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Clothing and Accessories

Where to Go: Ewha Womans University Shopping Street

Shopping in Seoul: Ewha Womans University Shopping Street
Shopping in Seoul: Ewha Womans University Shopping Street

Go on a ‘shop crawl’ along Ewha Womans University Shopping Street. It’s the destination for shoes, accessories and even beauty supplies for women. In addition to shopping, you can also treat yourself to a Korean makeover at one of the many salons. There is the ‘Main Shopping Street’ and the ‘Casual Clothes and Shoes Shopping Street’. For bargains, be sure to head to the ‘Casual Clothes and Shoes Shopping Street’.

How to Get Here:

Take the Line 2 Green subway to Ewha Women’s University Station (Exit 2) and start exploring!

Budget Shopper Option: Casual Clothes and Shoes Shopping Street

Budget Shopper Option: Casual Clothes and Shoes Shopping Street
Budget Shopper Option: Casual Clothes and Shoes Shopping Street (image via @peggy.eyes, Instagram)

Walk up and down this street and spot an abundance of inexpensive clothing and accessory stores for women. Small boutiques selling streetwear line the street. You may not find major brand names here but you will find unique, Korean street style at a price your wallet will like. Expect to pay anywhere from US$5.00 to $15.00 for a piece.

Budget Shopper Option: Ewha Womans University Station, Underground Shopping

Don’t forget about the underground mall in the station! Just like the street, you can score a bargain while browsing the stalls and shops in the mall.

Where to Go: Hongdae

Shopping in Seoul: Hongdae
Shopping in Seoul: Hongdae (image via ~kyu, flickr)

Hongdae is also known as the ‘Harajuku’ of Seoul; home to Hongik University, the area is populated by students so head to this shopping area if you’re after edgy, indie fashion. After you shop ‘til you drop, hang around to hit up a nearby bar for a live performance or grab a drink.

How to Get Here:

From Hongik University Station (Line 2, Exit 9), turn left and walk for 5 – 10 mins towards Hongik University. Turn right towards Hongik Children’s Park.

Budget to Mid-Range Shopper Option: Hongdae Shopping Street

Budget to Mid-Range Shopper Option: Hongdae Shopping Street
Budget to Mid-Range Shopper Option: Hongdae Shopping Street (image via Michael-kay Park, flickr

Similar to the Ewha Womans University Shopping Street, this area is full of small shops, however the style tends to be more youthful and eclectic. Pro-Tip: Stores will feature their best sales at the storefront. Inside, be prepared for steeper prices, though you may be able to haggle down the price. Be sure to check out the Mapogu Kiosk area for  handmade items or small trinkets like keychains.

Budget to Mid-Range Shopper Option: Hongdae Free Market

Budget to Mid-Range Shopper Option: Hongdae Free Market
Budget to Mid-Range Shopper Option: Hongdae Free Market (image via @inspiremekorea, Instagram)

Pick up handmade, crafty items at the Hongdae Free Market. Shop from local artisans for souvenirs you can’t find anywhere else. Items start at around US$5.00, and of course, the products will range greatly from seller to seller.

Address: 19-3, Wausan-ro 21-gil, Mapo-gu, Seoul

Hours: 1:00pm – 6:00pm (Saturdays from March to November)

Food and Snacks

Shopping in Seoul: Korean Snacks
Shopping in Seoul: Korean Snacks (image via Walter Lim, flickr)

Delicious snacks to bring home can be found throughout Seoul. Your best bet is to make your way to grocery stores, drugstores or major chains to take advantage of their massive selection of Korean snacks. And believe us- Koreans know their snacks. Whether you’re on the hunt for crazy, unique chip flavors or looking to score decadent snack cakes, stop at one of these locations and pick up some goodies to bring back home.

Where to Go: Lotte Mart

Shopping in Seoul: Lotte Mart
Shopping in Seoul: Lotte Mart (image via watchsmart, flickr)

Lotte Marts can be  found everywhere in Seoul so chances are, you’ll run into one on your travels. This mega department store chain sells everything from clothing to toys and electronics so even if you aren’t feeling hungry, it’s worth a look to grab souvenirs for friends back home. Lotte Mart also offers tax-free shopping for those who like a bargain!

Must-Buy Snacks at Lotte Mart:

Samyang Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen (i.e. Fire Noodles)

Samyang Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen (i.e. Fire Noodles)
Samyang Hot Chicken Flavor Ramen (i.e. Fire Noodles) (image via @pattzbop, Instagram

Take on the ‘fire noodle challenge’! Pick up a few packs of this extremely spicy instant ramen and see which of your friends can stand the heat.

MarketO Real Brownies

MarketO Real Brownies
MarketO Real Brownies (image via @eulogia.idn, Instagram)

Indulge in delicious, chewy and chocolatey brownies, premade and ready for you to enjoy! MarketO also makes matcha brownies, cheesy chips and salty-sweet crackers that are worth your won.

Seaweed, seaweed and more seaweed

Any good Lotte Market should have an entire section dedicated to all different types of seaweed and various flavors too.

Chocopie

Chocopie
Chocopie (image via @newkoreansnack, Instagram)

When in Seoul, you’ve got to try Chocopie. Cookie, marshmallow, chocolate, creamy filling…. Are you drooling yet? Take home a box (or two, or three) of the original chocolate or sample limited edition or special varieties like banana or calamansi!

Where to Go: Convenience Stores (e.g. 7-Eleven, GS25)

Convenience stores will have everything from soju to get your buzz on to salty fish snacks to soak it up late at night (yup, dried squid, yummmm). Go on a shopping spree at a 7-Eleven and feast all night on Korean snacks.

Must-Buy Snacks at Convenience Stores:

Flavored Almonds

Flavored Almonds
Flavored Almonds (image via @asercystory, Instagram)

Anything from honey butter almonds to wasabi to yogurt flavored almonds are available at convenience stores in Seoul. Be sure to stock up, these nuts make great on-the-go treats while you’re sightseeing.  

Butter Caramel Pringles

Butter Caramel Pringles
Butter Caramel Pringles (image via @courtneyinjapan, Instagram)

Ditch your boring old sour cream and onion flavor and delight in these sweet Pringles for something a little different!

Banana Milk

Banana Milk
Banana Milk (image via Republic of Korea, flickr)

Those with a sweet tooth will appreciate this tasty flavored milk paired with Butter Caramel Pringles. If you’re not a fan of banana, try the strawberry milk instead.

Souvenirs

A good souvenir needs to meet two criteria: it needs to be affordable (for the gifter) and not end up in a junk drawer (for the giftee). When in Seoul, hitting up street markets, Lotte Mart and the underground mall for inexpensive and cute souvenirs is your best bet. In fact, you’ll probably find a ton of goodies as you walk down the street, so here are a few of our suggested souvenirs to pick up, at every budget.

Budget Shopper Option: Socks

Budget Shopper Option: Socks
Budget Shopper Option: Socks (image via Chelsea Marie Hicks, flickr)

You’ll find inexpensive but high quality socks throughout Seoul. Check out the stalls and rummage through to find super cute and colorful designs. Socks are usually around US$1.00 a pair in Korea so fill up a bag and gift to friends and family back home.  

Budget to Mid-Range Shopper Option: Soju

Budget to Mid-Range Shopper Option: Soju
Budget to Mid-Range Shopper Option: Soju (image via @from_dayomi, Instagram)

Soju can be found at any convenience store and can be purchased on the cheap or as a splurge item. Plus, since it’s so easily found, you can stuff a few bottles in your luggage if you forget to grab souvenirs for anyone on your list!

Budget Shopper Option: Stationary

Budget Shopper Option: Stationary
Budget Shopper Option: Stationary from Artbox (image via @__life_is__, Instagram)

Adorable sticky notes, fun pens, decorative papers and stickers galore can be found throughout multiple stores in Seoul. I mean, who doesn’t want to write their to-do lists on sticky notes shaped like polar bears and baby ducks?

Must-Shop Location: Artbox Myeongdong Branch features homegoods, toys and electronics and a stationary section to rival the best of them.

Address: 36 Myeongdong 10-gil, Myeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Mid-Range Shopper Option: Handicrafts and Ceramics

Mid-Range Shopper Option: Handicrafts and Ceramics
Mid-Range Shopper Option: Handicrafts and Ceramics (image via oshokim, flickr)

Folk crafts, pottery and paintings make an excellent souvenir for loved ones at home, or even for yourself. Bring home stunning works of art to decorate your home so you can remember your vacation for years to come.

Must-Shop Location: Make your way over to Insadong neighborhood for traditional and handmade Korean goods at a decent price. The area was once known to be home for painters and it retains its artistic center to this day.

Traditional Markets

Shopping in Seoul: Traditional Markets
Shopping in Seoul: Traditional Markets (image via Francisco Anozola, flickr)

Shopping in Seoul is not complete with a trip to the markets. Stroll through the busy laneways and find anything from amazing clothing finds, purses, and shoes. Of course, you need to keep up your energy so be sure to grab a bite at a food stall along the way. Purchase fabrics, home goods and traditional goodies at the market as well.

Dongdaemun Market

Shopping in Seoul: Dongdaemun Market
Shopping in Seoul: Dongdaemun Market (image via Feline DaCat, flickr)

Dongdaemun Market started as a traditional market in the early 1900s and has since become a mecca for all things fashion. Head over at all hours to shop for clothing and accessories. Walk through massive modern malls and wander through the numerous wholesale and clothing stalls surrounding the area.

Namdaemun Market

Shopping in Seoul: Namdaemun Market
Shopping in Seoul: Namdaemun Market (image via Caroline et Louis Volant, flickr)

Namdaemun Market is steeped in history, it’s one of the oldest remaining wooden structures in Seoul. Once upon a time, Namdaemun Market sold veggies and meats but it now sells homegoods and textiles as well as imported goods. If you’re looking to score a bargain, shop here.

Make your friends, family and your wallet happy by following our Seoul shopping guide  for every budget.

Not done shopping for articles on Seoul?

Check out 7 Delicious Street Foods in Seoul Under 5,000 Won or learn about South Korea’s rail bikes.

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