Seoul, the capital city of South Korea, is situated in the northwestern part of the country along the banks of the Han River. The area that Seoul sits on today has been occupied by humans for thousands of years now, as its location allowed for the control of the Korean peninsula giving it a certain strategic significance.
This key city has been the political, cultural, and economic powerhouse of the country and is a great destination for adventurous travelers who want to learn about the Korean traditions and history of the people of Seoul. From museums to free activities like enjoying the view at the Jeongdong Observatory, visitors to Seoul will have a full itinerary.
While you are in Seoul you will be busy making new memories and exploring the local landmarks. If you happen to find a free afternoon in your schedule you should try going shopping in Seoul to buy some souvenirs, clothes, and collectibles from the local stores and malls! If you are planning to buy a lot of things you might want to stow your suitcases safely and out of the way in Seoul.
Shopping Malls and Outlets in Seoul
Common Ground Shopping Mall
Shopping in Seoul is a really unique experience, especially with places like the Common Ground Shopping Mall. This shopping center is fairly new after first opening its doors in 2018, and since then it has become a popular hangout spot for the youth of Seoul. Shopping in this mall will definitely be unforgettable since it is entirely made out of shipping containers that are stacked on top of each other!
Today the mall holds the title of the largest container mall and it is split up into four separate areas. Make sure that you reserve enough time to explore the Street Market, the Market Ground, the Market Hall, and the Terrace Market. All of these areas sell trendsetting Korean fashion, bags, and jewelry in accessory stores, and there are plenty of places to find food and drinks as well.
You will find Goto Mall in the Gangnam shopping street area, although you won't actually be able to see it since it is hidden underneath you! This underground mall is connected to the subway line and is one of the best hidden gems in the area. It is also a great destination for retail therapy! Beginning at Gangnam Station, Goto Mall spans nearly 800 meters and it is made of a whole network of shops that are waiting for you to discover them!
Goto has everything from shoes and fashion accessories to clothing and skincare, and the best part is that most shops sell them at a very affordable price! You can find your favorite items being sold at cheaper prices compared to other retail stores making it the optimal spot for budget shoppers.
Starfield COEX Mall
Another mall located in the Gangnam area of Seoul, South Korea is the Starfield COEX Mall. It is a great place to go shopping in Seoul because there are so many shops to discover and because there are lots of store directories that make it simple to navigate and find your way around. This mall, like the Goto, is also found underground and it is actually the biggest of its kind in all of Asia.
The price range of the stores varies between mid- and high-end, so don't expect too many big deals. However, everything that you can find here will be of good quality! There are 300 brands in the mall selling everything from Korean skincare products to traditional clothing and tech. One of the most impressive parts of the mall is the Starfield Library which has more than 50,000 books! Traveling with the family? The COEX Aquarium is home to over 650 species of marine life creatures.
Designer Stores in Seoul
In all of the shows and movies set in Korea one thing always stands out, and that is the food. The snacks and treats that come from this country always look delicious on screen, and this is your chance to try them all in person! Lotte Mart is the best place to go since it has such a great selection of treats, although that's not all that they sell. It is a popular department store that has clothes, toys, and electronics for sale as well!
From Honey Butter Chips to Peppero sticks, Lotte Mart has all of the signature Korean treats. If you find something that you really love this is a good place to buy it in bulk since there are often sales and promotions going on to encourage wholesale purchases. Lotte Mart has several locations around Seoul and you will probably pass by at least one while you are out and about.
Etude House is an adorable little shop that specializes in Korean beauty products and every other trend that can be seen in Seoul's other cosmetic stores. Treat yourself to cute makeup products like eyebrow pencils, face masks, nail polishes and lip tints.
The store is considered to be mid-ranged but everything is quite affordable, so use this opportunity to stock up on your favorite Korean cosmetic brands to bring back home. This shop is located in Myeongdong and is hard to miss with its catchy pink and white exterior!
Artbox Myeongdong Branch
Another one of the unique concept stores worth visiting in Seoul is Artbox which is also found in Myeongdong. This place has everything for those up and coming artists in your life, with a fantastic stationery section that you can use to create masterpieces worthy of art exhibits.
That's not all; Artbox also sells electronics, toys for kids, items for your home, and other things that you will want to buy. If you haven't found enough souvenirs and gifts in the street markets, boutique stores, or fashion outlets in Seoul then you can definitely find something here.
Around the Corner
If you want to look like a model walking down the runway of Seoul Fashion Week then you will want to shop for the latest Korean trends. Around the Corner is a good shop to visit as it showcases all of the newest designs from global designers as well as promising new artists who are just discovering their potential.
This shop does a great job at providing its customers with trendsetting styles and luxury clothing, although you can find stationary tools and home decor items, too. Pick up some fashion accessories at the same time to complete your outfit.
Similarly to Etude House, the store called Tony Moly sells lots of delightful cosmetic products, some of which are so adorable that you won't even want to use them! And with their great prices, you can afford to buy a couple of things.
Some of the products that you will find lining their shelves include bubbling face masks, hand creams, and lip balms, with the packaging often shaped like loveable animals or fruits. Come pay them a visit during your shopping spree!
The Best Shopping Areas in Seoul
Shopping in Myeongdong will be fun and easy since it definitely earns the title of the most popular shopping district in Seoul. There are several dozen department stores, small boutiques, and full shopping centers in this part of the city alone. Lots of the items are inexpensive here as well! Another highlight of the Myeongdong area is that there are several landmarks so you can go sightseeing at the same time as you shop. Check out the Myeongdong Nanta Theatre and the Myeongdong Catholic Cathedral.
Both local and international names can be found in this part of town with items like clothing, accessories, jewelry, bags, and shoes all being sold at affordable prices. You will also see no shortage of skin care products in the cosmetic stores (many of which will hand out free samples!). The Myeongdong Market is a terrific place to explore as well. The Face Shop, Etude House, and Nature Republic are some of the stores that you will find alongside international brands like H&M or Forever 21. Korean street food stalls line the streets of the neighborhood as well.
If you are familiar with the pop artist PSY then you will probably recognize the name of the Gangnam shopping street. Prepare to find your own "Gangnam Style" as you explore another one of Seoul's top shopping areas which has lots of shopping malls, including some that we've mentioned above, as well as independent boutiques and flagship stores. There is even a "Gangnam Style" sculpture that plays the hit song, and is a fun place to grab a photo wearing your new Korean fashion!
Some of the most popular stores that you will see include KAKAO FRIENDS, Muji, SPAO, Kimmy J, and LINE FRIENDS. This exclusive neighborhood is usually busy with tourists and locals who are going on a shopping spree, but if you ever need a break from stores you can head into one of the nightclubs and bars lining the street.
The district of Hongdae is a shopping hub located near Hongik University, so many of those students can be seen navigating the area. The whole area has a fun and lively atmosphere that will make you feel youthful, and the styles sold are more indie-styled than in other parts of the city. The people of Hongdae like to express themselves and their style freely, so it is a great place to scout out new styles as well as buy them.
One of the main attractions of this neighborhood is the Hongdae Free Market which happens on Saturday afternoons between the months of March and November. This flea market sells things that can be seen in second hand thrift shops or art galleries like handmade clothes, traditional souvenirs, and handicrafts. Local artists and musicians sometimes put on live performances as well!
Itaewon, also known as Seoul's special tourism district, is a hip and trendy neighborhood where most foreigners shop, so you will mostly see tourists browsing the stalls. You won't get the authentic feel that you might be hoping to find when visiting Korea, but it is an ideal spot for shopping nonetheless.
In Itaewon, you will find about 100 stores with every kind of item that you can think of, from Korean cosmetics to electronics, and arts and crafts to clothes. There is even a dedicated furniture street where you can find cool antiques! You can eat here as well, and although you won't find any Korean gourmet food stalls you will see international restaurants serving cuisine from nearly anywhere around the world.
Namdaemun Market stands as the biggest traditional market in the city and it has been a go-to hangout spot and shopping area since way back in the sixties. Although you won't find super expensive items or the newest fashions there are lots of opportunities to find casual clothing and accessories, and you will get to experience a bit of the culture of the city.
The thrift stores in the market sell all sorts of vintage toys, old furniture, accessories, and some nice vintage apparel as well. There is no dedicated food court area but you will find lots of stalls selling traditional Korean dishes and snacks!
Enjoy Shopping in Seoul, South Korea
When you are shopping in Seoul there are some things to keep in mind. First of all, the sizes for clothes in Korea tend to be smaller than in Western cities, so remember this when you are trying to find your size! As well, some stores do not let you try on clothes, especially if you are wearing lots of makeup since they want to keep them clean. Try your best to learn your size by looking since it will make the whole process easier.
It is also important to note that, although lots of the items found in stores are cheap, the price reflects their quality. There are still so many great places to go shopping in this city with a wide variety of price ranges, and it can be a really cool experience once you get used to how things are done. Get your credit card ready and start exploring these shops and traditional markets in Seoul!