Shopping in Seoul is a highlight of any trip to the Korean capital. This bustling city is home to dozens of different markets and neighborhoods, each of which has its own personality.
There are specific Seoul markets dedicated to handicrafts, wholesale fabrics, street food eats, and vintage or-second hand clothing. If you are looking to shop K-beauty and skincare products, there are streets where every other store is a cosmetic shop.
Meanwhile, if you are hoping to get involved with the latest Korean fashion trends or cute Hallyu outfits, there are places for that too. In short, shopping in Seoul offers something for everyone.
You just have to know where to look. Myeongdong is essentially Seoul’s answer to the high street and is arguably the most famous shopping area in the country.
However, depending on what you are looking for, there are a lot of much better, more unique, and more local, places to shop too.
Shopping in Seoul
The best districts for shopping in Seoul during your Seoul itinerary are detailed below. Each area is very different.
For instance, some, like Sinsa-Dong, Gangnam, Apgujeong, and Cheongnam-Dong are more high-end than high street. They are home to the flagship stores of various international and Korean designers.
Others, like Ehwa, Itaewon, and Hongdae, are known for their affordable trendy student fashion.
Best places for shopping in Seoul at a glance
- Dongdaemun – 24/7 shopping for wholesale fabrics and independent Korean designer stores
- Myeongdong – for cosmetics, high street stores and Seoul beauty treatments
- Insadong – best for handicrafts, hanbok purchases, tea sets and souvenir masks
- Gwangjang market – best for street food, snacks and condiments
- Ansan multicultural street – best for international foodstuffs
- Hongdae – cute, affordable student fashion
- Ehwa womens university – best for womens clothes, shoes and accessories
- Namdaemun market – market selling everything from stationery and arts, to accessories and furniture
- Garasugil – high end international and Korean designer stores
- Cheongdam-dong and Sinsa-dong – exclusive districts filled with chic, upscale boutiques
- Apgujeong and Gangnam – best places for shopping for designer fashions in seoul
- Bling night flea market – live music and second hand books, clothing and accessories
- Lotte mart – Great place to pick up Korean snacks and edible gifts
- Noryangjin fisheries market – wholesale fish market, great place to try fresh local seafood
- Itaewon antique furniture street – best place to shop for one-of-a-kind tables, lamps, rugs, ornaments, and ther homeware
- Common Ground shopping mall – low cost mall selling the latest fashion trends
The tree-lined boulevards at Garosugil are every bit as elegant and sophisticated as the shops that are on them. Garosugil has developed rapidly in recent years into a district at the forefront of Korean fashion.
Perfectly dressed and preened locals sip cappuccinos beneath the cabanas of coffee shops here. Most people that frequent this district look as though they have just stepped right out of a fashion magazine.
Garosugil is not the place for budget shopping in Seoul. However, it is the place for locating high-quality apparel.
The beauty of shopping in Garosugil is that it is home to the boutique stores of many up-and-coming local Korean designers. This makes Garosugil the perfect spot to pick up a one-of-a-kind fashion piece that no one else will have.
Garosugil may well be home to the Korean flagship stores of international designers and brand labels. However, the highlight of this neighbourhood is the vintage stores and the quirky boutiques.
Metro Station: Sinsa Station (Subway line 3)
Related Article: Solo Female Travel in Seoul
Bling Night Flea Market
Bling Night flea market is not exactly a flea market in the traditional sense. As a matter of fact, it offers one of the trendiest shopping in Seoul experiences.
Hosted by hip Bling Magazine, this pop-up market is usually hosted on the last Saturday of each month. It pops up in different locations around Seoul each time.
Expect live musical performances and sizzling street food stands as you navigate your way around the stalls. You will find everything from second-hand items and crafts, to independent clothing designers.
Metro Station: Venue changes each time. Check Bling Magazine’s Facebook page for details here.
Apgujeong Rodeo sits between the neighbourhoods of Apgujeong and Cheongdamdong. This was historically always the place to see and be seen in Seoul.
Many elegant coffee shops and excellent Seoul restaurants are scattered throughout Apgujeong Rodeo. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a girly day out featuring brunch, retail therapy, and evening cocktails.
These days, the Seoul glitterati now flock to Sinsa. However, Apgujeong Rodeo still has plenty to offer. The stores here are trendy, youthful, and relatively affordable considering the high quality of the products.
Visitors to Apgujeong Rodeo should also be sure not to miss a walk down Cheongdam-dong Fashion Street. This is the self-proclaimed “Champs Elysees of Korea” .
Cheongdam-dong Fashion Street is worth a look, even if your experience here will be restricted to window shopping. Here you can marvel at the window displays of the most renowned luxury brands in the world.
Stores here include Cartier, Prada, and Louis Vuitton. People-watching is all part of the fun.
Metro Station: Cheongdam Station (Subway line 7)
Korean food and snacks are a highlight of travelling to Korea. Perhaps you want to pack some weird and wonderful snacks in your suitcase to take home with you.
Alternatively, maybe your Korean vacation has left you feeling that you cannot imagine your life without gochujang chili paste. If so, you need to go to Lotte Mart.
Lotte Mart is one of Korea’s best discount stores. The store sells every item imaginable. But most people stop by for the snacks.
Treats like Honey Butter Chips and Peppero sticks can be found in abundance at Lotte Mart. There are branches scattered all over the city.
You don’t have to set out specifically to find one, as you will probably pass a handful of them while shopping in Seoul. Just be sure to leave space in your suitcase for snacks!
Myeongdong is arguably the most touristic of Seoul’s shopping neighbourhoods. However, it is the place that you want to head to if you plan on purchasing any Korean cosmetics and skincare products .
Cosmetic stores are situated every few paces in Myeongdong. Even stores of the same brand are repeated every few paces!
Don’t miss the local favourites Etude House, Nature Republic, or Innis Free. The latter sells natural skincare products and cosmetics from Jeju island.
You will notice that there are a lot of deals on products here. For instance buy one get one free on cleansers, or 10 face masks for $10.
Shopping in Myeongdong
Many of the Korean cosmetic stores in Myeongdong have staff standing out front to hand out free samples on the streets in order to lure you inside. You are not obligated to buy anything.
However, you can definitely stack up quite a nice selection of Myeongdong beauty freebies by the end of the day! It is also important to note that all shops in Myeongdong are tax-free.
The shop assistants will hand you a form to fill out regarding your purchases. You can then complete your tax return at Incheon airport.
When your credit card and your feet have taken a beating, be sure to sample some of the weird and wonderful Korean street food delicacies available along the streets of Myeongdong. Torpedo potatoes and 32cm high ice cream cones are among Myeongdong’s specialties.
Metro Station: Myeong-dong Station (Subway line 4)
Gwangjang Vintage Flea Market
Gwangjang vintage flea market is a wonderful place to visit. This is especially the case if you love a bargain and a unique find when you are shopping.
Most of the clothes here are not Korean but come in from the UK, the USA, Australia, and other random parts of the world. However, this could be good news if you cannot find clothes that fit you in Korean sizes.
Gwangjang market dates all the way back to 1905. It is one of the oldest markets in Seoul and is worth exploring for the experience alone. That is regardless of whether you are interested in vintage apparel or not.
Approximately 65,000 people visit this market every day! They come to stop by for dinner, grab a quick street food snack, or shop in one of the 5,000 stores in this covered marketplace.
Gwangjang food market
Gwangjang is particularly famous for its Gwangjang food market. Some of the most adventurous street food eats can be found here.
Some of the vendors have received international acclaim and now see queues of patrons waiting to be served, after being featured on Netflix’s street food documentary. Pull up a stool beneath a pojangmacha tent and sit elbow to elbow with Korean company men as you enjoy local delicacies washed down with a strong cup of soju.
Kalguksu is one of the signature dishes found at this marketplace. This is a yummy Korean knife-cut noodle soup.
Many of the vendors use recipes that have been passed down through their families for generations. Some people add clams into it to make Bajirak Kalguksu (바지락 칼국수).
Alternatively, others use the addition of chicken to create delicious Dak Kalguksu (닭 칼국수). Sannakji (live octopus) and yukhoe (marinated raw beef that is like the Korean answer to carpaccio) are also worth adding to your radar.
Metro Station: Jongno 5-ga Station (Exit 7)
Goto Mall, Gangnam
Goto Mall is Gangnam’s best-kept secret. The mall is a maze of more than 800 meters of underground stores that branch out from Gangnam station.
Shopping in an underground subway station mall may sound sketchy. However, locals themselves often consider Gangnam Goto as one of the best places to pick up the latest fashions at a bargain price.
The vendors here sell everything from clothes, shoes, and accessories, to cosmetics and skincare products. You will often find cheaper prices at Goto than you would at retail stores.
Consider it something of a Korean “outlet” mall. Gangnam is one of the best places to stay in Seoul if your trip largely centres around shopping.
Metro Station: Express Bus Terminal Station (Metro lines 3, 7, and 9)
Ewha Woman’s University shopping street
Ewha Woman’s University Shopping Street runs adjacent to the Seoul university of the same name. The boutique stores here cater to the feminine and trendy students that reside in the area. They sell apparel items that are relatively inexpensive, cute and fun!
Think quintessentially Korean short skirts, cutesy dresses, and a wide array of accessories and shoes. Many of the Korean skincare and cosmetic brands have stores scattered around the street also.
Products in this area tend to be offered at discount prices. So, if you want to buy Korean skin products and cosmetics, come here or Myeongdong.
Metro Station: Ewha Woman’s University Subway Station, Exit 2 or 3
Imagine a heavenly place where you can shop for beautiful dresses and carefully crafted handbags any time you want – even at 4am. It would be cool, hey?
Fortunately, you don’t have to imagine such a place since it actually exists in the form of Dongdaemun. This is one of the largest shopping districts in Seoul.
Dongdaemun stores are open until 5 am – the ultimate shopaholic’s fantasy. This sprawling complex is made up of over 30,000 stores, 30 shopping malls, and 10 streets.
It can be difficult to know where to begin when you go shopping in Dongdaemun. However, the Lotte FITIN building (264 Eulji-ro) is a good start.
The top few floors of the mall showcase clothes produced by independent local designers. The price tags here are reasonable and competitive.
Good Morning City (247 Jangchungdan-ro, Gwanghui-dong) is another Dongdaemun mall worth checking out. The mall is spread across a whopping 23 floors. It sells everything from electronics to apparel and cosmetics.
Dongdaemun is also a popular spot for bargain shopping. Be sure to fight your way through the crowded outdoor market and try your hand at haggling for good deals.
Under the cover of night, dozens of yellow canopies are set up around the Dongdaemun design plaza around 9 pm and operate until dawn. The stalls here sell everything from imitation designer handbags to cheap but cute skirts and dresses.
Metro Station: Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (Exits 12 or 14)
Kongdae (Konkuk University)
Just like the area close to arty Hongik University, the Konkuk University area in Seoul is one of the best places to shop for low-cost, colorful, hip student fashion. This off the beaten path area offers a truly local experience, where you are unlikely to see any other foreign tourists.
Kondae Rodeo Fashion Street is the main shopping street here that starts just outside of the Common Ground mall. Plenty of cheap, independent stores can be found here, as can many hair salons and nail bars that are much more affordable than their central Seoul counterparts.
Nearby, you also have Kondae Taste Street. This street lined with restaurants, cafes and coffee shops offers a wide range of international and Korean dining options.
In particular, locals come here to eat galbi (beef ribs), bingsu (shaved ice) and samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly).
Metro station: Konkuk University Station (Line 2 and 7) Exit 5
Hongik University (Hongdae)
Seoul’s Hongdae neighbourhood is often compared to Tokyo’s Harajuku. This certainly says something about the style of stores in the region and the crowds that they attract.
Indie fashion trends are prevalent here. Clothing items can be picked up in many of the cheap and cheerful stores that line the streets for less than $10.
If you happen to stop by Hongdae at a weekend, you will have the opportunity to browse the Hongdae free market. This runs from 2 pm to 6 pm every Saturday.
It is seasonal and operates between the months of March and November. Items on sale at the Hongdae free market include clothes (secondhand or created by independent designers), handicrafts, and artwork.
Live performances and exhibitions are often hosted here by young local artists and musicians. Hongdae is one of Seoul’s biggest nightlife and social districts.
Metro Station: Hongik University Station (Subway line 2)
Itaewon has always been known as the “foreigner district” of Seoul. This neighbourhood is home to the American army base. It is where Koreans often travel to get their western fix.
Itaewon might not be the place to immerse yourself in traditional Korean culture. However, it is certainly a good spot for shopping.
You can find branches of many international brand stores in Itaewon. There are more than 100 different shops here selling apparel, arts and crafts goods, electronics, and every category of item imaginable.
The Itaewon antique furniture street (이태원 앤틱 가구 거리) is worth checking out. As the name suggests, this street is filled with ramshackle stores that sell antiques. This name was awarded to the strip after American soldiers came here to sell their possessions during the Korean war.
The international vibes of Itaewon make it a great place to stop for a post-shopping dinner. People from all over the world have opened restaurants here.
You can have authentic food from whichever corner of the globe you can dream of – Greece, India, Lebanon, Turkey, Thailand, etc. For dessert, don’t miss the eccentric “Dondurma” ice-cream seller.
Metro Station: Itaewon Station (Metro Line 6)
Where: Insadong-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Insadong is the best place in Seoul for shopping for traditional souvenirs and handicraft products. This is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the Korean capital.
Despite the daily influx of tourists it receives, Insadong has somehow retained its authentic charm. Some places are popular for a reason.
The areas of Insadong and Bukchon were once home to Korean nobles. Hundreds of ancient hanok houses line the cobbled streets of Insadong.
These structures are remarkably well preserved. Some of them have been converted into boutique hotels and guesthouses which give travellers the experience of what it was like to live in a hanok as a Korean noble all those centuries ago. Others are now gift shops and coffee places.
Your first point of call when shopping in Insadong should be Ssamziegil. This a tiered shopping mall that is filled with stores that sell beautiful artisanal products.
If you are looking for a unique reminder of your time in Korea, you could consider purchasing a hanbok – traditional Korean dress. Those who can’t imagine an occasion where they would ever actually wear a hanbok could buy a modern, contemporary version of the garment.
For traditional masks, venture into the Tal Bang wooden mask shop. If you are interested in embroideries and soft furnishing products, don’t miss the Vin Collection store.
Metro Station: Anguk or Gyeongbokgung Stations (Metro Line 3)
Common Ground Shopping Mall
Where: 200 Achasan-ro, Jayang 4(sa)-dong, Gwangjin-gu, Seoul
As far as shopping in Seoul goes, the locations do not get more unique than the trendy Common Ground Shopping Mall. After the mall’s grand unveiling in 2018, Common Ground has quickly become the go-to hangout spot for young Seoulites.
What’s so wonderful about Common Ground mall? Well for starters, the mall is built from hollowed out, bright blue shipping containers that are stacked on top of each other like Lego bricks.
Common Ground is the largest container mall in the world. It spans across an area of more than 5300m2, and is made up of over 200 recycled containers.
The stores here are a blend of exclusive designer brands and independent stores. On the upper level (floor 3) of the mall, there are several roof terraces, bars, and restaurants.
Throughout the week, various performances and exhibitions are hosted here. This is surely one of the most eccentric places for shopping in Seoul.
Metro Station: Konkuk Station (Line 2)
Where: 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
Namdaemun is Seoul’s largest traditional market. The first vendors set up their stalls here all the way back in the sixties.
This is not necessarily the place to come to for the finest fabrics and the latest fashions. However, the low-cost market is a great place to pick up casual attire and accessories. Best of all though, the Namdaemun shopping experience is a cultural one.
As you twist and turn through the labyrinth-like network of narrow passageways and ramshackle lanes that make up Namdaemun marketplace, you bypass traditional medicinal halls, makeshift food stalls, and second-hand thrift shops. Experiencing the sights, sounds, and smells of this chaotic district is a highlight of any Seoul itinerary.
Street Food in Namdaemun
Namdaemun is one of the best places in the Korean capital for sampling Korean street food. If you are interested in trying sannakji (live octopus), this is a great place to try it. Seafood stalls make up practically every other stand of the Namdaemun food market.
Other popular eats worth adding to your radar while exploring Namdaemun are steamed/fried mandu (the kimchi mandu here is particularly good!), eomuk fish cakes served in a soup (odeng), and kalguksu – a seafood soup.
Metro Station: Hoehyeon Station (Line 4)
Gangnam Boutique Stores & Brands
Where: Gangnam Shopping Street, Gangnam-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Gangnam is one of Seoul’s most exclusive neighbourhoods. Numerous high-end international brands have their flagship stores in Gangnam. The eclectic, Instagrammable layouts of the various boutiques here simply exude elegance.
Those interested in checking out the creme de la creme of Korean fashion designers should start their Gangnam retail therapy at Kimmy J. This is a store owned by Heejin Kim.
Kim is one of the most important names in Seoul fashion week. She is a local designer who has won international acclaim for creating streetwear that somehow manages to be both edgy and sophisticated.
Concept Stores in Gangnam
Nearby, Rare Market is a concept store that has been known to attract celebrities from Seoul, and across the globe. Meanwhile, “Around the Corner” is a one-of-a-kind store that showcases the exquisite works of both up-and-coming Korean and global designers.
Around the Corner sells a diverse array of products. Everything from stationary items and interiors to luxury apparel and accessories can be found here.
Metro Station: Gangnam Station (Line 2)
Mecenatpolis Mall, Hapjeong
Where: 45 Yanghwa-ro, Hapjeong-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
If you prefer shopping malls and the knowledge that everything that you need is under one roof, then Mecenatpolis Mall is a good choice for shopping in Seoul. Branches of both local and international brand stores are located at Mecenatpolis Mall. Furthermore, there is a wide selection of cafes and restaurants here.
Mecenatpolis is one of Seoul’s best-designed malls. Its roof is designed from a canopy of umbrellas, and the glitzy bars and eateries that encompass it attract a chic crowd of Seoulites.
Metro Station: Hapjeong Metro (Line 2)
Starfield COEX Mall, Gangnam
Where: Samseong 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
Seoul’s Starfield COEX Mall is a sprawling mass of luxury stores and boutiques that runs beneath Gangnam. This is the largest underground mall in Asia. It is also one of the best places for shopping in Seoul due to the vast selection of stores that are concentrated here.
Store directories are scattered throughout the Starfield COEX MAll making it easy to navigate your way around and locate your favourite stores. Both mid-range and high-end shops can be found here.
Ansan Multicultural Street
Ansan multicultural food street is one of the most unique places in South Korea. Technically, Ansan is a separate city to Seoul.
However, you can easily reach Ansan within an hour via the line 4 Seoul subway train from Seoul station. More than two thirds of Ansans population is made up of foreign immigrants.
On arrival in Ansan, once you leave the subway, you will note that the signs outside of storefronts are no longer in Korean hangul, but in Vietnamese, Thai, Uzbek, etc. You will find Chinese pharmacies and homeopathy stores here selling herbs and oriental medicine.
There are also a lot of street vendors selling foods from across Asia, as well as international patisseries selling Youtiao – an oil fried pastry that somewhat resembles a doughnut. This is a great place to go shopping in Seoul for international foodstuffs and trinkets from other parts of Asia.
Metro station: Ansan station, line 4
FAQs about Shopping in Seoul
Do you have any additional questions or concerns about shopping in Seoul during your Korea itinerary? Hopefully you will find the answers you are searching for below.
Is shopping cheap in Korea?
Shopping in Korea can be cheap or expensive. It depends on what you are looking for.
But it is important to note that Korea is not an ultra-cheap Asian country (by western standards). It is very different to say, Southeast Asian destinations like Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.
You can definitely find some great deals on casual/high street clothing that are cheaper than in the UK, the US, Australia or Europe. Some independent Korean designers cater to a student or mid-range budget, while others are as expensive/more expensive than in the US.
Is South Korea good for shopping?
South Korea is very good for shopping. This is particularly true if you are looking for K-pop style fashion items or Korean cosmetics.
Korean beauty items like sheetmasks, moisturizers, sleeping packs, etc. are much cheaper in Korea. Korean companies are the pioneers of these types of items, and the quality is much cheaper here than in the west.
If you are looking for thoughtful Korean souvenirs from your trip, you can find unique items such as ceremonial masks, tea sets, chopsticks, and Korean alcohol such as soju, in Seoul. Some items can be more expensive here, as imported items in Korea are subject to high tax rates.
What is the most popular store in Korea?
The Lotte department store ranked as the most popular store in Korea in 2021. Established in 1979, it has approximately 54 stores scattered around the country.
You will find Lotte department stores in Seoul, Busan, Jeonju, etc. The store sells everything from cosmetics and perfumes, accessories and clothing, to household goods and appliances.
What time do shops usually open in Korea?
Stores have relatively long opening times in South Korea. They tend to open at around 8.30 or 9.00am in the morning and remain open until 9.30 or 10pm at night.
Additional information on shopping in Seoul
- Many stores in Seoul do not let you try things on which is ridiculous, but it happens and not just to foreigners
- If you are wearing makeup, sometimes the store owners will not let you try things on
- Clothes in Korea run much smaller than in the west. You may have to take a bigger size than usual
- Sometimes shoes in Korea come in a “one size fits all” rather than separate sizes
- Shoes in Korea also run small. If you have wide feet or feet that are bigger than the average, you may struggle to find shoes that you can squeeze your toes into!
Have any questions about my guide to shopping in Seoul, or seeking general Korea travel advice? I lived in Seoul for 2 years and will help you as best as I can.
Have a wonderful time exploring Seoul!
Annyeonghaseyo! Melissa xo
9 thoughts on “Shopping in Seoul: 22 Places to Shop in 2023 [Local’s Guide]”
Thank you so much for this helpful list!
My mom will be going to Seoul next week for the first time, and she’s been asking me about places where she can buy fabrics(which are sold by meter). Can you please suggest some?
Hi Latifah, I am sure that your Mum will have a wonderful time in Seoul! The best place would be the Dongdaemun fabric market which has TONS of stores selling fabric by the metre. I would also definitely recommend her to check out Gwangjang market. On the ground floor there is a food market that she will need to pass through (also very interesting even if the food is a little “adventurous”). Part of the market is dedicated to fabrics and tailors and that might be a good place to look.
thank you 🙂
Enjoyed reading your writing about shopping in Seoul. I am planning to visit Seoul soon. My main attraction is dongdaemun wholesale market. Do you think that it will be wise for a non Korean speaking woman to visit and shop alone? Will language be a major problem?
Also, where would be the ideal place to stay while there? Is it difficult to find one’s way around dongdaemun market and Seoul in general?
Hey Akobou! Thank you for your comment.
Don’t worry as most people in Seoul speak English – especially the younger generation!
In general though, Koreans are very friendly and even when interacting with locals at the markets, etc, you will find that they are very accustomed to seeing international travellers and will try their best to communicate with you.
Dongdaemun is a great area – the markets and malls there were among my favourite places to shop in Seoul! I have written a seperate guide dedicated to Dongadaemun here if you are interested – https://www.highheelsandabackpack.com/dongdaemun-seoul/
It’s not too tricky to move around Seoul. The public transport is excellent and everything is signposted in English. To help you, I recommend downloading the “Subway Korea” app which shows metro routes and schedules. This is an easy way of planning how to get from one place to another. You can also use Naver Maps which is South Korea’s alternative to Google maps.
Hi! Be visiting Korea in December. What days is best to do shopping where stores are open? I heard there are days that malls, stores are closed. Thank youuu!
Hey Gracy, you will find that most stores and malls are open long hours every day, though a few are closed on the second and fourth sunday of the month. Any day of the week is fine, but perhaps choosing a weekday rather than a saturday helps you avoid the crowds somewhat 🙂 Even on Christmas day you will find a lot of places open. Have a wonderful trip!
Great page, thanks so much.
Could you let me know the best place to buy girls clothes from 3 years to 18 years please?
Great write up! Sure it will help on my 1st shopping trip to Seoul..