South Korea Shopping Guide: From Traditional Markets to Modern Malls
If you’re visiting South Korea, your trip would be incomplete if you didn’t pay a visit to its traditional street markets, charming boutiques, department stores, and high-end shopping malls. This country is a retail paradise for all things fashion, jewelry, accessories, beauty, food, electronics, handicrafts, and antiques.
South Korea Shopping Guide
Many shopping hotspots in South Korea stay open all day. So, you can go whenever you want and discover some of the best deals on a wide range of goods. These shopping areas also have their own charm and personality which makes them a must-visit for tourists and locals alike. Here, we list the top 10 places to go on a South Korea shopping spree.
Dongdaemun is one of the biggest wholesale and retail shopping areas in South Korea. In the early 1900s, this district was a traditional market.
Today, it is home to around 30 malls, 10 shopping streets, 30,000 specialty stores, and 50,000 leading brands. You’ll find everything here from clothes, fabrics, jewelry, leather products, and shoes to electronics, toys, pet products, and office supplies.
Mukja Golmok is a well-known lane in this shopping district that attracts foodies with its lip-smacking Korean street food. After you finish gorging on the food, enjoy the vibrant evening festivities, dance and music performances, and fashion shows.
Another popular must-visit on our list is the South Korea shopping district of Myeongdong. It houses an endless range of modern malls, department stores, designer boutiques, streetside stores, and flea markets where you can score great bargains.
Here, you can spend all day browsing through a wide collection of affordable fashion, footwear, handbags, jewelry, and souvenirs from local and global brands.
This prime retail area has more than 1,000 beauty shops where you can discover the latest in skincare and cosmetics. You will also find employees from some of these shops standing outside them handing out freebies and testers. So, keep an eye out for free goodies while you’re in this area!
Insadong is one of South Korea’s oldest neighborhoods and was once the residence of the country’s nobles and artists. Besides ancient hanoks (traditional Korean houses), the winding alleys of this vibrant area feature antique stores, handicraft shops, bookstores, and teahouses.
While here, you can also head to Ssamziegil, a shopping mall that sells souvenirs and other goods.
Some of the traditional finds you’ll discover in Insadong include hanbok (folk clothing), folk crafts, artwork, pottery, vintage toys, and hanji (traditional paper).
The area also has around 100 art galleries where you can check out South Korea’s traditional fine art. Some reputed galleries include Hakgojae Gallery where you’ll get to see folk art, and Gana Art Gallery which displays artworks by budding South Korean artists. The Kyungin Museum of Fine Art is another popular stop here.
On the weekends, the main street in Insadong turns into a pedestrian-friendly cultural spot that showcases art exhibits, classical concerts, and delicious street food.
4. Gwangjang Market
Gwangjang Market, which was featured on Netflix’s show, Street Food Asia, is famous for its yummy Korean street food. Dating as far back as 1905, it draws tens of thousands of people who mainly come to shop and eat. This covered traditional marketplace is also famous as a vintage flea market where you can unearth unique finds and bargains.
You can buy imported vintage clothes and other cool knick-knacks from the 5,000 shops in the area. Its vast selection makes it a fantastic spot for getting all your South Korea shopping done!
5. Ansan Multicultural Street
Ansan Multicultural Street is the best spot for foodies who want to try mouthwatering dishes from all over Asia. This well-known food street houses rustic restaurants, food stores, and stalls that serve cuisines from countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Nepal, Uzbekistan, and China.
You can also buy imported snacks and cooking ingredients from Asian specialty stores. If you’re into Oriental medicine, you can get healing herbs from Chinese homeopathy stores and pharmacies in this area.
But it’s not all about food. In this area you will find typical Korean stores and you will be able to see Asian fashion up close. If you like to combine a good day of shopping with a good culinary experience, this area is an excellent choice.
Hongdae Shopping Street is close to Hongik University. So, it is naturally packed with students and goods that cater to them. This shopping district is where you’ll get cheap, edgy youth fashion and discover indie, underground cultures. You’ll also find chic budget stores for handmade apparel and luxury products.
After you shop till you drop, relax in one of the many pretty cafes, live music bars, clubs, and art galleries that dot this area.
The weekend “free market” in Hongdae is open from 1 pm to 6 pm. Local craftsmen and artists display their handicrafts, paintings, accessories, and secondhand wares here. You can also attend live street performances, dance performances, cultural events, literary exhibits, and festivals.
7. Ewha Womans University District
The Ewha Womans University area is one of the go-to shopping spots for
The brightly colored, well-decorated stores here sell stylish and affordable fashion, footwear, bags, accessories, and cosmetics for women. But you can also find a decent range of high-quality products for men.
Keep in mind that most shops open at around 10 am. So, you can head to this area in the morning and enjoy a full day of shopping followed by drinks, dinner, and music in nearby spots.
8. Bling Night Flea Market
The Bling, a popular club culture magazine, hosts the Bling Night Flea Market on the last Saturday of every month from 5 pm to 9 pm in different venues. That means you’ll have to check The Bling’s Instagram page to know the venue of the next flea market.
The Bling Night Flea Market isn’t your regular flea market because it features one of
9. Lotte Malls and Marts
You’ll stumble upon Lotte outlets all over the country so they are hard to miss. Lotte is a famous department store chain that draws shoppers for its attractive discounts and duty-free shopping.
It sells high-quality local and imported goods ranging from food and clothes to electronics, home goods, toys, and souvenirs. Lotte Mart, on the other hand, is a popular hypermarket chain. It’s basically a large supermarket. You can find groceries here but also clothes. So, you can easily find something to take home for yourself or your friends and family from your trip to South Korea. This place is ideal for those who want to go shopping in Korea but have a limited budget.
10. Common Ground Shopping Mall
The Common Ground Shopping Mall in Gwangjin,
It has four shopping zones: the Market Hall, the Street Market, the Terrace Market, and the Market Ground.
While you’re here, feast your eyes on trendy apparel stores, boutique shops, food stalls, bars, and restaurants. You will find a plethora of exclusive designer labels and indie clothing brands along with accessories, gourmet food, and stationeries.
What Kind of Markets Exist in South Korea?
You will find all kinds of markets in South Korea, including:
- Traditional markets
- Farmers’ markets
- Flea markets
- Antique markets
- Specialty markets such as those for fish, electronics, and other goods
- Department stores
- Wholesale and retail markets
- Shopping malls
These marketplaces sell everything from food, electronics, clothing, textiles, accessories, jewelry, artwork, craft items, decor, toys, memorabilia, and more.
South Korea is a shopping haven that many international tourists enjoy. People from all over head to this country to not only experience its vibrant culture and nightlife but also its fine retail experiences. You can dig through local shops, boutiques, flea markets, and malls, and take home unique souvenirs for your family and friends.If you enjoyed reading this blog post on South Korea shopping, read up on other popular Southeast Asian destinations here.
Recommended Travel Guides for Korea
If you want to learn more about South Korea and have a handy travel guide in your pocket, check out these three options below:
DK Eyewitness Top 10 Seoul
This Top 10
Lonely Planet Korea
You really can’t go wrong with a lonely planet guide in your hand luggage! I’m a huge fan of Lonely Planet and own this guide myself. What I love is the brand-new pull-out, passport-size ‘Just Landed’ card with wi-fi, ATM and transport info – all you need for a smooth journey from airport to hotel! Buy this book.
South Korea: The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide
Calling all my solo female travel ladies out there – this guide is amazing! Part of the #1 Travel Guidebook Series for Women (and couples), this take on South Korea will help you avoid the scams, creeps, and tourist traps and skip ahead to the cities and adventures that are worth your time (and money)! Buy this book.
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