I have often referred to Seoul as the Paris of Asia, first because of it’s robust coffee culture, but second, because I’m convinced that it has some of the best shopping.
Korea really has something for everyone, from high-end, name-brand shopping and Lotte Department Store to the street shopping in Myeongdong and Hongdae, you really get the spectrum of shopping experiences in Seoul.
Here are the must-shop places in order of my favorite places to shop:
1. Ewha Women’s University Shopping Area. This area beats every other shopping area by a long-shot. The roadside shops near the university are filled with inexpensive, but pretty good quality shoes (I’ve bought five or more pairs of shoes there during my travels), feminine and delicate dresses, shirts, skirts, and cosmetics galore.
You know how there’s a Starbucks on every street corner in the U.S.? Well, there’s a cosmetics store on every corner in Seoul. Over time, I’ll definitely be sharing my favorite Korean cosmetics on the blog, but you cannot miss Innis Free, TonyMoly, or Nature Republic. Next time I’m in Korea, I’ll take photos so you can see what I’m talking about.
The shopping is geared toward women and is a great place to visit with friends. It is located near two major universities, Ewha and Yonsei University (where I studied Korean language for my masters program last summer). It is also located near several popular places to eat in Sinchon (신촌). It’s a college town, so it comes with the territory.
2. Lotte Department Store (롯데 백화점). Lotte is equivalent to Macy’s in the U.S. It’s a ginormous department store right in the middle of Seoul. Lotte is for the high-end shoppers among us. It has name-brands, as well as great brands only sold in Asia.
Lotte is connected to two other sister stores that I also recommend you visit: Avenuel and Lotte Young. I’ve bought a number of things from Lotte Young because it’s a little less expensive than Lotte Department Store and is geared more to my age demographic. In fact, the dress and shoes I’m wearing in this post are from Lotte Young.
Pro tip: If you visit Gyeongbokung Palace, you can just pop right over when you’re done for some retail therapy. You should also head to our next stop, Myeongdong Market.
3. Myeongdong Market (명동 시장). This shopping area is also pricier and geared toward tourists. I still recommend it for a number of reasons. First, when you walk the streets, cosmetics stores will give you free face masks just to come into the store, making it totally worth it. Second, it’s a great place to get yummy Korean street food. Third, it’s filled with people from all over the world, so the energy there, particularly at night, is electric. The street shopping is great, but bear in mind that it’s going to be pricier than other roadside shops in places like Ewha, Hongdae, or Hapjeong.
Pro-tip: Do buy the Konglish (Korean combined with English) t-shirts. They make for good stories and laughs and look really vintage when paired with a cute sweater or skirt.
Shop the Look:
Red dress from Lotte Department Store (will update with link soon), this Michael Kors purse, similar Marc Jacobs watch
Photo Credit: Allen in Seoul at Flytographer. Again, I cannot recommend Flytographer enough!
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” ~ Proverbs 19:21