South Koreans are major trendsetters in global fashion and electronics, so it comes as no surprise that many visitors there have shopping on their agendas. Whether you’re looking to copy outfits made famous by K-Pop stars and Korean drama idols, go geek on the latest state-of-the-art gadgets, or simply acquire local snacks and souvenirs to take home with you, you’re bound to find what you’re searching for in South Korea, and usually at bargain prices. Check out this shopaholics guide on where to shop in South Korea.
Where to Shop in South Korea for: Clothes
You’ve got to admit that South Koreans are some of the most fashionable people on this planet. Guys can look dapper and cool as they please, and the ladies can really rock those dainty dresses. If you want to copy Hallyu fashion on the cheap, the best places to go in Seoul are Myeong-dong and the Edae Area. In these places, you can find all the clothes, shoes and fashion accessories you’ll ever need. While they’re not branded, the quality and style are good. In Myeong-dong, there are even shops where you can go for quick alterations to make sure that your fashion finds really fit you.
If the budget is really tight, you can wait for nightfall and buy wholesale in Dongdaemun Market, also in Seoul. If you plan to go here, come before midnight, the shops are open till 5am, you won’t regret it. Head on Cheongdam-dong in Gangnam or Apgujeong for a dose of shopping therapy at luxury boutiques with names like Gucci and Prada. If you’re really into copying the Hallyu stars, there’s Star Avenue in Lotte World. In Busan, you can scratch your fashion Shopaholic itch at Centum City, considered the largest department store in the whole world, as well as Nampo-dong. You can also find a lot of bargain fashion in the markets of Gukje and Bupyeong. If you are keen on Teens fashion, PNU is the place to go.
Where to Shop in South Korea for: Electronics
South Koreans are crazy about their gadgets – from the latest phones and computers to the latest sports and lifestyle electronic equipment. You don’t have to leave Seoul to geek out on gadgets; you’ll drown in them when you visit Yongsan Electronics Market, Techno Mart Gangbyeon and I’Park Mall. If you’re not queasy about using secondhand electronics, you can easily get them almost in mint condition.
Where to Shop in South Korea for: Food
Kimchi, Tteok and Hangwa traditional rice cakes, ginseng, traditional teas, even instant ramen, beer and junk food – you’ll want to bring some of those goodies home with you. You can find these foods in any department store or supermarket in South Korea, and you may even pass by a stall selling them while exploring open markets like Bupyeong and Myeong-dong. However, if you’re going to buy ginseng, traditional snacks, it is best that you get them from local speciality stores. If you’re importing fresh fish and seafood to your home country, best get them from Jagalchi Market in Busan.
Where to Shop in South Korea for: Traditional Souvenirs
If you want to bring home a bit of traditional Korea that’s longer-lasting than food, like perhaps your very own Hanbok (the Korean national costume) or some arts and crafts, you won’t find it difficult to get your hands on them. Gwangjang Market in Seoul, for instance, has a large collection of stores selling mostly Hanbok. Cheaper Hanboks are also available at Dongdaemun.
For pottery and handicrafts, the ideal destination would be Insa-dong, also in Seoul. In Insa-dong, you’ll find the duty-free National Souvenir Center, as well as a collection of speciality souvenir shops along Ssamzie-gil Road.
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