Here are some awesome affordable shopping locations you shouldn’t miss out on:
1. Ewha Womans University Shopping Street
When shopping in Seoul on a tight budget, do as the students do—because they tend to be the experts on shopping for trendy and affordable goods. A thriving shopping area popular with the youngsters is located just outside one of Seoul’s prettiest campuses, the Ewha’s Women’s University. The quality of the clothes and bags here are pretty good, and many of them are made locally. This area is a paradise for students looking to restock their wardrobe for a new semester of school.
Ever tried overnight shopping? No? Then you must try it in Dongdaemun. Shops are open till about four or five in the morning, catering to the insomniac shopaholics. Dongdaemun is huge, and I’m not even kidding—there are 5 shopping districts! Did I mention that they sell everything? Clothes, shoes, bags, food, and even bed linens and wedding paraphernalia! Retailers walk around choosing pieces for their stores, while tourists and locals hunt for the best bargains. Even better are the little street stalls in front of the huge shopping malls, where everything is extra affordable! Be sure to bargain though, especially in the malls.
3. Hongdae Shopping Street
Hongdae, situated near Hongik University, is full of little shops and cute cafes. It is a great place for shopping if you’re looking for less mainstream fashion items, as the clothings here lean towards indie fashion. The prices are in general slightly more expensive than that in Ehwa, so I recommend that shoppers head down to Ehwa first before moving on to Hongdae shopping street to pick up a few unique pieces.
Myeongdong is the go-to place for cosmetics. Seriously. All the Korean brands you’ve ever heard of (and even more of those you’ve never heard of) can be found here. Innisfree, Etude House, Laneige, Skin Food, Saem… the list goes on and on. Just walk down the main street and promoters will be forcing free masks, pens, and samples into your hands and inviting you into their stores. Stock up on cosmetics here during the sales period, especially if you’re a fan of Korean cosmetics.
5. Express Bus Terminal Underground Shopping Arcade
Just look at the throngs of people! Squeeze in a trip here and I guarantee you won’t regret it. Yet another food and shopping paradise in Seoul, this underground shopping arcade is situated under the Seoul intercity bus interchange. Clothes here are very affordable, with pieces starting from KRW 5000. Accessories start from KRW 3000 and shoes are way cheaper than those sold in all the aforementioned shopping areas.
If you want to shop for cultural souvenirs, Insadong is the place with a huge variety of traditional Korean crafts and souvenirs. Tea, pottery, hanboks, hanji (traditional paper crafts)–Insadong has it all. There are also art galleries and teahouses along the streets. In Insadong, you can easily find gifts for friends and families that will not burn a hole in your pocket.
Food, household items, flowers, stationery, appliances…. These are just some of the things on sale here. This shopping area is a combination of multi-storey buildings as well as stalls along the streets. Namdaemun is also a great place to sample food sold at roadside stalls; you can sit down, indulge in your street delicacy and enjoy a short breather from all the shopping.