First post on shopping! So I did quite a fair bit of shopping when I was in Seoul. I was pretty excited to be shopping there because many shops in Singapore and Taiwan tout their stuff to be Korean made/imported, so since I’m finally at the source, I should be spoilt for choice!
Well here’s what I ended up with by the end of the trip:
Because I stayed in the Myeongdong area, it ended up being the place I spent quite a lot of evenings at, mostly just wandering the streets and soaking up the vibe. It’s a quick walk down from Namsan where Seoul Tower Ville was and also walkable from well known street market Namdaemun.
The streets of Myeongdong are a myriad of lights and colourful signage. Recognizable international fashion brands labels call out to you amidst the many cafes and restaurants. Adding to the mix are Korea’s trademark fashion department stores and when its not pouring buckets, various accessories and street food can be found on pushcarts in the middle of the street. Korean idols are also known to perform here from time to time, and its bustling even at 10pm!
Most notable though are the sheer amount of beauty shops there are! The Face Shop, Tony Moly, Nature Republic, Baviphat, Etude House… I could go on! many of these brands have proven so popular that you can find them in your own country – Singapore has seen an influx of many these brands in recent years.
The competition is really stiff with several branches of the same brand on every other street, and dolled up sales girls from each brand shout with loudhailers, clap repeatedly and most importantly, wave around a freebie to try and get you into the store. They’ll give you a freebie, ranging from product samples to cotton pads to take a walk into the store, and even if you don’t end up buying you get to keep your freebie! So if you’re thick skinned enough, you can sure pick up a lot of free stuff, though a point to note is that they tend to give you even more freebies at the counter when you buy enough stuff. My favourite freebie… the facemasks~
But its not just about the freebies, most of the products are way cheaper in Korea! You can get a pack of 10 facemasks from 10,000 won (about S$12) and in general, the products are about half their cost in Singapore! The shops are definitely prepared for the tourists, packing their items in bulk for your convenience (not quite often it isn’t any cheaper to be buying in bulk) and having salesgirls who speak the popular languages – english, japanese and chinese.
One brand I wish I did buy though (I encountered it on the first day and never found my way back there again) – Too Cool For School. It had some really cool looking products! And what’s hot in Korea right now? Snail products. Yes, slimy snail cream and extracts are in for your face, and I had a free mask from Baviphat to try, and I have to say it isn’t as slimy as you would think and doesn’t smell either! Pretty good mask really.
While it might seem from my description that Myeongdong is all about the beauty shops, rest assure clotheshorses that you won’t be shopping in vain. There are so, so many shops to choose from, whether you’re a fan of international fashion labels like H&M and Zara, or you like the trademark Korean fashion department stores like one of my favourites Migliore, Avenuel or Lotte. I honestly walked till my legs were ready to drop off every day.
Food is also not an issue, with a bevy of restaurants and cafes both Korean and International depending on your taste to pick from, as well as carts of street food.
You can also find one of the Nanta show theatres here in Myeongdong (right next to the H&M!), as well as the Myeongdong Cathedal – you wouldn’t expect there to be a Catholic church in Korea, but this is considered a main one and the symbol of Myeongdong, and sadly I didn’t get a chance to see it what with the crazy summer downpours and the short time I was there. Hopefully if I go back to Seoul I’ll get a chance to visit it!
Myeongdong can be accessed via Subway (Myeongdong station, Line 4, Exit 5/6 connect you to Migliore). Check out the shopping map from the Korea Tourism Organization here to give you an idea.
Around the area:
- Around Myeongdong (here’s a link to the official site):
- Myeongdong Cathedral
- Nanta Theatre where you can catch the popular Nanta show
- N Seoul Tower can be accessed by cable car, which you can get to via a pretty hilly climb up Namsan (Myeongdong Station exit 3, behind Pacific Hotel) or via the lift along the road near Namsan 3rd tunnel.
- West: the traditional market Namdaemun is pretty nearby and not to lengthy a walk. You can also take the train 1 stop down to Hoehyeon station (line 4)
- East: Namsangol Hanok, the old style Korean village is located at Chungmuro station, 1 stop away from Myeongdong in the other direction on line 4.