While on vacation in Seoul in September, I did a LOT of shopping (as one does). From shopping malls to markets to street vendors, I think that I got a pretty good taste of the shopping culture in the country, in both Seoul and Busan. If you’re planning on visiting South Korea any time soon and need a shopping guide, look no further.
- Artbox: If you’re from Canada, like yours truly, and are deprived from this fabulous store, then it’s a must-see, no matter how confusing the subway map may seem to get there. Artbox is a specialty home and gift store (I think?) filled with all sorts of wonderful! Think the quirky home section at Urban Outfitters (read: cute stationary, mugs with weird sayings, odd little trinkets). Oh, they also have a beauty section (along with just about every other store in the country!).
- Bukchon Hanok Village: This tourist destination is not a shopping area per say, but the one main street running through it is close enough! I am not sure what the street is called, but it’s hard to miss as it’s lined with the cutest artisans (and filled tons of people, of course). Jewellery makers, leather goods, stationary shops and even a handmade bowtie shop (that was featured in GQ!) are among some of the crafters housed here. Souvenirs, anyone?!
- Myeong-dong, Seoul: This shopping district is like none other. It’s a little bit overwhelming with the amount of stores, street vendors and people (so. many. people.), but it’s a must-see if you’re in Seoul, regardless if you are a shopper or not. Expect to find lots of big name brands like H&M, Zara, Nike and Adidas along with many trendy and unique South Korean brands. This neighbourhood has been coined the New York Times of South Korea… and for good reason!
- Centum City, Busan: If you happen to head down south to Busan (I highly recommend making the trek!) then you can’t miss Centum City, which is home to the world’s largest department store (it has a Guinness Book of World Record certificate and everything), Shinsegae. It not only carries top luxury brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Cartier, but also houses mid-range brands and items (like the Gap and North Face). Not to mention a skating rink, theme park and massive spa!
- Beauty Boutiques: Nature Republic, Olive Young, Holika Holika, Etude House, The Face Shop… the list goes on and on. Before even stepping in the store, most places will give you a basket with some freebies (usually a face mask) to entice you in. Once you’re in you will see shelves and shelves of some of the weirdest and most innovative products. Animal and monster sheet masks were all the rage, as well as quirky containers for makeup and creams – an awesome mix of fun and functional.
6. Uniqlo: I was pretty excited to see Uniqlo as I have never been to one before. Sure, us Canadians can shop online from the store, but it isn’t the same as actually seeing the clothes in person and taking in the atmosphere. For those unfamiliar, the store has all the basics you could imagine. It’s a minimalists heaven and a store you should definitely check out.
Have you visited Seoul? I’d love to hear your thoughts on shopping in the city. Share in the comments section below or start a conversation: @erinnstew.