Hair & Beauty Magazine

Travel: A Guide to Shopping in Seoul

By Beautifulbuns

I just realised that this is a prime period for people to be heading to Korea – it’s time to see the sakura blossoms! Ironically, even though I’ve gone to Korea more than 10x, I’ve never once managed to catch the flowers blooming (I was either too early or too late). Ah well. I’ll just have to continue trying then (hurhurhur, any excuse for me to visit Korea is a great one).

Anyway, for those who are heading there, I’ve decided to sift through my thousands of photos and do up this post with some popular areas that you might want to visit – here’s a breakdown based on what I know (note that it’s not all-encompassing, but ya’know, just trying to help out a fellow tourist :D)


First up, a map of Seoul’s Subway system – I mostly travel by subway cos it’s a very similar to Singapore’s MRT system. They identify the lines via number i.e. Line 1, Line 2, etc as well as the express lines such as the AREX (express subway from Incheon Airport to Seoul Station). (ignore the red markup – I pulled this visual from my post on how to get to Cecica hair salon).


This is a heaven for all Kbeauty maniacs. you’ll find almost every conceivable Kbeauty brand here, and it’s not just 1 outlet – in Myeongdong alone, you’ll find at least 3-5 outlets of each brand. This area is made up of streets joined together in the shape of a fishbone skeleton (that’s the best way I can describe it) – one main street that branches out along the sides. Of course, this isn’t the only location that you can get these products, but it’s the most concentration you can get in one location.

What you’ll find here: The Face Shop, Belif, Primera, Holika Holika, The Saem, ONL, Shara Shara, Etude House, Aritaum (which houses Laneige, Aritaum, Hanyul, IOPE, Modi), Laneige, Mamonde, and more. Across the road, there’s also Lotte Department Store (for counter brands such as Sulwhasoo, Hera, O Hui, Lirikos, The History of Whoo, and also your Western brands). Beside Lotte Department Store, there’s also Lotte Young Plaza where you can find 3CE (if you don’t feel like heading to Hongdae).

How to get here via Subway: 

  • Myeongdong Station: Line 4 (Sky-blue line), Exit 5/6/7/8. This exit comes up at Migliore shopping mall in the heart of the Myeongdong shopping district.
  • Euljiro 1 (ij-ga) Station: Line 2 (grass-green line), Exits 5/6. This exit is at a huge road junction slightly further down the road and requires about 5-10 mins of walking to reach the main Myeongdong shopping area.

Myeongdong Day time shopping

MYEONGDONG shopping street 1

myeongdong shopping street 2

Myeongdong Day time crowds

Shopping Tip #1: Try to hit at least KRW30,000 on each receipt cos that’s the minimum sum allowed for tax refunds. Most shops adhere by this amount, but note that some may have a KRW50,000 minimum spending before tax refunds are allowed.

Shopping Tip #2: Card it – save your cash for Dongdaemun shopping where cash payment usually gets you a lower price.

Shopping Tip #3: Bring your own recycled/shopping bag – you will need it since you will be shopping a lot.


What you’ll find here: Trendy (hipster, edgy, swag) fashion stores, Karaoke joints (known as noraebangs), clubs and pubs, street-side busking activites, food eateries. The area mostly comes alive at night, but if you come in the day time, you can get some shopping done (and then eat, drink and party the night away). 3CE’s Flagship store is also located here.

How to get here via Subway:

  • Hongik University Station: Line 2 (grass-green line), Exit 8

Hongdae Night time Exit 8
The overhead view of the crowd at Exit 8 (it’s a very popular meeting/waiting point). Come out, walk straight and turn left or  right to get to the eateries. Left has slightly less stores BUT my favourite meat store is alllll the way to the left. To the right is a much, much longer walk (with much, much more stores, buskers, street performances, etc etc.)

Hongdae Day time 2

Hongdae Day time

Hongdae night time winter

Hongdae night time soju bottles

Hongdae Night time street dancers

Hongdae Nighttime Luxury Soo Noraebang


What you’ll find here: Affordable trendy fashion (cheaper than Hongdae, and a little more mainstream in-trend fashion outfits that are rather Korea-style). Plenty of shoe stores as well as hair salons (Cecica included). There are also beauty stores here (somewhat similar to those found in Myeongdong but lesser in number). You can also visit Ewha Women’s University (just stroll along the grounds quietly) – it’s a super gorgeous campus.

How to get here: 

  • Ewha Women’s University station: Line 2 (grass-green line),  Exits 1 or 2. 


Ewha women's university







What you’ll find here: A street full of shopping malls of the same building concept – abut 6-9 floors of stores that are organised via product category (i.e 1st-3rd floor has ladies’  apparel, 4th level men’s wear, 5th level shoes and bags, 6th floor accessories etc).  There are quite a number of malls but the notable ones are Doota, Hello APM, Migliore (and some others such as Good Morning City). My favourite is Hello APM and Migliore – you’ll get the best value for the widest variety. The prices here aren’t the cheapest – slightly pricier than Sinchon. I’ve bought blazers here for about KRW30,000-70,000 (SGD37-87) but they’re of really good quality.

How to get here via Subway: 

  • Dongdaemun History & Cultural Park Station: Line 2, Line 4,  Line 5, Exit 14
  • Dongdaemun Station: Line 1, Line 4, Exit 8

Shopping Tip #1: Bring cash – they transact mostly in cash, and it gives you a slightly lower price than the listed price. If you run out of cash, there are ATMs in the basement and there’s also a moneychanger on the ground floor near the entrance (of Hello APM).

Shopping Tip #2: Suss around before you buy  (in fact, I suss around even before I TOUCH the item)- I know it’s a HUGE amount of things to take in (my eyes always get blurry), but it’s a 90% chance that you can find the same item at another store

Shopping Tip #3: Try to bargain moderately – about KRW5,000 is possible. Anything more than that and they’ll probably give you the death stare. I think this is due to the influx of tourists from a certain region (I won’t say where) and they ruthlessly cut prices down so much (without giving due respect to the product) that the storekeepers have mostly lost their patience (similar to BKK) :( This is also the reason why in Shopping Tip #2, I don’t even touch the item until I’m sure that I want to buy it.

Shopping Tip #4: Be polite. Even if the price is way out of your range, don’t give -that- face (again, like tourists from a certain region). Put it back on the rack, say thank you, and walk away. If you’re lucky (iffffff), they might call you back and automatically lower the price for you.

Laneige Global Beauty Camp Day 1 DDM shopping 5

hello apm dongdaemun
image taken from (

migliore dongdaemun
image taken from (

Laneige Global Beauty Camp Day 1 DDM shopping 4

Dongdaemun accessories

Laneige Global Beauty Camp Day 1 DDM shopping 6

Laneige Global Beauty Camp Day 1 DDM shopping 7

And there you have it – a short guide on shopping in Korea! I will update this post with more photos whenever I find anything (my store of photos is enormous!). Lemme know if there are other places that you are interested in? If I have the material, I’ll update this post. In the meantime, I’ll be doing up a post on Food to Try in Korea – check back again :D

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