Shopping By Neighborhood in Seoul

Seoul’s neighborhoods are a hodgepodge of consumer endeavors. Looking for souvenirs? Cultural hotspot Insadong has got you covered. Need a new party dress? Add the fashion district of Myeongdong to your must-go list. Check out our favorite neighborhoods, streets, and shops curated from the depths of Seoul’s labyrinthine nooks and crannies.

Tucked away in the heart of downtown Seoul is the quaint Insadong district, where a Korea of yore comes to life in the form of traditional artists and musicians, shops selling Korean crafts and souvenirs, and street performers dressed in native costumes. This is the place to go if you’re set on buying the wooden masks, paper lanterns, and tea sets that the country is famous for. Two other stores also stand out from the crowd in Insadong: Gounjae Handcraft can be smelled before you even enter the door. This handmade soap shop, in the small brick courtyard of Ssamji Gil Center, offers sumptuously scented soaps, lotions, and bath products in scents like avocado, ginger, and almond. I love the tiny, traditional mask-shaped soaps that make inexpensive and lightweight souvenirs. The Ee Gee boutique is a veritable treasure chest bursting with glimmering necklaces, bracelets, and other one-of-a-kind baubles–it’s located on Insadong’s main drag.
Dosan-daero 13-gil, Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
No, it’s not your imagination. Everyone—men, women, children, even dogs—dresses up in Seoul. Sure, you’re bound to see the odd denim-clad dud, but on the whole you’re more likely to spot bow ties and blazers or blouses and heels walking the streets on a daily basis. If you like a little glitz and glamour in your people watching, head over to Gangnam (yes, the one immortalized by Psy in the song of the same name). Sip a cappuccino at any of the myriad cafes as you watch dolled-up ladies and dandified gents strut their stuff.
This glitzy district, considered an Asian Beverly Hills, has its very own Rodeo Drive. Apgujeongdong is an area within the Gangnam district that emits more luxury and ostentation than Oscar Day on the red carpet. Affluent Seoulites flock to Hyundai Department Store and nearby Galleria Department Store to get their designer fix at stores such as Louis Vuitton and Jimmy Choo. Not everything is priced in the triple and quadruple digits. On sunny days, Rodeo Drive has plenty of small boutiques and street vendors selling handmade jewelry and hair accessories, a Korean favorite. Exit at the Apgujeong subway station.
Myeongdong is a dizzying shopping mecca where every major Korean cosmetic and fashion brand has a store—or several. The Korea Tourism Organization estimates that more than 1 million visitors pass through the area every day. Anchored by the Lotte and Shinsegae department stores, Myeongdong is packed with stalls and shops, both above- and underground. Don’t worry about a language barrier—most salespeople speak English and will even try to lure you in with the promise of free goodies like sheet masks. (Remember to bring your passport to qualify for tax-free refunds at participating locations.) At night, the energy intensifies with mazes of neon lights and vendors selling street food like rice cakes, egg toast, tornado potatoes, dumplings, steamed corn, and anything that fits on a skewer.
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