Shopping At Myeongdong Shopping Street | What To Buy
South Korea is famous for being a shopping destination for foreign tourists. Seoul, as a unique big city, is the best place for shopping, especially in the vibrant Myeongdong, the ultimate shopping district. Read on to find out more about shopping at Myeongdong in this Myeongdong shopping guide.
You may be a serial shopper or just someone looking for the best souvenirs of your trip for your friends and family, Myeongdong is the place to go. It is better to go at the end of your trip, so you know how much empty space you have left in your suitcase and you’ll be able to bring back home as many goodies as possible.
- Things To Know About Shopping In Myeongdong
- Overview Of Myeongdong Shopping Street
- Souvenir Shopping At Myeongdong
- Cosmetic Shopping At Myeongdong
- Fashion Shopping at Myeongdong
- Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center
Things To Know About Shopping In Myeongdong
- Tax Returns – When shopping in Myeongdong, make sure to bring your passport along. Most major shops offer tax free purchases to foreigners for any purchase over 30 000 krw.
- Getting To Myeongdong – Myeongdong is well connected to the rest of Seoul and has 2 subway stations, Myeongdong station and Euljiro 1(il)-ga station.
- Incheon Airport To Myeongdong – From Incheon Airport there are 4 different ways of reaching Myeongdong, by subway, train, bus and taxi.
- Things To Do In Myeongdong – Apart from shopping in Myeongdong, there are loads of other things to do. Like watching a Nanta Performance, doing a photo shoot, getting a massage or visiting a spa.
- Street Food In Myeongdong – Myeongdong is a must go area to try street food. The night market has everything from Korean street food to western or other Asian snacks.
- Best Restaurants In Myeongdong – Not a fan of street food? Not to worry, the area has loads of great restaurants, both Korean and foreign.
- Myeongdong Shopping Hours – Myeongdong is a district and can be accessed any time of the day. Most shops open around 9-10 am and close around 9-10 pm. The night market stays open till 11pm.
Overview Of Myeongdong Shopping Street
Myeongdong shopping street is wide and colorful. It is quite photogenic and is typical of a modern big city. You can be easily astonished and overwhelmed by the amount of signs and lights. Don’t forget to look also up, as the shops are not only on the ground floor but may be located on 1st or 2nd floor.
Myeongdong is not only a shopping street but also a district, don’t hesitate to venture in quieter streets to find what you are looking for or just to breath away from the crowd on the main street, turn right, left, you’ll never get lost.
Souvenir Shopping At Myeongdong
If you are looking to buy some great souvenirs for you or the friends and family then Myeongdong street is a great place to start. Below is a list of the best places in Myeongdong shopping district to buy souvenirs. Other great areas in Seoul to get some souvenirs are Insadong, Bukcheon and around Gyeongbokgung Palace. If you don’t know what to buy in Myeongdong, then check out the shops listed below.
1. Night Market Stalls
Every night in Myeongdong shopping district, you’ll find a colorful and shiny night market. Most of the stalls are about food, but some of them are for goodies like socks, k-pop merchandise, Seoul souvenirs and more. There are some unique food products that you can find only at the night markets in Seoul and are great to take back home. ‘Kkul-tarae’ (honey strings).
A video of kkul-tarae created a buzz on social media and many people would like to visit Korea just to try these amazing sweets. These sweets can be found in Myeongdong or Insadong. They are freshly made from a kind of honey stone. They used to be Korean court cakes. You deserve a royal sweet! These honey silky threads are stuffed with candied nuts, chocolate. There are different flavours to pick from and the sweets can be kept for up to 1 month outside the fridge, or 3 months in the fridge.
If you are a huge Kpop fan, you have probably bought many Kpop merch in online shops. Myeongdong has a wide selection of Kpop stores but not all of them are official stores.
2. Daiso Myeongdong
This should be one of the first shopping places you check out. Daiso sells the cutest stuff, from souvenirs to stationary, snacks and much more. Make sure to get a big reusable bag from Daiso, you will avoid accumulating lots of plastic or paper bags during your shopping. It will also be much more convenient to have only one big bag with all your purchases than 10 different bags.
Daiso is one of the cheapest shops you can find in Korea (or in the world !?) with an amazing quality/price rate. That’s also why it is better to go to Daiso first. You might save a lot of money if you find the things you want to buy in Daiso instead of other random shops. This is a great place to go if you don’t know what to buy in Myeongdong and want to stick to your budget.
3. Artbox Myeongdong
Artbox is like the more upscale version of Daiso. The 3 floor Artbox in Myeongdong street is huge and it sells everything from cute notebooks and stationary to figurines, phone accessories, home decoration, character merchandise and much more. It is a bit more expensive than Daiso, but is definitely worth the visit, even if it’s just for browsing.
If you buy only one item in Artbox, it must be a notebook. These are the cutest and cost only 1000 krw (less than 1$).
4. Line Store Myeongdong
While browsing online to look for Myeongdong, you probably have come across a store with this giant stuffed bear. It is “Brown”, one of the main characters of the “Line app”. Be ready to queue to take a selfie with Brown! The shop is full of cute mugs, bags, socks, and everything you can imagine with the Line characters.
5. Kakao Store Myeongdong
Kakao Friends Store is the main competitor of the Line Friends Flagship Store. Maybe you’re not a Line person but a Kakao person. Kakaotalk is the Korean Whats App or Viber, and everybody use it in South Korea. First, there was only Kakaotalk, now there is Kakaotaxi (a good app to book a taxi from anywhere in Korea), Kakaomap (a great app to find your way in South Korea), Kakaobank (more for locals)… The app uses very special and cute characters.
6. Starbucks Myeongdong
Like in every major city in the world, Starbucks has special shops in Seoul. If you’re a Starbucks aficionado, you can improve your Starbucks cup collection in South Korea. When you come in spring, you’ll be able to purchase cherry blossoms mug or if you come in autumn, check out the red and yellow foliage mugs.
Looking for Korean tea, O’Sulloc is a good place to start, the company is from Jeju island and sells all kinds of Jeju green tea. These are great teas, a little expensive due to the stunning packaging, but this makes tea of O’Sulloc the perfect Korean gift for your teaholic friends or yourself. O’Sulloc tea is grown in Jeju Island where you can also visit their shop and tea fields.
O’Sulloc shop has also a cool cafe… Perfect to do a break and warm yourself up in Winter with a hot tea and a cake, and cool yourself down in Summer with an ice tea and an ice cream. This is by far one of the best shops in Myeongdong when it comes to buying high quality presents or souvenirs.
Cosmetic Shopping At Myeongdong
Korean cosmetics have a very good reputation as they are some of the best in the world. Myeongdong shopping street will be a heaven for anyone who loves Korean beauty products. In the Myeongdong shopping street, salesmen and saleswomen will offer you free samples (usually face masks) if you accept to come into the shop. If you buy anything, they will fill up your bag with additional free samples and small gifts.
Many of the cosmetic brands listed below have multiple stores in Myeongdong. Read on to learn more about shopping at Myeongdong for skin care and cosmetic products.
1. Olive Young Myeongdong
Olive Young is a major health and beauty company from South Korea, the first store opened back in 1999 and has been popular ever since. When shopping at Olive Young, make sure to try the acne patches, sheet masks and ryo shampoo. It is open from 10 am to 10.30 pm.
2. Laneige Myeongdong
Laneige is another brand owned by Amore Pacific, just like Innisfree and O’Sulloc. ‘Laneige’ means “The snow” in French. The brand specializes in Water Science technology to tackle skin problems.
Give a try to the ‘Water Sleeping Bank‘. Put it on in the evening, leave it during the night and wake up with a soft skin. It is one of the most popular products among all Korean cosmetics.
3. Etude House Myeongdong
Etude House has a pretty pink shop that you can’t miss in the Myeongdong shopping street. The shops looks eventually like a cute little house. They sell hair and skin care for a fair price and have often have offers like 2+1.
4. Skinfood Myeongdong
Are your lips easily getting dry? Try the Skinfood tomato seed oil lipstick “Tomato Jelly Tint Lip”. The slogan of Skinfood is ‘You are what you eat. Healthy skin starts with food.’ and this is highly represented in their brand and products.
5. Nature Republic Myeongdong
This Korean brand was created in 2009 and is now one of the most popular cosmetics brands in Korea. The Nature Republic store in Myeongdong is absolutely stunning, the whole facade is covered with plants. Even if you are not planning on buying anything, this shop is worth visiting.
6. Missha Myeongdong
Missha is another great Korean cosmetics brand. Famous for the ‘First treatment Essence’. This is a deep treatment for your skin. Morning and evening, you can apply this essence on your face to make your skin brighter.
This brand owned by Amore Pacific, just like O’sulloc uses natural ingredients found on Jeju Island. A must try product is the Innisfree Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam and enjoy all the benefits from the volcanic soil of Jeju.
8. Too Cool For School
One of the coolest K-beauty brands. The Korean brand has a big focus on contemporary culture and creative experimentation. This clearly reflects in the shops interior design and the product’s packaging design. They have a range of products using egg white, like the Egg Mousse Pack, Egg Cream Mask Hydration and Egg Mellow Cream. These products have received many positive reactions and the people love the soft texture.
Fashion Shopping at Myeongdong
Myeongdong is the mecca of department stores and clothing stores. Many stores offer all kinds of discounts for foreigner travelers. Check the stores below for discount coupons.
1. Shinsegae Myeongdong
Shinsegae Duty Free Myeongdong is a luxurious mall filled with both high end fashion brands and casual street wear brands like Vans, Le Coq Sportif, Guess, GAP, Adidas and many more. The Myeongdong store is the Flagship store of Shinsegae and is also the building of the first department store in South Korea. The department store is split up in two connected buildings, the original building and the new building.
Get free Shinsegae voucher here. This voucher can be used in the Myeongdong and Gangnam store, for any purchase over 20 000 krw in the Duty Free storen you’ll receive a N Seoul tower ticket and Hanbok rental coupon.
TIP: if you are planning on purchasing many products in Shinsegae Department store, get the Discover Seoul Pass. The pass gives you instant access to 35 attractions around Seoul and gives an additional discount for purchases in Shinsegae Department Store. Anyone who purchases over 10 000 krw, will receive a 10 000 krw coupon. More info here.
2. Lotte Department Store Myeongdong
This Lotte Department store is one of the main department stores in Korea. It is owned by the Lotte Company and the Myeongdong store opened back in 1979. On the 9th and 10th floor of the department store there is a duty free section. Here you can buy from over 30 different brands and pick up your purchases when leaving Korea at the airport.
TIP: if you are planning on purchasing many products in Lotte Department store, get the Discover Seoul Pass. The pass gives you free access to 35 attractions around Seoul and give a 15% discount on your purchases in Lotte Department Store. More info here.
Apart from the Duty Free Zone, foreign tourists can purchase products TAX FREE (only for purchases over 30 000 krw). Make sure to bring your passport.
In the basement floor of Lotte Department store in Myeongdong is the food section, here you can buy all sorts of Korean snacks which are great gifts for your loved ones back home. You can also purchase vacuum sealed kimchi, which is the only kimchi that can be taken back home on the airplane.
3. Zara Myeongdong
Zara is a Spanish clothes brand, but they are spread world wide. There collection ranges from low priced basic items to unique high fashion pieces. Whatever you need, you’ll find it at Zara. There are over 16 different Zara shops in Seoul, with two of those located in Myeongdong.
4. Forever 21 Myeongdong
Forever 21 is an American brand made for young and trendy people. This shop is a great place to get new sunglasses, swimwear, accessories and other cheap, fast-fashion items. The shop uses Western sizes, which makes this a great place to shop for those who are unfamiliar with Korean sizes.
5. ABC Mart
The place to go to buy shoes, mainly sport shoes. They have all the main brands and offer huge discounts all year around. It is a Japanese sportswear brand and if you check their collection regularly, you’re bound to find some great deals.
Not cheap, not expensive, Who.A.U. is a popular brand among young Korean people. It is a Korean chain so famous that you can find it also in NYC. They offer Californian surfers style clothes like t-shirts, trousers, hats.
7. 8 seconds
8 seconds is the Korean clothes branch owned by Samsung. As most of you know, Samsung is one of the biggest companies in South Korea, with their phones, home appliances and there is even a Samsung City. 8 Seconds is similar to Zara and Uniqlo, with a similar price range and products. .
Like Zara, H&M is a common European brand. It is a great place to purchase those basics for your garderobe. They have everything from hats to shoes. Myeongdong has more than one H&M, but they all sell the same items.
Uniqlo is a Japanese brand, widely spread in Korea. They are famous for their many t shirt collaborations with character brands or artists. The Uniqlo in Myeongdong is huge, probably one of the biggest in Seoul.
Myeongdong Underground Shopping Center
The Myeongdong Underground Shopping center is huge and consists of different alleys filled with shops. Every single shops specializes in different items and you’ll find anything from clothes to shoes, luggage, glasses, socks, Korea souvenirs, K-Pop collectibles, music stores, cosmetic stores and much more.
The Myeongdong underground shopping center is connected to the major department stores in Seoul like Lotte and Shinsegae Department Store. There are multiple entrances to the underground shopping center, but the easiest way to find is by leaving Euljiro 1(il)-ga Station at exit 6 or 7 and walk for about 100 meters, till you reach the entrance of the underground shopping center.
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Are you planning on shopping in Myeongdong street? Do you have any questions about any of these shops in Myeongdong? Have any suggestions on shops to add to this Myeongdong shopping district blog post? Let me know in the comment section below.
Co-writer: Alexandra Prévôt