Seoul is a shopper’s paradise, with a wide variety of goods available at reasonable prices and exceptional quality. From traditional Korean items to modern tech gadgets, there are plenty of great things to take home from this vibrant city.
If you’re looking for a brief guide on what to buy in Seoul, check out my list of 14 must-buy items and where to find them in the city! Get your hands on them before they run out.
When visiting Seoul, be sure to add Korean cosmetics to your list of must-buy items! Whether looking for everyday basics or the latest trends, you’re sure to find something that catches your eye. Korean cosmetics are famous for their high-quality and innovative formulations, with the most popular brands including Etude House, Tony Moly, Missha, The Face Shop, Nature Republic, and Laneige.
When it comes to deciding what cosmetics to buy, there are a few popular products that always make the list. First, Korean BB creams are a must-have for anyone looking for a perfect complexion. Second, lip tints are ideal for getting that natural flushed look. And last but not least, sheet masks in Seoul are diverse, inexpensive, and perfect for giving your skin some extra TLC.
Where to buy Korean cosmetics in Seoul
If you’re on the hunt for Korean cosmetics while in Seoul, you’ll be spoiled for choice! At Myeongdong, one of the city’s most popular shopping districts, you’ll find streets lined with plenty of stores selling a wide range of beauty products. Many of these stores are local brands that you may not have heard of before, so it’s a great place to try something new.
If you’re looking for a more upscale shopping experience, head to Gangnam, where you’ll find high-end department stores and boutiques. And if you’re just looking for a quick and easy way to stock up on your favorite Korean cosmetics, most convenience stores sell a good selection of popular products.
Anyone who’s interested in fashion knows that Seoul is one of the best places to find stylish clothing at affordable prices. However, some people might not realize that Seoul is home to a number of world-famous fashion designers, making it the perfect place to find unique and trendy clothing.
Where to buy Korean clothing in Seoul
Rapidly becoming a global fashion destination, Seoul is home to both high-end brand stores and independent boutiques.
Shopping malls in Seoul
Dongdaemun Market is the place to be if you want to shop for high-end clothing. There are various shopping malls in this area, each with its own unique characteristics and items. You’ll likely be spending the whole day navigating through the countless fashion stalls here. Some shopping malls worth visiting in Dongdaemun Market include Doota, Migliore, Hello apM, Lotte Fitin, and Hyundai City Outlets.
For luxury fashion, head to Gangnam’s Cheongdam-dong area where leading designer stores often welcome famous K-pop stars and fashion trendsetters. There are also lots of luxury international fashion brands here for you to choose from.
Street markets in Seoul
Street markets are perfect places if you want to shop for Korean clothing at a more affordable price. Most notably are those surrounding Ewha Womans University and Hongik University, where you will find a variety of fashion items that suit everyone’s tastes.
Wholesale markets in Seoul
A wholesale clothing market dating back to 50 years ago, Pyeonghwa is where you can find over 2000 stores selling a huge collection of high-quality goods at wholesale prices. Fashion accessories are especially popular here, including hats, socks, underwear, scarves, belts, and many more.
3. Korean Snacks
Popular Korean foods such as seaweed and kimchi can easily fit in your suitcase, along with snacks, noodles, and other instant foods.
Some highly addictive Korean snacks I would highly recommend are honey butter almonds, Orion choco pies, Pepero chocolate sticks, and seaweed crisps. You can find these at almost any supermarket and even at souvenir stores at various subway stations in Seoul.
4. Traditional Korean Liquors
Korean liquors can be great gifts to bring home after your trip to Seoul. The most famous Korean liquor is soju, which is made from rice, wheat, or sweet potatoes at between 20 and 45% alcohol by volume. Soju is usually drunk neat, but it can also be mixed with fruit juice or carbonated water. It has a light, slightly sweet taste, and is often compared to vodka.
Another popular type of Korean liquor is makgeolli, a milky white liquor made with rice and yeast. Makgeolli is less alcoholic than soju and has a sweet, slightly tart flavor.
When shopping for Korean liquors in Seoul, look for bottles that are labeled “traditional” or “authentic.” These liquors are made using traditional methods and ingredients and are typically of higher quality than mass-produced brands. Buying traditional Korean liquors is also a great way to support local businesses and enjoy the unique flavors of Korea.
An item of traditional Korean clothing, Hanbok is usually made of silk or other fine fabrics and decorated with intricate embroidery. Hanbok is characterized by its vibrant colors and simple, elegant design.
Originally only worn by the upper classes, it gradually became more popular among all Koreans. Nowadays, anyone can purchase hanbok, and it has even become a popular choice of clothing for tourists visiting Seoul. While Hanbok is typically worn on special occasions such as weddings and festivals, it has also become popular as a fashion statement in recent years.
Where to buy hanbok in Seoul
Dongdaemun Shopping Complex is where you should head for a beautiful and high-quality ready-made hanbok. You can even have one custom-made here at an affordable price. Another place to look for hanboks is Gwangjang Market, where a variety of hanboks ranging from traditional styles to more modern ones are on offer.
6. Home Decor
Seoul is a city full of surprises, and one of the best things to explore is the ever-growing array of Korean home decor stores. Some of the most popular home decor stores in Seoul are Deco View in Mapo-gu, Maison Dongbusan inside the Lotte Department Store, and Linen’n Kitchen inside Modern House.
While traditional Korean style tends to be minimalistic, these shops tend to offer a more modern take. Sleek lines and muted colors are common features, and there is often a focus on natural materials such as wood and stone.
Shopping for home decor in Seoul is a great way to add a touch of Korea to your own home, and it can also be a unique and memorable souvenir for friends and family. With so many stylish options to choose from, it’s easy to find something that perfectly suits your taste.
7. Arts & Design Items
Seoul is a city with a rich history and vibrant culture, and nowhere is this more evident than in the city’s arts and design scene. From traditional Korean calligraphy to modern paintings, there is something to suit every taste.
One of the best places to shop for Korean arts and design items is Ssamzigill – a trendy multicultural space in Insa-dong offering a wide variety of arts and crafts.
With so many unique boutiques and galleries to choose from, shopping for Korean arts and design is an experience in itself. Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind souvenir or a statement piece for your home, you’re sure to find it in Seoul. So why not take advantage of the city’s incredible creativity and pick up some Korean arts and design while you’re here?
8. Household Appliances
Korea is well-known for its technology and innovation, and that extends to its household appliances. From mini washing machines to rice cookers, if you’re looking for appliances that are high-quality, stylish, and practical, you’ll definitely want to check out what Korean brands have to offer.
Yongsan Electronics Market is the most popular place to buy electronic goods and household appliances in Seoul. Some supermarket chains in Seoul such as Lotte Mart and E-mart are also good options, albeit with less variety.
9. Oriental Herbs and Medicines
Traditional Korean medicine has been around for centuries and is based on the belief that maintaining balance in the body is essential for good health. Oriental herbs and medicine can help to restore this balance and are thus used to treat a wide variety of ailments. From headaches and fatigue to indigestion and skin problems, there’s a herb or medicine for almost everything.
Among these, Korean ginseng is a particularly famous herbal supplement with health benefits such as lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels, boosting energy, reducing inflammation, and improving mental performance.
And best of all, many of these remedies are more affordable in South Korea than overseas. So next time you’re in Seoul, be sure to stock up on some oriental herbs and medicine. Your body will thank you for it!
10. Korean Antiques
Seoul is a treasure trove of Korean antiques! From traditional ceramic vases to intricately carved furniture, they make beautiful and unique gifts.
A great place to buy Korean antiques in Seoul is Seoul Folk Flea Market in Dongdaemun. Wandering around this market is like stepping back in time, as there are antiques and secondhand items galore for you to discover.
11. K-pop Souvenirs
As Seoul is the epicenter of the K-pop world, you’ll definitely want to pick up some souvenirs while in town if you’re a K-pop fan.
There are a lot of great options to choose from, so it’s easy to find something that fits your budget and taste. For example, you can find keychains, t-shirts, and hats with your favorite K-pop band’s logo on them. You can also buy CDs, DVDs, and posters of your favorite singers and bands. If you really want to go all out, you can even get a makeover at a K-pop-themed salon!
Places to shop for K-pop souvenirs include K-Star Road and SMTOWN &STORE in Gangnam, as well as Myeongdong shopping streets.
12. Books and Designer Stationery
Any lover of books and stationery cannot help but be enchanted by the wide selection on offer in Seoul. From quaint second-hand stores to sleek designer boutiques, there is something to suit every taste. But what makes these stores even more special is the incredibly reasonable prices. For example, it is not uncommon to find best-selling novels selling for half the price they would fetch back home.
Likewise, designer pens and notebooks can be found at a fraction of the cost. So, if you are looking for a bargain or simply want to stock up on supplies, be sure to pay a visit to Seoul’s many bookstores and stationery shops.
13. Line Friends Souvenirs
LINE Friends is a set of cute characters created for the messaging app LINE. The characters originated in Japan, but they quickly became popular in South Korea as well.
Today, LINE Friends are some of the most popular characters in the country. They can be found on everything from phone cases to T-shirts. If you’re looking for souvenirs to take home from your trip to Seoul, LINE Friends merchandise makes a great choice.
You can find LINE Friends products at a variety of shops around the city, including major department stores and standalone stores devoted to the characters. With their cute designs and high quality, LINE Friends souvenirs are sure to put a smile on your face.
14. Tech Gadgets
Seoul is a mecca for tech lovers. The city is home to some of the world’s most cutting-edge technology companies and is also a major center for electronics manufacturing. For these reasons, Seoul is packed with gadget stores, and visitors can find great deals on everything from smartphones to drones.
In addition, many of the city’s tech companies offer English-language customer service, so even non-Korean speakers can easily purchase and use Korean tech products. Whether you’re looking for the latest smartphone or a unique gift for a gadget lover, Seoul is the place to go.
Here are just a few of the must-buy Korean tech gadgets:
- Smartphones: Samsung and LG are two of the world’s leading smartphone makers, and both have their headquarters in Seoul. As a result, the city is full of phone shops selling the latest models from both brands. And because competition is so fierce, prices are often very reasonable.
- Drones: Korea is at the forefront of drone technology, and Seoul is home to several companies that manufacture these devices. Drones are available in all shapes and sizes and can be used for everything from photography to delivery.
- Wearables: Korea is also a leader in wearable technology, and Seoul has many stores that sell smartwatches, fitness trackers, and other wearable devices. Whether you’re looking for something stylish or functional, you’re sure to find it here.
Places, where you can shop for tech gadgets in Seoul, include Hi-mart, Samsung and LG’s official stores, Emart and Home plus.
Summary: What to buy in Seoul | 14 Must-buy Items & Where to find them in Seoul
There you have it – a comprehensive list of 14 must-buy items in Seoul and where to find them! Have you been to Seoul before? If yes, what did you buy there? Don’t hesitate to let me know by commenting below 🙂
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