If you are a shopaholic, put Myeongdong on your must-visit list in travel to Seoul. This is one of the primary shopping districts in the city. Here you will find a good mix of both Korean and North American brands, as well a plethora of skin care and beauty-focused shops where there will be samples aplenty if you ask for them. Myeongdong is also a great place to fill up on Korean street food both sweet and savory.
Itaewon was the first special tourist zone in Seoul, designated in 1997, and where you’ll find a high concentration of expats, giving the neighborhood its multicultural feel. With its colorful winding streets and alleys filled with bars, cafes and restaurants and the area’s international vibe, eclectic Itaewon is a great neighborhood to base yourself or to spend time in on a visit to Seoul.
Another shopping-centric neighborhood, Dongdaemun, consists of over 20 shopping malls and 30,000 traditional shops and markets, meaning that no matter what you’re on the lookout for, you’re likely to find it here. And the best part is, you can shop into the wee hours of the night as many locals like to do. Dongdaemun covers the entire area around Dongdaemun Gate and even if you aren’t in the mood to buy, the neighborhood makes for a fun area to walk through.
Looking to find a few local souvenirs from Seoul to take home with you? Insadong is an ideal place to do it. The main street features a plethora of shops specializing in a wide variety of traditional Korean goods, including hanbok (traditional clothing), hanji (traditional paper), pottery, tea and crafts. That being said, the neighborhood’s winding alleyways are a wealth of teahouses and quaint eateries, so give yourself some time to explore slowly so you don’t miss anything.
You may be familiar with Gangnam thanks to the ultra-popular song and accompanying viral YouTube video for “Gangnam Style” by PSY. Gangnam, which means ‘South of the River,’ is the district that lies along South Korea‘s Han River. One of Seoul’s busiest areas, Gangnam is packed with high-end shops, malls, restaurants and cafes. The affluent neighborhood is also home to COEX Mall, the largest underground shopping center in Asia, located in the basement of the Korea World Trade Center.
Sports fans might want to make their way to Jamsil, a neighborhood that’s home to two professional Korean baseball teams: the Doosan Bears and the LG Twins, which both play at Jamsil Baseball Stadium. The stadium also hosted events during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. Jamsil is also home to Lotte World, a massive entertainment complex where you’ll find the world’s largest indoor amusement park, an ice rink, stores, restaurants, a folk museum, and even a lake.
This area is where to go shopping at Korea’s oldest and largest traditional market, also named Namdaemun. The market and the greater Namdaemun area are named after the large gate located nearby, which is one of eight gates you'll find in Seoul along the city’s Fortress Wall. The market itself is a twisting maze of stalls spread over several city blocks, making it fairly easy to get lost - but that’s half the fun.
Located near four universities, Hongdae offers an exciting blend of boutiques, live music venues, cafes, bars and clubs creating all the buzz and excitement you can expect from a university-centric area. During the day, stop by to do some shopping or some people watching at one of Hongdae's many cute cafes. In the evening, the neighborhood is known for its vibrant club scene - so if you’re a night owl, this is the place to be.