-Themes of Seoul

(Cultural Heritage/ Landmarks/Savor Seoul/Experience Traditional Culture/Shopping/Local Shopping/Entertainment)

[ Authorship-Korea Tourism Organization ]

Local Shopping

*Tips / Information

South Korea is known as a shoppers' paradise, offering a great variety of items at reasonable prices. Tourists may purchase many necessities and souvenir items at any of the hundreds of shops in department stores and shopping arcades in Seoul as well as major cities throughout the country. Popular shopping items are jewelry, ginseng, furs, silk, antique chests, ceramics, brassware, embroidery and many more unique Korean products

Most sizes are measured in centimeters except for the waist size, which is measured in inches. Shoes' size are measured in millimeters.

Table of Size Measurements

<Men's clothes>
Size Measurements S M L XL XXL
Chest (cm) 90~95 95~100 100~105 105~110 110~
Waist (inch) 30/32 33/34 34/36 36/38 38/40

<Women's clothes>
Size Measurements S M L XL XXL
Korea-Chest (cm) 85 90 95 100 105
Korea 44 55 66 77 88
USA 0/1 3/5 7/9 11/13 15/17
Europe 36 38~40 42~44 46~48 50~52

<Men's shoes size>
Korea(mm) 250 255 260 265 270 275 280 285 290 295
USA 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10 10.5 11 11.5 12

<Women's shoes size>
Korea(mm) 220 225 230 235 240 245 250 255 260 265 270
USA 5 5.5 6 6.5 7 7.5 8 8.5 9 9.5 10
Europe 35.5 36 36.5 37 37.5 38 38.5 39 39.5 40 40.5

*Payment Methods

Except for street vendors, most shops follow a fixed price system and do not appreciate aggressive haggling. Most of large shops accept major international credit cards (VISA, MASTER, etc). Most smaller shops, like traditional marketplaces, and street vendors do not accept credit cards, so be sure to bring cash.

*Currency Exchange

Typically, banks have separate counters for those wishing to exchange foreign currency. The bank is the most convenient place to exchange currency, and business hours are 9:00 am – 16:00 pm Mon – Fri. The ‘365 Days Corner’ ATM has options in English and can be found next to many major banks. The ATM can be accessed from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. 24-hour ATM services can be found in almost all 24-hour convenience stores, but English options are not always available. Visitors are advised to visit the bank during regular visit hours to get the cheapest service charge. Note that service charges may vary according to each bank. Namdaemun Market and Itaewon districts provide their own foreign currency exchange service centers. Directions to local foreign exchange service centers are provided at each area’s tourist information center.

*Returns and Exchanges

While many large department stores and malls will allow returns, many smaller stores may not offer refunds for purchased items (especially for sale items). Most stores will allow exchanges instead of returns within the designated exchange period (varies by store).

*Sale Periods

Duty-Free Shops: June – August, December – February
Department Stores: January, April, July, October, and December
Other large shopping malls hold sales around the same time as the department stores do. Namdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Market, and other major markets have sale events around early July and mid-January. Summer and winter sale events give customers the biggest discounts: 20-30% off of current items and more than 50% off of items more than 2 or 3 years old.

*Business Hours

Most shops are open until 10 p.m., but markets like Dongdaemun Market are open 24 hours. Shops are the most crowded during holidays and weekends, except for the Lunar New Year and Chuseok, during which most shops are closed. Shops in Myeong-dong and Insa-dong are usually open until 10 p.m., whereas Namdaemun Market and Dongdaemun Market are still open long after midnight into the early morning.

*Korean Shopping Phrases

  • Except for duty-free shops or shops in Itaewon, you may run into communication problems while shopping. If you know a few Korean shopping expressions, you’ll find your shopping experience more enjoyable and you may even be able to bargain for lower prices!

Wholesale Clothing Markets (Clothing Shopping Mall)

When it comes to buying clothes in Korea, the wholesale clothing markets concentrated in Dongdaemun are becoming Korea's leading shopping centers. Thousands of small shops set in modern facilities open until daybreak attracting many fashionable night shoppers.

[ Traditional markets ]
You can buy things here at lower prices than at big discount stores and enjoy a friendlier atmosphere.

Traditional markets

Traditional markets are where you can experience customary Korean shopping culture. At these markets, you will only find one-story buildings and small handcarts full of interesting goods.When you shop at one of these traditional markets, it is a good idea to shop at a comfortable pace, eating snacks at a street cart, and absorbing the culture. Carry Korean currency because it is unlikely that these shops accept foreign currency or credit cards. Gyeongdong, Kwang Jang and Namdaemun are among Seoul's most popular markets.

Department Stores

Korean department stores usually have sales in each of the four seasons. Generally, each department store has a two-week long sale period in January, April, July and October. It is a good idea to check out the advertisements and details of these sales on the Internet. You can also contact the KTO Korea Travel Phone (+82-2) 1330 to learn the exact date for the sale periods.

Large Discount Marts

These marts offer a similar variety of goods as department stores in Korea, but at discounted prices. One difference is that these marts typically don't carry luxury brands of clothing. Some of the largest discount marts in Korea include E-mart, Homeplus (formerly Homever), Lotte Mart, and Kim's Club.


Myeong-dong is more than a shopping district. It is like an amusement park full of excitement from morning till night. It has everything from large department stores to small shops and even street vendors selling all sorts of things. There's also a great selection of eateries, cute coffee shops, and movie theaters to choose from, so you'll never find a minute of boredom. Myeong-dong will undoubtedly be able to satisfy all your shopping needs.
Myeongdong is one of the primary shopping districts in Seoul. The two main drags meet in the center of the block with one beginning from Myeongdong Subway Station (Seoul Subway Line No. 4) and the other from Lotte Department Store at Euljiro. Many brand name shops and department stores line the streets and alleys. Common products for sale include clothes, shoes, and accessories. Unlike Namdaemun or Dongdaemun, many designer brands are sold in Myeongdong. In addition, several major department stores include Lotte Department Store, Shinsegae Department Store, Myeongdong Migliore, Noon Square and M Plaza. The department stores carry many premium labels and other fashionable goods at reasonable prices. Myeongdong also has family restaurants, fast food, plus Korean, Western and Japanese dining options. Many restaurants in Myeongdong specialize in pork cutlet (donkas) and kalguksu (thick noodles). Other businesses include hair salons, banks and theaters. Myeongdong Catholic Church is also a well-known tourist attraction. It is pillar of the Catholic church in Korea and was built in the Gothic style. Behind the church is a quiet space for relaxation.* Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Euljiro 1-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 2)

[ Myeongdong ]
A shopping district in downtown Seoul, is where you can buy the latest high fashion and luxury brands.  This is one of the most popular tourist spots among foreigners.

< Recommendation of Accommodations nearby >

Lotte Hotel - www.lottehotel.com
Ibis Ambassador Myeongdong - ibis.ambatel.com/myeongdong
Sejong Hotel - www.sejong.co.kr
Skypark Hotel 1 - www.skyparkhotel.com
Skypark Hotel 2 - www.skyparkhotel.com
Skypark Hotel 3 - www.skyparkhotel.com
Skypark Hotel Central - www.skyparkhotel.com
Savoy Hotel - www.savoyhotel.co.kr
Royal Hotel - www.royal.co.kr
J Hill Hotel - www.jhill.kr
Prince Hotel - www.princeseoul.co.kr
Pacific Hotel - www.thepacifichotel.co.kr

Nana Residence - www.nanaresidence.com
Green Residence - www.seoulgreen.co.kr
K-Pop Residence - md.kpophouse.co.kr
EO Residence - www.residenceeo.com
Seoul Youth Hostel - www.seoulyh.go.kr

Namsan Guesthouse - www.namsanguesthouse.co.kr
Myeongdong Guesthouse - www.mdguesthouse.com
New Myeondong Guesthouse - www.newmyeongdong.com
YUN Guesthouse - www.yunguest.com
ZaZa Backpackers - www.zazabackpackers.com
J-honor Guesthouse - www.j-honor.com
Crib49 Guesthouse - www.crib49.com
Happy Garden Guesthouse - www.hpgarden.com
Mama Guesthouse - www.seoulmama.com
IB Vile Guesthouse - www.ibville.com
B my Guesthouse - www.bmyguesthouse.com

Dongdaemun / Namdaemun Markets

Dongdaemun Shopping Complex

The Dongdaemun Shopping Complex is one of Korea’s most representative markets and was founded on December 23, 1970 as the largest of its kind in Asia. In December of 1985, the Dongdaemun Shopping Town was established, and now the area encompasses five buildings in total (A, B, C, D, and the Shopping Town). There are over 5,000 shops located in this district, selling various fabrics, materials, accessories, wedding products, and more. The fabric and clothing here are of the latest fashion trends in the world. Inventory is imported and exported in real time, making Dongdaemun a must-visit fashion market for everyone.

Dongdaemun and Namdaemun Markets are probably two of the most crowded areas in Seoul. The markets are packed with both visitors and locals in search of great bargains, and everything from fashion to artificial grass can be found here. After a long day of shopping, the sweet smell of food coming from the food carts lining the alleyways will make you even hungrier.

Dongdaemun Market-(55)

: Dongdaemun History &Culture park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4 or 5), Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1 or 4)

< Recommendation of Accommodations nearby >

Shilla Hotel - www.shilla.net
Grand Amvassador Hotel - www.ambatel.com
Acacia Hotel - www.hotelacacia.co.kr
Ramada Dongdaemun Hotel - www.ramadadm.com
Eastgate Tower Hotel - www.eastgatehotel.kr
Samho Hotel - www.samhohotel.com
Tong Hotel - www.tonghotel.com

Hyundai Residence - www.hyundairs.com
Euljiro Co-op Residence - www.residences.co-op.co.kr
Western Co-op Residence - www.residences.co-op.co.kr

Dongdaemun INN - www.dongdaemuninn.com
Dongdaemun Hostel - www.dongdaemunhostel.com
Beige Hostel - www.hostelbeige.com
Hostel Korea - www.hostelkorea.com
Dongdaemun Hostel - www.ddmhostel.com

Namdaemun Market-(21)

: City Hall Station (Seoul Subway Line 1 or 2), Hoehyeon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4)

< Recommendation of Accommodations nearby >

Millennium Hilton Hotel - www.hilton.co.kr
Ramada Hotel Namdaemun - www.ramadapnp.com
Hill House Hotel - www.hillhouse-hotel.com
Rex Hotel - www.hotelrex.co.kr
N Fourseason Hotel - www.nfourseason.com
Cozy Hotel - www.hotelcozy.co.kr
Manu Hotel - www.hotelmanu.com

Yoon/Jin Guesthouse - www.yjhostel.com
Seoul backpackers Guesthouse - www.seoulbackpackers.com
Kukje Guesthouse - www.kukjeguesthouse.com


Insa-dong is the place to go to see and feel traditional Korea. The streets are filled with various art works, Korean antiques, traditional teahouses and restaurants where you can experience the unique culture of Korea. There are also many souvenir shops that have traditional gifts.
* Jonggak Station (Seoul Subway Line 1), Anguk Station (Seoul Subway Line 3), Jongno 3 (sam)-ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 1 , 3 or 5)

[ Insa-dong ]
A representative traditional cultural street always full of foreigners. Filled with galleries, folk crafts shops, traditional tea shops, and Korean restaurants.

< Recommendation of Accommodations nearby >

Somerset Palace Hotel - www.somersetpalace.co.kr
Center Mark Hotel - www.centermarkhotel.co.kr
Aventree Hotel - www.aventreehotel.com
Sunbee Hotel - www.hotelsunbee.com
Frasersuites Hotel - www.frasersuitesseoul.co.kr
Tomgi Hotel - www.hoteltomgi.com
2heaven Hotel - www.hotel2heaven.co.kr
Pop Hotel - www.hotelpop.co.kr
Stay in Gam - www.stayingam.com
Citypark Hotel - www.cityparkhotel.net

Ciara920 Guesthouse - www.ciara920.com
Lavinia Guesthouse - www.laviniakorea.com
Jongnowon Guesthouse - www.jongnowon.com
Banana Backpackers - www.bananabackpackers.com
Sunshine Guesthouse - www.sunshineguesthouse.com
Guesthouse Korea - www.guesthouseinkorea.com
Yim`s House - www.seoulbusinesshotel.com
Moon Guesthouse - www.moonguesthouse.com
Beewon Guesthouse - www.beewonguesthouse.com

Ewha Womans Univ., Hongik Univ., Apgujeong-dong

Well-established designers are not the only ones setting fashion trends in Korea; young and aspiring artists also contribute to today's fashion. In the areas of Ewha Womans University, Hongik University and Apgujeong, young designers can be seen selling their creations from carts on the streets. These ambitious entrepreneurs bring life and vibrancy to the streets of Korea and are creating change within Korea's fashion industry.

Ewha Womans University Station (Seoul Subway Line 2)

Apgujeong Station (Seoul Subway Line 3, Exit 2) -(57)

< Recommendation of Accommodations nearby >

Sunshine Hotel - www.hotelsunshine.co.kr
Popgreen Hotel - www.popgreenhotel.com
Youngdong Hotel - www.youngdonghotel.co.kr

Guesthouse Gangnam - www.guesthousegangnam.com
An Guesthouse - www.anguesthouse.com
The Zip Guesthouse - www.the-zip.co.kr

Sinchon-(Seoul Subway Line 2)

Sinchon is a busy area of the city and holds several department stores, cinemas and shopping areas that cater mainly to a young crowd. Also in the vicinity are several universities such as Yonsei University, Ewha Woman’s University, Hongik University, Sogang University and Myongji University. Sinchon is also one of the major entertainment districts with bars, karaoke rooms, PC-rooms, DVD rooms, Korean billiards halls and restaurants lining the streets covered in neon lights at night. Seoul’s second largest hospital, Severance Hospital, is linked with Yonsei University in Sinchon. Hyundai Department Store is located here as well as the Uplex, which is connected to the Hyundai Department Store via an above ground walkway. The streets and area around Ewha Womans University was used as a filming location for Seoul Broadcasting System’s 2001 drama Beautiful Days, starring Lee Byung-hun, Choi Ji-woo, Ryu Shi-won, Shin Min-a, Lee Jung-hyun and Lee Yoo-jin.

< Recommendation of Accommodations nearby >

Y Hotel - www.yhotel.kr

BOA Guestgouse - www.boaguesthouse.com
JK House Guesthouse - www.jkhouse.co.kr
J Guesthouse - www.jguesthouse.com
ABC Guesthouse - www.abcseoulhouse.com
Alpha Guesthouse - www.alphaguesthouse.net
Sinchon Bluguesthouse - www.bluguesthouse.com
Shin Chon Hostel - www.sc-hostel.com

Hongdae-ap(Seoul Subway Line 2)

Hongdae-ap (the area in front of Hongik University) is a neighborhood known for its youthful and romantic ambience, underground cultures, and freedom of self-expression. Unique cafes, cozy galleries, accessory stores, fashion shops, live cafés and clubs, art markets, and gourmet eateries make this a popular hang-out for locals in their 20s and 30s and a fascinating place to walk around. These unique place plus the cultural events, street performances, and festivals held here make Hongdae-ap an area that is always packed with people and excitement. Special streets such as ateliers’ street (with full of private institutions for art students preparing for university entrance exams), Picasso’s Street, and Club Street are also must-go places if you’re hoping to fully experience the Hongdae area. Hongdae Free Market is a bazaar that features only handmade works. (Photos courtesy of the Living and Art Creative Center)

< Recommendation of Accommodations nearby >

Seokyo Hotel - www.hotelseokyo.co.kr
The Disighners Hotel Hongdae - www.thedesignershotel.com

Mr.Kim`s Friend Guesthouse - www.kimguesthouse.com
Big Choi`s Guesthouse - www.bigchoihostel.com
Hi Guesthouse - www.higuesthouse.com
Big Tree Guesthouse - www.beststay.org
BLU Guesthouse - www.bluguesthouse.com
Orange Guesthouse - www.stayorange.co.kr
Backpackers Friends Guesthouse - www.bfhostel.com
ComeINN Guesthouse - www.comeinnkorea.com
Housetay Guesthouse - www.housetay.com
Grape Garden Guesthouse - www.grapegardenhouse.com
Stay Korea Guesthouse - www.staykorea.co.kr
Seoul I Guesthouse - www.seouliguesthouse.com
Egg Hostel - www.egghostelkorea.com
Uncle Hostel - www.unclehostel.com
Twin rabbit Guesthouse - www.twinrabbit.co.kr
Pencil Guesthouse - www.hostelhongdae.com
Birdsnest Guesthouse - www.birdsnesthostel.com
May Guesthouse - www.mayguesthouse.com
Hong dae Guesthouse - www.hongdaeguesthouse.com
Bebop Guesthouse - www.bebop-guesthouse.com
Bibim Guesthouse - www.bibimguesthouse.com
Family house Guesthouse - www.fhtel.com
Family/Friends Guesthouse - www.familynfriendshouse.com
Seoulwise Guesthouse - www.seoulwise.com
Ann Guesthouse - www.annguesthouse.com
Hongsi Guesthouse - www.hongsiguesthouse.com
JJ Guesthouse - www.jjseoulhouse.com
BOA Guestgouse - www.boaguesthouse.com
Miso Guesthouse - http://www.misoguesthouse.com
OMG Hostel - www.omghostel.com
Kimchee Guesthouse Hongdae - www.hostelseoulkorea.com
Carpediem Guesthouse - www.carpediemkorea.com


The shopping district of Itaewon has its roots in the 1960s. It primarily served as a shopping district for visitors and foreign residents, but nowadays it is frequented by everyone. Itaewon is particularly loved by Korean trendsetters and fashionistas who visit the area to find new and unique items. The antique shops found here should not be missed.

Itaewon is a popular tourist and shopping destination for foreigners who visit Korea. There are over 2,000 stores clustered together with shopping centers, shops selling clothes, shoes, and bags, restaurants, recreation facilities, trading companies, travel agencies, and tourist hotels. The many English signs and many foreigners will make you feel as if you are in not in Korea. In 1997, it was designated as a special tourist zone. Japanese and Chinese, as well as English, are available at most shops due to the fact that costumers are mostly foreigners, and all kinds of requests are made. Moreover, there are special restaurants to taste the unique foods of the world. There are Turkish, Indian, Pakistani, Swiss, and Thai, and of course, authentic American food as well. Born again as one of world’s best tourist spots, Itaewon provides not only shopping opportunities but also the opportunity to see exotic and traditional Korean fashion and culture. There are many festivals held in Itaewon, such as “The World Festival”, in which shows off Korean culture as well as traditional cultures from around the world.

< Recommendation of Accommodations nearby >

Hamilton Hotel - www.hamilton.co.kr
IP Boutique Hotel - www.ipboutiquehotel.com
Crown Hotel - www.hotelcrown.com
Capital Hotel - www.hotelcapital.co.kr

IS@K Guesthouse - www.istayseoul.com
Sloth Guesthouse - www.slothguesthouse.com
Pop@Itaewon Guesthouse - www.guesthouseseoul.net
Doo Guesthouse - www.doobackpackers.com