Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is considered as the largest city of South Korea and one of the most highly populated cities all over the world. It is a favorite destination in Asia not only because of its colorful culture and historical landmarks but because of its growing reputation of being every shopping addictâ€™s version of heaven on earth.
I have very fond memories of my shopping escapades in Seoul. I remember that after I checked in at my hotel in Seoul, I deposited my bags in my room and prepared myself to shop â€˜til I drop. My heart was even pounding in my chest the moment I stepped out of my hotel.
I got to visit this bustling city in April when lovely Magnolias and Cherry Blossoms line the streets. The weather was also quite cool — perfect for a entire day of shopping!
There are a number of shopping areas in Seoul. For starters, I visited the Namdaemun Market, one of the popular shopping stops in Seoul. This was my first stop as it only took me about ten minutes to reach this place from my hotel. This market is so huge that it occupies many city blocks and has a couple of entrances. You can buy absolutely everything here! Enter one store and the store owner will try to make you buy all kinds of tea from Green Tea, to Jasmine Tea to the local Ginseng tea and roots. You can even sample Ginseng Tea in some stores! In another stall, you can purchase all kinds of Korean souvenirs like key chains, to mobile phone charms, Korean dolls, chopsticks, paper weight, and many others. There are dozens of stores that sell clothes, shoes, bags, and even jewelry. Retailers are known to purchase their goods at the Namdaemun market at wholesale prices so that they can sell again in their own stores.
From the Namdaemun Market, I walked to the Seoul Metropolitan Station and traveled by subway to the Itaewon Market. The Itaewon Station is a station on line 6 of the subway and is next to Noksapyeong and Hangangjin Stations. For some reason, the Itaewon Market is a famous destination among foreigners â€“ tourists or expats â€“ who are in Korea.
The best part is vendors stay up late so you can extend your shopping time until the wee hours of the morning. Given that a lot of foreigners frequent this place, vendors are known to speak some English and some shops even accept credit cards. There are also hotels in the area like the Hamilton Hotel, Capital Hotel, Crown Itaewon Hotel, and the Itaewon Hotel.
Another fun stop for shopping is the COEX Mall. As with any other mall in any country, you will find restaurants, retail shops, food courts, record stores, etc. You can also count on friendly service from almost everyone in the mall and you will surely feel that they take good care of their customers. While at the COEX Mall, make sure that you make the following side trips:
*MEGABOX CINEPLEX â€“ This is the awesome theater of the COEX Mall. You can check out their IMAX Theater!
*AQUARIUM â€“ The mall aquarium where youâ€™ll see all sorts of marine animals.
*BANDI AND LUNIâ€™s â€“ This is the mallâ€™s bookstore.
*THE KIMCHI MUSEUM â€“ Learn more about Kimchi, Koreaâ€™s local delicacy, and purchase some for you to bring back home.
You can find out more about the COEX Mall by visiting their website: http://www.coexmall.com. You will also see directions as to how you can reach the mall from the Incheon International Airport.
At another time, I decided to take a cab from my hotel and go to Myung-dong. I got to the place in less than 10 minutes and the taxi fare was not bad at only US$ 2.00! Prices vary here so you will surely find something that will fit your budget.
You will find expensive shops that sell fashion labels such as Gucci, Prade and Fendi and there are stores that sell non-branded items that are still of good quality. One thing that I noticed, though, was that you cannot do much haggling in this shopping area even for those items that were being sold on the streets.
After visiting all those stops, I can assure you that youâ€™ll be going back to your hotel weighed down by the number of bags that youâ€™re carrying. Then youâ€™ll think to yourself, who are you to complain? You are in one of the best shopping cities in Asia and you might as well make the most out of the shopping experience while you can.