3 TIPS FOR SHOPPING IN SEOUL
1. BE WISE WITH YOUR MONEY
It is recommended to exchange your currency into Won within Korea. The best local exchange shops are found in the Namdaemun and Myeongdong areas. You can also find banks and ATMs everywhere.
Familiarize yourself with the Won notes and coins to avoid mix-up when shopping.
Study the world of tax refunds. If you buy high-value items or shopped a certain amount, you can be entitled to tax-free claims at the airport.
When shopping, let the cashier know you’re a tourist and they’ll give you a special invoice. Bring your passport because, if you spend a certain amount, some stores offer you a rebate on the spot. This saves you the tedious process at the airport.
Before your flight, calculate the amount you can claim back. If it’s worth the hassle of lining up at the tax refund counter and opening your luggage to show your items, then go for it.
2. BRING AN EXTRA LUGGAGE
Even if you have no plans to binge shop in Korea, you’ll be surprised at how much stuff you’d accumulate and bring back in your flight.
Stores lure you in with free samples and bundle promotions. If you’re a serious buyer, don’t be shy to bargain and ask for more samples.
Buying in bulk, especially in beauty shops, is the real deal. Combine your purchases with a friend so you can get cheaper prices and more freebies.
Bring a backpack or a huge bag to carry all of your purchases.
3. PLAN YOUR SPREE
Map out your shopping itinerary to avoid spending all your money in just one place.
Shopping districts in Seoul specializes in different types of items.
- Myeongdong (famous fashion district with the trendiest and most expensive stores) – known for cosmetics, offers lots of freebies
- Dongdaemun (largest wholesale and retail area) – affordable street market style clothing
- Namdaemun (largest outdoor flea market) – cheap souvenirs
- Insadong (cultural shopping) – traditional souvenirs and antiques
- E-dae (near Ehwa Women’s University) – youngster clothes and women’s fashion items
- Hongdae (near Hongik University) – bags and trendy clothing
For a lazy and cheap skate shopper like me, any underground shopping is the best!