5 places to go K-beauty shopping in Seoul…that aren’t Myeongdong

Shopping in Korea is the ultimate K-beauty addict’s dream – shelves upon shelves of iconic brands, beckoning as far as the eye can see. It’s heaven. Korea is now famed the world over for its beauty shopping experience, attracting tourists from around the globe to shop until they drop – and they all seem to head to one area, and one area alone. Myeongdong.

It’s quite simply the epicentre of the K-beauty shopping world, and it is fantastic, there’s no way to deny it. If you want to visit a place where there are literally three Nature Republics on the very same street, Myeongdong is calling your name. If you fancy visiting those three Nature Republics along with the world and his wife, then Myeongdong is still the place for you. However, if you want to experience K-beauty shopping at a slightly lighter pace, and avoid the frantic shoppers banging on the door of Laneige and screaming for it to open up (no, really, I’ve seen it), then these K-beauty shopping areas will be right up your street.

Here are five places to go K-beauty shopping in Seoul where you’ll (mostly) beat the crowds, and maybe see something new while you’re at it.

1. Ewha Woman’s University

Ewha Woman’s University, found at Idae-yeok (이대역) is one of my favourite places to shop in Seoul, admittedly more for clothes than for beauty, but why not both? Ewha fashion street is a great place to scoop up some bargain tees, but if you head down from the station past most of the clothing stores, you’ll find K-beauty shops galore. This women-friendly area is home to the world’s largest female institute, Ewha Woman’s University. Any area in Seoul with a university is pretty much a great spot for shopping, and for dining out in the evenings too, so if in doubt, head to a university metro stop, and let your feet guide you!

Shopping at Ewha fashion street Seoul

Stores to watch out for:

Golden Eight (discounts and deals on a wide range of brands, though as of July 2019 I have been informed this may be either closed for reconstruction or permanently shut), El Cube by Lotte, W. Lab, AHC Playzone.

2. Jamsil underground shopping centre

Jamsil is home to the Lotte World Tower, which is where you’ll also find the Lotte World Mall, a huge complex of stores just begging to be explored. However, I’d recommend exploring the underground world of Jamsil metro station before you head up to the dizzying heights of Seoul Sky and the floors upon floors of shops to be found at Lotte. Exploring the underground area, you’ll find bargains galore, and will be joined by locals also looking to secure a great deal or a fashionable find. Grab yourself a bubble tea from Gong Cha as you head in from the metro, and lose yourself in the maze of shops. You can easily spend hours here!

Stores to watch out for:

LaLavLa (Korea’s version of Watson’s).

You’ll also be a short metro ride away from Gangnam Underground Shopping Mall, which is also great, and slightly more hip! If you surface from the underground mall at Gangnam, you’ll also be just a stroll away from the impressive high-rises and the incredibly cool Samsung D’light exhibition.

3. Sinchon Station

Another university area, Sinchon makes my list before Hongdae, because it’s a little less crowded, and way cooler, if you ask me. The main street heading down from the metro (exit one or four) is absolutely bursting with life, and exploring the winding streets branching off it will take you right into student heaven. Not just great for shopping, this area is fantastic for cheap barbecue, and all sorts of delicious Korean food is to be found in the never-ending streets.

You’ll find every road shop you ever dreamed of, if that’s what you’re looking for (think Holika Holika, Tony Moly, The Face Shop), but if you’re keen to break free and find some newer brands which are more difficult to find elsewhere, head into the huge Olive Young, LOHB, or LaLavLa in Sinchon – they showcase so many brands that you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Stores to watch out for:

The larger Aritaum on the main street, as it’s full of brands other than the usual Laneige/Hanyul/Mamonde. I found Commleaf, MakePrem, and Euyira here, to name but a few.

4. COEX Mall

Okay, it was obvious, but the world’s largest underground shopping centre had to make it onto here somehow. If you want to be completely spoilt for choice, head here. You may also be completely overwhelmed by said choice, but it’s fun to wander round the many many underground streets here. There are several department stores housed in the building, and don’t forget to bring your passport to get immediate tax free spends. I highly recommend the duty free area in the Hyundai Department Store, though you will get hounded by salespeople. Stick your headphones on and do your thing – it helps a lot.

If you’re all shopped out, the food sections in the department stores in Korea are also incredible and well worth a look. You can try all sorts of delicious foods, not just from Korea, but from other parts of the world – or at least, food inspired by other parts of the world. Department store food in Europe tends to suck, but not so here! When I lived in Korea, I used to eat in department store food sections at least once a week: cheap and tasty!

Stores to watch out for:

Duty free shopping at any of the department stores, plus here you’ll find the famous Starfield Library.

K-beauty shopping COEX mall

5. Garuso-gil/Apgujeong

If you’re feeling flush, head to Apgujeong station and walk down towards Garuso-gil, a street in the Sinsa-dong area of the city. This street is famed as a fancy, upmarket shopping street, which is surrounded by cool bars, cafés, and designer stores. If you’ve got cash to burn, you’ll easily spend it here. Many plastic surgery centres, beauty clinics, and spas are also to be found in the area, so if you’re looking for facial treatments (such as a peel), you’ll easily find them here. Sulwhasoo‘s amazing spa is in the area, and it’s worth checking out the store attached to it, spread out across several floors of luxury, even if you don’t get a beauty treatment done.

Stores to watch out for:

A-Land, Huxley flagship store, Sum:37, History of Whoo, Sulwhasoo.

Shopping at the Huxley flagship store Seoul
Beautiful display at the Huxley flagship store

Ready to flash your cash? Stray away from Myeongdong and get to know the city even more as you explore some of the best places to go K-beauty shopping in Seoul. I hope you enjoy your stay in one of the world’s greatest cities, and find all the beauty treats you were looking for!

Let me know about your shopping experience in Seoul in the comments!

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