Traveling to Seoul? Don’t know what to bring back? We can help!
by Rachelle “Roach”
Seoul is a fantastic city. There’s the history, the cuisine, the lush green parks amidst futuristic skylines…and then there’s the shopping. Any trip to this bustling capital needs to include some time to explore the buys the city has to offer. From beauty hotspots, to frenetic markets, to a burgeoning indie fashion scene, Seoul’s got it all!
Without a little guidance and restraint, you’ll most definitely come home broke. To prevent this, we’ve helpfully put together a list of the best and brightest of Seoul’s shopping scene.
There are possibly more socks than people in Seoul. You can find them decorated with anyone and anything. They make great, inexpensive gifts, but don’t forget to throw in a few extra for your feet, too!
2. Korean Cutlery
Bring home some flatware that will make eating as fun as it is delicious! You’ve got options here — pick up some Pororo training chopsticks for the kids in your life, some “grown up” metal chopsticks (find out why only Korea’s chopsticks are metal!), or simply find some classy cutlery that suit your own tastes!
3. Mask Sheets
These strange-looking but ultra soothing masks have made their way into Western beauty stores, but there is a wider, cheaper array of options if you get them in Seoul. Hit up the beauty block in Seoul’s Myeongdong neighborhood, where you’ll find rows of beauty stores. Among them is Olive Young, the ‘Sephora of Korea’ that’s still nowhere to be found outside the country.
No one does stationary like Korea. Check out stores like Artbox for cards, sticky notes, and planners with cutesy character drawings and English wording that makes little to no sense.
5. Pencil Cases
They’re good for more than just carrying pencils. Throw some loose change or makeup brushes in there, if you want! Just like the stationary, Korean pencil cases are not like any others.
6. Hanji, or Korean Paper
Papermaking is one of Korea’s perfected ancient arts, and Hanji is made from a tree native to Korea. This is just about the most authentic souvenir you can get in Seoul. There are thousands of colors and designs to choose from in specialty Hanji stores at the Namdaemun Market and Insadong neighborhood. They’re the perfect gift for the craft lovers in your life.
Koreans sing the praises of ginseng as a cure to nearly any ailment. Pick up some red ginseng tea, supplements, candy, or tonics at one of the hundreds of ginseng stores that dot Seoul streets and decide for yourself if it eases all your pains.
8. Phone Cases
You know when you’re watching K-Dramas, and you see bunny ears or french fries sticking out of the main character’s phone case? You can get all those cases and more from street vendors and accessory stores all across Seoul.
9. K-Pop Goods
If you’re a K-Pop lover, this is your time to load up on paraphernalia. You’ll find K-Pop trinkets just about anywhere you look. For the legit stuff, though, head to the official stores run by the labels, like the SM Entertainment’s SUM Market that specializes in snacks with their K-Pop stars’ faces on them, or 20 Space, a cafe owned by Cube Entertainment where you might also catch a glimpse of your favorite idol.
10. Traditional Artwork & Crafts
Korea’s history of handiwork is rich and multi-layered. Go to neighborhoods such as Insadong and the Bukchon Hanok Village to marvel at gorgeous traditional artwork like pottery, porcelains, and hanboks.
After your morning tea…switch to something a little more fun! Whether you bring home the cheap ol’ standby or a specialty variety, every suitcase from Seoul should have a little of the good stuff.
12. Up and Coming Fashion
Fashion trends don’t hit Korea; they start in Korea. Stroll the streets of the Namdaemun Night Market, Myeongdong and the Ewha Woman’s University Fashion Street to pick up apparel that will turn heads back home.
13. Hair Accessories
Anything you thought you could put in your hair, you’ll find in Seoul. And anything you didn’t know you could put in your hair? You’ll find that in Seoul, too.
14. Couple Clothes
I know — it’s SUPER cheesy. But, Korea’s market for couple clothing has gotten super fashionable, so don’t make a judgement just yet! Make them a cute gift for your newly engaged friends, or save them for your own significant other.
15. Our personal favorite – Snacks!
You saw this one coming, but what can we say? Seoul snacks are the best snacks. Better bring an extra suitcase.
Featured Image Source: english.visitkorea.or.kr