Depending on where you’re coming from, shopping in Seoul can be very cheap. But who doesn’t like saving even more money! In this post, we give you Seoul insider tips on where to go, who to buy from, how to get free stuff and how to strong arm your way to the price you want!
If you’re looking to shop for clothes in Seoul, there are numerous underground shopping centers that are known for bargain shopping (mostly for Korean fashion). Even the uber expensive Lotte Department Store in Myeongdong is connected to a very long underground shopping center with tons of inexpensive goods. Prices start from as low as 5,000 won for tees and even sweaters. But most items will be priced between the 10,000 won and 20,000 won range. Two of the biggest and most popular underground shopping centers are in Gangnam Station (Line 2), and the confusingly labeled Gangnam Underground Shopping Arcade (located at Express Bus Terminal Station, Line 3, 7 and 9). Come here if you want to save money and want to look like a Korean drama superstar (no guarantees ).
Useful link: DiscoveringKorea (video above is also from discovering Korea)
This is by far one of the cheapest ways to shop in Korea. These (usually) men drive around Seoul with their goods in tow to save on rent and sell you cheap stuff. Items range from clothes, produce, cooked banchan, roasted chicken, knives, magnets, and pretty much anything else that can fit in the back of a truck. Most of these trucks will be parked in residential areas, so if you’re only hanging out in tourist areas, it may be difficult to come across a truck full o savings. But if you do, take the chance to see what they got. Take it from us, they will have some of the cheapest buys in town.
If you’re a Korea newb, you should know that Dongdaemun is the center of Korean fashion. That’s where all the good stuff comes from. And in Dongdaemun there are these huge buildings (like Doota or Migliore) where tons of Korean designers gather to watch Korean dramas together and sometimes to sell you nice clothes. But while it’s nice that Korean fashion is all located in one place, you can pretty much find the same items for cheaper on the streets. Also, the buildings are very strict with their policy on bargaining, but the streets? That’s where the rebels are. If you’re good at bargaining, go down to the streets for a battle (see next tip).
Not coming to Seoul anytime soon? You can shop Korean Fashion online now!
Bargaining in Korea used to be the norm everywhere you went. And although it’s not as prevalent as it was before, it definitely isn’t dead. You can still get into pricing wars with street and subway vendors, truck guys (see #2), market ajoomas, and even unexpected places like department stores (mostly for food). Most people will brush you off if you’re asking for a discount on one 10,000 won T-shirt. But once you start buying multiple items, or if you’re making an expensive purchase, you can try engaging in an economic debate. As for how to bargain, it’s the same anywhere in the world, but just in case, here’s an example:
You see a jacket you like and the street vendor says it’s 70,000 won.
You: Wow, it’s so expensive. I like it but, it’s too much! (Expressing your interest but inviting the vendor to change the price).
Vendor: (takes the bait) Well, how much?
You: 50,000 won.
You: (thinking) dammit!
Congratulations! You could have gone lower, but at least you didn’t pay 70,000
Asking for free stuff is pretty common in Korea. If you’re spending a lot of money, or maybe using your egyo powers to flirt with workers, you can usually ask for free goods (or a phone number ). The free things you ask for should be small in comparison to what you’re buying. And when you do ask for free stuff, most of the time you have to be a bit specific with what you want. Here’s a few examples:
If they say no, ask them what they can give for free. And if they’re not willing to give you anything, see what they say when you start heading to the store next door Hardcore bargaining ftw!
Have any other tips you’d like to share about shopping in Seoul for cheap? Share with us in the comments!
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Keith Kim is a Korean-American living in Seoul, Korea. He likes espresso shots, photography art and he loves his Playstation 3. He started seoulistic.com as a hobby site, and is now in the process of turning it into a full-time business. Wish him luck! Check out his blog for an uncensored view on entrepreneurship, dating and life in Korea. Personal Blog: gyopokeith.com Facebook: facebook.com/gyopokeithkim Twitter: @gyopokeith Youtube: "Gyopokeith e-mail me anytime at: gyopokeith [at] gmail.com