Myeongdong is one of the busiest shopping district in Seoul, Korea. In this trip, it was a good area for me to stay hence I chose the hotel nearby with walking distance to Euljiro 1 (il)-ga subway Station. It was very convenient to me as I commuted by trains all the time with short distance to places such as Dongdaemun, Bukchon, Ewha Women University, Hongdae, Garosu-gil, Apgujeong etc.
Myeongdong street is a perfect location for the cosmetics/skincare lovers to shop for their favourate brands such as Tony Moly, Holika Holika, The Face Shop, Innisfree, Etude House, Nature Republic, Skin Food, ARITAUM and Olive young etc. If you are not satisfied after all these, you can even walk to Lotte Department Store - Lotte Duty Free Shop to continue your day. One thing to take note is the operating hours, general operating hours: 10:30-20:00 and it varies according to different stores. One of the reasons I chose hotel in Myeongdon was to "drop-off" my shopping bags before I proceed to continue the shopping journey - you gotta be smart when you travel!
Myeongdon Map - Source: Seoul Metropolitan Government Brochure
Almost every skin care/ make up/ facial companies offer free facial mask to lure your into their shop, it is a common marketing pulling techniques.
Buy 1 Free 1 appeared to be the common promotion, I was offer more free gifts with more purchase (i.e. more than 300,000 Won/ 500,000 Won). When I purchased more than 300,000 Won, I was offered a hand carry hard case luggage. Since I went to Korea with one check in luggage and a hand carry, I negotiated to exchange that for other products so she changed it to face wash (not a small sample but a 200ml tube), masks, cucumber water tube etc. So depends on your negotiation skills, the deal could be better but I was happy because the airline would have charged this additional luggage should I decide to take it.
Some shops even wanted instant purchase and emphasized it was the last night of the promotion, I found the promotion remained the same for that week during my stay (Please note it was correct as in Aug 2016, the promotion/ prices may change from time to time). For those who are interested in beauty products shopping and first timer to Seoul, I definitely recommend to have a clear mind or to get some research done before your trip. The shopping paradise is full of temptations that hard to resist (or at least for me anyway), so just always remember - there are always more shops within short distance. Why are you in a hurry?
* Skincare products can be very heavy, watch out for your luggage limit planning before you go crazy to purchase your favorite products. My luggage limit with Korean Air was 23kg (It was 9kg before departure), I was struggling a little bit on my return flight.
Purchase items with receipts total of 30,000 Won and above usually entitled VAT Tax Refund. When I mentioned “usually”, it means some small shops do not practice it. Some claimed that they didn’t participate for VAT Tax refund, so make sure you check before making any purchases. Usually large companies such as Lotte Department Store, Skincare/cosmetic companies etc participate in the tax refund scheme. The refund process could be complicated but I had collected a good amount from it.
If you are looking into saving some money with the taxes, you can then think carefully before you purchase. For example, I purchased my skincare products with the same brand and hence the receipts exceeded 30,000 Won to be eligible for tax refund.
Please make sure you bring along your passport wherever you go and show it to the cashier before making payment.
Korean Street Food
Personally I would recommend to visit during the evening with all street stalls selling amazing popular Korean street food. When I mentioned "amazing" - it was absolutely delicious! Since I was staying in Meyongdong, I was glad to have visited for a few nights and still haven't finished trying all street food in Myeongdong. Make sure you have an empty stomach to enjoy those amazing street food before starting your shopping. In Seoul, many retails shops/ shopping centres do not allow customers to bring food or beverages into their premises.
Below are some Korean Street food that I would like to recommend to those who haven't tried before:
Tteokbokki with glazed fried chicken
It is some deep fried chicken pieces coated with sweet chilli sauce and the famouse Korean rice cake. It costed 5,000 Won but I had it for consecutive two days! It was served in a paper cup so it was handy to walk around with it.
Korean Fish Shaped Waffle with Vanilla Ice Cream and Honeycomb
I paid for 4,000 Won for this Korean dessert, it was interesting simply because of the honeycomb as topping, delicious and fun to eat. The vanilla ice cream was smooth and creamy while the honeycomb was oozing down all over the ice cream, further enhanced the smoothness texture.
It costed 2,000 Won but some were selling at a cheaper rate for smaller size.
It was some sort of baked bean muffin with an egg on top. I liked the muffin but the egg was too dry for me. Not that something I would buy it again but no regret of trying it out.
Rose Ice Cream
The promotion was 3,800 Won for two flavour of yogurt ice cream - Yogurt and Strawberries. There were other flavours in the menu but I wanted to try this. Presentation wise, it was creative to have the ice cream in rose shape and it was colourful. As for the taste, it was unforgettable and I could have it again in my next trip to Korea. The original flavour yogurt was so refreshing that I could taste the light sour yet sweet yogurt. It goes well with Strawberry flavour which was a great combination for a summer treat! As compared to the Gelato from Italy or Australia which was smooth and thick, the Korean Rose Shaped Ice Cream was refreshing and light.
It wasn't my first trip to Korea but it was my first solo trip to Seoul so I thought about the safety issue before departure, this trip just simply so awesome that I didn't have to worry about it at all. Even when I was shopping at Myeongdong, I saw the cutest police station just along the street. How adorable was that?
Myeongdong is indeed a happening place to go in Seoul, Korea. Hope you guys enjoy reading!
A country rich in history, culture. If you have never tried the delicious Korean food, it's colourful culture, or perhaps check out the plastic surgery industry - this definitely is a popular destination for Asia.