Filipinos when traveling will always make time to look for “pasalubong” or souvenir and here in Korea, there are 2 known places where you can find those items.
Myeongdong street is a shopping area where international fashion brands, as well as luxury ones, are located. Cosmetic shops, Beauty bars, cafes, and nightlife can also be found here. Streetfood lovers don’t frit, they also have it here.
If you want to catch a big sale, visit Myeongdong shopping district during their festivals which happens twice a year. Visit at the end of March to the middle of April or the month of September; besides product sale witness also parades, fashion shows, dance performance, and other activities.
International and known brands you can find in Myoengdong are Lacoste, Polo Ralph Lauren, H&M, Zara, Forever 21, Bulgari and Louis Vuitton, Addidas etc.
Namdaemun market is like the Divisoria of Seoul, it is a traditional market and it is the oldest and largest market in Korea.
Unlike in Myeongdong, here you can find ginseng roots in bottles and dried products for your cooking and health needs. There are stores that sell used cameras, clothing, and shoes at a cheaper price, hanbok, and other souvenirs items that are inexpensive.
Namdaemun is open 24 hours but it’s more lively during at night starting from 10PM to 4AM where most stores are open and people are now flocking to shop.
Tips when shopping
When shopping for items (non-food) abroad, this is the time where you do the conversion of currency and see if it’s really a good deal.
- Check first here in the Philippines or to your own country the items that you want to buy the price, then compare it with the pricing in the country where you visited if it’s cheaper.
- If they’re the same in all aspects like quality, price, or even brand name then I suggest that it’s better to buy it in your country. It’s pointless to carry and add it to your luggage the items that you can just buy in your own country.
- Make sure you check your own country’s customs as well as your visited country’s customs policy if they allow the items you are buying to be transported.
- Make a list of what you want to buy. Unless you are a prince/princess, a king or a sultan, or you are just lucky enough to have overflowing cash then a list of items you want to buy is not necessary. Budgeting makes you a wise and humble shopper.
- As much as possible don’t bring cash especially for tech-savvy countries like Korea. Make use of debit cards, credit cards, T-Money, or digital wallets because sometimes especially credit cards offer rebit or some perks (just do your research first). Korea is a safe country and it’s very less likely that you will be robbed in the streets but sometimes with the cash, you might misplace it or fall when you grab it from your pocket.
- Utilize the tax refund, if you buy in Myeongdong most stores are offering tax-free claims. Refundable tax is 10% VAT; for cash refunds, you need a passport, credit card, receipts, and tax refund slip. Show it to the refund counter on the third floor, the departure floor, in front of gate 28 at Incheon International Airport.
- Myeongdong and Namdaemun are not the only places where you can find great deals, especially in clothing. Check also near universities, where the stores’ target market is students. As you know students have limited cash yet love fashion so they are picky and quality conscious thus their prices for fashion items may not that high and the items are in good quality. This is what I noticed when we are heading to Trick Eye Museum where the closest university is Hongik University (Hongdae).