SEOUL SEARCHING DAY#3: MYEONGDONG SHOPPING & STREET FOOD, NAMSAN TOWER

Over the years,  the  Korean beauty industry has been growing its influence in Asia and the West, popularized by Korean pop culture and bea...

Over the years, the Korean beauty industry has been growing its influence in Asia and the West, popularized by Korean pop culture and beauty trends. We have seen the rapid development and popularity of BB creams and cushion compacts by South Korean beauty companies, which have taken the beauty world by storm.


These cosmetic products have gained popularity worldwide, influencing global beauty brands such as L’Oreal, Chanel, and Dior to formulate their own BB creams, CC creams,and cushion compacts. The rising popularity of the most sought after ‘dewy skin’ and minimal make up looks have brought a major impact on skincare regimens and beauty routines. In order to achieve the beauty trends stated above, Korean intensive skincare regimens are performed daily to ensure a flawless and glowing skin. No doubt that Koreans take the well-being of their skin seriously.


Myeongdong Shopping Street

Being in the beauty hub of Asia, it is mandatory to visit Myeongdong shopping street, a paradise for beauty junkies! The streets of Myeongdong are mostly clustered with local cosmetic outlets, varying from mid-range brands like Innisfree, Nature Republic, Etude House, Holika Holika, Its Skin, and Skin Food, to a few high end brands such as Laneige and Espoir. You may find other luxurious Korean brands such as Sulwhasoo, Hera, and O Hui located at their respective counters at the departmental stores or duty-free stores such as Lotte Duty Free, Shinsegae Departmental Store, and Hyundai Department Store. Amore Pacific brands including Laneige, Iope, and Mamonde are also sold in an established beauty chain outlet, Aritaum.

 It is known that Myeongdong has many branches of the same brand, all located at a distance from one another. Walking down the streets of Myeongdong was exciting and adventurous at the same time, especially when you bump into a repeated outlet that you thought you had visited earlier. However, after many round trips made around that area, we were quite familiar with the location of the stores. Honestly, the branches in Myeongdong are not much different from each other, except sometimes, there will be certain special deals or promotions offered by selected stores.


Prior to my trip to South Korea, I have been told that the cosmetics in South Korea are ridiculously cheap or dirt cheap! Well, that’s not entirely true. I probably have a different definition of cheap. I think the term inexpensive should be used instead. Overall, the prices were slightly cheaper when compared with the established Malaysian-based online beauty stores like Hermo and Althea. Most products from Hermo were marked at slightly higher prices due to the GST charges applied.


In addition, do look out for promotions offered by the stores, as some products are worth buying, especially when you purchase in bulk! Not forgetting some outlets provide immediate tax refund for a particular purchase that you make. However, there was once when a promotion from Innisfree was not in our favour as discounts were only applied for credit card payments. Having no credit cards, we ended up not buying any Innisfree products because the undiscounted prices were similar to the online beauty stores. Facial sheet masks are the most worth buying products from South Korea. The sheet masks are normally priced at 10 000 won (~RM35) for 20 pieces, which only results in RM1.80 per piece. As far as I know, you probably will not get this price anywhere else.


Shopping Tips @ Myeongdong

1. Get your money ready!

Who will go to a shopping spree without any cash ready in their pockets? No Won.

It’s entirely up to you whether you would like to change all your Ringgit Malaysia to Korean Won in Malaysia, or change half of the amount in South Korea if you are not sure of how much you will splurge. The best rate for Korean won I got was from the money-changer in Midvalley with the conversion rate of 1000 won = RM 3.54. Note that the currency rates vary across branches in different states, even though they are under the same company.

I’m glad that I changed all my money in Malaysia earlier before the exchange rates declined gradually. However, if you prefer to change in South Korea, Myeongdong apparently seems to have good rates. There were many money-changers operating in Myeongdong and after checking them out, we found that the money-changer located next to the Chinese Embassy gave us the best rates.
How much to spend? That brings us to the next tip on the list!

2. Conduct prior research on the products that you wish to purchase.

It is always better to get more information from the brands’ official website or by reading reviews about the product that you desire to purchase. The same goes for highly raved products, as different people may have different experiences due to variability of skin types. Or if you are curious, you can just purchase it to see what the hype is about. If you are not familiar with Korean beauty products, you should start by browsing their product ranges online, to get a preview of your shopping experience in South Korea.

I listed down all the products that I wanted and categorized them according to the brands. It’ll be a whole lot easier browsing the products at a store of the particular brand while referring to your list. You may also prioritise the items that you want to buy to avoid impulsive purchases. This is highly possible as you will be spoilt for choices over the wide range of beauty products. Thus, a shopping list comes in handy! Not to mention that it saves time and gives you a direction for your shopping spree. Also, compare prices with Malaysian based websites to see which platform gives you a better deal.

3. Enquire for special deals or promotions

Most of the time promotions offered by the store do not publicise openly using banners or signs. Some deals lasting for a short period of time, were only known to walk-in customers. You may just kindly ask the sales assistant on duty. Don’t worry about language barriers as all of the sales assistants in Seoul speak Mandarin and simple English. In fact, their Mandarin was so much better than mine.

The best deal I got was from Nature Republic, where I got both moisturizer and essence from the Super Aqua Max range for only 20 000 won (~RM70.80). It was priced at RM97.90 (or maybe higher) in Malaysia.

4. Never hesitate to buy for great deals

It is the deepest regret in a shopaholic’s life if you walk away from a very good deal! Promotions vary from store-to-store of the same brand. Hence, if the deals are great, never hesitate for a second to get the item! Unless you do not mind going round the street looking for better offers. Note that Myeongdong does not have the best deals in town every time.  It occurred to me once when I spotted a promotion by Skin Food in Insadong, where they offered an additional 10% discount for foreigners! I passed because I thought I would get a better offer in Myeongdong.

5. Shamelessly request for free gifts

I was told that you can get many freebies easily at every outlet you walk into. Boy, was I wrong. Sometimes, you may need to request for free gifts whenever you make a purchase. The amount of free gifts you receive depends on the amount of items you purchased. There are some stores that generously give away free mask sheet samples for passersby.  Some even use free gifts to lure you into their shop. 

6. Duty free shops may offer lower prices

There are certain brands that sell at a lower price in duty free stores after conversion from USD to KRW. Laneige was one of the brands that provided a lower price compared to its outlet in Myeongdong. Just a heads up for those of you who plan to make a visit to Lotte Duty Free, be prepared for the crowd of Chinese tourists who will be carrying luggage bags, jostling their way to get their orders placed.  Meanwhile in Dongdaemun, Doota Duty Free Shop has a better offer for Skin Food Black Sugar Mask.


Myeongdong Street Food

In the midst of our shopping adventure, we decided to get the popular 32cm tall twist ice cream cone to beat the summer heat, besides going with the flow. The ice cream parfait comes in either a cone or a cup, depending on personal preference. Of course, you can only experience the triple length ice cream from a cone. 
 My Mango & Yogurt ice cream 
My friend's Green Tea ice cream
I picked the mango and yogurt flavour combination as I was craving for something refreshing. The equally distributed portion of mango and yogurt ice cream was neatly twisted and finished with a sharp tip. The ice cream had a faint taste of mango but the yogurt taste was obvious. This extraordinarily tall ice cream gave me a brain freeze when I was trying hard to finish it before it melted. For a brain freeze experience, you can get this ice cream for only 2000 won (~RM7.08).

Apart from cosmetics shopping, Myeongdong also offers fellow foodies a street food experience. Many food stalls began to be set up in the late evening. By nightfall, the streets of Myeongdong turned into a night market scene. We did not try every famous street food out there because we were stuffed after eating a few types. Apparently the street food in Myeongdong was relatively more expensive than other places such as in Ewha or the Hongdae area, but since we were there at that time, we thought we might as well settle for this.

The first item we tried was the Korean Egg Bread or Gyeran Bbang. It was selling like hot cakes.... I mean bread. However, there were many other stalls selling the same food items with similar prices.
 It was burning hot as it was freshly cooked from the hot plate when we received it. This bread has a fluffy muffin-like textured base that holds the egg that was cooked inside of it. The bread part was sweet and it complemented well with the slightly salty egg. Indeed a simple but delicious snack! One bread costs 2000 won (~RM7.08). I guess I should try making this at home.

I do not usually fancy sausages but I had a sudden craving for them when I saw a stall selling grilled sausages and fish cakes alternately skewered together.
 The snack was served with chilli and mustard sauce squeezed all over it. After paying 4000won (~RM14.16, it was quite an outrageous amount for street food), I happily enjoyed the sausages and fish cakes. I did not realise that there was tteokbokki (rice cake) stuffed inside the fish cake. Despite not being a fan of the chewy Korean rice cake, I found it rather good. Perhaps the fish cake gave the plain tteokbokki enough flavours.

To complete my dinner on the streets, I decided to try the odeng (fish cake) as the amount was sufficient for my stuffed belly. The fish cake was served with broth and slathered with a small amount of chilli sauce, which was optional. This snack was about 2000 won (~RM7.08), which tasted pretty much normal, like the ones found in yong tau foo dishes.

Address: Myeongdong-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
How did we get there?
Take Line 4 (Blue) to Myeong-dong and then proceed to Exit 6.  Go 100m straight, then turn left.


Namsan Tower

Just 1.4km south from the shopping street, Namsan Tower stood majestically on top of Namsan Mountain, offering a bird's-eye view of the largest metropolis of South Korea. It was renamed as N Seoul Tower, where ‘N’ stands for New after the landmark underwent a remodeling project.
We took the Namsan Orumi, a slanted elevator that led us up to the boarding place of the Namsan cable car. The cable car then took us to the base of Namsan Tower. 
We stepped into the roof terrace, a wooden viewing deck at the base of the tower. Love birds flocked at this area to declare their undying love towards each other, which was symbolised by padlocks attached to the railings of the deck. There were thousands of colourful padlocks and each of them tells a different love story. 
Beyond the deck, we observed a beautiful urban landscape of the metropolis before us. As dusk was setting in, the city lights began to light up. 

 Behind us, Namsan Tower was brightly illuminated by green lights, looking like a giant Carlsberg beer bottle.


Address: 105, Namsangongwon-gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
How did we get there?
From Myeongdong, Walk in the direction of traffic along the main road, towards Shinsegae department store and Hoehyeon station. You will come to a big junction at the end of the road, then turn left and continue walking. So you are literally walking in an L shaped path from the subway exit for about 20mins. You will reach a slanted elevator which is known as the Namsan Oreumi (2mins up). Take it to the top and walk a few minutes to the station.
Admission fees:
[Observatory]
Adults 10,000 won / Children & Seniors 8,000 won
[Cable Car]
- Operating hours: 10:00-23:00
- Fare:
Individuals (round-trip ticket): Adults 8,500 won / Children & Seniors 5,500 won
Individuals (one-way ticket): Adults 6,000 won / Children & Seniors 3,500 won
Groups (round-trip ticket): Adults 7,000 won / Children & Seniors 4,500 won
Groups (one-way ticket): Adults 5,000 won / Children & Seniors 3,000 won

* Groups: 30 or more people



That's all from us on our 3rd day in Seoul. Do stay tuned for more updates, especially regarding my reviews on the shopping hauls from Myeongdong!





You Might Also Like

20 comments

  1. Wow, so many nice shop and food there! Must save enough money to spend and eat there :P

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing, Eunice! It's gonna be a good reference to me if I happen to travel to Seoul next year.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice tips especially the one with shamelessly ask for free gifts. Hahahha but I'm not that good in asking free gifts from people

    ReplyDelete
  4. i am looking at the ice cream. yummmz

    ReplyDelete
  5. Omg you lucky lucky girl. Making me jealous :( I wanna go to Korea so badly!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for sharing all these shopping tips. I am sure they will come in handy for those of us who are planning to visit Korea soon.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Looks like an interesting place to shop and get myself nice food. Will plan my visit to Seoul soon.

    ReplyDelete
  8. i need some seoul searching too.. :) my last trip to seoul was a decade ago. OMG.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I miss Seoul already! I miss shopping those skincare until drop! I bought about 10kg skincare at Myeongdong.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Such a great place! So many ops for shopping and eating.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I miss Seoul! Love the Gyeran Bbang sooooo much. hope they have one in KL too sigh

    ReplyDelete
  12. So pretty Seoul are!!! I love shopping and I think I will be crazy shopping around Myeongdong!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Absolutely loved all the pictures here dear and going around Myeongdong must have been an experience to remember. I think its about time I head on over to Seoul soon.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I definitely need some Seoul searching after looking at your post!
    So much to do so much to eat!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. ice cream!!! so huge! and looks so delicious!!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I miss my time there in Seoul... I wish I can go back there again but it would probably be in 2018.... huhuh

    ReplyDelete
  17. Haven't been to Korea before, will bookmark this post for my travel reference :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I can't wait korea trip in next year ! Really need to do research and write a list before going myeong dong ! Or otherwise i will be confused ! haha XD

    ReplyDelete
  19. I can't wait to visit korea for all the shopping available there! Myeongdong somehow reminds me of Harajuku haha!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Look like you have fun! I miss korea!

    ReplyDelete