Seoul is a bustling metropolis with a population of over 25+ million people. If you are a first-timer around this city, then it’s safe to say that you will be overwhelmed by all the blinking neon lights, the 20-something story buildings, and massive Samsung LED TV Screens on every wall of every building.
And if you like to shop, then Seoul might just be your soul mate. The city is mecca when it comes to shopping malls. In my mind, it ranks up there with Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taipei for being one of the world’s top shopping destinations.
Around the city, you can find A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G that you can possibly think of. From Western-style shopping malls, to traditional markets, keep your eyes peeled for hand-made goods, top-notch designer stores, cheap or expensive clothing, goods, electronics, food, textiles, and more. The chaos is real. There are just too many options to choose from.
To be honest with you, I’m not really a shopper myself, but I do enjoy walking around the shopping malls to entertain myself and see what there is to buy.
After living in Seoul for about a year-and-a-half, I have put together a complete list of the 8 best shopping malls in Seoul
If you are just looking for the most popular shopping districts in Seoul, then head over to Myeongdong, Dongdaemun or Namdaemun.
I hope you enjoy!
1. Times Square
Opened in 2009, Times Square is one of the largest malls in Korea.
This mega, multi-purpose mall has a hotel, a cinema, departmen stores, and hundreds of other shops in one complex. There are nice founains and gardens, and a glass-foor leisure space that stretches up 5 stories.
In addition to the general “shopping mall stores,” there is also a Shinsegae Department Store, a Courtyard by Marriott hotel, banquet center, game center, coffee shops, E-Mart, and more in this area. Even pubs! This mall also has plenty of food options from Korean to many international cuisines. This place is so big that you will get lost, but that’s okay because you can stay here for an entire day.
Location –> Yeongdeungpo Station. Follow the signs through the underground mall
COEX is considered the largest underground mall in Asia. Recently, the mall is going through some heavy construction until late 2015 (projected), but it’s still worth a visit when you go to Seoul. When it’s all said and done, COEX mall will be part of a massive complex which also includes Hyundai Department Store, a large aquarium, a duty free shop, KEB foreigner desk, Grand Intercontinental Hotel, and more.
Side note: across the street from the COEX complex to the northwest of the mall is the Bongeunsa Buddhist temple. It’s free and absolutely worth a visit. You’ll find yourself in relative silence in the middle of a large city, not to mention seeing one of the largest Buddha statues in Seoul.
Location –> (Line 2 Samseong Station exit 6 or Line 9 COEX Station)
3. Central City
Adjacent to Seoul’s largest bus terminal is the Central City Shopping Complex. The mall also features a record store, bookstore, and more. In addition to the main mall area, there are plenty of other shops and cafes under the terminal, but like most of Express Bus Terminal, it can be a bit of a maze. I get lost everytime I walk around this mall and I’ve been here several times!
Central City mostly caters to the higher-end crowd with the JW Marriott Hotel and Shinsegae in the same complex, not to mention Marquis Thermal Spa & Fitness Club, a wedding hall, and Family Center, an entertainment center for children. If easily finding things isn’t your strong point, Central City has a main entrance at its north end. Exit the north side of Express Bus Terminal and walk west toward Shinsegae.
Location –> At the Express Bus Terminal Station in Gangnam
4. Lotte Mall
Lotte Mall is your classic Western-style shopping mall. It opened it’s doors in late 2011, and it’s located adjacent to Gimpo Airport.
Lotte mall has set the bar high for modern and luxury malls in Seoul. It has several floors and even a rooftop observatory so you can watch the planes go by. Outside of this mall is a nice pond and a playground which is also a brilliant musical fountain several times a day. The food in Lotte Mall is some of the best around, so if you aren’t going to buy anything, then you can have a feast!
Location –> Gimpo Airport Station
5. Garden 5
Garden 5 gets its name from the 5 sections that the mall was made into. They are Living, Young, Fashion, Techno and Tool. In addition to these sections, there is also an E-Mart (big grocery store), and a rooftop garden that offers amazing views of Gangnam.
The only issue with Garden 5 is that it’s undergoing some massive construction right now. However, it’s still worth a visit because may of the stores are still open. If you are in the area, check it out!
Location –> Jangji Station exit 3
6. D- Cube City
As one of Seoul’s newest and most impressive malls, D-Cube opened it’s doors in 2011 and has shocked the city ever since. This place is paradise for shoppers.
The design is world-class and modern. There is a nicely lit waterfall dropping from the top floor to the basement level. In the basement, you can find an overwhelming amount of food options. If you need to buy anything electronic, then head over to the Sindorim Techno Mart which is located adjacent to the mall complex. Anything else that you need to buy can be found from the stores inside of the mall.
Location –> Sindorim Station exit 1
7. IFC Mall
The IFC Mall is located in the basement of Seoul’s tallest Skyscraper in Yeouido (near the river). You can easily spend an entire day at the IFC mall and around the area. If the weather is sunny, hang out my the Hangang river park when you are feeling tired, and explore the mall when you’re feeling active.
The IFC Mall is an international style, which has famous global fashion brands like Hollister, a two-floor H&M, Lush and more. There is also a movie theater and an awesome food court inside, offering lots of Korean and foreign foods.
IFC MALL is Korea’s first mall of international style where you can meet famous global fashion brands, including some first stores in Korea, such as Hollister, and the best domestic fashion labels.
And when you’re done shopping, check out the famous Mapo bridge over the Han River, which is a 5 minute walk outside the mall!
Location –> Yeouido Station exit 3
Last but not least is Mecenatpolis Mall, and it’s a personal favorite. This mall is more of a hidden gem than anything, which is why I added it to this list. It’s adjacent to Hapjeong station, but it’s tucked under a sizeable apartment complex making it hard to find.
The mall isn’t large by any means, but it has an impressive display of flowers, fountains gardens and art projects. There are some fantastic food options and a nice selection of stores to roam around.
It’s possible to get off at Hapjeong station and not realize that this mall exists, which makes it that much more prestigious!
Location –> Hapjeong Station exit 9 and 10