[Updated 15 October 2021]
One of the best things about visiting Seoul is definitely shopping! ? No matter what's your budget, you'll be spoilt for choice at every price point. From the large duty-free department stores of Myeongdong to small boutiques at Hongdae, you can find just about anything on your wishlist in this gorgeous city. There are even outlet malls in Yeoju
in Gyeonggi-do if you want to make a day trip out of Seoul!
So now that you've landed in Seoul, what's really worth spending your hard-earned Korean won? We've rounded up 22 Korean and international brands that are cheaper in Seoul than back home to make your retail therapy extra convenient. ? Check out our other posts on brands that are cheaper in London
, and Japan
to find out what other bargains you can find worldwide!
Makeup & Skincare
Korean makeup and skincare products burst onto the scene with the Hallyu wave and the excitement hasn't subsided! Known for their use of natural ingredients that target every possible skincare worry, there are so many K-beauty brands out there it might be harder not
to return home with a luggage full of toners, moisturizers, and serums. ? There's an endless list of K-brands out there, but here are the top 10 we think are worth a try!
Note: Do check the ingredients using this website
before purchasing! We recommend you use these products at your own discretion.
Innisfree is one of the biggest K-beauty brands worldwide now, with dedicated product lines for hydration, anti-ageing, and even sun protection! ☀️ Their sheet masks and clay masks have also become beloved by K-beauty enthusiasts worldwide so you'll want to pick up a bundle pack or 2 to bring back home.
P.S. Check out these top 12 Muslim-friendly K-beauty essentials
to add to your shopping list!
Laneige may have a French-inspired name but make no mistake - it was founded in Korea in 1994. Laneige's products are particularly known for their moisturizing and hydrating properties, with their Water Bank line being one of their most popular releases. Even their cosmetics including lipsticks, tints, and glosses are extra-charged with moisture to keep your lips hydrated all day! ?
If you're looking for Korean brands, check out the shelves at Olive Young. If you're trying to get international brands, pharmacy chains such as LOHBS will have a wider selection!
Cosrx's main focus has always been treating sensitive or troubled skin, so it definitely makes sense that some of their most popular products include facial cleaning pads, low pH cleansers, and pimple patches for hiding those pesky spots. Their products are also hypoallergic, paraben-free, and cruelty-free! ?
4. Banila Co
Banila Co's first big hit was their Clean It Zero cleansing balm, which is still their biggest seller today! The cult classic made it into the mainstream with its ability to clean your skin of makeup and impurities without dehydrating it - and super convenient as you just need one product to get your face ready for the next step! Sounds travel-ready to us. ☺️
If you're looking for a new toner, you might want to take a look at Mamonde's signature Rose Water Toner, which has hydrating, soothing, and moisturizing properties to keep your skin soft and smooth. ? They also have other products in the same toner line, including ane exfoliating Aqua Peel, and a Chamomile Pure version for sensitive skin.
6. Etude House
Etude House is one of the first brands to get famous worldwide during the Hallyu wave and its bright pink interior still make it stand out from the crowd. ? Its cute package designs and brand partnerships with big names make it a global K-beauty superstar, and its Dear Darling Watergel Tint has made waves recently with its popsicle-like appearance and hydrating properties.
7. Dr. Jart+
Most famously known for their 'bubble' masks, Dr. Jart+ combines dermatologist-approved formulations with bright and minimalist designs to add a pop of chich to your beauty routine. Their top-sellers include the Shaking Rubber Masks which come in brightly-coloured packages that resemble drink cups, and their Cicapair line which uses a complex made from Tiger Grass to soothe and repair sensitive skin. ?
Produced by fashion brand STYLENANDA, 3ce's products come with a cute cartoon-inspired minimalist design and are particularly known for their lip, blush, and eye makeup products that all come with rich pigmented tones. ? Of these, their Slim Velvet Lip Colour has become a crowd favourite for its sleek packaging, soft texture, and small size which makes it super portable!
Missha's products blend skincare with cosmetics, and they're especially known for their sun protection range. Their sun blocks, sun milks, sun sprays and even sun sticks are formulated in different textures for a range of different needs so you can find exactly what you need! ?
This makeup brand has gotten super-famous in the last few years for their bright, vibrant shades and cute packaging. If you're looking for a new colour to make your lips 'pop', you might want to try out their Ink Airy Velvet, Matte Blur Tint, or Sugar Glow Tint lines! ?
Fashion & Accessories
Originally founded in Italy in 1911, the company was sold to a Korean owner in 2007. Since then, the brand has burst back into the mainstream scene with its sneakers and streetwear becoming popular worldwide. In December 2019 they even signed a deal with the K-pop group BTS, making the 7-member group their international ambassadors. ? Their Disruptor sneakers are known for their signature spiky sole, and the Ray Tracers come with bright colours that blend function with fashion.
This German brand has become a huge hit in South Korea in the last few years with some big names featuring amongst past and present ambassadors including Kang Daniel, Hyunah, and BTS. Its Style Rider line combines speed and comfort to create a running shoe that's streetwear-worthy too - perfect for exploring the streets of Seoul! The RS-X line also has a powerful edge to it that adds some attitude to your outfit. ?
With the announcement of a brand-new collaboration with Beyoncé's Ivy Park label on the market, Adidas keeps reinventing its signature 3-stripe design to keep up with today's latest trends. Adidas' simple and flexible designs make it easy to take your outfits from school to street and they even have superstars Blackpink as an ambassador! It's a bit surprising to us that it's cheaper in Korea than back home here in Southeast Asia - but we have the South Korean streetwear trend to thank for that! ?
This Korean shoe superstore has 3 outlets in Malaysia already, but you can definitely find better bargains in their original South Korean stores! ? Whether you're looking for sneakers, sandals, high heels or even children's shoes, you can rest assured that Shoopen has your back. They even sell accessories such as handbags, backpacks, and pouches you can match with your shoes!
If you're a fan of Converse's limited-edition launches then you'll want to get to Seoul before the next one comes out! ? The American company has been having more and more South Korean collaborations recently and it's a good place to suss out the hot products you can't find at home. They even have lines that you might not be able to find locally, such as the East Village Explorers which come with a more weather-proof outer suitable for rain or snow.
Uniqlo may be a Japanese brand but it's slightly more affordable in Korea than back home too! The selections are about the same, so if you're thinking of travelling during winter you can even pick up a whole-new winter wardrobe there in case you forget anything. ? Uniqlo also has a tourist tax-free rebate for purchases above KRW30,000 so you can get even more savings off!
17. Marhen J
Fans of this popular bag brand definitely need to visit their showroom in Hongdae! This vegan brand has become a huge hit for its simple designs, especially with so many K-idols and superstars spotted carrying their chic totes around. With designs and textures that run the gamut from laidback to fancy, you can find a bag for every occasion here. ?
P.S. Marhen J even made it onto our list of crossbody bags perfect for travel. Click here to find out which other bags you can consider adding to your next airport ensemble
SPAO has stores in Malaysia but of course, prices will definitely be lower if you go straight to the source in Seoul. ? The Korean outlets even stock pieces from their collaborations, including pieces featuring the mascot Pengsu and a whole line inspired by the popular Harry Potter series!
If you're looking to contribute to a good cause with your purchases, you can take a look at the Korean brand Marymond for some ideas. ? Their distinct flower patterns are inspired by the stories of lives of Korean 'comfort women' who were victims of the Japanese Occupation. Proceeds from buying their apparel, handphone cases, and other accessories contribute to a fund that supports the remaining victims.
20. Find Kapoor
Bag-lovers look out because this homegrown Korean brand is your next big discovery! Find Kapoor brick-and-mortar stores are hard to find outside of Korea but if you get the chance to visit their Garosu-gil flagship you'll be thankful you went. ? Their designs blend classic shapes with trendy textures and colours to create the perfect accessory to complete your look. Their Boston and Pingo bags are especially popular - and great for a day out!
21. LINE Friends
If you're a fan of the LINE Friends then you'll be excited to visit their huge multi-storey stores in both Seoul and Busan. Selling everything from clothes to stationery to plush toys, characters such as Cony, Brown, and the BTS-created BT21 gang appear on all sorts of brightly coloured merchandise. LINE now holds pop-up stores outside of South Korea, but the prices at their Korean outlets can be 10-20% cheaper! ? Sounds like a bargain to us!
Artbox has local stores in Singapore and Indonesia, but shopping at their Korean outlets can save you between 10-20% on adorable stationery, home decor, accessories and more! ? You can find anything here from wallets to coin pouches to planners, and they even have collaborations with other brands or local artists to give you lots of variety. Squeeze in a visit to their flagship store in Myeongdong while you're there!
Whether you're visiting Seoul, Busan, or Jeju, we're sure you'll have an amazing time exploring the shops, boutiques, and department stores full of your favourite brands. ?