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South Korea Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in South Korea

The best shopping districts and markets are in the capital, Seoul, and include:
• Namdaemun: Korea's largest general wholesale market.
• Dongdaemun: One of Seoul's oldest markets, good for bargains.
• Myeongdong: Korea's fashion district and home to countless mid-market brands, boutiques, malls and an underground shopping passage leading to Namdaemun.
• Insadong: Delightful street for crafts, antiques and art.
• Itaewon: A modern shopping district popular with foreign tourists, where shopkeepers speak English and sell all kinds of stuff; known for its many tailors, who can whip up shirts and suits.
• Yongsan Electronics Market: Largest electronics and computer market in Korea.
• Koyndang: Oriental medicine, spice and herb market.
• Hwangkhakdong: Flea market, good for second-hand shopping.
• Ahyondong: Home to more than 120 wedding boutiques.
• COEX: Asia's biggest shopping mall is all underground.
• Apgujeong: The poshest shopping district in Korea with designers from Armani to Versace having stores in the area.

Seoul's various markets are the perfect place for a shopping spree. Insadong is the place to go for Korean craft items ranging from the simple to priceless antiques. Namdaemun offers alleyway after alleyway of cheap clothes and household items. Yongsan is the top spot in the country for cameras and electronics. And Myeongdong is the favorite of fashionistas everywhere. Buy clothes here and you'll look like you've stepped out of the pages of a fashion magazine. While most tourists can find everything they'd ever dream of in Seoul proper, Korea is a shopper's mecca and you'll find great buys almost everywhere you go. Favourite tourist items include hand-tailored clothes, textiles, leatherwork, jewellery, ginseng, tea; lacquerware, woodcarvings, baskets and screens. Major cities have foreigners' duty-free shops where people can use foreign currency with a valid passport.

Shopping hours

Mon-Sun 1030-2000 (often until 2200). Some shopping areas are open 24 hours.

Nightlife in South Korea

Korea's nightlife offers a mix of traditional (spellbinding performances of music, dance and theatre) with Broadway/West End-style shows, or pop icons like Boa, a Korean singer who has achieved worldwide renown. Hotel bars are popular in cities; but their nightclubs tend to be expensive. Larger hotels may also have their own private theatre restaurants.

Seoul's fashionable areas are Hongik University area and Apgujeong. Itaweon is aimed squarely at foreigners and the local population of American soldiers, but it is quite a tacky area. Koreans sing their hearts out in karaoke bars, or noraebangs, as they are known here. There are also many cinemas. Operas, concerts and recitals can be seen at the National Theatre and performances of Korean classical music, dances and plays can be seen at Korea House. There are several licensed state-of-the-art casinos throughout the country.

For daily listings of events, consult Korea's English-language papers.

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