This afternoon after getting some tasks done I found myself with several hours to explore Seoul. I decided to hop on the subway and make my way to Express Bus Terminal to explore the underground shopping scene here. I had heard a lot of about this area and was excited to check it out.
Express Bus Terminal is the hub for intercity buses (where you take a bus from Seoul to locations outside of the city.) It is a busy place full of travelers, stores and food courts. One of the main attractions right in the subway station is a giant underground shopping mall. You can take subway lines 3, 7 or 9 and get off at Express Bus Terminal. Once you are there, follow signs for exit 8. You will see “Gagnam Express Bus Station Clothing Market” listed at this exit. When you are near exit 8 you will begin to see stalls selling clothes, shoes and purses. This is not the actual underground mall but is also a good place to check out. At exit 8 walk downstairs to glass doors that are labeled “Go-To Mall”- this is the new name for what is commonly (or formerly) referred to as “Gagnam Express Bus Station Clothing Market.” Here you will find a village of underground shopping.
Once you have found the shops there will be no question that you are in the right place. Stalls selling various items immediately overwhelmed me. Once inside, stalls in every direction will surround you. The mall itself is about a kilometer long and consists of 120,000 square meters of merchandise! It is a great place to go to on a bad weather day as it is all inside and has heat and air conditioning.
The mall is known in Seoul as a place to get great deals! There are a variety of items for sale ranging from houseware and food to clothing, hand bags and shoes. The majority of the items and best deals are in the clothing, handbag and shoe section. There is also a flower market consisting of cut, potted and artificial flowers. Head east, if you are interested in checking out the flower market, Korean pottery and household goods. Also a good thing to know is that in the winter this section turns into a Christmas market selling reduced trees and decorations.
I spent the majority of my time in the west part of the shopping arcade where the clothing is located. There are hundreds of stalls selling shoes, jewelry, handbags, under garments and clothing. The majority of the clothing is for women but there is a small amount of children and men’s clothing too.
Prices are extremely cheap in the market. Shirts start as low as $1.00 if you walk all the way west in the market. This is where the cheapest items are. They are in piles so it is a little more difficult to make your selection but for the true bargain hunter you can find some great deals! Most commonly, dresses and shirts are priced from $5.00- $10.00. Most of the stores have nicely organized racks and mirrors. One thing to note is that at most markets in Seoul you cannot try things on. You have to just hold the clothing item up to yourself and measure it this way.
Handbags and shoes start at $5.00. There are many shoe and handbag stores that offer any item for $10.00. There is a great assortment of both shoes and bags! Shoes are organized by size and it is important to know your Korean size before going to the market.
I spent about three hours wandering the various stalls of the market. Prices are well displayed and there are a huge variety of items to check out. The true shopping lover could get lost here for days!
During my time I purchased a cute shirt that was made in Korea with the following quote on it, “You have a marvelous ability to turn happiness into joy and sadness into understanding.” Koreans are very proud when something is made in their country and will always tell you if it from there. This particular stall only sold items made in Korea and there were signs throughout the store proclaiming this. My shirt cost me about $5.00. I also bought a dress for $5.00 and two pairs of earrings costing around 75 cents each.
After I left the underground market I checked out the Express Bus Terminal station a bit. There is a huge food section right in the terminal selling fresh produce and gourmet treats. There is also a nine story upscale department store and many restaurants located right in the station. Here you won’t find as many bargains but it is a great place to check out if you have the time. In addition to this you can also find a large bookstore, movie theater and Marriot Hotel.
My first experience shopping in this market was a great one! I highly recommend anyone who enjoys shopping to check it out especially if you are a bargain hunter like me!
The Underground shopping mall is open from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.