[SEOUL, KOREA] Dongdaemun Markets …the Breakdown! MUST READ

Dongdaemun is an area in Seoul known for its large shopping centres. I'm talking about over 10 buildings of shopping madness and each building has between 6 to 12 floors of shops all for shopping in just a mile radius. There's almost no closing time because some buildings are 24 hours. Some are for wholesale (minimum 3 to 10 pieces to start) and some are for retail sales (1 or 2 piece each sale). 

This area has been known for decades and many shops in Hong Kong or even Canada import directly from this shopping district to sell Korean style apparel. However, it's not just apparel. It can even be household items, kids toys, shoes, outdoor clothes, etc. An absolutely shopping heaven. Due to its popularity, it has increasingly become very difficult to bargain so I don't shop that much here. That being said, I still visit this area each time I visit because it doesn't hurt to see what's the latest trend. 

Travel Tips

1) Breakdown of the Malls GO! GO! GO!
My first time there….. I was basically lost. I didn't understand the difference between each shopping building and I didn't know the unspoken "rules". So I hope this breakdown helps you so you don't run around senselessly like me the first couple of visits! (Trust me, after 3 shopping buildings, you will be TIRED. If you want to accomplish the most out of your time, this will help!)

Migliore (밀리오레) Wholesale and Retail / Price Range $~$$
Hours + 10:30am-04:30am, Closed Monday
Floor Highlight + FL 16 Nail Technician Heaven! Wholesale or Retail, everything you need for Nail Art! 
Comment + Suitable for All Ages, no Designer/Brands, Casual Wear, Hard to Bargain for retail pieces

Hello apM (헬로에이피엠) Wholesale and Retail / Price Range $~$$ 
Hours + 10:30am-04:30am, Closed Tuesday
Floor Highlight + FL 8-10 Gym, Specialty Medical Clinic, Food and other services
Comment + Suitable for teens and early 20s, a mix of local designers and no brands, Casual Wear, Hard to Bargain for retail pieces

Good Morning City (굿모닝시티) Wholesale and Retail / Price Range $~$$ 
Hours + 10:30am-04:30am, Closed Tuesday
Floor Highlight + FL9 Megabox Movie, B3 Sparex (A Traditional Korean Bathhouse 24HRS)
Comment + Suitable for All Ages, Mostly Ladies Wear, no Designer/Brands, Casual Wear, Hard to Bargain for retail pieces

Lotte FITIN (롯데피트인)  Retail Only / $$ ~ $$$$ 
Hours + Daily 11:00-24:00
Floor Highlight + B2 Subway Station Entrance, FL 9 KPop Hologram Concert and Cafe - Great view of the entire Dongdaemun area! Tax Refund Counter Available
Comment + Modern, Trendy, Young International and Local brands, Street Fashion

doota! (두산타워)  Retail Only / Price Range $$$~$$$$ 
Hours + Mon-Sat 10:30am-05:00am Sun 10:30-00:00
Floor Highlight + FL 5 Duty Free Refund (Overall, very similar to Lotte FITIN)
Comment + Suitable for Young Fashion Enthusiasts, Young Seoul Local Designers brands and Street Fashion

U:US (패션몰 유어스) Wholesale Only, Retail pieces tend to be Priced Higher to prevent 1PC sales
Hours + 20:00 - 06:00, Closed Saturday
Floor Highlight + FL 4 Export Services (for delivery worldwide)
Comment + This building opens late, the later, the merrier!! This is where you see everything happen! Every night, buyers from all over the world shop for their merchandise. Bargaining and bags with labels for their clients are everywhere! Great scene! 

2) Bring Cash! 
As many bargains are going down as you shop for your items, with credit cards, it brings more fees for sellers! Whether it's wholesale or shopping for one piece, cash is the way to go. Many shops also don't have credit card machines. Unless you're at doota! or Lotte FITIN, those buildings are filled with shops of international brands therefore it's different from wholesaler shops. 

3) Know your prices
Bargaining is becoming increasingly hard, sellers may inform you a tee is $30 USD of poor quality simply to shoo you away/leave room for bargaining. Don't use the rude method of haggle (saying everything is crap, then ask for lower prices). I've witnessed it before, it never works. Often, I learned a few Korean words to help and to show my respect for them. Know your bottom line and don't ask a bunch of prices for everything and then change your mind and create a huge mess. Show courtesy and if you don't agree with the prices, say thanks and leave. There are hundreds of stores with similar products. You can always come back after. 

4) Night Time Shopping
Whenever I plan itineraries, I often visit Dongdaemun at night because stores are open till 4:30am! So if you had a long night and need to sleep in the next day, this is how I would plan the day:
1-2pm Wake up // 2-3pm Late Brunch // 2-6pm Day Activity such as Bathhouse or Trickeye Museum // 7-8pm Eat // 9-2am: Shop!  (12 hour day)

5) Don't forget the Night Stalls on the streets
YES! The Night Stalls are super fun!!!! They open after 9pm and can be found Cheonggyecheon's Bridges area (Dongdaemun Station Exit 10). Although, items are not unique, however, I do enjoy the sight. You may find items such as replicas (Dr. Dre, Gucci, Prada, Chanel), bags, jeans, souvenirs, phone cases, toys etc etc. Again, cash is the way to go.

I hope you enjoy reading this, and more importantly, helpful for you! There's more to discover in Dongdaemun area. However, I only wanted to focus on the shopping buildings in this post. On a few of my visits, I found a street that strictly sells, camping and outdoor goods. My friends and I also found a food market that is almost hidden from all the rest of this shopping! None the less, Dongdaemun also have a world famous DDP which is where majority of the Fashion Shows are held!

Until next time!