Don’t get me wrong. I’ve nothing against Myeong-dong (명동), afterall this is a featured and highly popular shopping district in South Korea, and it’s “the most visited place in Seoul by tourists with an 81.1%“. But what I’m trying to say is that it’s not for me but it may be for you and here’s what I thought.
Beauty and Apparel
Myeong-dong is made up of several streets and lanes of endless blocks of shops! Beauty and apparel dominate most of the shops there. You can find brands like innisfree, Etude House, Olive Young, Artbox, Holika Holika, Lalavla (which is Watsons but rebranded), H&M, Spao, and etc.
For food lovers, you would be excited to know that Myeong-dong is laid with street food where you can find fish cakes (my fave, go for the spicy Busan Odeng), Tteokbokki, grilled squid, grilled lobsters (S$18), and also, eateries and restaurants.
Talking about food, I highly recommend Myeong-dong Kyoja which translates to Myeong-dong dumpling. I don’t fancy pork and I love these dumplings! They are filling and this dish cost about 8,000 won or about S$9. It’s really that good. The only thing about this restaurant is that the seats are quite small, unless you head in as a group, you might find it a little cramped. The restaurant serves only 4 dishes, and 1 of them is only available during summer. Now when a restaurant is so confident to offer such a limited menu, you know the food must be good!
We also tried Kal-guksu which is (knife cut noodles刀削面) and Bibim guksu (spicy cold noodles). Both were delish! The bibim-guksu is a little too cold for Winter, but it’s very tasty and feisty! Kal-guksu reminded me of ban mian but it does have some “garlicy” flavour in the soup. For the Mandu or Kyoja, it’s sufficient to just eat it on its own because it’s so filling.
Getting to Myeong-dong Kyoja
Line 4 – Myeong-Dong Station
Exit 5 or 6, walk about 5-7 minutes.
Because Google Maps won’t work in South Korea, here’s the Daum map.
Not local enough
The shopping culture is less authentic (if you are going for a local feel) somewhat I felt, as the streets are filled with foreign tourists. Even the shops are targeted at Chinese-speaking tourists. Announcements and signage in Chinese Mandarin are found in the major shops so no worries if you can read or speak Chinese!
Also, there’s this sales tactic that you should watch out for. A lot of the shops (beauty) gives out free samples but on the premise that you must enter the store first, where you would be “tackled” by the salespeople in-store. So watch out if you tend to make purchases under such influence.
Being in the prime shopping district, there are lots of accommodation options in the area and on the fringe, so no worries about it, however, unless you are the type who loves to be in the centre of the bustle, you probably won’t like the crowds.
By now you would know that if you love shopping, this would be paradise, but if you are like me, then it’s less interesting.
Time to spend here: 4 – 5 hours for serious shopaholics and perhaps 1 – 2 hours for folks like myself.
Overall, although I felt nothing special about the shopping area, I give the experience a 6.5 out of 10 for the layout, ease of navigating and great variety of stores and the bright lights, and if you want to soak yourself into a great shopping atmospheric vibe thingy, to experience the glitz and colours, Myeong-dong is great to immerse yourself in the shopping culture nonetheless.