Tuesday, 3 February 2015

My Korea shopping haul @ Seoul, Korea

Buying souvenirs for people or for myself when I'm abroad is already beyond my interest. Likewise, when I decided to make a trip to Seoul for the first time, majority of my relatives have already been there (and loaded us with souvenirs as well), hence, my target was just to shop and eat. Honestly speaking, one has to like shopping or trying out new food if you want to visit Korea. In terms of attractions, apart from the palaces and traditional villages, majority of the attractions are the usual stuff that you see in other countries (museums and places built to become tourist attractions). So, since I'm currently so free with nothing-better-to-do, let me just share with you what I've actually shopped in Seoul:

Ok, this is not exactly the ONLY food stuff I bought but I basically went for grocery shopping on the first night I was there to try out some of the items that other people have been raving about. I was in Doksan area, so I visited Home Plus, a retail chain owned by Tesco, and is the second largest retailer after Shinsegae Group. The store I went to was directly opposite Novotel Doksan, where I stayed, which was super convenient. Basically, everything I bought were snacks (haha). Panda and I loved the banana milk (3000-4000 won/pack of 4) (quite similar to the one I had in London) and we even tried the honey dew flavored milk, which was nearly as good as the banana milk. I found a Korean brand of banana milk in Jaya Grocer, Main Place for RM 6 ++ / single served box..freaking expensive. CJ's Petitzel pudding was something I wanted to try after watching celebrities in recent K-dramas eating them (probably promoting the brand). And if you know Kim Soo Hyun, he's the brand's ambassador ;p. I personally liked the Mascarpone and Cheese pudding which really tasted like cheesecake but in a pudding way. I bought that twice during my trip in Seoul. It didn't come cheap though (1800 won), unless there's some sort of promotion (eg 2 for 3000 won). If you like  bottled makgeoli (rice wine), drink as much as possible because it costs way, way more in Canada or Malaysia. 

Skincare & cosmetics
If you've been to Seoul, you will realised that you will find at least one cosmetic / skincare store just about at every corner of the building. The usual brands that can be easily spotted are Innisfree, Etude House, Nature Republic, Misha, Clio, Too Cool for School and Olive Young whereas the lesser but more premium brands such as Laneige have less stores around. 

My tips: 
-To prevent from overspending, research on the potential items that you will buy beforehand.
-Don't be easily intimidated by the ever so hardworking staff promoting their store products and focus on those on your shopping list.
-1+1, 5+5, 10+10 items (buy 1 free 1 and so forth) are pretty worth it especially if the items are actually useful 
-If you like lots of free samples (especially if samples are useful), buy from any of the stores you see. But bear in mind that to get the Korea VAT tax refund, you have to spend at least 30000 won in one receipt and the cashier will provide you with the form and envelope for it. Tax refund is really simple and can easily be done at the airport prior to your departure. Just allocate about 30-40 min extra for that (in case the queue is long)
-Lotte Duty Free (9th floor Lotte Department Store) is probably the craziest place I've seen-loaded with tourists particularly from China, busy hauling all the skin care and cosmetics that they can get (mind you, skin care and cosmetics aren't exactly cheap stuff). Check with the counter if they give out samples (usually yes with a minimum purchase order but not as much as the usual stores). But really, I found out that the prices here (for Laneige at least) were still cheaper than those in usual outlets, even after calculating the value of the free samples and tax refund for those purchased in the outlets.
*Update: Another possible place to purchase would be Lotte Duty Free in the airport. Panda, on a business trip, recently bought some Laneige products for way cheaper price compared to the flagship store and Lotte Department store (and with really good samples as well). The difference would probably be the variation of skincare sets; usually sets are slightly cheaper.
My haul from Nature Republic and Laneige in Myeong-dong with lots of samples
*For some reasons, due to the poor exchange rate for Malaysian ringgit to Korean won, perhaps you can even purchase Laneige from Amazon. Before going to Korea, my supply of Laneige were all from Amazon (of course, try and get it from trustworthy sellers like Laneige themselves). The price is really not that much of a difference and the best part is, you have a choice to purchase miniature sizes to try out the product first:) There you go, Korea at your doorstep ;p
Moisture Care Miniature Set: Skin Refiner + Emulsion + Water Sleeping Pack + Essence 8821 - 4pcs
FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING + LANEIGE Firming Sleeping Pack (All Skin / 50ml)
KOREAN Cosmetics LANEIGE White Plus Renew Trial Kit (5 Items) - Skin Refiner / Emulsion / Original Essence / Original Cream / Capsule Sleeping Pack
5+5 assorted masks from Etude House (for buddies in Canada:) at Gangnam Underground Shopping Centre
1+1 facial mists, lip tints and clay mask from Innisfree flagship store at Gangnam
Laneige haul from Lotte Duty Free. We would have been entitled for a free gift if we had combined all the purchases :(
BB cream and foundation powder with lots of samples from Misha stores at Edae (Ewha Women University area) and Gangnam Underground Shopping Centre. Again with lots of free samples. By the way, that Misha cleansing tissue is a superb alternative to make-up/ BB cream/ eye remover.
Since it's winter, majority of the shops are selling winter clothing and sweaters. Majority of the items are also similar with same prices as well (probably same supplier). I personally like Gangnam Underground Shopping Centre (linked to Gangnam station) because they have plenty of stores (clothes, skin care, cosmetics) without the need to shop at outlets by roadsides in the cold chilly winter. Bought a cute pink sweater for just 10,000 won! I think that Hongdae however is more expensive compared to Ewha Women University and Gangnam Underground Shopping area.

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  1. This is wonderful. I am not quite much with the internet, but I believe that what I just read is some good material. Thanks for writing such wonderful article. God bless.
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  2. Hi~!

    Can I ask how much is the Laneige Moisture set from Lotte Mart? And the water banks too! :)

    Thank youuu~

  3. It is hard not to overspend when you are shopping in South Korea... *cries* But im gonna try my best to hold myself up this winter. Haha... looking at those pictures in this post makes me kinda excited for my upcoming haul stuffs in Korea. I think regardless of buying at Lotte Duty Free or not... the price are still wayyyyy cheaper than the outlets here... T.T. great post by the way ^^