Myeongdong is my favourite place in Seoul. There is always a buzz about the place and it has a good atmosphere even on its quieter days. It was named the 9th most expensive shopping street in the world in 2013.
In my most recent visit to Seoul, I stayed in a hotel right in the centre of Myeongdong, which had great views down over the main roads and the Lotte department store. Seoul is not particularly cheap, especially when compared to Japan, but nevertheless the standards of accommodation and cleanliness are high in the city, and it provides a good base from which to explore the surrounding area. It is good that Myeongdong is a pedestrian-friendly zone, as the roads around here are usually blocked off to the traffic – apart from on late nights, when delivery vans are allowed into the area to replenish stores for the next day ahead.
Myeongdong district is best known for its shopping. It is a mecca for fashion-lovers everywhere, and is comparable to Harajuku in Tokyo or Ximending in Taipei. Lots of international brands line the streets, where you can find the latest shoes, handbags, or other fashion accessories. As such, Myeongdong is a haven for young Seoulites. Western fast food brands such as Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, and Starbucks Coffee are also prevalent.
Seoul has a few major shopping areas: nearby Insadong, Gangnam, Dongdaemun to name but three. However, Myeongdong is certainly the place for Seoulites to be seen at the weekend, when they all get time off work or university. Brands such as Bulgari, Ralph Lauren, Zara, adidas, Lacoste, and the Body Shop are mixed in with Korean local outlets to make a quite interesting stroll through the streets. How does Myeongdong compare to Gangnam?
Little nooks and crannies can be found around the Myeongdong area, and if you wanted to get away from the international chain stores, you can always find local market fare, most of which was good quality (no counterfeits here unlike the stuff you would find in Shanghai or Hong Kong).
When darkness falls, Myeongdong takes on an altogether different personality, as the night market opens. Here, street vendors will try to sell you weird and delicious snacks for a good price (no need to haggle). It creates another buzzing atmosphere that no other place in Seoul can match.
For more information on the food served on the streets of Myeongdong – and in South Korea in general – check out my KOREAN FOODPORN blog. I always buy myself a bit of kimbap and odeng when I’m in Seoul, and you have to try the roasted nuts from the night market – they are delicious!