Hongdae (홍대)  is an area in Seoul that is the home of Hongik University (where the area’s name comes from) and just a metro station away from other large universities in the surrounding area like Ewha, Sogang, Yonsei, and more.  Because of this it has become a very active hub for college night life with a unique love for the arts, indie music, edgy fashion, and plenty of places to club or drink when the sun goes down.

Hongdae is great for:

Fun accessory shopping, clothing (tops, sweaters, etc), drinking, eating, cafes, clubbing, indie band performances,  gallery shows, street art, comic book/art book shops, hanging out till all hours of the night.

Hongdae is a large and spread out area so it is someplace worth exploring if you have the time since it is filled with lots of little shops and goodies!  If you want to get to the action quickly you can check out my map at the end of this post and head over to the main shopping street though!!  When you enter the main area from the metro the road will go two ways, to the left is a slew of places to eat and drink at all hours of the day and night, and to the right is the busy street of small shops and ever-expanding boutiques as this area continues to thrive.

Snapshot of one of the popular shopping streets in Hongdae

I would call Hongdae almost the Harajuku of Korea, if you like unique artsy shopping you should have no problems finding things you like here.  Overall, since it is a university area most of the shopping is quite affordable like Edae, but some of the shops are more in the medium to high price range due to the unique nature of the pieces.

You can find a LOT of the SAME items sold in Japan for 3x the price here in Hongdae much cheaper!

While Edae is my go to place for cheap trendy pieces and “pretty” clothing, if I want something new and exciting or unique I hop over to Hongdae and treasure hunt because this is a great place to do that.  Eyeball pins, sparkle devil hats, spiked converse shoes, neon knitted caps, pastel grandma sweaters etc ~ all of these can be found here.

I find sales rack clothing here to always have a unique gem or two I have never seen before~ like a neon pink batman shirt or  a sailor suit sweater, but you have to look and be prepared to pay a bit more for the added coolness.  They also have plenty of the basics on sale as well for very cheap prices.

Inside the stores many of the pieces are unique (although most shops still do not have a clear brand identity or label like some Harajuku stores do) but the prices can rage from around 20,000-80,000 won ($20-80) for a top or something.  It is a bit overpriced compared to most clothing here in Korea, but for the fun/crazy stuff you may not come across it in other areas of Seoul~ so it is your call!

Cheapest final deals will always be outside on the racks. Inside the price is higher, but you may be able to haggle a bit.

Since it is a young + busy area it is fairly difficult to haggle here nowadays though~ only bother if you are spending a lot.

 

Sparkle devil hat! I see these being sold a lot in Tokyo for over 3500 yen~ but in Hongdae you can find them for around 20,000 won or less!  Also check out Nara’s amazing rainbow zipper bracelet he grabbed on one of our Hongdae shopping adventures ♥

If you want funky eyeball items, Hongdae has you covered!

also plenty of earrings in any shape or color you could ever want.

That whole table is filled with pairs of glasses for only 10,000 won!

We loaded up on beautiful fun scarfs for just 10,000 each as well! Fond one in this pile that we paid 25,000 for at a department store ^^; oops.  Valuable lesson in Korea, almost everything you want ends up being someplace for 10,000 won at some point lol.

Check out more Hongdae graffiti HERE

My advice is to spend extra to buy fun and unique things here, grab some color or something with some cute lace or a fun contrast sash on it!

Generally everything on the outside sales racks are very good deal price-wise, so always give it a look!  Sometimes Hongdae will have awesome sales racks in the front of the shop, and other times it is just plain basics  XD Always worth a peek!

You can find some nice shoe stores for men and women here, but Nara and I prefer shoe shopping in Edae (better prices and selection) and just get clothing and accessories in Hongdae.

Nara found a really nice loose knit sweater for about 30,000 won!

One of the larger Men’s clothing shops on the main shopping street.

Yes, guys if you want to shop you should have plenty of choices in this area!  Not as many shops as the girls have (as usual) but they have a lot of places that cater to guys or carry lots of unisex items! This is a good location to get a few fun pieces vs loading up basics most of the time though, so keep that in mind!

shops literally on top of each other!

Grab some woof cotton candy! This dog and his owner have been selling in this area for years *_* he is huge and so sweet… just like the candy hehe.

Little Prince necklaces ♥ Korea LOVES him!!

 In the past  Hongdae was always a busy area, but now it is becoming extremely crowded with not only Korean students, but Expats, and tourists alike. If you come in the evening over the weekend it can get extremely packed with people shopping, people going to dinner, going out to drink, or looking for clubs to party at~ so if you wish to shop peacefully it is best to come during a weekday afternoon when the crowds are a bit thinner!

One of my favorite areas of Hongdae is the Mapogu Kiosk zone.  If you head towards the popular hangout area “Hongdae Park” you will see a long row of yellow portable Kiosks!  Usually these are set up from late in the afternoon till around 10pm (I have to double check the hours next visit!)  and filled awesome accessories, one after another!!

This is my favorite area to shop!!!!

Nara always finds his jewelry at a Mapogu Kiosk~  some of the things they sell you can find in other areas of Seoul, but a lot of it is mixed around with totally random older, new, and handpicked things so you never know what treasure you will find!

If you need something custom engraved go to “Initial D” because he is one of the best in the area!

One of the Kiosks specializes in metal rings and will etch your name in beautiful tiny Korean, Chinese, or English for free! A ring with your name carved on it in Korean makes a really good souvenir ^^  The guy at Initial D does this all day freehand and is so good at it that it just takes him one minute!!

You can also buy his rings blank if you do not want anything etched on~  he has a lot of great stylish pieces for guys so we always stop by to see what is new.

Lots of little cute kooky key chains for sale!

One Mapogu Kiosk sells just trendy hats!  Since it is winter, they have dozens of knitted kinds out in every color with pom poms, little bear ears, extra fluffy, and more! Check out the Psy dancing drawing~ haha the sign in the back says “Oppa’s Hongdae Style!”

Korea has taught me to love pins and broaches!  They really make any jacket or bag extra awesome!

One vendor at the very end of the row sells a bunch of  super cute character items~ I think a lot of his things are imported from Japan so they cost a little more, but are extra cute!

lots of stitch at his Kiosk!

If you want to buy Korean circle lenses the lovely O-lens has a location here, as do many other shops!

If you are looking to shop for Korean cosmetics you can find a shop for just about every chain here~  Holika Holika, Etude, The Face Shop, Tony Moly, etc

If you are in the mood to try lots of cheap Korean street food you can eat your fill in Hongdae~ most of these are open very late to sell snacks to all the hungry drinkers and clubbers in the area on the weekend for just a few won!

Many of the street vendors are quite popular here, it is not uncommon to see lines form for certain foods.

If you want to sit down you can also find dozens of fun cafes, bakeries, lounges, and places to eat throughout the area!

Aside from graffiti, Hongdae is famous for catching live performances from new artists and indie groups.  During the day you may see a group of High School boys playing soft songs on guitars, and after the sun goes down in another area you may come across a group of performers playing rock music or even beat-boxing.  Nights (especially weekends) are never dull here and come alive with creative people.  If you come on a good night you can see a dozen small performances throughout the area.

Shop all day and eat + party all night in Hongdae ♥

DIRECTIONS TO HONGDAE 홍대 SHOPPING

Artisy + Party area

Shops open around noon and close around midnight

Check out my other Hongdae posts for places to club, eat, or shop

Hongdae (“Hongik University” on the Metro in English) is on the Green metro line #2

You are going to want to use Exit #8 or Exit #9 and  follow the map (or crowds walking) to the main pink area if you want to get to the major shopping zone right away…. really this is just the tip of the iceberg though! I have marked hongdae park in green, this is where you can find the row of Kiosks with some of the best goodies in my opinion!

♥ ♥ ♥

Make sure you check out my other Hongdae posts on this blog for more things to do while you are in this area!

Do you like shopping in Hongdae? What sort of cute things have you bought in this area? Have any favorite shops or places you like to go when you come here? Comment below and share!

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62 Responses to “Let’s Go Shopping in Hongdae 홍대 ♥”

  • Very awesome looking place, so wish I could visit!

  • i seriously want to go here one day!!everything seems so chill and easy to connect with. also Hongdae Park is where they filmed “Mary Me, Marry” , that is one of my favorite dramas! Jang geun suk played there if im right?!?!
    TOP OF MY BUCKET LIST !^^

  • Look for me like heaven *.* so many cute and great stuff.

    greetings

  • Wooow! Awesome post, now I feel even more miserable for living where I live…
    Everything look so great and fun!!! I fell in love with lots of things here, but the little prince necklace is my favourite, I’d kill to have one… U_U

  • Custom avatar Meggie:

    Aww we went there last Oct 24… we actually stayed in a guesthouse in hongdae for 5 days…how come i didn’t see the hongdae park??? huhuhuhuh
    Next time I go there i’ll definitely go check hongdae park!
    Thanks so much for this information! :)

    • Elle:

      It is a very small landmark area mainly used for an artist market every sunday and drinking at night, so it is not a very large park for walking or anything ^^ just a space people hang around hehe. My pleasure, glad you enjoyed it!

  • Custom avatar Chrystal:

    Any idea how long can those korean circle lenses be kept? ^^ ~

    • Elle:

      depends on the brand~ Some you can use for about a year, some a month, and some just a day or two! They daily-wear ones are the most comfortable I think, but the more dramatic ones can on average be kept up to a year if you take good care of them.

  • just want to find out – those grandma sweaters that look vintage: are they new sweaters or used vintage? i can’t help but wonder since they look new

    • Elle:

      The ones in Hongdae pictured are prob new, just made to look vintage. Hongdae does have some vintage thrift shops (and Edae as well) I will be sharing some of my faves in future posts :)

  • Custom avatar Aislyn:

    I went there on saturday and saw all the sparkly devil hats. they would be perfect for halloween, but im not sure when else they could be worn. once i get my paycheck i definitely plan to go back to hongdae for a little shopping spree. there were tons of cute comfy sweaters that i fell in love with!

  • Wow Hongdae looks like a great place to have a ton of fun! It reminds me of a cleaner Manhattan (I wish my city looked clean like this huhuhuhu) this is definitely going to be a place I put on my list of places to go when I go to Korea! I love the crazy-looking clothing and original items too (I’m the girl you see wearing Adidas Jeremy Scott bear sneakers so this looks like a place for me :P)

    • Elle:

      hahaha omg just give it a few hours, sadly Korea is EXTREMELY dirty~ nothing like Japan’s streets…. just piles of garbage everyplace in piles on every corner by the end of the day :/ I just avoid them for photos, its one of my main gripes with Korea sadly. Anyway, happy thoughts~ yes the clothing is a lot of fun here!! You should have a really good time looking for fun stuff :D Korean style overall is a but subdued, however I still managed to find plenty of goodies in this area especially! You will also enjoy my post on Garosugil coming up ;) ♥ ♥ ♥ Oh and if you are a jeremy scott fan you may (or may not) be happy to know that his stuff is bootlegged or copied a lot here, so you can get lots of similar pieces for really cheap if you are lucky. Its mainly stuff like his wing gear and older space poodle pattern.

  • omg this place looks spectacular. I am squealing with glee over all those amazing brooches! I hope I can visit one day~~

  • ;A; this post definitely makes me miss hongdae, I mean, I miss it even without this post and now I feel like buying airplane ticket and just fly there… when I look at the pictures I was like “I know where it is!” or “Oh my gosh, I miss walking here!” asdfghjkjahdgfasda yeah something like that… /sobs/ I mean, how can I now know Hongdae well when I was lost there at least three times hahaha… and then I stayed there for a few days before going back home, I wonder if I’ll get lost again there when I go there again hahahahahaha…

  • Custom avatar Hiro:

    I was there just the other day! I had a blast, bought lots of awesome things, and spent a lazy afternoon in the Hello Kitty cafe! ^^

  • Custom avatar Liz:

    I especially love the zipper bracelet and gear ring. <3

    • Elle:

      Thanks! haha that gear ring is one of his favorites, he bought 2 just in case something happens to the other one! They sell them online for around $150, but here in Korea you can find them at some stores for around 25,000-30,000 won normally.

  • I love love love this post x 1,000,000! The pictures are amazing and I feel like you really captured the Hongdae shopping atmosphere so perfectly. You made me reconsider the plans I made for tonight to just hop on the subway after work and buy a ton of stuff here, haha. VERY VERY WELL DONE!

    • Elle:

      haha I am glad I could tempt you Melissa! Have you been to the Very Berry Cafe around the park yet? I am going to post a review of it soon, it is extremely flipping cute if you happen to pass it!!!

  • Custom avatar jiill:

    hello elle… :)
    nice post, with awesome place. HONGDAE!!
    i want go there and shopping!
    i hope when finished my study, i will find job in seoul like you ;0
    i really want it.

  • Custom avatar Noof:

    Hello Elle I love your blog and its so helpful to me now that I’m going to visit Korea after 3 days exactly :p (my dream come true)<3
    I would like to ask you where can I find evening wedding dresses in Korea
    I heard about weddings Street Where exactly it is and whether there are other places or certain stores that you recommend
    With thanks

    • Elle:

      Hello! I am so happy my blog could be of some use to you :) I still have so much to add to it haha! I have not gone wedding dress shopping (yet) so I can not personally give you any advice or feedback about the area at this time, but yes~ we do have a “Wedding Street” here famous for buying dresses http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=264427 has some more info!! Best of luck and sorry I do not have more info on the blog about it at this time -_-; maybe by next year at this rate hehe

  • Custom avatar Noof:

    Thank you for your help and your wonderful blog <3
    cute all the way * cheering*

  • Hi Elle,

    Thank you so much for the amazing post! And I love your Edae’s posts too <3
    I am planing to visit Hongdae on my last day in Seoul, Korea! This post is really helpful!

    Cheers,
    Ally

  • Custom avatar Maeva:

    omg, sooooo many infos on this post, I think spending a week in this area is fair enough isn’t it ? haha
    The shops on the 7th and 14th photos looks amazing, have you ever been there ?

    • Elle:

      I have been to them all ^^ Hongdae is a great place to dig around because the stores have such a range of things. I often find unique girly style pieces here so you may enjoy it as well!

  • Custom avatar Shana:

    Hi Elle~
    I am wondering if the clothes being sold in Korea change a lot depending on the seasons. I will be going on the summer and I would still love to buy some sweaters, pull-overs and clothes that are not necessarily for summer only. I am a bit afraid that they will not, because everything is just so cute!!

    • Elle:

      it depends, generally some of the school areas like edae and hongdae do have the clothing shift for the season~ but I still find sweaters ok (although atm the choices are EVERYPLACE so you have a better selection). If you want more off-season clothing your best bet would be Dongdaemun though!

  • Hi elle!

    Just wondering what time do these shops open and close? Also, would you recommend tourist to shop there on weekdays or weekends? :)

    • Elle:

      Hi Vanessa :) I say in the post at the bottom (I always list hours and addresses at the bottom half in my posts) for shopping I highly recommend weekdays, weekends anyplace get a little too busy around here!

  • Custom avatar aGatta:

    Elle, can you please make a post with some spring/summer 2013 Hongdae’s fashion? you know, the outfits from all of those boutiqs and so…? PLEASE

  • Custom avatar Sherral:

    Hi

    I will be visiting Korea this Nov I just wonder will I still be able to get summer clothes from there .

    • Elle:

      maybe, some things like shirts and skirts are all year, just the fabric tends to be thicker. It depends though, November-Feb gets very cold here.

  • Custom avatar Amanda:

    Oh my god i wish i’d found your blog earlier… I was on a trip with my parents and boyfriend (now ex… haha) to Seoul in July last year and it was quite hectic because we went free and easy. We had to find all sorts of places and went just about crazy trying to visit as many places as possible. We wound up going back to Dongdaemun twice in five days because it was monsoon season and we were really confused where we should go.

    However, my mom and I are heading down to Seoul again this August because I’m doing surgery and we are really looking forward to a good shopping trip and perhaps we would like to visit some cafes etc. I wanted to visit the cat/dog cafes but my mom is terrified of animals so I’ll probably have to give that a miss… :( But anyway, thank you so much for taking the time to blog about cool places to visit in Seoul!

    With love from Singapore (:

  • Hi elle!
    I’m going to Seoul this summer and I was wondering if you know how much a ring costs in Initial D’s shop? And do you know if he’s still there? :)

    • Elle:

      He is still there~ he has been for years! another guy one or two booths down does it too, but just look for his simple paper sign. He is the best imo with a large range of chinese characters, korean, and english all freehand! ^^ prices are really cheap.. I forget how much, but waaay under $20 I think. totally worth it

  • Custom avatar sunny:

    Hey what is the name of the main street you pointed out on your map,:) in Korean or English thanks heaps :)

  • Custom avatar ahuva:

    Hello, I love this post. very informative and fun to read. May I ask you something? How did you make the map of the Hongdae area? I mean , I tried to do it in google maps, but it didn’t give me so many details about the area, can you please teach me how you did it? Thank you so much :)

  • Custom avatar Pauline:

    Hi Elle, can I ask you what time does hongdae open and close? It’s my first time to Korea with my gunny and daughter and I will be staying in ibis myeongdong is it easy to go to ehwa and hongdae? And also do you recommend to go it aeon for shopping? Thanks :)

    • Elle:

      Hello! Hongdae is a large area so it varies a little, but generally everything seems to start opening around noon and stays open till about 9-10pm or later if it is the weekend and it is is a busy area sometimes. Ewha/edae (check my related post here for info) is just a stop or two away from Hongdae so it will be easy to visit both since they are in the same area.

  • Custom avatar Jasmine cheng:

    Hi Elle,

    I am Stephanie’s Aunt, she told me about your blog. I am visiting Korea in November and have really enjoy reading your blog especially about all the places to shop. I can’t wait. Can you recommend some spa place for us.Thanks

    • Elle:

      Hello! For spas, the more popular one (Korean bath house style) is Dragon Hill Spa, they are around Yongsan! It is really large and has a ton of sauna and other soaking rooms, I have not been personally yet to review, but I hear good things about it and it is a favorite for visitors due to the size of the place :) I recommend getting the korean scrub services, I know stephiee will agree haha, the other stuff like massage may not be worth the price. For fancy spas I am not sure, but I hear Shiseido has a spa location in Gangnam that may be worth checking out if you are looking for something more luxurious!

  • Custom avatar jhowayne:

    hello!
    I just watched you and nara on youtube..
    ^_^

    hope I could meet you guys.. both of you are awesome..
    ^_^

  • Custom avatar Audrey:

    Thanks for your post!It is very useful! Do you know if the area and shopping are also open during late Dec and January when korea students would be on holidays?

    Thinking whether it would be a good area to stay in during these months. I like to come back to an area for shopping near when I stay so I don’t need to carry all the items around after traveling out the whole day

    Thanks!

    • Elle:

      As far as I have noticed, the shops keep the normal late hours regardless of student holidays! National holidays result in random closures depending on the shop though. One warning about jan/feb it is usually the most miserable in terms if weather imo, still very chilly and last year we had ice that just would not go away which is super fun with all the walking you must do lol I hate the cold though, so others may fair better! XD

  • Custom avatar Linda:

    Hi Elle,

    your blog is so informative!! <3 Would you be able to suggest where is better to stay in Seoul for 3 girls – Myeongdong, Gangnam or Hongdae area?

    Thanks!

  • Custom avatar amy:

    Hi Elle,
    I’m going to Korea this march by myself, and i don’t speak any Korean, is Hongdae still a good place to go? Do they speak english?

    • Elle:

      Hongdae is fine, I would just watch out at night because it is an area younger people drink and club so on the weekend it is a party place so as a girl alone that may not be the best for you…not that Korea is dangerous but you know! Hongdae and Edae deal with foreigners a lot plus it is a college student area so more Koreans that can speak English are around a bit more often (or employed in the shops so they can help maybe or at least are used to dealing with a foreigner so know how to handle you) but I would not depend on it in detail or in great fluency if you know what I mean. Regardless, Korea/Seoul overall is very accommodating to English speakers so you should be fine for the most part ;)

  • oohhh I’m coming to Korea next Monday and I just realised that Hongik University area is the same as Hongdae and I couldn’t be more excited because that’s exactly where I’m gonna stay first 3 days!! now I just feel like I’m gonna get lost right away since I’m going alone haha XD

  • Custom avatar Eynez:

    hi Elle, such the best sharing that you make. I’m feel very excited to visit Korea. I’ll visit Korea at the end of this year. Elle I want ask you the places that i can buy with wholesale barbie lens that have in Korea. where is the best place that I can find it? as much as cheaper I want it. could you please tell me that places Elle, that you may suggested? thanks Elle ^,^

    • Elle:

      Hello, I am sorry I do not know what you mean by barbie lens, if you mean contact lens I do not believe you can buy the barbie line in korea, just japan. Retail lens shop is featured in a post on here, please use the menu to locate it :) however you cannot buy wholesale

  • Custom avatar i:

    Hi Elle,
    I really enjoy reading your entries !! Really appreciate for the effort on noting down the directions, makes my life so much easier when doing my itinerary. I’m so looking forward to my trip now, cant wait to step foot on all those shopping places and interesting cafes :D

    BTW Elle, I would like to get some blazers during my stay there, and I was not quite sure where’s the best place to shop for them and the approximate price range of blazers. It would be very much appreciated if you’re able to give me any suggestion. ^^

    Thank you in advance elle!!

    • Elle:

      Hi :D so glad to hear~ for blazers you can find them everyplace really, korean girls love them. Dongdaemun shopping has bunches for the best price, but you can sometimes find them at hongdae or edae as well~ you just have to eyeball around. Anything under 50,000 won is a good deal for a blazer, even a cheap unlined one~ they tend to be a bit pricey here because of the construction I assume. I found some cheaper ones for 40,000 but nicer ones with good fabric and lining (like the pink one in my hyung tae kim interview here) have paid about 80,000. So yeah~ under 50 is good, and try to avoid over 100,000 because as cute as some are the quality is still a bit hit or miss so they are not worth that high a tag XD

      The best prices are hands down on gmarket.com though, you can snag them for 30,000 or less.

  • Custom avatar i:

    Hi Elle,

    Thank you so much for the prompt reply ^^
    Don’t stop updating your space ya!
    Have awesome weekend !

  • Custom avatar Yan:

    I want to go there someday . Everything seems so cute <3

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My name is Elle and I am an Illustrator & Gallery painter from California, but currently I am living in Seoul with my Korean Fiancé!

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