Frankly for the average wage-earners Malaysians everything in Japan or Korea is expensive. That lies true for food, produce, products and transportation as well as accommodation.
While I agree that Korean fashion can be rather trendy (ahem, taste is subjective) & chic and not just frills and lace (though there were plenty of that as well), it was by no means cheap or affordable.
As you know I was on a media trip, and shopping wasn’t part of the itinerary. This is something I don’t understand. Come on, both males and females love shopping and it doesn’t mean only clothes/fashion shopping.
It could mean souvenirs, traditional or food delicacy of the country (ginseng – Korea, chocolates in Belgium, etc) or even electronics. In every of my media trip so far (Shanghai, Nepal, Korea, etc) the itinerary never had time set aside for shopping. Most of the time we literally had to beg the tour guide for some free time to shop, which is a miserable 1-2 hours max.
I know I shouldn’t complain, but exploring a country/place does include shopping, even if it’s window shopping.
So yes, pardon the fact that I don’t have much to write about shopping. I have written about the temples, cultural villages, etc but seriously posts covering shopping and food are important (other than accommodation and transport) to my readers. I get emails on where to eat, how to get there and where to shop ALL THE TIME.
So yes, here are the 3 main places that I managed to browse and shop at during my time in Busan.
1. Gwangbok-dong - we were here for the Busan International Festival area and also because lunch and Jagalchi Market was nearby. Yes, you guessed right. It wasn’t even supposed to be a shopping session.
But some of us held our ground and took time to shop and browse about. One of us, Stacy picked up a nice pair of boots for RM90 (30,000 Korean Won)!
Myself? I wanted this pair, also similarly priced but unfortunately this was the last pair and it wasn’t in my size.
There were plenty of other options and many other designs. But we had the most about an hour so I didn’t manage to buy anything. I’m the sort who needs time to browse and compare designs/prices/options before I buy so I can control my impulse buying so an hour is definitely not enough.
Anyhow, to give you an idea of the place, enjoy the pictures!
In Korea you can expect all things cute and charming.
Would you wear these leggings?
There’s something for the four-legged too!
I love these colourful backpacks. 10,000 won = RM30. Cheap right??
And we explored on, alleys after alleys. So many shops, so little time!
I have utmost respect for the Korean women after visiting Jagalchi Market and seeing this Korean woman reinforced it even more.
There are so so so many kiosks, shops and stalls selling handphone covers!
The same can be said for Seoul as well as Busan. I wish I had time to browse them one by one and buy a few for my iPhone. Unfortunately we were hurried along.
The little ones can be fashionable too!
And men aren’t left out this time. There were plenty of options for the metro-sexual men!
I like the name for this shop.
And of course there are food. I was so tempted to sit down and eat like a local. Everything looked exotically good! These makeshift stalls are right in the middle of the alley and the procedure is grab a seat, start ordering and tuck in.
Other than freshly prepared food, the snacks and pastries were tempting as well.
Fruits here are amazingly big and looks really luscious.
Japan has multiple flavour Kit-Kats, Korea has multiple flavoured seaweed!
With a heavy heart, we left Gwangbok-dong to Jagalchi Market. I’ll definitely be back if I’m ever in Busan again, maybe in September when I’m in Japan. Apparently one can take a ferry from Japan to Korea. I’ll research more on that later!
There were a LOT MORE shops than what I could possibly share here of course. My advice? If you’re a shopaholic like me, devote half a day here!
The prices are lower than what you get in HongDae, Myeongdong and those underground shopping centres in Seoul (I know cos I was at these areas before we went to Busan) and the variety/designs are just as fashionable.
Within walking distance is the Gukje Market, another traditional market so this area of Nampodong is really a fabulous shopping destination.
Directions: Subway line 1, Nampodong Station
The market usually opens early in the morning until late evening. Each shop sets their own hours. I’m not sure about the off days but I heard it’s one day off every week.
Next, after a whole day of obligatory sightseeing of aquariums, cinema centre and beach walking, we managed to sneak in another short few hours for shopping on our last night in Busan.
Some of us grabbed a train to Soemyeon, where there lies an underground shopping centre that our guide assured us of reasonable pricing and good designs.
Taking the train in Busan wasn’t difficult though they do not have a train map handed out for tourist (I couldn’t see any information counters for that, unlike in Seoul). Anyhow, take a picture of the subway map and keep it in your phone when you’re in the station. Stay diligent during the train ride to ensure that you don’t miss your stop. There are train map/stops displayed on the top panel of the train (just like our Monorail and LRT) so you keep track of the stations.
Fares are generally fair, about 1,000 won (RM3) for a few stops away and more for further stations.
At Seomyeon I didn’t even come out of the underground station. I walked and browsed for about 2 hours til the very last shop closed! The designs of the accessories, clothes, shoes, bags and well, handphone covers are really fashionable and modern.
I definitely liked what I saw though I must say most items are priced between RM100 (minimum for a simple top) to > RM2,000.
For example this was RM600. I was tempted, but in the end common sense got better of me.
This particular shop rocks. If I did buy everything I fancied from this shop, I would have racked up a bill of RM5,000; with each pair costing about RM600-RM800.
Photography wasn’t allowed at most shops so pardon the lack of pictures. But if you’re familiar with underground shopping malls I’m sure you can pretty much visualize the layout.
Below are some accessories I bought from some roadside stalls along the journey. Some are about RM10 while a few was RM100 – RM150.
Like I mentioned earlier, I shopped (window-shopped) til the shutters went down!
The last train in Busan is 11.30pm so I had to rush back to my hotel. Most shops are closed by 10.30pm and open from 10.30 – 11am.
Directions: Seomyeon underground mall, Seomyeon station, Busan.
On our last day in Busan, our guide took us to Busanjin Market since some of us requested for “traditional souvenirs”. The Busanjin Market is famous for the sales of “hanbok”, a traditional costume of Korea. This area is bursting with little shops clustered closely together and they sell everything from cloth to shoes to kitchenware.
If you have been to Platinum Mall in Bangkok, then you would have an idea of the layout and sizes of the shops here. However the building is a tad run down and the shoplots are smaller.
But they are no less colourful! I stared at the colourful Hanboks wide-eyed. Oh my god hanboks are such pretty, demure attires!
I told my guide that I want to try one on.
Once I stepped into the building my head started to spin. So many shops so little time! As expected navigating the building was like a maze. I took pictures of the “floor map” and the directory as a guide.
It will take a whole day to explore the whole of Busanjin Market. We were given 45 mins – 1 hour so I only managed to try on a hanbok and grab a pair of boots.
Yup, I did try on the Hanbok!
It wasn’t as complicated as it looked. In fact it was basically layer after layer of garments which is pretty straightforward to don if you have someone assisting you. I didn’t have time to interview the kind Korean shopkeeper and get the names of each layer, but luckily my guide helped me to record a video. Video will be uploaded once I got it edited ok!
Busanjin Market is primarily popular for its Hanbok materials as well as fabrics. Here you get bales and bales of cloth of all quality, colours and prints/designs. Silk, rayon, cotton, satin. Everything you may need for your wardrobes. That includes buttons, lace, trimmings and the works.
We did sped past some clothing shops as while rushing back to our meeting point. I wish I had taken better pictures or the ones of the trendier fashion to show you, but I guess I got distracted by all the shops!
No doubt what I listed above are nowhere near to be considered an exhaustive list, but you can be assured of a satisfying shopping experience as these are the places recommended by the kind people from Busan Tourism Organisation as well as our travel guide who assured us that the locals shop there too.
True enough, I did see a lot of locals; both young and old shopping and browsing along with me as I make my way from one shop to another.
How to get to Busanjin Market:
Take the Metro Line No.1 to Bumil-dong Station and take the Exit No. 1.
** This is a media trip with the Air Asia X team and Busan Tourism Board. We were in Busan for the Air Asia X inaugural KL- Busan flight launch and had the good fortune to explore Seoul and Busan for 5D4N.
If you have any question for me about Busan, do drop me a comment here!
Kamsahabnida! Thank you for reading!