Thanks to the junkies who commented, I’ve decided to work on this article first 🙂 Hope it helps those of you who are going to Korea!
Ok this part pertains to just shopping for beauty products. I will probably put up another article for shopping for other things if I think I have enough to contribute 🙂
Before you go…
1) Prepare a shopping list. You’d probably be succumbed to a lot of convincing sales talk when you’re there. Armed with a shopping list, you’d at least be clear what are your “planned” items and what are impulse buys.
2) Do your homework. According to your shopping list, you’d probably want to check out the prices of the products in Singapore and note it down somewhere to know that whether the item is a MUST-BUY (and must buy a dozen) when you get there. But that being said, even if you don’t do your homework, I can pretty much tell you that products from Korean brands are almost definitely cheaper. So, for the lazy junkies, argh – just go with your shopping list and grab, grab, grab.
When you’re there…
1) You’ll probably realise that shops such as Etude House, The Face Shop, Tony Moly are EVERYWHERE. But I prefer to do the shopping on one day, and at Myeongdong. The reason is that Myeongdong’s stores are catered to tourists (but no, no mark-ups, don’t worry), so most of the sales assistants are able to speak English, Mandarin, Japanese and Thai (I don’t know what else they speak, but these are common languages). This makes purchase a lot easier.
Also, it’s just super fun to see LOTS of cute sales assistants standing outside the stores with small baskets and free gifts, trying to get you in. Stores in Myeongdong are also more generous with their free gifts and samples after each purchase.
By the way, instead of saying “free”, Koreans say “service”. So, if they pass lots of sachets to you, saying “sa-bi-si” (service), they are really telling you “these are free gifts”.
2) If you really like a particular brand, make sure you get everything you want from one store. In Myeongdong, you could easily find several of the same store, sometimes in close proximity too. That means, you see one huge Nature Republic store, walk down the next street, you may just see another Nature Republic store.
So if you love Nature Republic, for instance, choose one of the stores (usually there will be one store that is catered specially for international customers), and buy everything you want from NR there. That’s because the more you spend, the better the free gifts given. So instead of spending 1000W each in five stores, spend 5000W in one store. That way, you’ll probably be able to get a free travel kit (with maybe, a toner, serum and moisturiser in travel-size) and two sachets and two small bottles of products, rather than say, ten sachets of products.
3) No bargaining. Erm, seriously!
4) It might be a “Kristen-syndrome”, but I will usually definitely walk into stores that are not available in Singapore such as Innisfree and Holika Holika, and buy something from there. Coz I know that if I don’t get the things from there then, I can’t get them when I’m home.
1) If you’re planning to buy items such as facial masks for your friends, as well as yourself, get the value-packs. Those are usually bundled in 10 per pack, and they’ll usually throw in two free masks or other free items. Get different value packs, share them among those you’re buying them for, you’ll get more bang for your buck.
2) A sales assistant usually follows you everywhere for the entire stay you have in the store, introducing every product on the shelf, bringing you on a tour around the shop, and asking what you’re looking for. Most of them are actually more helpful than irritating. So, feel free to ask questions. Find out about what their bestsellers are, and which items are best value-for-money. However, they can also be a little pushy/overly-convincing. If you’re not intending to bust your budget, then make sure you stick to your shopping list and stay firm! Just tell the sales assistant that you’ve already bought something similar 🙂
OK, I think that’s about all that I could offer. Or at least, all that I could think of. Why don’t guys shoot me some questions if you have any? 🙂
Btw, a few other resources that you could look at: This K-blog, which gives a few product reviews and highlights specific tourist areas on Korea. And also this article that I contributed for 8flo Lifestyle 🙂