Supermarkets In Korea: Quick Guide For Your Daily Needs!
As I reached south korea, I realized the first thing I was looking for was supermarkets. Supermarkets are the first aid to our essential needs, whether a toothbrush, ramen, soap, water or anything else. After looking for a while on the net, I decided to share a quick little guide to the seven supermarkets in Korea you can find to get your needs done.
As a traveller, the worst thing that can happen is that we forget to bring essential needs and have no idea where to get one. That’s where the local supermarkets come in and fill these needs. There are a lot of supermarkets in Korea you can find nearby the place where you stay.
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Supermarkets In Korea
Korea has a vast majority of grocery stores where you can shop easily. These include E-Mart, Home Plus, Lotte Mart, Ikea, Costco or traditional markets and local convenience stores such as Seven-eleven, mini stop, CU, GS25 and another anonymous mart. This makes life and shopping so much more straightforward than they used to be.
There are few type of supermarkets in Korea you can find as you travel here. Here are four different type of supermarkets in korea.
- Hypermarket (대형 슈퍼마켓)
Hypermarket are the largest supermarkets in korea, offers almost everything you need in one place. From grocery, electronics to clothing, they got you covered.
- Local Mart (동네 마트).
Local mart is the type of market you can find near the place you stay as it usually camp on residential areas. Downside is that they only offers some small essential needs and often times is not complete.
- Convenience stores (편의점)
These retail market is where to go in case of emergency needs. You can find this store on every single corner in major city in Korea. Easy to find, quite complete in terms of daily needs.
- Traditional Markets (시장)
This is the place where locals and housewive go daily for their grocery. You can find a lot of traditional market in major city offers bargain groceries and delicious street food.
Alright, so whether you are looking to shopping or just grab some essential products, here are the supermarkets in Korea you can visit during your travel!
E-mart is the most famous supermarket brand in Korea. It was first inaugurated in 1993, and since then it is giving a tough competition to the other brands of the market. It is also the oldest supermarket chain among its two competitors in the market, ”Lotte mart and home plus.”
Shopping at E-mart will save your crucial time as well as money as they provide their customers with discounted deals throughout the year. E-mart also introduced its pocket-friendly brand named “No Brand” and they aim to provide high-quality products at a reasonable price.
Moreover, an amazing feature they offer is a one-day delivery service, 쓱배송 in Korean that you can even choose the time you want to get. It’s free when you order over 40,000 KRW.
- Address of Yeoksam Branch (near Gangnam): 310 Yeoksam-ro Gangnam-gu Seoul
- Open hours: 10:00 – 23:00
- Phone: 02-6908-1234
- Website: https://store.emart.com
2. Lotte Mart
Lotte mart includes in the top three supermarkets in Korea. This mart is also known as a discount store as they said, “ Don’t be too shy about buying items here” they also offer to refund an 8% tax for foreigners.
From household stuff to clothing and cosmetics to toys, everything is easily available at Lotte mart. They also have some unique Korean food and snacks. Some food items are only available at Lotte Mart, not even at the big supermarkets located in big metropolitan areas.
Note: they also have food courts in their stores.
- Address of Seoul Station Branch (near Myeongdong): 405 Hangang-daero Jung-gu Seoul
- Open hours: 10:00 – 24:00
- Phone: 02-390-2500
- Website: http://www.lottemart.com
3. Home Plus Mart
It is also one of the major supermarket chains in Korea. Always include Home plus mart in your list, because there is not a single Korean product that is not available at the mart. It’s also famous for grocery shopping because of their reasonable prices; we can say it is a Korean walmart.
Pro Tips: Get some korean ramen, they have so many yummy and spicy flavors!
Home Plus Mart
- Address of Hapjeong Branch (near Hongdae): 45 Yanghwa-ro Mapo-gu Seoul
- Open hours: 10:00 – 24:00
- Phone: 02-6938-8800
- Website: http://www.homeplus.co.kr
Costco is the famous US chain wholesale that has a lot of stores in many various countries as well as South Korea. In total, Costco has 16 stores all over the country. Since this is a wholesale; you can buy items in bulk at satisfactory prices.
- Address of Yangjae Branch: 159 Yangjae-daero Seocho-gu Seoul
- Open hours: 08:00 – 22:00
- Phone: 1899-9900
- Website: https://www.costco.co.kr/
Ikea is the world’s largest seller of Swedish furniture that recently launched its largest store in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do areas. Apart from providing high quality furnitures, it also offers food items, such as Swedish meatballs and kimchi bibimbap. You can find it on their restaurant inside ikea building.
In addition to that, ikea also offers high quality bed linen, quilts, pillows, canopies, cushions, blankets, baby rugs, curtains, drapes, towels, washcloths, and sleeping bags. You can almost get any household you need here.
- Address of Gwangmyeong Branch : 17 Iljik-ro Gwangmyeong-si Gyeonggi-do
- Open hours: 10:30 – 21:00
- Phone: 1670-4532
- Website: https://www.ikea.com
6. Convenience Store
Korea has hundreds of convenience stores nationwide. These are small retails that offers various essential daily needs such as coffee, groceries, snacks, small foods, and desserts.
Convenience stores in Korea are also approved to have alcohol and meals for sale in case you want to have a tipsy moment. In addition to that, these stores provide extra services such as top-up T-money card for public transportation, ATM machines, and post-delivery.
You can find GS25 pretty easily anywhere you stay in Korea. This convenience store has nearly all food items starting from on-the-spot cooked food, vegetables, fruits and other ingredients.
Housewives frequently buy some small shopping from GS25, students come to get their snacks, and workers to get immediate food. GS25 offers a lot more selections of korean ramen compare to another convenince stores in korea.
CU is the most common and well known convenience store in Korea, owned by BG Retail. The purpose of this store is to bring various essential goods to the public right where they are. So you can find this convenient store almost anywhere within residential areas.
In addition to that, they are open 24 hours and offers some delicious food like fire dumpling, CU mochi roll, and CU snacks.
Partnered with Lotte, 7-Eleven has camped tons of its stores all over korea. You can find this American convenience store you easily and you can also use your Lotte point in their stores.
Do note that 7-eleven is not always open 24 hour, so don’t expect they will open if you need anything in the middle of the night. However, if you are looking to find international foods, 7-eleven is the best convenience stores to go.
Emart24 is a part of Shinsegae group, kind of a small type of E-mart. While you can use Lotte points in 7-eleven, you can use Shinsegae membership card in Emart 24. Most of the products you can find here is no brand product.
This local convenience store offers something unique compare to others, some of them are actually located in prime areas and offers amazing views. You can visit their chungmuro branch where you can get grab a coffee and sit on a rooftop with a beautiful view of Namsan tower. In Dongjak bridge, Emart24 offers a wonderful han river views on their rooftop areas.
In shorts, if you are looking to sit around and have a nice view as you enjoy your snacks or coffee, then you Emart24 is the best to go. However, do note that Emart24 chain is not as much as others like CU or GS25, so you can hardly find them unless you’re on a prime areas.
While it’s name suggest it’s open 24 hour, it is not necessary true, they are not always open 24 hour like CU or GS25. Some of them actually close quite early, so you want to make sure you the branch you want to visit before go to visit there at night.
While Ministop is a part of Japanese ÆON group, this convenience store is also the most unknown convenience stores in korea among another mentioned in this article. They are quite well known for their selection of foods for quick meals in which one of them are fried chicken! More than that, ministop offers soft ice cream with a very cheap price which is perfect to grab during hot summer days.
However, I do think that Ministop is somehow a little bit inconsistent on the things they sell on each branch. Sometimes there are things you can find in one branch that you can’t find in another branch.
7. Traditional Market
While we already talk about the big and the small mart, we haven’t talk about traditional market. Who doesn’t love traditional market! Everyone love this market for it’s price and local’s vibes.
If you are someone who want to witness the life of locals, you must visit the traditional markets as you travel Seoul and other city in Korea. Shopping from traditional markets are always fun because here you can bargain with the seller!
In addition to low prices, traditional markets offers many various street food you can’t miss. Here, I am listing some of the famous traditional markets which are also famous for tourist attraction, but for more complete list of traditional market, click here.
This is the oldest market located in Seoul. This market is famous for the traditional Korean style metal bowls, Gangnam style socks, and pillows of Korean style.
This 100 plus years old market is the largest one with a total of 5000 stalls. It also contains a textile market; you can buy bedsheets of silk, satin, and traditional clothing of Korea (Hanbok). Though this market is famous for its fabrics, its street food also attracts tourists.
If you visit Seoul and miss to visit this market, then Shame On You! This market is one of the must visit market in Seoul, it’s famous among tourist and locals alike.
They have lots of food stalls offers delicious food, but the most famous stall is Cho’s Korean Handmade Noodles stall. This grannie has been featured on Netflix Street Food and thus she became super famous among tourist for it’s delicious knife-cut noodle and iconic smile.
It is the smallest market in Seoul town consists of 75 stalls but it’s well known for its delicious food stalls. If you’re a foodie, maybe you can visit this market as you travel around. especially it’s located near Gyeongbokgung Palace, so you can just stop by for a while after you visit the palace.
Noryangjin is perfect if you love seafood! This is a fresh fish market where you can find a high quality fish on a bargain, affordable price. In addition to that, they offers various wholesale food and groceries for home cooking.
Gyeongdong Herb Market
Gyeongdong Market is a traditional market located in Dongdaemun areas, well known for it’s herb and spices products. As it name suggest, this is the best market if you are looking for ingredients to make a traditional medicine.
Majang Meat Market
Majang Meat Market is a meat dedicated market where you can find all kinds of meat in this market. The best part is you can find great price for all kinds of meat you can find here. While you might worry and concern about it’s hygiene due to the nature of this market, korea offers a next level meat market.
This meat market is much cleaner than most of supermarkets you can find in your country! So you don’t need to worry about it’s hygiene. They sell both local as well as international type of meat so you can find your meat preference here.
Supermarkets In Korea Customs
Here are some customs you need to know and keep in mind as you visit korean supermarkets so you won’t have a culture shocked as you visit supermarkets in korea.
- Supermarkets in korea closed on the second and fourth sunday every single month, even the largest supermarkets have this etiquette. In case you need something during their holiday, you can go to the local convenience store.
- Bring your own plastic bags if you don’t want to get charged for plastic bags you need. You can buy a reusable bags near their counter in case you forget.
- Most of korean supermarkets have membership with bonus and offers some discounts.
- Ask for the current deals before you buy something, sometimes they offers buy one get one or buy two get one free for some of their products.
- The largest korean supermarkets chain have delivery service you can use to deliver your groceries right in front of your doors quickly and conveniently!
- Most of the big supermarkets like Homeplus offers a huge discounts for the late food purchase, if you visit right before their closing time!
- If you are sick or busy that you can’t go physically to any of these supermarkets, then you can purchase it online! Other than these supermarkets, you can go to Coupang and Gmarket to buy your groceries online.
- You will need to make a deposit before using trolleys in supermarkets in korea, it only cost about a hundred korean won. This deposit is just to make sure that you use the trolleys properly.
Supermarkets in Korea - Sum Up
Supermarkets in korea is definitely the first thing we need to know if we want to travel safely in Korea. Not just it can fulfill our daily needs, it’s service to top up our T-money as well as the closest place to get some help 24/7 is really useful during our trip experience in korea.
Here are the quick list of supermarkets in Korea you can find pretty easily as you travel Seoul. I guarantee that this article will be helpful in helping you find your daily travel needs. If you want more of a comprehensive guide and tips to all of supermarkets and grocery stores in Korea, click here!
Which one is your favourite when it comes to shopping and supermarkets in korea? let us know in the comment sections below!
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