Seoul Walks: Sweets & Shopping in Sinsa, Part 1

Psy may have put Gangnam on the map with his catchy songs and swanky style, but the now-famous district that sits just south of the Han River is a whole lot more than bowties and horse dances. And there’s no better place to get the true “Gangnam Style” experience than in Sinsa-dong, a quaint neighborhood that has become increasingly popular over the past couple years with the city’s trendsetters, fashionistas and foodies.

In this three-part walking tour, I take you to some of the hottest spots, as well as a few of my own lesser known favorites, so you can explore the very best this stylish neighborhood has to offer.

A New You

Sinsa is also known for being the mecca of cosmetic surgery and is the go-to destination for those in Seoul for medical tourism purposes. Almost 400,000 people flock to the Korean capital for medical tourism purposes each year, as medical procedures are not only far cheaper than those in other countries, but Korea’s medical facilities are state-of-the-art and medical practitioners are some of the most experienced in the world.

TengTeng Skin Clinic is one such example and is one of the more frequented medical facilities among international visitors, thanks to its friendly English speaking physician and staff. Located just outside the subway station, TengTeng offers both medical services and cosmetic procedures, the most popular being the Ellipse FotoFacial Treatments and Fraxel laser treatments.

Services are very affordable, with the doctor’s consultation fee set at only ₩10,000. Many of the procedures, such as the chemical peels and facials, require no downtime at all, which means you can be in and out of the clinic with a fresher, younger face, and onto shopping in an hour flat.

Those seeking more invasive procedures such as rhinoplasty or breast augmentation can make an appointment at BK Plastic Surgery, a clinic that offers complete travel programs for medical tourists.

Shopping Spree

Perhaps the best known street in the area, and the perfect place to begin your Gangnam shopping spree is Garosu-gil, Sinsa’s gateway to fashion and beauty.

Stretching less than a kilometer in distance, this charming European-esque promenade teems with gorgeously decorated boutiques, modern dining spaces and romantic cafe terraces that provide picturesque views of Sinsa’s famous ginkgo trees that blanket the district in yellow each autumn.

Even more beautiful than the street are the people who hang out there, most of whom are dressed to the nines in the latest fashions, ready to strike a pose for the fashion bloggers and photographers that hang out in the neighborhood in hopes of getting a good shot.

Although Garosu-gil boasts international fashion franchises such as H&M and Zara, the street is better known for its smaller boutiques and vintage shops. One can, and should, spend an entire morning browsing the wares of these eclectic boutiques, as they boast enough eye candy to put even the casual window-shopper on cloud nine.

Be sure not to miss Spicy Color, three floors of modern and colorful Korean designs, and 9 Owls, a vintage boutique overflowing with fun styles from the 1970s and 80s, and an entire wall of Chanel bags that would make any girl giddy.

Also along Garuso-gil are a slew of “multi-shops”, design-centric stores that sell a variety of goods. A-LAND is a five-story multi-shop of unique, affordable wares; funky accessories, shoes and clothing are arranged by designer, most of whom are Korean, and appeal to the shopper looking for something unconventional, like studded army boots or gothic teddy bear keychains.

Just down the street, Louis Club offers a similar collection specifically for men. As the first men’s lifestyle shop in the fashion district of global brand Louis Quatorze, the three-story store offers Louis Quatorze products as well as European designer brands ranging from clothing to accessories. Additionally, grooming products for men such as skincare, hair products and cologne are available on the second floor.

Another classy menswear shop is Blackbrown, which offers an array of formal shirts, pants, ties and shoes in its elegant interior. Catering to men in their early 30s up to those in their 50s, the shop offers bespoke services where customers can be measured for tailored clothes, customized with the designs and fabrics they personally choose. Additionally, Blackbrown boasts a number of unique premade items by local and international brands.

Now that you’ve been pampered and picked up a new wardrobe, take some time to explore the neighborhood’s best cosmetic shops, art galleries, dessert cafes and entertainment venues… all in Part 2!

To Get There: Take the Seoul subway to Sinsa Station (Line 3, Exit 8).

Guide Map (Includes locations in entire Seoul Walks: Sweets & Shopping in Sinsa)

Words by Mimsie Ladner of Seoul Searching. Content may not be reproduced unless authorized.