Well after spending 10 days in Seoul last week on business I was excited to visit the worlds largest electronic market which has been advertised as having the largest selection and best prices. I have to say I was terribly disappointed. Not only did virtually every vendor carry EXACTLY the same products but the prices were highway robbery. I am from Canada where we are known for high prices because of taxes and import duties, yet the prices for computers, cameras, options and components averaged 25-50% higher than back home. Even an American friend I was travelling with agreed that the prices were outrageous. In particular, anything APPLE related had a HUGE markup. So, sad to warn you do NOT expect any deals as none of the vendors were willing to negotiate on price either. If you want to do some window shopping - it's GREAT, but leave your wallet at home.
What to pay: 25-50% MORE than Canada or US prices.
If you are looking for electronics in Korea (Seoul), there are two places you should know:
1. Techno Mart
2. Yongsan Electronics Market
Techno Mart is in the eastern part of Seoul, just across of the Han river (subway line 2, 'Gangbyeon' station) and offers a wide selection of all kinds of electronic goods on several storeys in a clean and attractive environment.
Yongsan Electronics Market is in central Seoul (subway line 1, 'Yongsan' station) and is without doubt Korea's largest shopping centre for electronics: From digital cameras, MP3s, computers, LCDs, TVs, Hifi Stereos to VCDs and DVDs... everything is available.
They had a major renovation in 2005 due to the adjacent 'Yongsan' railway station, which is housing Korea's new high-speed train (KTX). Therefore, Yongsan Electronics Market now offers a very clean and attractive shopping experience as well as catering.
From experience, I recommend to go to Yongsan rather than Techno Mart:
a) Prices usually don't vary much in between vendors. Most people know each other and agree upon a price for a product and sometimes even exchange products if they're out of stock.
b) Never accept the first "best" offer and always bargain for a better deal.
c) IMPORTANT: Make sure you know the product(s) that you want to buy and an approximate price range. Vendors work on commission and usually try to make you switch to brands that pay them the highest commission but are not necessarily the best on offer.
d) IMPORTANT: Make sure the product has an English menu (e.g. MP3, PDA, Digicam). More than once, I was offered a product for a good price (it really was good!) but, while having a closer look at the item, I found out that they only had a Japanese or Korean language setting.
e) If you have a Korean friend or acquaintance, ask him to search the internet for you. Very often, better offers can be found through the web. As the sites are in Korean only, you need some local help though...
Yongsan Electronics Market has about 5,000 stores in some 20 buildings selling nothing but electronics. Prices here are usually very reasonable, but watch quality unless you stick with name brands! Samsung, LG, and other Asian brands are prevalent. Major items for sale include appliances, stereos and entertainment systems, computers, office equipment, telephones, lighting, games and software, videos and music, cell phones and cameras.
The area is modernizing in recent years with some nice new buildings, and a great new movie theater as well.
Take the subway or train to Yongsan Station and follow the signs to the market... just be careful--you'll be in the same area as Seoul's old red light district.
The Yongsan Electronic Shopping Town was formed by a host of small electronic dealers and has become one of the greatest electronic shopping towns anywhere. You can find all kinds of the latest electronic products and components, including computers, games and lighting equipment.
The Electonics Market is composed of many shopping centers, including Najin Sangga, Wonhyo Sangga, Seoin Sangga and Terminal Sangga, the Electronic Land (Old Building, New Building and Annex), the Electronic Town, and office buildings, including the Hangang Office Building, Samgu Building and Chungjin Building, as well as restaurants. Currently, more than 7,000 stores are doing business here.
The real fun is just going and seeing the floors and floors of phones, televisions, and computer equipment. I wonder how they all stay in business when they sell the same thing. The stuff built in Korea is dirt cheap. Anything imported is probably double what you would pay in North America. It is a sight to see.
One of the biggest Electronics market in Korea.
Buy a all Computers and Electronics.
What to buy: Computers and Computers machine part.
Video & PC Game.
Living Electronics ( Phone, Washer,Refrigerator,Air Conditioner and all )
The Yongsan Electronics Market is next to Yongsan Station. It is an incredible place to visit, as it has floor after floor of videogames, laptops, cameras, televisions, self-cleaning toilets, appliances, and cellphones as far as the eye can see. It also has an equal number of hungry salesman barking at you, like some nightmare of the future, in this sterile, flourescent environment. There is just one serious problem- the vast majority of in-demand electronics come from Japan. I suppose due to long-standing animosity, the Japanese still punish the Koreans by charging duties on Japanese electronics (or it could be self-imposed Korean government tariffs, I'm not quite sure), but Japanese electronics sell for two to three times what they sell for in the US. Therefore, the best thing to do at Yongsan Electronics Market is marvel at the amazing selection and the veritable jungle of electronics filling every corner of this tower. If you MUST buy electronics in Korea, this is the place to do it. I wanted a cheap Tamron lens for my Canon camera, and they wanted between 2 to 3 times the going rate for it. At first I thought they were just pushing the American button on their calculator, which automatically adds 100%, but I soon found a guy who spoke wonderful English, and he was changing jobs in a few days, and he let me know how much his cost was over the phone and told me the lowest price I could get it for. His price was $100 less than the others, but it was still twice the US price. So just live with it, if you need electronics; Koreans have told me that they often order their electronics from the US. In contrast, anything made in Korea is dirt cheap, mostly accessories and computer parts. I got generic Canon batteries for half the Canon price. It is still an amazing experience.
What to buy: Buy Korean computer parts, Korean-made accessories or electronics; mostly small goods; Samsung and LG electronics will have the best prices. Otherwise, just marvel at the selection and watch the Mexican band that plays downstairs (and who speak incredible KOREAN!)
What to pay: expect to spent 2-3 times the average US street price, sometimes twice US Retail.
For Computers and Electronics sales complex building. there is 2,500 sales stores, Research and Development software Companys, IT Venture Zone, Discount Mall, Shoping Mall, Multi Theaters, Fitness center, Restaurants and Bank. it's a shoping and relax place.
What to buy: Computers and Electronics, Mobile Phone
Largest Electronic Market in the World is what is it is touted as and it probably is not far from the truth. Bigger than Japan's and Hong Kong's combined, if you can't find it here, no one has thought of it yet. From state of the art video camera's and cell phones to plasma screens and superfast computer components, they have it all here at some very reasonable prices.
What to buy: Anything that your heart desires is here. Shop around though, because prices vary greatly from shop to shop. They sell everything electronic from full blown computerized home entertainment systems all the way down to the transistor and diode level. There are shops that only sell one minor component of a motherboard. If you want to build a motherboard from scratch or design one and have it built for you, they can do it here. I had a 128MB video card built for me (before they were even available in the states) in less than 2 hours and cost me only $90US. The card lasted a year so I felt like I got a great deal.
What to pay: Prices are highly variable so take notes and no money the first time you visit or you will go through your life savings at the sheer magnitude and volume of available items here.
Unlike Yongsan Electronics Market, Lotte Depart(ment Stores, they shorten the name here) and other higher end retailers have some pretty cool wares. There is no haggling here, but for browsing it's more like what us Westerns are used to back home. (And you can check out the quality and prices first before comparing at the discount places.)
Of couse Korea, being Korea, operates at 120V, not 110V, so whatever you buy here will need a converter if you bring it home (presumably to a 110V country)...and even then I have heard of some troubles--but could be wrong on this, I'm no electronics specialist.