The Markets You Need to Visit in Seoul

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The Markets You Need to Visit in Seoul

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in local life is to see and do as the locals do. In Seoul, South Korea, this means shopping at the city’s many vibrant markets for food, apparel, jewelry and accessories (you may want to pack an extra bag just for all the goodies you’ll bring home!). Most markets are open throughout the year and they’re easy to access thanks to the city’s excellent network of subway trains and buses. Here are the markets you need to visit in Seoul. 

Namdeamun Market

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This is one of South Korea’s most bustling markets and has a long history – it was founded in the early 1400s! Join the neighborhood locals as they shop for groceries and household items at this traditional market that was named after Seoul’s Great South Gate (Sungnyemun Gate) – originally the main gate to the ancient city. There’s everything from electronics to traditional medicine to leather goods to crafts. The handicraft and food sections are particularly popular. Dig into bowls of stewed beltfish, mackerel and pollock along the Galchi Jorim alley or get street eats like grilled chicken skewers and tteokbokki on Foodie Alley. Along Noodle Soup Alley, you might be handed an extra dish or two that you didn’t order – the stall owner is just being generous, so graciously accept the gift. The market is open every night and much fun to visit at this time – it’s liveliest from 11 PM until 4 AM. Love cosmetics? Make a side trip to nearly Shingsegae Department Store. Find it at 88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu.

Dongdaemun Market

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Set aside at least a day for shopping at Dongaemun Market, with approximately 26 shopping malls, 30,000 specialty shops and 50,000 manufacturers. This is a huge wholesale and retail market, so no matter what you’re seeking, you’ll find it, from textiles to jewelry to toys. Fashion-forward teens and bargain hunters flock here for the shiny malls, like Good Morning City and Migliore, and the discounted jeans, shoes and leather goods in the open-air market. Come hungry – the Meokja Golmok alley (Let’s Eat Alley) is devoted to Korean street food and snacks, including generously proportioned mandu (fried dumplings) and dak hanmari (whole chicken). Like Namgeamun Market, Dongdaemun stays open late into the night, when fashion shows, music and dance performances bring the market to life after 10 PM. Find it at Euljiro 6(yuk)-ga, Jung-gu.

Gwangjang Market

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This was the first permanent street market in South Korea, dating back to 1905. Those with a penchant for fabrics and textiles will love the huge selection, particularly of colorful silk and satin bedding. Beyond that, you’ll find produce, dried goods, kitchenware and more. Locals shop here for Korean prayer ritual items, like hanbok (traditional Korean clothing) and pyebaek (wedding food). There’s plenty of food and drink available on the first floor, including bindaetteok (deep-fried mung bean pancakes) and soondae (pig’s blood sausage stuffed with sticky rice). While you’re here, take time to visit the nearby Jongmyo Shrine, a UNESCSO World Heritage Site and one of the country’s finest examples of a Confucian royal ancestral shrine. Find it at 88, Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu.

 

Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market

It’s worth the 15-minute train ride from Seoul Station out to Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market. Come at dawn to witness the lively seafood auctions – nearly 800 vendors sell their fresh seafood at incredible affordable prices. Prefer to dine in a sit-down restaurant where someone prepares the seafood for you? Head to the market’s upper levels to one of the many Korean and Japanese restaurants. Find it at 674 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin-dong, Dongjak-gu.

 

Gyeongdong Market

With more than 1,000 stalls selling homegrown medicines, herbs, spices and roots, this market is particularly popular with Chinese and Japanese tourists seeking natural remedies. The air is thickly infused with the fragrance of herbs – look for red ginseng (for energy), maesil (or plum) for controlling blood pressure and chrysanthemum (for brewing into a refreshing beverage). Find it at 147, Wangsan-ro, Dongdaemun-gu.

Myeongdong Market

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Browse department store fashions and independent boutiques at Myeondong Market. Shoppers in-the-know come here for the latest skincare and cosmetic products – more than a thousand Korean brands include Nature Republic, Etude House, The Face Shop and Missha. The most popular shopping sections of the market include Lotte Department Store and Noon Square Shopping Mall. Stick around for live concerts and cultural performances at the M Plaza, where you’ll also find the Seoul Culture and Tourism Center.

 

Myeongdong Market is also a favorite of foodies – brin your appetite for traditional Korean street food, including fish cakes, tteokbokki rice cakes, Korean spicy fried chicken, bulgogi and more. Find it at 83-9 Myeong-dong, Jung-gu.

 

Seoul Herbal Medicine Market

Find more traditional medicine and natural remedies at the Seoul Herbal Medicine Market, where you’ll find fresh herbs, ginseng and roots. Want to learn more about what you’re purchasing? Visit the Yengnyeongsi Herb Medicine Museum, full of ancient medical equipment, 500 kinds of medicinal herbs and vintage herbal medicine books. Find it at 10 Yangnyeongjungang-ro, Dongdaemun-gu.

 

Seoul Folk Flea Market

Love a good treasure hunt at a flea market? Don’t miss the Seoul Folk Flea Market for rare Korean keepsakes – from vintage home furnishings to vinyl records to dishes. There’s a great food court on the first floor, serving up noodle bowls, rice soup and Korean-style pancakes. Find it at 21 Cheonho-daero 4-gil, Dongdaemun-gu.

 

Yongsan Electronics Market

If you’re marketing in hopes of scoring some discount electronics, look no further than the Yongsan Electronics Market. There are approximately 20 buildings where you’ll find new and used gadgets, including Nanjiin Electro World, Seonin Mall and Electro Land. Shop for appliances, cell phones, cameras and more. Find it at 15-2 Hangangro 2-ga, Yongan-gu.

 

Yangjae Flower Market Center

Surround yourself with the colorful sights and fragrant scents of this huge flower market. Open year-round (and especially lovely in winter when you can sneak inside for a break from the frigid weather), the market provides fresh-cut and artificial flowers for retail, wholesale and auction purposes. Find it at 27, Gangnam-daero, Seocho-gu.

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