5 Popular Markets in Seoul to Visit Now!

Gwangjang Market Street Food

What's In This Guide?

There are enough lively markets across Seoul that you could be kept busy exploring for weeks. But which ones are the best? Here I’ve narrowed down a list of five popular markets in Seoul which are easily accessible by the city’s efficient and cheap public transport system.

Various markets are open at different times of the day and night, and some even run 24 hours a day. Whether you’re an early riser, or a late-night explorer hyped on too many double shot coffees, I assure you this list contains a market to suit your schedule.

Here you will find markets focused on food, others on clothes, homewares, textiles, souvenirs, and all sorts of other junk you can dream up.

Make sure you read through to the end to see which market in Seoul is my absolute favourite and why.

Gwangjang Market

This market is the epicenter of Seoul’s street food scene. In fact, I wrote this entire article on what to eat the Gwangjang Market covering all sorts of popular dishes from mandu dumplings to soondae blood sausage. Best thing is, the food is also really cheap.

A short walk from the Cheonggyecheon Stream you will find a maze of undercover alleyways lined with street food vendors on both sides and down the middle. It’s a pretty big wide building, but the amount of food and people crammed in here makes it feel tight.

The busiest time to visit is around dinner (6-8pm). However, I find the intense crowd quite overwhelming and prefer to visit after the dinner rush from 9 to 10pm. Same food, same prices, yet much easier to walk around and get a seat.

Opening Hours: 9.30am to 10.30pm, with only food open in the later hours.

Myengdong Market

This is an open-air street food market occupying the city blocks around Myeongdong-gil in the north to Toegyro-gil in the south. Street food tents are set up every afternoon and packed away again every night, so make sure you visit at the right time of day.

Expect to find all sorts of street food available from sugar glazed strawberries to the signature cheesy lobster tail (that ain’t a cheap buy though). My favaourite Korean street food here was the Dakkochi Chicken Skewers and the Fish Croissant Bread filed with Red Bean paste.

Want to know more about the street food available here? Check out this video I made on 7 awesome foods to try at the Myengdong Market.

Opening Hours: 5pm to 10pm, some street vendors remain open later.

Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun Market spans several blocks and encompasses the small alleys to north of Hoehyeon Station. Here you will primarily find stores selling clothing, souvenirs, kitchen utensils, liquor, and of course plenty of restaurants.

For those with young families (like us) you’ll find an entire building with unique Korean made children’s clothes at the Burdeng shopping center. Alternatively, if you’re after a rare bottle of local spirits then venture to the Namdaemun Dungeon (underground liquor market) for the best pricing and largest range in Seoul.

When your stomach starts rumbling, be sure to venture into Kalguksu Alley. Located hidden behind unassuming plastic sheet doors in the heart of the market, you’ll discover endless amounts of cheap yet tasty hand cut noodles. I’ve written more about Kalguksu Alley in this article on the top things to do in Seoul.

Opening Hours: 9am to 5.30pm for shopping, and street food is open until about 10pm unless it’s raining.

Noryangjin Fish Market

If you’ve visited Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market or seen my visit to the Yeosu Fish Market, then you know what this is all about. Fresh sashimi! The Noryangjin Fish Market is certainly one of the best places to get fresh sashimi at decent prices in Seoul.

Which fish should you get at Noryangjin? Korean’s tend to love the chewy meaty texture of Red Sea Bream (locally called chamdom). It’s quite different than Salmon or Tuna and wasn’t my favourite shashimi I’ve ever had. Expect to pay around 40,000 KRW for a 1kg fish, and haggling is to be expected.

Even if you are not looking for a sashimi meal, it is still 100% worth visiting the Noryangjin Fish Market to just to experience this aspect of Korea’s culture.

Opening Hours: 24 hours a day, however, the famous fish auctions happen early at 3am.

Dongdaemun Market

This isn’t just one market, but whole collection spread across separate buildings. Honestly, Dongdaemun Market confused the heck out of me on my first visit, and I only really figured it out the second time. So, here’s a breakdown of several markets you should know about in the area:

  • Dongdaemun Plaza Market: Google search Dongdaemun Market and you’ll be brought here via DDP Station like many other confused foreigners. This market is nothing more than a half empty food court with chain stores below a gigantic silver blob. I don’t recommend.

  • Dongdaemun Shopping Complex: a huge, long, 8 story building packed with wholesalers of everything you can imagine from textiles to electronics and souvenirs. The shopping is more for manufacturers and businesses than consumer goods but worth a visit.

  • Dongdaemun Shoes Market: another long multistorey building in the district which is packed with loads upon loads of shoe stores. Visit if you’re in the need for some new footwear.

  • Dongdaemun Food Street: a pedestrian street filled with food tents, locally called a pocha. This is my favourite part of the entire Dongdaemun Market district. Of course, food!

Is Dongdaemun Market worth visiting? It is a unique cultural experience to see where a huge amount of Seoul’s trade occurs. However, if time limited, I suggest Gwangjang and Namdaemun markets instead.

Opening Hours: collectively 24/7, however different markets in the area have different operating hours.

Is it better to visit Gwangjang Market or Dongdaemun Market?

Gwangjang Market is better if you are looking for food and a casual drink with friends. With hundreds of street food style vendors packed under one huge roof, it is much easier to find a decent meal.

Dongdaemun Market on the other hand is a wholesale market aim at businesses. As a tourist the main thing it offers you is a cultural immersion in Seoul’s local life.

What is the best market in Seoul?

Gwangjang is the best market in Seoul. That is my opinion, which of course is subjective. I love the similarity if offers to Southeast Asian night markets with lots of food, drinks, and lively vibes. Gwangjang Market has not only the best variety of affordable Korean food, but also the most welcoming atmosphere for tourists looking for a fun night out.

Which market in Seoul is best for shopping?

Namdaemun Market is best for shopping for clothing and souvenirs. You can find all sorts of clothing here from entire malls filled with children’s clothes, to stores entirely dedicated to cheap yet good quality socks. You can also get good quality chopsticks, Korean BBQ grills, and stone pots nice and cheap.

Which market in Soeul is best for food?

Gwangjang market is the best market when looking for good affordable Korean food like dumplings, noodles, Korean chicken and even Makgeolli. While Myeongdong Market also has plenty of food, it can feel quite overpriced.

Author Bio

G'day I'm Josh (some call me Fishtank) and on this blog I'll show you how to travel Asia beyond what you thought was possible. We'll explore the highest waterfalls, most remote islands, eat the best street food, and plenty more!

Josh Shephard

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