Just assume that if you have something in mind you want to buy, you will most likely find it at Namdaemun Market in Seoul.
There is even a building dedicated to the sale of fresh cut flowers which can also be made into beautiful arrangements.
If Namdaemun Market is not on your list of things to do in Seoul, it should be.
Namdaemun Market is a traditional Korean market with its origins in the 15th century when they were basically trading fish and a few other products during the years of the Joseon Dynasty.
It became Seoul’s claim to the first permanent market in the country at the end of the 19th century.
Unfortunately, it was burned to the ground during the Korean War. It was reconstructed over the years to what it has become today.
On the street level you will find a maze of stalls with sellers of all kinds of merchandise, including food vendors.
You’ll find the prices here very reasonable since, for the most part, the retail vendors also manufacture their own goods. This eliminates middleman mark-ups.
The quality of the merchandise is not compromised because of the inexpensiveness of the items. This is another reason Namdaemun Market is so popular.
A Trip To Namdaemun Market
By building your plan around this knowledge, you should be on your way to a most pleasurable shopping and eating experience.
1. You’re not going to take in everything in one day, as Namdaemun Market is one of the largest retail markets in all of Seoul, South Korea, with over 10,000 shops.
2. Namdaemun Market hours are all day long, 24 hours a day, but individual vendors also keep their own hours.
Also, keep in mind that some retailers are closed on Sundays, though the market itself remains open with many vendors who do not close their shops.
3. Start shopping before noon to miss the worst of the crowds. 55% of shoppers visit between 1-2 PM.
Although some stalls may not be completely ready at noon, the fact that there are so many other vendors with those items, you’ll surely find what you want someplace else so just keep moving while you can still move.
4. Namdaemun Market is a short walk from Hoehyeon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exit 5.
5. Purchasing with cash is preferable, though most vendors will take credit cards. If you think the price of an item is too high, don’t be afraid to haggle.
6. The layout can be somewhat overwhelming. There are some stalls with layers of merchandise stacked upon each other. Take your time to find the best bargains.
7. Wear comfortable shoes but, if you forget, you can always buy some at deep discounts at Namdaemun Market.
Food In Namdaemun Market
Some of the most popular street food highlights are listed, but there are so many that all can’t possibly be named. This will give you a start, though.
Japchae Hotteok Pancake
The savory version of this filled Korean pancake is a specialty of Namdaemun Market. It’s nutritious and filling, and only costs about a dollar.
There is also a sweet, dessert type version of this delicacy with cinnamon and peanuts.
There are various spiciness levels of this delicious Korean dumpling filled with meat and vegetables.
Keep in mind that when Seoul natives mean spicy, they mean spicy so best to try a less spicy version first, just to be sure.
This is a waffle that looks just like a goldfish. It’s stuffed with sweet, red beans. This confection has a hot center, but hot this time means temperature so be careful.
It can easily burn your mouth if you take too much. It can be found most anywhere in the food alleys of Seoul, but Namdaemun Market is as good a place to try Kimchimari as any other in the city of Seoul.
This is chicken on a skewer, glazed with either a sweet and salty sauce or a sweet and spicy sauce.
Whatever is your pleasure, you’re sure not to want to miss trying these authentic Seoul creations while you’re at Namdaemun Market.
This is a Korean soup with a seafood broth, seaweed, spring onions and topped with noodles.
Kalguksu Alley in Namdaemun Market is named after this broth. Here you will find many of Seoul’s chefs wanting you to try their various recipes.
There are literally hundreds of different things to try. If you like octopus, look no further than the Namdaemun Market.
The same is true for oysters, pork ribs, oxtail, liver, and a variety too large to name of fish and meat and their respective stews. Seoul cuisine is at its best at the Namdaemun Market.
If you can’t remember the names of some of these street food delicacies, you don’t have to worry.
It’s pretty traditional for Korean street vendors to show samples of everything they serve so you can easily just point to what looks good to you and the selections will be at your disposal.
Since Namdaemun Market in Seoul is one of the oldest markets in the country, its traditional atmosphere lends its clientele to locals as well as tourists.
Of all the marketplaces in Seoul, this is where you will find the greatest percentage of native-born Seoul shoppers.
It is at Namdaemun Market where you will find the greatest experience of the culture and history of the Korean people in a retail/wholesale market setting.
More than half of the people who visit Seoul also visit Namdaemun Market. Even if you end up spending only one or two hours there, you won’t want to miss it entirely.
Address: 21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Directions: Alight at Hoehyeon Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) and take Exit 5.