One of the best ways to get a taste of the Korean culture is to visit their markets. Markets are a perfect amalgamation of the past and the present; rightly preserving what they started out with whilst offering you everything that the young generation looks for. Korean markets have most definitely upped the ante by giving you not just delicious street food but thrift stores, shoes, cameras and everything else that you can possibly imagine.
We have a list of markets that give you everything you wanted out of the Korea experience. Get yourself a (reusable) shopping bag and a good pair of sneakers because we are taking you shopping!
Here is a short list of Korean markets that are perfect for all your cravings!
- Tongin Market
Yes, nothing beats home-cooked meals filled with nutritious dishes. But everyone knows that the hectic lifestyle we lead sometimes gets us grabbing that burger. What if we tell you that this market will let you not only eat nutritious foods, but do it willingly? Tongin Market, which dates back to 1941, emerged during Japanese colonization only to become a bustling market filled with famous cafes, food stalls, and street vendors.
Tongin Market is home to the popular Dosirak Cafe. You wouldn’t be able to miss this one even if you tried because the cafe is located right in the center of the market!
Exchange 5,000 won for a collection of ten tokens (old coins) and get an empty lunch box. The cafe is filled with an array of food stalls that provide fresh banchan (Korean side dishes), fried egg vegetables, spicy rice cakes, and more. Customers can pick and choose in order to make themselves a customized lunch box, ready to go!
There is also a floor dedicated to a seating area that allows you to sit down and eat your meal! This is for those of you who want to take in the busyness of the market while devouring your food.
Sometimes all we need is some takeaway and Netflix, and Dorisak Cafe is there to fulfill exactly that. As you rush back home from work, stop at the cafe and get your customized lunchbox packed. They also give you a pair of chopsticks to go!
Hours: 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Dorisak Cafe is closed on Mondays.
Address: 18 Jahamun-ro 15-gil, Tongin-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Seoul Flea Market
This one is for all you flea addicts. It’ll give you everything a typical flea market does, but of course, with a touch of Korea. You get bags, furniture, clothes, you name it!
Be sure to be captured in a time wrap with film cameras that date back to the nineties, signed baseball caps, and old electronic devices. If it is your lucky day, you might be able to find performances by the Pangmul band (traditional Korean bands).
The market is divided into seven zones inspired by the rainbow colors of red, green, orange, yellow, blue, indigo and violet. Each zone sells different kind of products like antiques, fashion accessories, paintings, etc.
Timings: Open every second and fourth Tuesday of the month.
Address: 21, Cheonho-daero-gil, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 02586, South Korea
- Dongdaemun Market
When we say this market is huge, we mean 26 shopping centers, 30,000 shops, and 50,000 manufacturers. Renowned particularly for their night market, Dongdaemun Market is located in the largest commercial district and is a landmark spot for locals and tourists alike.
Are you a night owl who likes going on abrupt adventures? Well, we present to you the perfect place for your late night explorations. This market is open 24 hours a day to serve you with exactly what you need.
The Dongdaemun Food Alley is there just to treat your taste buds. Filled with local food, this alley has dishes you surely wouldn’t want to miss out on. Everything from fresh tofu, fruit juices to chicken on sticks will get your mouth watering.
This market is also known for its affordable fashion items which are shown on their website!
Hours: 6:45 a.m. to 3:15 a.m.
Address: 04564 253 Jangchungdan-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Namdaemun Market
This sister market to the Dongdaemun Market stands today as one of the largest markets in Seoul. Open into the early morning hours, the Namdaemun Market dates back to 1964.
Shopping at Namdaemun Market will leave both you and your wallet happy. Products are sold at affordable prices and come with varying types suited to everyone’s tastes.
If you want to sport a beautiful hanbok during your Korea travels, be sure to drop by the Namdaemun Market. Filled with several designs of traditional hanboks, we’re certain you will find the perfect one for you.
Namdaemun Market also provides for your daily requirements in the form of kitchen equipment, toys, etc.
Although the Namdaemun Market is smaller in size when compared to the Dongdaemun Market, it is packed with everything you would need on your trip to Korea.
Hours: Closed on Sundays
Address: 21, Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
- Hongdae Art Free Market
We know Hongdae for its indie music performances and its vivid nightlife. But, did you know that every Saturday from March to November a certain flea market comes alive? The Hongdae Art Free Market located on the Hongdae Playground is exactly where you will find artists from all over the world meet and exchange their artworks.
From handmade hair brushes to purses and jewelry, be sure to pull out your wallet more often than you otherwise would!
Performers are extra friendly here because they also hold an interactive session, looking to answer any question the audience might have.
Korea never misses out on food, and if you were thinking you would be deprived of food at Hongdae Art Free Market then we are here to gladly prove you wrong. Hongdae Art Free Market consists of street food stalls so go on and indulge all you want!
Hours: Open on Saturdays from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. during the months of March–November
Address: 19-3 Wausan-ro 21-gil, Seogyu-dong, Mapo-Gu, Seoul, South Korea
This short list of markets is only scratching the surface of what Korea has to offer. Nonetheless, this will definitely get you started on your Korea adventures.
Have you visited these markets yet? Share your experience in the comments section below!
Written by Sayantani Banerjee