South Korea’s Best Markets
When visiting South Korea, be sure to visit some of the country’s markets. The country is home to many bustling and vibrant markets that offer visitors a true cultural experience. Whether you’re interested in sampling local cuisine, buying authentic crafts or haggling a bargain on the latest fashion items, the markets are the places to head to. Here are three of the best South Korea has to offer:
Dongdaemun night market – Seoul
Dongdaemun is the largest night market in South Korea, and has been operating continuously for more than one hundred years. It is located in Jongno-gu in Seoul, near the neighbourhood of Dongdaemun. The market has over 30,000 shops set out over 26 shopping malls, covering ten blocks. Its sheer size means it will be impossible to browse everything on offer in one night, even though the market does stay open until beyond dawn. Some stores even open 24 hours a day, but in general most open from 10:30am and close at 5am. You can find many products in Dongdaemun market, but it is particularly well known for its silk and leather goods.
It is a world-famous fashion and design haven, with many stalls offering personalised on-site tailoring services. Many shops and stalls offer this service, so visitors can pick up clothing and accessories at very good prices, and can often have tailored items delivered to them within a 24 hour time frame. Visitors can also find many other local products at the market, including toys, books, household goods and even travel. There is also a district within Dongdaemun offering a huge array of local food; here you will find some famous South Korean delicacies, including bulgogi (thinly sliced or shredded beef marinated in soy sauce), gobchang (made from pork intestines) and jjigae (stew). Shops and stalls in Dongdaemun are generally closed on Mondays and on public holidays, but are open the rest of the week.
Namdaemun market – Seoul
Namdaemun night market is the second largest market in the country and is famous for its wide selection of souvenirs and crafts on offer, as well as being the best place to grab a serious bargain. It is an open air market and stall and stores open for most of the night. It is easy to get to Namdaemun market, being a ten minute walk from Seoul’s metropolitan station and a five minute walk from Hoehyeon subway. However, the market is not accessible by car due to the narrowness of the roads. Many visitors do travel by motorcycle or pedlar though. Like Dongdaemun, Namdaemun has been in operation for over one hundred years, and is fronted by a traditional market gate. However, it is not as modern in appearance as Dongdaemun.
Known for its especially cheap prices, the market is also visited by shop owners from other parts of the country; they come here to buy stock at wholesale prices. As a result, most of the visitors are Korean. Namdaemun also has a spectacular array of local food on offer, and is well regarded for its generous offering of authentic dishes. Be sure to try gimbap (a popular snack made of rice, sesame oil, salt, and sesame seeds) and jeon (a pancake-like dish made from fermented seafood and batter). You can also expect to pick up locally-grown produce for cheaper prices than elsewhere. As many vendors sell goods at this market directly from their factories and farms, they expect customers to haggle so don’t be afraid to try for the best price.
Gukje market – Busan
Gukje market in the city of Busan offers visitors a truly authentic and cultural South Korean experience. Situated over many winding alleyways, and a ten minute walk from Jagalchi Station (subway line number 1), Gukje is literally a maze of shops and stalls. It is very easy to get lost here, so be sure to take note of the entrances and exits. There are no set districts of the market; you will find restaurants and food stalls mixed among clothes and household goods stalls. The market is particularly well known for its quality local silk, linen and leather goods stalls; visitors will have a huge range of choice and can expect low prices. Gukje is also famous for its selection of jewellery stalls and trinkets. Local food stalls offer both take-away meals and sit-down facilities. There is also a good selection of bars and cafes open well into the evening, and many tourists come here for the lively and night life.
Gukje is considered a unique and special market, and an asset to this historical city.