A market in any kind of city is a place where you can find different perspectives of the country’s culture. It is the heart of every city or town’s “hustle-and-bustle” environment and can showcase the nation’s greatest traditions through food, clothing, and customer service.
In the thriving city of Seoul, traditional markets are an exhibition of the land’s colorful heritage. In this article, Ziptoss will guide you through Seoul’s traditional markets.
Seoul city’s rich and abundant historical past is embedded in all the traditional markets around the metro. True grit and passion created by 2,000 years of deep history can be seen in every hard-working individual that has established a livelihood in every corner of each market. This is why traditional markets should be part of any traveler’s itinerary when wandering the spirited streets of Seoul.
The Traveler’s Guide to Seoul’s Traditional Markets
If you’re planning to take a tour throughout the traditional markets of Seoul, it’s better to know some of the basic information about each location to help you efficiently plan your itinerary. Read on as we list down the best traditional markets in Seoul and all the information you need to start your journey.
Dongdaemun Market (동대문시장)
Location: 5-ga Jongno, Jongno-gu
Pandemic Hours: 8:00 am-2:00 am
Regular Hours: 24/7
Dongdaemun market is one the biggest and most popular traditional markets in Seoul. Because of its immense size, you can expect to find every single thing that you might need in this place. Any traveler visiting Korea will surely feel positively overwhelmed by all the items that you can find.
Dongdaemun market is also located at the heart of Seoul which makes it convenient for anyone who wishes to find it. Shopaholics would also feel ecstatic with its generous amount of 25 shopping malls spread around the area. On top of that, it has 30,000 specialty stores and about 50,000 manufacturers. Talk about a shopping spree!
Namdaemun Market (남대문시장)
Location: 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-Gil, Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: (Mondays to Fridays) 8:30 am- 8:00 pm (Saturday to Sundays) 10:30am- 7:00pm
Just like Dongdaemun market, Namdaemun market houses and offers a vast array of shops and services for the most unforgettable shopping experience. Not only is it one of the biggest markets in Seoul but it’s also one of the oldest traditional markets in Korea.
The history of the Namdaemun market dates back to as early as the 1400s which is a testament to the country’s rich and colorful history. It remains one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions with stores ranging from your usual kiosks to high-end fashion boutiques. With all that it can offer, it’s surely considered a haven for travelers and shoppers alike.
Gwangjang Market (광장시장)
Location: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno 4(sa)-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Just like the two other markets mentioned above, the Gwangjang market can also be categorized as one of the biggest and oldest markets in Seoul. The establishment of the market first began in the early 1900s when Gwangjang corporation advocated for the preservation of Korea’s cultural heritage. This was a time when there was a threat of occupation within the land and markets were only organized once every few days.
Gwangjang market was the first-ever to ever become permanent and has since thrived and blossomed to the cultural treasure that Koreans know today. It offers a wide array of products and services from consumables to textiles. It houses about 5,000 stores with around 20,000 employees.
Mangwon Market (망원시장)
Location: 7 Mangwon-to 8-Gil, Mangwon 1(il)-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: 8:00 am-10:00 pm
If you’re someone who prefers to avoid the heat of the sun, then Mangwon market is the perfect shopping destination for you. Unlike the former markets mentioned above, the Mangwon market is not as well-known but is surely worth the trip.
Since it’s indoors, it may not seem like your average Korean traditional market. However, it can also offer a wide range of products and services. If you’re a certified foodie, Mangwon market is surely the best place to score your next food adventure. It houses stores that can offer different kinds of food products from cooking ingredients to even the best Korean street food.
Noryangjin Fish Market (노량진 수산 시장)
Location: 674 Nodeul-ro, Noryangjin-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: 24/7
If you’re a seafood enthusiast then the Noryangjin fish market is the perfect place to explore your palette. It is considered the biggest traditional seafood market in Seoul making it a great source of fresh ingredients for many restaurants around the area.
It was initially established in 1927 but moved its location to Noryangjin in 1971. Since then, it has thrived to become one of the biggest seafood distributors and wholesalers in the country.
Majang Meat Market (마장동 축산시장)
Location: 33-53 Majang-ro, Seongdong-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: (Sundays to Fridays) 8:30 am- 9:00 pm (Saturdays) 7:00 am- 9:00pm
If the Noryangjin market is famous for its fresh and delicious seafood, the Majang meat market is popular among meat lovers because of its wide range of poultry and meat products. It is the best source of fresh meat among many restaurants around the area and is equipped with clean and modern facilities.
The different varieties of meat found in the Majang meat market come from different parts of the country and the world. Meat prices are also estimated to be 30% lower than the average prices found in a normal supermarket. This is why if you’re planning to set up a lovely steak dinner, this is the best place to shop for ingredients in Seoul.
Garak Market (가락시장)
Location: 932 Yangjae-daero, Munjeong-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: 8:30 pm- 9:30 pm
Located in the neighborhood of Garak-dong, Garak market is another Korean traditional market that offers a wide range of products and services ranging from meat, seafood, vegetables, and many other kinds of agricultural goods.
It is considered the first public wholesale agricultural market in the country and was initially established as an agricultural and seafood market in 1985. Since then, other types of products such as livestock and other direct sales items began being sold which contributed to the rise of this expansive marketplace.
Geumcheongyo Market (금천교시장)
Location: 1-11 Jahamun-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Gyeongbokgung Palace is a famous tourist attraction in the center of Seoul. But of course, what would be a good stroll along the palace grounds without a little shopping and dining experience. Geumcheongyo market offers this experience to travelers and locals alike.
With plenty of options to choose from, tourists can simply relax after a long day of walking and have a nice meal in one of the market’s restaurants and kiosks. Though it’s not as big as the other traditional markets in Korea, the Geumcheongyo market has its novelty. The structures and features are perfect examples of what life was like back in the 50s and 60s.
Gyeongdong Market (서울 경동시장)
Operating Hours: 8:00 am- 9:00 pm
If you’re looking for herbs and spices to elevate your next dish, then the Gyeongdong market is the best place to go on a shopping trip. It’s also the perfect place to look for different variations of tea or other herbal drinks to enjoy while in Korea.
Guangdong market also provides different kinds of herbal and oriental medicine which is a good choice if you’re feeling a bit under the weather. Guangdong market can showcase different facets of the Korean lifestyle which travelers would surely enjoy.
Tongin Market (통인시장)
Location: 18 Jahamun-ro 15-gil, Tongin-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul
Operating Hours: (Mondays to Saturdays) 7:00 am-9:00 pm (closed on Sundays)
For those who consider themselves adventurous street foodies, Tongin market offers a wide choice of Korea’s classic street foods and more. It’s famous for its Dosirak meals which are like packed lunches that consist of different varieties of food items that you can select yourself.
Aside from the amazing street food, the Tongin market is like any other traditional market in the country. It was initially established in 1941 and catered to locals during the Japanese occupation. Today, it’s open to both tourists and locals alike and continues to open its doors every day for food enthusiasts all over the world.