Changsin Market near Dongdaemun Market
Dongdaemun gets all the fanfare, and that’s probably fine with Changsin Market. They don’t cater to tourists anyway. This market has an ultra local feel as it’s located in one of the oldest parts of Seoul that’s seen some of the least development. So as Seoul has become more modern and developed every year, Changsin Market just seems be stuck in 1970’s Korea. It’s a fun place to get lost and see how Korean people, from a different part of society (and different era) that most tourists never meet, live their lives . It’s also really famous for it’s super spicy pigs feet (매운족발 – maeunjokbal). Warning, it’s really, really spicy.
How to get there: Dongdaemun Station (Line 1 & 4, Exit 3). First left.
This 100+ year old market is a fabric and textile market. And although you can buy your own custom made hanbok (traditional Korean clothes) here, most tourists come here to eat the really good food at the stalls in the middle of the market. It’s a very genuine market eating experience complete with gritty ajummas (Korean ladies). One of the two famous dishes in this market is mungbean pancakes (빈대떡), which is pretty bomb with a bottle of soju or makkeolli on a cold winter night (also good if you’re by yourself acting out a dramatic scene from a Korean drama). If you’re just into snacking, try mayak gimbap (마약김밥) aka “drug” gimbap. It got the nickname because they’re THAT addicting. Just don’t try to smoke them, ok? ;).
How to get there: Jongno-5-Ga Station (Line 1, Exit 8). Market will be to your left.
Yongsan Electronics Market
This market might not be considered a traditional market but we just had to add it to this list because it’s just so darn fun. Yongsan Electronics market is where anyone can go to buy cheap computers, camera parts, tvs, appliances, game consoles, and other things that can be plugged into a wall (new or used). The vendors are kinda annoying but also kinda fun to watch as they try really hard to get your attention. And although there are several buildings to shop for electronics, here’s a tip. I’Park Mall, which is connected directly to Yongsan Station (용산역), is convenient and all, but it’s mostly aimed at tourists. If you’re looking for the best deals in the lot, head over to some of the other buildings that aren’t connected to the station.
How to get there: Yongsan Station (Line 1, Exit 3).
Yeongdeungpo Traditional Market near Times Square Mall
Some of you might be headed to one of Seoul’s shopping malls in Yeongdeungpo, Times Square. They’ve got new buildings with tons of shopping and other conveniences of modern day shopping malls (like one of the world’s largest theater screens). But just a few minutes walk away is the really old school Yeongdeungpo Market. And we think it’s equally entertaining. It’s one of the larger markets in Seoul, so there are lots of things to see. There’s also tons of great food stalls in the middle of the market where you can eat and drink good ol Korean market food. And closeby there are also many pojangmacha tent bars where you can end your night with a drink with local Seoul ajeosis (Korean men).
How to get there: Yeongdeungpo Market Station (Line 5, Exit 5) , first left.
Nakwon Music Arcade near Insadong
Nakwon Music arcade is a musical instrument market near Insadong. It’s where you can buy guitars, pianos, saxaphones, trumpets and everything else musical. If you’re in Insadong, it’s a great place to stop by as you’ll get to see a 1980’s-ish market with less tourists and more musicians. It’s cool because a lot of the workers are musicians themselves, and you can listen to some of the kids jamming to Eric Clapton. The surrounding area is also pretty old school and famous for selling tteok (rice cakes). So many soon to be newly weds will shop around the area underneath the Music Arcade and order themselves some traditional rice cakes (tteok) for their special day. You can buy individual packages for just-feel-like-eating-tteok days, too.
How to get there: Jongno-3-ga Station (Line 1, 3, 5 ,Exit 5). First right. (Across the street from Fraiser Suites.)
The number one place for shopping in Seoul has cheap goods, original Korean designs, and a night time market. Bargaining isn’t allowed in the buildings, but you can go to town on the street vendors. And there’s tons.
How to get there: Dongdaemun Station (Line 1, Line 4 – Exit 5 or Exit 7). Dongdaemun Culture and History Park (Line 2, Line 4, Line 5 – Exit 1)
Tongin Market near Gwanghwamun
A little bit north of Geumcheongyo Market is Tongin Market. There they got a dosirak “cafe,” which isn’t a cafe at all. It’s just a term for a cool concept they came up with. You buy these old school coins and trade them in at participating market stalls to build your own lunch box. So you pick and choose what you want to eat — cafeteria style. This is great for picky eaters that want to try Korean food, but want to see what they’re getting before paying for it. Also, they got the really old school style tteokbokki too, but just without the 100 year old granny :).
How to get there: Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3, Exit 2). Straight for 5+ minutes (will pass Geumcheongyo Market).
This is one of the oldest markets in Seoul, and anyone coming to Seoul should know this one. Namdaemun Market is a place where you can buy Korean style metal utensils and bowls, art supplies, Korean style pillows, Gangnam Style socks, anti-cancer ginseng, eyeglass frames, camera parts and everything in between. It’s that huge. It’s the perfect place to buy souvenirs and also to have fun getting lost. The most famous things to eat here are mackrel broiled in red pepper sauce (고등어조림) and knife cut noodles (칼국수). Also, there are grannies in the middle of the market who are rumored to give the best exchange rates (but they’re also famous for being mega mean!).
How to get there: Hoehyeon Station (Line 4, Exit 5). Market will be to your right.
Noryangjin Fish Market
Weird sea creatures always make people ooh and ahh. But here, you can say ooh and ahh and then stick it in your mouth 10 minutes later (sometimes still moving!). Pick a fish, octopus, sea cucumber, scallop, crab, whatever your fancy, and have the vendor slice it up for you. Bring it to one of the restaurants next door and start eating it raw or have the restaurant cook it. The market’s also really cool because it’s open super late too. So you’ll see salarymen coming in at afterwork hours, and once past midnight Seoul night owls will start to pour in. Yay for seafood eating vampires!
How to get there: Noryangjin Station (Line 1 – Exit 1, Line 9 – Exit 2). Walk along the overpass to the market.