Namdaemun Market Seoul, founded in 1964, is Korea’s largest traditional market.
It is huge and it is open from 11 pm until 5 pm daily, except on sundays (closed).
Where is Namdaemun Market and how to get there
The address is: 2 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul.
When you exit the Subway, -Subway Hoehyeon Station, Subway Line 4, Exit 5- the first thing you notice is the impressive Sungnyemun or Namdaemun Gate, one of the eight gates in the Fortress Wall of Seoul. Its name, translated in english, means The Great Southern Gate.
What can you buy at Namdaemun Market
We are not here to admire the gate today though; we are going to check out the famous Namdaemun Market.
They sell all sorts of stuff; retail and wholesale. Clothes, glasses, kitchenware, toys, souvenirs, but also mountain gear, fishing equipment and fine art. And much, much more.
The vendors and their merchandise are grouped in specific areas or ‘streets’. Be sure to get yourself a map of the market, for targeted and efficient exploring. Unless you just want to stroll, get lost and see whatever you come across. That works too;-)
Maps can be found in the information booths at the market or you can go to the official website of Namdaemun Market before your visit and print out the map from there.
Our review: we were not impressed
We were not very impressed by the market, probably due to the following reasons:
- quite some stalls and alleys were closed (Were we there too early? Too late? Was it too cold?)
- a lot of the merchandise looked cheap, but was not all that cheap
- it was bitterly cold, which did not make us feel excited about strolling around at a leisurely pace
- by chance we were not hungry when we were at the market. On top of that we are not real foodies and not big fans of street food. But I think that if you are, Namdaemun market has a lot to offer. The food looked good and tasty, you can have a seat at most mobile food stalls and the food is very fresh.
What we liked at Namdaemun Market
This food-vendor was interesting and funny. He sold a home-made fish-vegetable paste, that he worked around a skewer with a big knife. The roll on the stick was then deep-fried. The woman in the red jacket is holding one in her hand.
When he realized that I was not going to buy anything, he suddenly picked up a saxophone and started playing for several minutes.
What a surprise! He was not bad either!
Clothes for small dogs seem very popular in Korea. You can buy them everywhere, also on this market.
Aren’t they the cutest things?! People sometimes object to dressing up your dog, and I agree, you CAN go too far, I guess. But apart from it being cute or funny, in Seoul’s winters it is really useful, maybe even necessary. I’m sure those little mutts suffer seriously in that extreme cold. Brrrrr….
What else did we see?
Toys based on Psy, the singer from Gangnam Style (does he resemble Elvis in his toy version, or is that just me?),
… colorful household items,
… boring socks, with some surprising Obama and Starbucks socks hidden amongst them,
… the quantities and sorts of fur and leather, animal print and all, were remarkable. We sincerely hope that they are all fakes! And what’s with the (paper?) slippers next to all that fur?
On Tripadvisor, Namdaemun Market in Seoul is #9 out of 314 in the Shopping Section, with a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, so we are strongly outnumbered with our ‘not impressed’ review;-).
Have you been to Namdaemun Market? Did you like it?
What kind of markets do you like? Farmers Markets, Flea Markets, Artist Markets, Tourist Markets?
Flea Markets and Artist Markets are my favorites. Let me know your favorites in the comments below; I am anxious to know!