Namdaemun is comprised of over 10,000 stores, stalls and vendors. Here you can buy anything from fishing gear to stationery, clothes and children’s toys. Even if you’re not looking to spend, Namdaemun is a colorful place to explore and soak up Korean culture. Mingle with locals doing their shopping, taste traditional food from street stalls and pick up souvenirs to take home.
The market was named after the nearby Namdaemun (Great South Gate). It has been operating in its current form since 1964, although there’s been some form of market here since the 15th century. The market is busy at any time of the day and night, so come when you’re in the mood for a little jostling and haggling. Allow at least a couple of hours to explore the market fully.
Namdaemun is a mixture of permanent stores housed in buildings and pop-up stalls lining the streets. Its lack of vehicle access means many goods are transported by bike or cart; keep your wits about you when wandering the streets.
Getting lost is part of the fun, but be sure to visit the underground arcade beneath Namdaemun-no to the north of the market.
You can find clothing, fabric and jewellery at wholesale prices throughout the market. Bargaining with vendors is widely accepted. That said, levels of English can be quite basic, so be prepared to spend some time agreeing on a price.
Namdaemun is a great place to eat. Dozens of stalls offer cheap and simple meals like mandu gook (dumpling soup) and bindae duk (mung bean pancake).
To get to the market, take the subway to Hoehyeon. Namdaemun Market is open Monday through Saturday. Retailers are generally open during the day. Wholesalers operate from late at night through to the early morning. If you have children with you, watch them closely, as it’s easy to get lost.