Ultimate Guide to Namdaemun Market - IVisitKorea
namdaemun market

Ultimate Guide to Namdaemun Market

When you’re in Seoul, make it a point to explore Namdaemun Market – it’s a go-to for many visitors! This lively market perfectly melds tradition with a modern touch, providing a mix of diverse experiences. Besides being a fantastic spot to find souvenirs, it’s also an excellent place to indulge in delicious Korean traditional food. In this article, we’ll bring you an ultimate guide to the Namdaemun market to ensure your visit is enjoyable and memorable. Dive in and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere!

About Namdaemun Market

Namdaemun market in Seoul

Namdaemun market, which opened in 1964, is one of the largest and oldest traditional markets in South Korea. With over 10,000 retailers, the market offers various reasonably priced merchandise, including clothes, accessories, street food, shoes, electronics, and more. Namdaemun Market is extremely popular for clothing, particularly fabrics and children’s clothing. It also functions as a wholesale market in the area; many people come here to get suppliers for their business. 

There is even a famous saying, “If you can’t find something at Namdaemun Market, you can never find it in Korea.” So definitely, this is one of the best places to shop and pick up some souvenirs for your loved one back home. 

Namdaemun market in Seoul

In Namdaemun market, shops are organized into zones; each zone sells a specific item, making shopping more convenient. But the market’s so large, so to save time, you can come to the Information Center and get a map, or you can ask them about the product you want, and then they will show you how to get there. Moreover, they have a volunteer team wearing red uniforms within the market, so if you get lost or don’t know the way out, you can reach them. 

  • Address: 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul
  • Open hours: 0:00 – 23:00 | Closed on Sundays (please note that all stores operate according to their schedules).
  • Information Center: 48-14 Hoehyeon-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul (Near Hoehyeon Station exit 5)
  • Phone: 02-752-1913
  • Hours: 10:00 – 18:00 daily

Where is Namdaemun Market

namdaemun market
By visitkorea.or.kr

The exact address of Namdaemun market is 21 Namdaemunsijang 4-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul. The market is behind the Shinsegae Department Store, between City Hall and Seoul Station, just north of Hoehyeon Station. The market is pretty close to Myeongdong; it’s just a few stops, so you can visit these two spots at once.

How to get to Namdaemun Market

There are many ways to reach the Namdaemun market. You can drive or take a taxi, but the most straightforward way is by subway. If you start from Seoul Station, take the Subway Line 4 to Hoehyeon Station, Exit 5 or 6, and you’ll be right in front of the market. If you start from Myeongdong Station, take Line 4, get off at Exit 5, and walk about 12 minutes to the Shinsegae Department Store to reach the market. 

What to do in Namdaemun Market

Shop till you drop

Shopping is a must at Namdaemun Market. You’ll find everything here at prices 10-20% lower than elsewhere, and the quality is still excellent. Many shops make their products, making bargaining easier. Whether you’re into traditional crafts or trendy items, this market is perfect for savvy shoppers and those wanting authentic Korean products. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, you’ll still take something home from Namdaemun Market.

Try local foods

Korean street food

Dining is as popular as shopping here. Every market corner has local restaurants, food stalls, and street food. They even have an alley for street food and noodle dishes and an alley for fish dishes. And the food is usually both affordable and delicious. 

You’ll want to try dishes like kimbap, dumplings, Tteoboki (spicy rice cakes), fish cakes, pan-fried pancakes, and hand-cut noodles.

Wander around and take in the market’s atmosphere

Most of Namdaemun Market’s stores and stalls are outdoors, so visitors can wander its streets and see the vibrant activity. Take in the lively atmosphere by meandering through crowded lanes and mingling with local vendors. You can also take a lot of stunning pics with the colorful stalls, particularly the charming flower alley that looks like a hidden garden.

Check in Namdaemun Gate (Sungnyemun Gate)

 Namdaemun gate
By visitkorea.or.kr

Take a picture with the iconic Namdaemun Gate, also known as Sungnyemun. As Korea’s National Treasure No. 1, it boasts a captivating arched entrance, a distinctive stone structure, and a unique architectural design that sets it apart. 

Initially built in 1398, it has witnessed a history of damage, renovation, destruction, and reconstruction. 2008, a fire attack nearly destroyed it, requiring a three-year reconstruction effort. Today, Namdaemun Gate is a remarkable contrast amid the city’s modernity, symbolizing the intersection of tradition and contemporary life. It’s also an eye-catching backdrop for Instagram photos.

What to buy in Namdaemun Market

Although Namdaemun Market offers almost everything, there are a few standout specialties that make it worthwhile to face the crowds:

Hanbok

hanbok
By visitkorea.or.kr

Hanbok is the traditional clothing of South Korea, dating back to the Joseon Dynasty. Today, Koreans often wear hanbok during wedding ceremonies and significant occasions such as the Lunar New Year. Wearing a hanbok is also one of Korea’s most popular tourist activities. 

Namdaemun market is the best place in Seoul with the best prices to shop for this beautiful clothing. You can find many beautiful hanbok with various colors and designs in the Hanbok. They come in a variety of styles, including modern designs that are suitable for everyday wear. So you don’t have to worry about not having many opportunities to wear those beautiful attire. 

Children’s hanbok can be purchased for roughly 50,000 won ($38). Customized hanboks for women typically range from 150,000 won ($113) to 300,000 won ($227), depending on the design.

Traditional-style souvenirs

Namdaemun market in Seoul

Looking for souvenirs from your time in Seoul? Check out the Traditional-style Souvenirs Market. It’s a popular spot for locals and visitors, offering wooden crafts, ceramics, traditional accessories, and unique items like mother-of-pearl jewelry boxes and mirrors.

Most shops are wholesale sellers so you can get good-quality items at reasonable prices. You’ll also find smaller, budget-friendly traditional items such as fans, stainless steel chopsticks, tablecloths, keychains, coin purses, bookmarks, and even soju glasses.

Children clothes

Namdaemun market in Seoul

Namdaemun Market is the epicenter of Korea’s children’s clothing industry. There is a street just for children’s fashion items. The street has small shops and multi-story buildings exclusively selling kids’ stuff. Each shop has special designs and fabrics, offering a wide range of adorable items, from clothes to accessories, hats, socks, and more. So, if you have kids or wanna be a great aunt or uncle, check out this street. 

Korean Herbal Teas

Korean herbal tea
By unsplash.com

If you’re looking for a health-conscious gift for your loved one, consider exploring the world of Korean herbal teas. In Korea, herbal medicine is a popular business, and Namdaemun Market is the go-to place to get some of that tea. You can get some famous things like Korean ginseng tea (good for the immune system and mood), kelp tea (helps with collagen and keeps skin hydrated), and ssanghwacha tea (balances the body and fights fatigue). These teas are made from medicinal herbs like Chinese licorice and dried woodland peony roots. 

Accessories

accessories in Namdaemun market
By visitkorea.or.kr

Namdaemun Market is a paradise for accessory lovers! With thousands of accessory shops to explore, each offering a unique selection. You’ll find everything from jewelry to scarves, keychains, necklaces, earrings, and even shoes. The market is a hub for designers from all over the country, showcasing their special creations.

And it’s not just about accessories for women; Namdaemun Market has a fantastic range of men’s wear, too! Whether you are looking for accessories or high-quality suits, you’ll discover diverse options to elevate your style. 

Sunglasses and Eye Contact lens

This market is super popular among young folks, especially those looking for cool sunglasses and contact lenses. They’ve got a bunch of different designs, colors, and trendy stuff, and the best part is the prices are reasonable. Whether you’re after colored lenses for a bold statement or daily disposables for convenience, Namdaemun Market provides a range of choices to suit your preferences. So, if you’re after stylish eyewear that won’t break the bank, Namdaemun Market is the place to be!

Liquor

Namdaemun market in Seoul

Namdaemun Market boasts one of Korea’s largest liquor markets in the underground imported products market. While the prices may not be as remarkably low as they once were, especially post-pandemic, the market remains a special destination, particularly for those seeking unique and special liquors. It’s where you might stumble upon rare items, discontinued liquors, or temporary special releases, making it a haven for collectors and connoisseurs. 

What to eat in Namdaemun Market

Kalguksu (knife-cut noodle)

kalguksu valley

Kalguksu is just a wonderful dish that is perfect for a cold day. This is a Korean knife-cut noodle soup made from wheat flour noodles, veggies, pork, and warm broth. The flavorful broth and the thick and chewy noodles will leave you craving more. 

Hotteok 

Korean street food in Winter

Hotteok is a popular snack in South Korea, especially during winter. Typically filled with sweet ingredients like brown sugar and nuts, Namdaemun Market offers unique twists. Try the Japchae hotteok filled with the classic Korean dish’s vegetables and glass noodles. The long lines testify to the popularity of hotteok at Namdaemun Market!

Tteokbokki (spicy rice cake)

Tteokbokki in Namdaemun Market

Tteokbokki, a classic Korean street food, consists of chewy rice cakes coated in a sweet and spicy gochujang sauce. It’s common to find Tteokbokki served with various side dishes, such as fish cakes, boiled eggs, and green onions. Enjoying Tteokbokki is an ideal way to warm you up for a night of exploration at Namdaemun Market. 

Mandu (dumplings)

Korean street food in Winter

You can’t miss trying Mandu at Namdaemun Market—it’s a must! These dumplings are packed with tasty fillings, from meat to veggies. They cook them up by steaming, boiling, or pan-frying, so you get a bunch of different flavors and textures to choose from. The favorites are the kimchi and meat dumplings. If you’re looking for the good stuff, check out Hyoja Son Wang Mandu (효자손왕만두)and Kamagol Wang Mandu (가마골 왕만두) as you wander through the market.

Bungeoppang (Korean Fish Shaped Pastry)

Korean street food in Winter

Love K-dramas? You’ve probably seen this fish-shaped cake a lot! It’s a sweet pastry filled with red bean paste, custard, cheese, or chocolate and baked until golden brown. A yummy and satisfying snack perfect for any time of the day!

For more famous dishes and information, check out our article about Must-try Korean street foods in the Namdaemun market (here).

Halal food in Namdaemun Market

Adnan Kebab Halal
By Instagram of go_shuran

There are not many options for halal food inside the Namdaemun market, but there are still some street foods that you can try. Some of them are fish cake, glass noodles (japchae), hotteok, vegetable hotteok, kkwabaegi (Korean-style donuts), and bungeobang (Korean Fish Shaped Pastry). 

There’s also a halal restaurant named Adnan Kebab Halal. As its name suggests, they specialize in kebabs with various fillings such as chicken, lamb, and pork. They also serve fried rice, roll rice, falafel, hommus, and some drinks. The price ranges from 5,000 to 8,000 won (3.85 – 6.1 USD) per dish. 

Restaurant in Namsan Park near Namdaemun Market

Useful tips for visiting

  • No car is allowed within the marketplace. 
  • Get a map at the Information Center to save more time and energy because the market is massive, and you can get lost easily. 
  • Bringing cash: While some shops may accept cards, you still need cash when dealing with smaller vendors and buying street foods. You can get cash from any ATM or convenience store if you forget to bring cash. 
  • Bargain with a Smile: Although the price is quite reasonable, you can try haggling if you think that the price is high. Don’t hesitate to negotiate, but do so with a friendly attitude. A smile can go a long way in getting you a better deal.
  • Be Mindful of Opening Hours: Different shops may have varying opening and closing times, and some stores are closed on Sundays. Plan your visit accordingly to maximize your time at the market.
  • Bring a Reusable Bag: You might accumulate several items as you explore the market. Having a reusable bag can make your shopping experience more convenient.
  • Learn Basic Korean Phrases: While many vendors may speak some English, learning a few basic Korean phrases can enhance communication and create a more personalized shopping experience.
  • Stay Hydrated: Namdaemun Market can get busy, and navigating the stalls may take some time. Carry a water bottle to stay hydrated as you shop.
  • Keep an Eye on Your Belongings: With the bustling atmosphere, it’s essential to be mindful of your belongings. Keep your bag close and be aware of your surroundings to avoid mishaps.

Things to do near Namdaemun market

Namdaemun Market is a popular tourist site in and of itself, but it is also close to many of Seoul’s other prominent attractions. Here are some places you should consider visiting.

N Seoul Tower

Getting to Seoul N Tower from Namdaemun market in Seoul

Visit N Seoul Tower if you want a fantastic perspective of Seoul. The tower is a popular tourist draw, less than a mile from Namdaemun Market. The tower includes a gift shop with diverse merchandise, including t-shirts, sweatshirts, and totes. From this elevated position above the city, you can observe the bustling crowds below and view the city.

How to get to N Seoul Tower

  • Cable Car: This is the best way to reach N Seoul Tower, as you can enjoy the view of the city from above in a cable car. From Namdaemun market, walk over 900m to get to Namsan Cable Car Station. Then take a ticket and get on the cabin to the tower, it takes about 5 mins. The ticket is about 9 USD, and there is a cab every 15 minutes. 
  • Taxi: This is the fastest way. It only takes about 3 – 5 mins. You can flag down a taxi within Seoul or book one on an app like Kakao T.
  • Bus: This is the cheapest but also the longest way. It takes over 40 mins to get to N Seoul Tower, so we don’t recommend this. But if you want to try, take the Namsan Sunhwan Shuttle Bus No.1 at City Hall, near Namdaemun market. It’s going to take you to the tower. 

Namsan Park

Namsan Park near Namdaemun Market

After a morning of shopping in Namdaemun Market, why not venture to Namsan Park? It’s Seoul’s biggest park, with sprawling walking trails and many cool events, including festivals. When spring rolls around, the park becomes magical, with cherry trees bursting into these gorgeous blossoms. If you’re into nature, you must check out Namsan Park – it’s like this serene escape in the heart of the buzzing city. You can visit the N Seoul Tower while you are there.

Myeongdong

Myeongdong shopping

As mentioned above, Myeongdong is just a few stops from Namdaemun market, so it is also a great place to visit after leaving the market. Unlike the traditional vibe at Namdaemun, Myeongdong has a modern feel with stores featuring brands like Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Rolex, Swarovski, and more. While sightseeing in Myeongdong, visit nearby attractions such as the Myeongdong Cathedral and Underground Shopping Center. It’s a mix of modern shopping and cultural landmarks!

Insadong

insadong Seoul

Insadong, near Namdaemun Market, is a go-to for art and antique lovers. Traditional Korean porcelain shops and stores offer hand-pressed papers, sculptures, and paintings. Many restaurants, galleries, tea houses, and cafes feature traditional styles. It’s a lovely spot for a casual walk, especially when the weather is pleasant. 

Best place to stay near Namdaemun Market

You have many options to choose from when it comes to lodging near Namdaemun Market, including guesthouses, hotels, and Airbnb rentals. You can customize your selection to fit your budget and preferences. Here are a few notable hotels that we highly recommend:

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

Courtyard Seoul Namdaemun

This is one of the best options for staying near Namdaemun Market. Its location is incredibly convenient, just a 5-minute walk from Namdaemun Market and the Myeongdong shopping district. The hotel is also close to key subway stations like Seoul Train Station, Hoehyeon, and City Hall, so you can easily explore the city.

Rooms at the hotel come with a 49-inch flat-screen TV, high-speed internet, and a spacious working area. You can enjoy sweeping city views from all the rooms. Plus, there’s a convenient in-house café and restaurant for your dining needs. It’s just an excellent place for a comfortable and accessible stay in Seoul.

Contact information

Fraser Place Namdaemun Seoul

Fraser Place Namdaemun Seoul

As its name suggests, it is located within the Namdaemun area. You can reach Namdaemun market and Myeongdong on a 15-minute walk. All rooms here are very clean, modern and well-equipped. They also offer airport transfers, so you do not need to worry about getting to the hotel. 

Guests at Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Namdaemun can hit the gym or chill in the sauna after a day of Myeongdong shopping. The 16th-floor Panorama Lounge Bar also offers a cool selection of drinks with great views. Perfect for a relaxing stay!

Contact information

Hotel Gracery Seoul

Hotel Gracery Seoul

If you like a great city-view room and you like shopping, this hotel should be on your bucket list. With a floor-to-ceiling window, you can fully enjoy the city scenery. Additionally, it is only 950m from the Lotte Duty-Free and department store and roughly 1km from the well-known Myeongdong shopping district, so you can shop all day without traveling far. 

You can dine in the on-site restaurant, which serves various traditional local dishes. There are also other eateries and coffee shops around. Downstairs, you can find Starbucks, Holy Coffee, etc. 

Contact information

Finally, we hope this guide to the Namdaemun market will help you better understand this area before visiting. Have a nice trip!

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