South Korea is famous for its open street markets. The pandemic has resulted in less traffic than usual and many are looking to bounce back. You can find many open street markets in South Korea from Seoul to Jeju. They are a great place to experience the full authentic Korean shopping experience. Many sell a variety of Korean food, side dishes, clothes, accessories, and souvenirs. Most of these open street markets are open all year-round. They are visited by both locals and tourists and are very foreigner-friendly. It can be a bit crowded and chaotic but you will be able to find pretty much anything you need at these markets. We have chosen the 10 best open street markets all across South Korea.
The oldest and largest traditional open market in Korea is Namdaemun Market located in Namdaemun. The market dates back to 1414, however during the Korean War it was destroyed by fires. South Korea rebuilt and renovated Namdaemun Market and it is not the largest retail market in all of Seoul. Namdaemun Market can only be accessed by foot and a majority of the shops are outside compared to Dongdaemun Market. Many retailers in Korea buy their items at Namdaemun at wholesale prices to resell in their stores in other cities. They are known for their famous street food called hotteok, a syrupy style Korean pancake.
How to get to Namdaemun Market:
Take the subway to Hoehyeon Station (Line 4). It is a 5-minute walk from the station.
The second oldest and largest traditional market in South Korea is Gwangjang Market in Seoul. It is estimated to have over 1500-2000 vendors in an area that is a little over 450,000 square feet. The market attracted over 65,000 visitors per day before COVID-19. At first, it was called Dongdaemun market until the market changed its name to Gwangjang Market in 1960. Today, visitors come to Gwangjang Market to buy local fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, bread, and eat at the many restaurants and food stalls that sell traditional Korean cuisine. However, you can also buy Korean traditional clothing, textiles, crafts, and souvenirs here as well. They are known for their famous street food called bindaetteok (mung bean pancake).
How to get to Gwangjang Market:
Take the subway to Jongno-5-ga or Euljiro-4-ga station. It is a 5-minute walk from there.
Those that visit Busan need to check out Gukje Market. They are famous for their street food and low prices. There will be open-seating street food vendors everywhere and is a great place to buy Korean side dishes. There are hundreds of shops that sell electronics, clothes, jewelry, and household items. The market is famous for Chungmu Gimbap and Pajeon (Green onion Korean pancake). The Gukje Market connects with several of Busan’s other famous marketplaces such as Bupyeong Market and Kangtong Market. It is open daily but remains closed on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of each month.
How to get to Gukje Market:
Take the subway in Busan to Jagalchi Station (line 1). Take the #7 exit and go to BIFF Square and walk straight for 5 minutes until you see a food alley.
Noryangin Fish Market
Conan O’Brien really put the Noryangjin Fish Market on the map when he came to South Korea. Now it is a must-go destination for anyone visiting Seoul. Be warned that it will be very wet and fishy. So it is highly recommended you don’t wear any fancy clothes. They have all kinds of seafood from king crab to abalone. Live Octopus (Sannakji) and raw fish are the two popular items that people who visit the market buy. You will have to negotiate a price for the seafood. The average live octopus should cost 10,000 won and raw fish should cost 20,000 won. You can get them a bit cheaper depending on your bargaining skills. Once you buy the seafood item you will need to go upstairs to one of the many restaurants where it will be cooked for you for a price.
The Noryangjin Fishmarket is open 24/7 and is busiest during the weekends.
How to get to Noryangjin Fish Market:
Get off at Noryangjin Station (Line 1/Line 9). Take exit 1 and go over the train tracks. There will be signs in English to guide you to the market.
Those that live near Hongdae and Mapo will know Mangwon Market. It is one of the best open street markets in Seoul for great Korean food. While it is not the biggest market and not known for its goods, it is a popular destination for those looking just to eat. One of their most famous dishes is their Kalguksu (Knife Cut Noodles in broth). One of their most famous Kalguku stalls makes the noodles out in the front. There are so many other Korean dishes you can buy as well as fruits and vegetables. You can eat them there or take them with you to Han River which is only a 10-minute walk away from Mangwon Market.
How to get to Mangwon Market:
Take the subway to Mangwon Station. Then take exit #2 and make a u-turn to the right and walk for 5 minutes until you see the market on your right.
Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market
Those that are around Gangwon Province can check out Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market (formerly known as Sokcho Jungang Market). Gangwon Province is located on the east coast of South Korea and takes about 2 hours by train to get there from Seoul. Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market has over 450 stores and restaurants. They are known for their food and fresh seafood. They are known for their famous sweet and sour fried chicken called dak gangjeong. Similar to Noryangjin Fish Market, you will need to bring your bargaining skills.
How to get to Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market:
Get to Sokcho Express Bus Terminal Bus Stop and take Bus #1, 1-1, 7, 7-1, 9-1, or 88 and get off at Sokcho Tourist & Fishery Market Bus Stop.
Jungang Market is located in Gangneung city. It is also in Gangwon Province. It is more modern than other Korean traditional markets that offer a wide variety of local and fresh food. The market itself is divided into 2 main sections. The first section sells traditional Korean goods and the second section is a seafood market. In addition, the second floor offers a variety of restaurants and coffee shops. It offers a truly open-air market experience in Korea. They sell everything from food to clothing.
How to get to Gangneung Jungang Market:
Go to the Gangneung Intercity Bus Terminal. From there take Bus #202 and get off at Sinyeong Theater Bus Stop which is about 5 stops away. Walk straight until you come to an alley and then make a right. Walk straight until you pass the 4-way intersection.
Jeju Dongmun Market
Those that are looking to travel to Jeju Island need to make sure to add Jeju Dongmun Market to their list of places to visit. This traditional market is Jeju’s largest and oldest open night market. You can find everything here from fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, vintage collectibles, and handmade crafts. They don’t just sell Korean dishes here, you will be able to find all kinds of Asian cuisine from Thai to Chinese. Make sure to try the Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake stuffed with pork and seafood. Furthermore, those looking for traditional Korean dishes can find them here as well. They are known for their kimbap, tteokbokki, and tteok galbi. The market is open every day from 6 pm until midnight.
How to get to Jeju Dongmun Market:
While there are buses that go to Jeju Dongmun Market, it is highly recommended you take a Taxi which will take 10-15 minutes from the airport.
The Jagalchi Market is the Noryangin Fishmarket of Busan. It is located on the edge of Nampo Port and is the largest fish market in all of Korea. The open street market is huge and filled with all kinds of fish, and sea creatures that have been caught that day. There are plenty of restaurants and street food stalls where you can buy all kinds of Korean seafood dishes. Moreover, there is an indoor and outdoor section and is famous for its oysters and live octopus. The buying and cooking of the seafood work the same way as it does at the Noryangjin Fishmarket. However, there are plenty of restaurants you can walk into to have a wide variety of seafood dishes.
How to get to Jagalchi Market:
Take the subway to Jagalchi Subway Station. Take exit #7 and walk straight a few minutes.
Daegu Seomun Market
The largest traditional street market in Daegu is Seomun Market. It has more than 4,000 shops with many of them selling textiles. It is a popular place to go for many fashion retailers. Therefore they have huge buildings that hold hundreds of individual shops. However, while most of the market is indoors they still have a big outdoor market that has food stalls that sell seafood and traditional Korean dishes.
How to get to Daegu Seomun Market:
Take the subway to Cheongnaeondeok Station (Line 2) or you can take the subway to Seomun Market Station (Line 3). It is a few minutes away from the station.