South Korea is famous for its open street markets, which can be found in many neighborhoods in Seoul and other cities in Korea. 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. Foot traffic in many open street markets in South Korea has slowed considerably due to COVID-19. However, things are starting to pick back up in 2022.
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 crowded and chaotic, but you can find almost anything you need at these markets. We have chosen the ten best open street markets in South Korea.
One of the best things to do in Seoul is visiting Namdaemun Market. Namdaemun Market is one of Korea’s oldest and largest traditional markets, located in the heart of Seoul. The market is crammed with stalls selling everything from Korean spices and dried goods to clothes and accessories. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s worth taking the time to explore. The prices are very reasonable, and the quality of the goods is generally quite good. Those looking for affordable activities in Seoul need to visit Namdaemun Market.
The market dates back to 1414; however, during the Korean War, it was destroyed by fires. South Korea rebuilt and renovated Namdaemun Market, which is not the largest retail market in Seoul. Namdaemun Market can only be accessed by foot, and most 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.
Gwangjang Market is great for finding traditional Korean foods, from kimchi to Bibimbap. It is also a great place to people watch, as there are always lots of locals milling about. And if you get tired of walking, there are plenty of places to sit and take a break. It is the second oldest and largest traditional market in South Korea and is estimated to have over 1500-2000 vendors in an area of slightly 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, and bread and eat at the many restaurants and food stalls that sell traditional Korean cuisine. However, you can also buy traditional Korean clothing, textiles, crafts, and souvenirs here. 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. It’s an open-air market with many stalls selling everything from clothes to food. I love browsing the different stalls and seeing all the different items for sale. The prices are also very reasonable.
The food at Gukje Market is particularly great. There are so many different stalls selling delicious street food. There will be open-seating street food vendors everywhere, and it is a great place to buy Korean side dishes. In addition, it is one of the few open street markets in South Korea that has pretty much everything. Hundreds of shops 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. Then 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. The market is known for its fresh seafood and is a great place to find bargains on fish and other seafood. It is also a great place to people-watch, as it’s always filled with locals and tourists alike. The market can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s worth a visit if you’re looking for fresh seafood at a good price.
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 popular items people visit the market to 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 must 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.
Mangwon Market is an open street style with various vendors selling their goods. I found the prices to be very reasonable, and the quality was good as well. In addition to fruits and vegetables, there were also stalls selling prepared food, seafood, and other household items. I was able to find everything I needed in one trip. The market was very crowded, but it was still easy to navigate.
Those that live near Hongdae and Mapo will know Mangwon Market. It is one of Seoul’s best open street markets 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 noodles in the front. You can buy many other Korean dishes and 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. Then 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. The market is bustling and full of energy, with stalls selling everything from fresh seafood to handmade souvenirs. The prices are very reasonable, and the quality of the goods is excellent. The market is also great for trying traditional Korean dishes such as kimbap and pajeon.
The market is also known for its famous sweet and sour fried chicken called dak gangjeong. Like 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.
Junggang Market is a great place to find fresh produce, seafood, and other traditional Korean foods. The market is open from dawn to dusk every day, and it’s always bustling with activity. You can find just about anything you’re looking for at Junggang Market, and the prices are very reasonable. The vendors are also very friendly and helpful. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or a full meal, you’ll definitely find it at Junggang Market.
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 two 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, about five stops. Walk straight until you reach 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. The market is set up like a traditional Korean market with stalls selling fresh produce, meats, and prepared foods. It’s a great place to try local specialties like samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup) and black hog pork. The market is also good for picking up cheap souvenirs like t-shirts and keychains.
Although the market is not as large or as well-known as some of the other markets in Jeju, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re looking for a taste of local culture. 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.
Try the Okonomiyaki, a Japanese savory pancake stuffed with pork and seafood. Furthermore, those looking for traditional Korean dishes can also find them here. 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. It’s an open-air market located near the waterfront, and it’s full of fresh seafood. The market is particularly well-known for its hagfish, but you’ll find all kinds of seafood here, from squid to crab to clams. You can buy your seafood live and have it cooked on the spot, or you can take it home to cook yourself. Either way, it’s a great place to get fresh seafood at reasonable prices. Just be sure to bargain – it’s expected (and required) in Jagalchi Market!
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, an indoor and outdoor section 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 for 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. This traditional market is located in the middle of the city and has been operating for centuries. Today, it is one of Korea’s largest and most popular markets, attracting locals and tourists alike. While it is busy, it is also surprisingly clean because recycling in Korea has much improved over the decade.
The market is divided into several sections, each selling different goods. You’ll find everything from fresh produce and seafood to clothes and souvenirs. haggling is expected (and even encouraged!), so be sure to brush up on your negotiation skills before you go. Even if you don’t walk away with any purchases, simply browsing the stalls and taking in the hustle and bustle of the market is an enjoyable experience in itself.
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 with food stalls selling 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.