Theres an old saying in Korea, that if you cant find it in Namdaemun Market, you wont find it anywhere. Namedaemun Market is filled with stores and alleyways selling all types of goods, from clothes and accessories to imported groceries to art supplies. Be sure to carry cash with you as most of the vendors in Namdaemun Market dont accept debit or credit card. Heres a quick shopping guide to Namdaemun Market.
One of the most well-known streets in Namdaemun Market, Camera Street is home to numerous camera shops selling some of the latest models as well as vintage cameras, both new and used. These shops have called Namdaemun Market home for the last couple decades and attract professional photographers and hobbyists alike due to their well-stocked shelves, expertise, and an assortment of camera accessories all at a reasonable price. Camera Street is located on the corner between Gates 1 and 2. Read more
Modern Namdaemun Market has always been famous for its abundance of glasses shops, which are all over the market. These shops sell very cheap affordable glasses, with quick free eye examinations available to anyone who walks in. Some of these stores are even open 24 hours, perfect in case you break or lose your glasses in the middle of the night. Most stores also have English-speaking employees, making the whole process of buying glasses here easy and convenient. Glasses Street is located near Gates 1 and 8. Read more
Stationery Alley is a bit of a deceiving name, but not in a bad way. It’s home to not just stationery stores, selling things such as pens, notebooks, gift wrapping, but many art supplies stores stocking tons of cheap canvas, paints, watercolors, brushes, etc. This includes a four-story-tall Alpha, Korea’s largest office supply chain. While most Alpha stores mainly stock plain old office supplies, their megastore in Namdaemun Market is filled to the brim with all types of stationery and art supplies that will leave you exploring the store for hours on end. Stationery Alley is located near Gates 1 and 2. Read more
Namdaemun Market is home to a number of shopping centers that host small shops and stalls specializing in various imported goods, mainly from Japan, the US, and Europe, ranging from groceries and medicine to interior decorations and clothing. These areas of the market have a very exotic feel, an odd juxtaposition of Korean vendors running stalls with a wide variety of goods from a wide variety of countries. Theyre also great places for grocery shopping; in a single tiny stall, you can buy fine Japanese sake, French cheese, and American peanut butter all in one place. These shops are located in the basements of E-World and Daedo Shopping Center complexes in the center of the market, as well as Sungnyemun Imported Shopping Center, by Gate 1, and Namdaemun Imported Shopping Center near Gate 8.
Compared to its counterpart Dongdaemun Market, Namdaemun Markets clothing selection is rather lacking and a bit outdated, but you can nevertheless find good deals on various clothing items for cheap. There are stalls placed all over the market selling souvenir t-shirts, Supreme knockoffs, socks, hats, and shoes for cheap, while Samik Fashion Town, Daedoeunnam Womens Fashion, Daedo Arcade, and various other buildings in the market, on the other side of Shinsaegae Department Store, house stalls selling clothing for an older clientele.
Theres also a small alley of stalls selling military-style clothing and accessories known as Military Uniform Street in the central part of the market. In Namdaemun Market’s Childrens Clothes Street, located right next to Gate 4, you’ll be able to find stores catered solely towards children’s clothing, as well as small market stalls selling specialized items like hair accessories, toys, and socks for kids. You can even find children’s hanbok for anywhere between 50,000 and 200,000 won. There are a variety of stores, from small unique boutiques to large outlets to simple stalls on the street. Read More
Namdaemun Market is home to a wide variety of classic Korean restaurants, food alleys, and street food. While the food in Myeongdong, right across from Namdaemun Market, gets more attention from foreign tourists for its trendiness and nice presentation, Namdaemun Market serves some of the best street food in Seoul and is home to a number of old-school hole-in-the-wall restaurants and food alleys that let their food speak for itself. Heres a quick guide to food in Namdaemun Market.
Hairtail Alley (갈치골목) is home to a number of restaurants that specialize in galchi, known as hairtail in English. They’re native to Korean waters and grow to about 30 centimeters. These restaurants offer both grilled galchi and galchijorim, which is a thick stew of hairtail braised in a spicy sauce, as well as godeungeo, or mackerel. A meal at one of these restaurants costs no more than 8,000 won per person, and the servings they give you are pretty big, and they also give plenty of side dishes. Nearly all the restaurants in this alley have been featured on a major TV network, indicating just how good the food here is. Read more
Address: 18-1 Namdaemunsijang-gil, Jung-gu
Hours: 05:00 - 21:30
Namdaemun Market also hosts an alleyway of stalls serving kalguksu, a hot noodle dish that roughly translates as "hand-cut noodles", which are handmade and cut on site. These stalls each consist of a counter with about a dozen seats and open bright and early at 6 am and close at around 9 pm. People sit on stools in front of a number of old stalls, each with no more than a dozen seats, and a simple menu consisting of not just the kalguksu this alley is famous is for, but also cold noodles, bibimbap, and boribap, is available. None of the dishes cost more than 7,000 won, and the side dishes made fresh every morning are unlimited. Read more
Address: 60-3 Namchang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
Hours: 06:00 - 21:00
Gamaegol Sonwangmandu (가메골 손왕만두) is largely considered to serve the best dumplings in all of Seoul and has been featured on all the major Korean TV networks; KBS, SBS, and MBC. There are always lines of people waiting to get their hands on these delicious handmade dumplings made fresh throughout the day on site. They serve king-size meat dumplings, filled with shredded pork and chopped chives and onions, king-size kimchi dumplings, as well as galbi and shrimp dumplings. Read more
Address: 60-2 Namchang-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul
Hours: 08:00 - 20:00
While it might not have nearly as many stalls as Myeongdong, Namdaemun Markets street food is held in high regard throughout Seoul. Its stalls serving hotteok, a thick crispy grilled pancake filled with either sweet honey or a variety of vegetables, are always crowded with locals and tourists alike, while other stalls sell a variety of classic Korean snacks such as dumplings, meat skewers, gimbap, pajeon, and ddeokpokki. Read more
Namdaemun Market hosts quite a few facilities to create a more positive shopping experience for visitors. There are two tourist information booths operated by multilingual staff who can provide any type of information youre looking for, as well as maps, brochures, and general advice about the market. The main tourist information booth is located just north of Gate 5, while a smaller one is located closer to Gate 3, between the Central Shopping Center and Daedomun Womens Fashion shopping complex. There are also "Red Angels", tourist guides wearing red uniforms with an i symbol, walking around the market and standing in its busier locations who can also provide any information about the market you may need.
There are also nine currency exchanges located all around the market for those in need of more Korean won. Theyre very hard to miss, but in case you cant find one you can ask any of the tourist information center employees or tourist guides for help locating them. ATMs are also very easy to find, with each floor of every shopping center hosting at least one, and major Korean bank branches are located all around the main streets surrounding the market. Bathrooms are located on nearly every floor of the shopping centers, with one 24-hour public restroom open at the entrance of Gate 8 next to Namdaemun Police Station.