Over one million people pass through Seoul’s Myeongdong shopping neighborhood every day and I believe it now having been there. In addition to more beauty stores than I could count and two major department stores on each end (Shinsegae and Lotte), there’s the Namdaemum Market.
I wasn’t sure what to expect at Namdaemum Market, the largest traditional market in Seoul with over 10,000 vendors and 600 years of history. Its start dates back to 1414 when it was a government trading place for things like rice, cloth and money. Then, the marketplace grew to feature commercial trade of food and various goods. A colorful history including Japanese occupation, fires and renovations followed.
The market is not accessible by car as the streets were built before cars were invented. Most of the market is outdoors with stalls lining both sides of the pedestrian streets and sometimes in the middle of them.
A number of vendors here sell unique goods made from their own factories which means its a place that retailer come to buy goods for resale. The market is also open at night for serious business with official hours between 11:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (the following day).
Go hungry because its also home to some of Seoul’s best street food. It was the first place I saw the infamous corn dogs covered in french fries.
I stumbled upon Namdaemum Market by accident as I was deciding which building of Shinsegae luxury department store to enter. You can’t really miss if in the area.
People shop for housewares ranging from adorable gift wrap to pots and pans.
It’s a great place to buy sujeo (Korean chopsticks and spoons) as well as other kitchenwares.
There are also little Korean trinkets for souvenirs as well as shops that sell beautiful hanboks.
Handbag accessories are all the rage with my daughter and her friends. They are also incredibly popular at Namdaemun Market.
It wouldn’t be a Korean shopping experience without beauty products so rest assured that there are many inexpensive finds, like these nail polishes, inside Namdaemun Market as well as throughout Myeongdong as a whole.
Lots of crafting and other supplies were out in full force, too.
If there’s one thing I noticed that Koreans also pamper, it’s their dogs. Unfortunately, I could not find a panda coat large enough for my 80-lb pitbull.
And, I’m really not even scratching the surface of what’s on offer.
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You could spend a full day shopping at Namdaemun Market or simply take a power walk-through depending on your mood. Most vendors accept credit cards. The market is located behind Shinsegae but it does help to have a map. You can also take a variety of Namdaemun market tours.
See also – Photo Tour: Shinsegae Luxury Department Store’s Food Hall
Have you been to Namdaemun Market? What did you buy?
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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Photo Tour: Shinsegae Luxury Department Store’s Food Hall in Seoul