With more than 10,000 stores clustered around the southern gate of Seoul’s old city walls, the Namdaemun Market is the largest traditional market in South Korea and one of its oldest. Everything from fresh produce to medical supplies and traditional Korean attire is for sale, as well as vendors selling local dishes and snacks.
Many shop owners produce their own goods, making the Namdaemun Market a good place to shop for one-of-a-kind souvenirs and handicrafts, as well as being packed with homewares, sporting goods, fashion accessories, toys and flowers. In addition to its huge range of retail goods, the Namdaemun Market also features an extensive number of wholesale stores, with retailers coming here to buy items which are resold in stores across South Korea. Because of this, the market is open from late in the evening and all through the night for local retailers to shop, but also during the day when visitors flock here.
The Namdaemun Market is easily accessed by subway from Hoehyeon Station, with connections to Seoul’s city centre and surrounds. It’s also within walking distance of the Seoul Railway Station to the west where there are services across the country. The market itself is set within narrow laneways that are inaccessible to cars, with motorcycles and hand-drawn carts used to bring good in and out.
Namdaemun Market is named for the gate it surrounds, built during the Joseon Dynasty and the oldest wooden structure still standing in Seoul today. The market itself was begun under the reign of King Taejong in the early 15th century, with the government renting out shops to traders.