Namdaemun
Korea,  Outdoors,  Seoul,  Summer

Best Market in Seoul? Namdaemun Market!

Namdaemun Market is the largest market in Korea and sells a large variety of different goods. Established in 1964, it is still going strong over 50 years later! Namdaemun is open from 11 pm – 5 pm (5 pm the next day, the market runs through the night. Info from here). The market sells nearly anything you could want, and everything from clothes to stationary to cameras, is sold here.

 

The market is located near Hoehyeon station (line 4, near Seoul Station). Taking different exits will lead you to different parts of the market. Exits 6 and 7 are usually the best exits to get straight into the market. Here is a map with more detailed locations.

 

 

The market is full of both new and used goods, and also fresh food. The market is also very clean and appeals to nearly every visitor to Korea. If you visit Namdaemun, expect to see a large number of tourists and many shop-keepers who speak at least a little English.

If you can’t speak Korean, there is no need to worry! While not everyone in Namdaemun speaks English, most of the shop-keepers speak a little. However, if they don’t, then there are always other ways to communicate and when I visited there a few years ago I never had any trouble communicating (when I knew almost no Korean).

 

 

I personally visit Namdaemun to purchase camera gear. Yongsan market is much better for electronics, but Namdaemun is better if you specifically want cameras. There is a wide variety of gear (both new and second-hand), and it is usually reasonably priced. If you want Nikon, Canon, or Sony, this market will have you covered! However, some of the smaller brands such as Fuji and Olympus are not well represented.

When purchasing expensive goods, make sure to be cautious. I have never had bad experiences when buying items here, but it always pays to be careful. Check the going prices on Amazon (or whatever site you prefer), and always barter. It’s pretty standard to get a couple of hundred dollars off your purchase.

 

 

However, something to keep in mind is that cash purchases for big goods in Namdaemun are far preferable. If you purchase with a credit card you will get a 10% tax (which when purchasing something worth a few thousand dollars, can be a big price). But obviously, it’s not good to walk around with $2000 in your pocket either. To prevent this, there are many banks around (usually every store is close to one), where you can withdraw cash to spend.

Namdaemun is one of the most popular attractions in Seoul, and for good reason. Whenever you plan on visiting the market, you should expect it to be quite crowded for this reason. Much of Seoul is extremely modern and cutting-edge these days, but places like Namdaemun show how much more diverse and varied Seoul really is.

18 Comments

    • Ethan Brooke

      Thank you. I’m trying to be more detailed in most posts to help potential future travelers. So I’m glad to hear that this post was helpful to you!

  • Shelley

    Lovely photos. I hate bartering, which is why I never shop in traditional markets like Namdaemun. It’s great to have a wander around there for the atmosphere though!

    • Ethan Brooke

      I totally understand that. I hate it too… my usual method is to just say I’m not interested and walk away a few times. Usually it makes the sellers lower their prices! The atmosphere there is really special 🙂

  • Wendy

    I love getting lost in Namdaemun. I enjoy being in the middle of it all. But I don’t really buy clothes there. but i have a favorite stall there that sells these fabric wall decors. excellent gift idea. this post reminds me to check the camera stores there. i need to change my dslr.

    • Ethan Brooke

      It almost feels like the only way to explore Namdaemun! It’s so easy to get lost there. The camera stores are great with a lot of variety, just make sure to do some research first so you know the prices you should pay. I’ve managed to get really good discounts there! I’ve bought… three cameras there now haha.

  • Karla

    Whenever I tour people, I always recommend Namdaemun Market for souvenirs. The prices there are cheaper than those in Dongdaemun and Myeongdong.

    • Ethan Brooke

      Yes, I totally agree with that. I heard somewhere that Myeongdong is the 9th most expensive street (I’m guessing the main one?) to shop on in the world. Namdaemun is definitely cheaper!

  • Don

    Great! Nice article, very cool. Yes, it’s also my spot for cameras and lenses and accessories etc.,
    Namdaemun is also great for street photography, if you take a slow approach to it and study the environment and the individuals and their interactions you will find many ways to photograph and ‘smell’ the market, as it were. As a photographer shooting in places like Namdaemun, I’d like to challenge you to do so, and add a page in addition to your ‘animal and night galleries’.

    • Ethan Brooke

      I noticed that when I was there! It really seems like a perfect place to get good candid shots of people doing their everyday life. I will definitely take up your challenge next time I visit and see if I can add a page. Thanks for the brilliant idea!

  • NATASHA

    Great market. I love Namdaemun. It’s also the place to buy suitcases, spices (there is a hidden indoor market that I have little idea how to find again), fresh mandu dumplings, and generally, souvenirs, I understand that tourist vendors in famous Insa Dong buy all their stuff cheaper in Namdaemun and then upsell them in their own shops.

    • Ethan Brooke

      I think I may have accidentally stumbled across the spices market. I unfortunately didn’t get any good pictures of it though. I had no idea about the suitcases though! It seems like you could really spend days exploring the area, and still not know all of it! I think I’ll definitely recommend Namdaemun for Soucenirs after hearing that….

  • Samuel Moore-Sobel

    Fantastic blog post! Makes me feel as if I am going back in time. I remember the first time I traveled to Turkey and had to barter in the markets as well. Fantastic opportunity to get to know the culture and learn more about the ways in which other people buy and sell items all across the world!

    • Ethan Brooke

      I’m still not sure if I love or hate bartering! It can be such a hassle, but when you succeed it is a nice feeling. Not only that, but often you can save money and in a way I guess you could say it feels like you have worked to get something. You definitely learn so much about the culture by visiting these markets!

  • Majid

    Your pictures are amazing and I love the way you have captured even the small details on the market. Looks like I will be paying a visit there coming weekend..

  • Alla Ponomareva

    I enjoyed observing your images of the market. I think its a challenge to take a photo of such a busy place and not to make it look cluttered or lacking a story. Your choice of a wide aperture to separate your subject from the background is spot on. Or a shot of the repetitive umbrellas was also my favorite. Finally, your post processing used is subtle yet effective. Nicely done!

    • Ethan Brooke

      Thank you! Yes, I have to agree. In such a busy place it takes a long time to get photos that actually show the intended subject… sometimes I’m left just standing in the middle of the road for a few minutes while I wait. Thank you for your comment 🙂

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