Seoul is a city that never sleeps and gets busier at night once the locals leave their offices. The night markets in Seoul provide a unique insight into the Korean way of life and are just one of the many things to do here. If you want to shop like a local and taste local food, the best place to do that is at a Seoul night market where the streets are filled with stalls and the city is at its liveliest.
While modern skyscrapers dominate the city's skyline, Seoul remains deeply authentic. Just by roaming through the streets, you will find palaces, temples, tombs of Kings and traditional markets with never-ending Korean street food.
A night market in Korean is usually called a 'Bamdokkaebi Night Market'. Bamdokkaebi is a Korean word that consists of the phrases "bam" (night) and "dokkaebi" (goblin) meaning "goblin that comes out at night and disappears by morning". The night markets usually come out in the evening and can’t be found during the day.
The most famous and original Bamdokkaebi Night Market began operating in 2015 at Yeouido Han River Park. Due to its popularity, the Seoul government granted permission for more night markets to take place all around Seoul. Some markets are open permanently, while others are seasonal.
Finding markets can be complicated for first-time visitors to Seoul, so to help with this, I have selected 10 of my favourite ones. The list includes the famous permanent markets - Dongdaemun, Namdaemun, Myeongdong and Gwangjang - as well as small weekend Bamdokkaebi Night Markets.
For getting around Seoul, I highly recommend purchasing a Tmoney card that can be used on the subway and buses (including night buses). The Tmoney card is convenient and also helps you save money.
If you plan on staying out late into the night, then note that the subway stops running around midnight, and night buses are limited from certain parts of the city. So before your visit to a night market, make sure you can return to your accommodation.
Now, grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and a notebook, and take a look at my list of the 10 best Seoul night markets below.
Dongdaemun is one of the top attractions in Seoul, making it always crowded with international visitors.
The area used to be well-known for massive ancient fortress gates - Dongdaemun (East Grand Gate) and the Heunginjimun Gate. Now, it is known for big shopping malls and the unique Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) that was designed by Zaha Hadid. In recent years, Dongdaemun has become a large shopping complex that is also home to Seoul Fashion Week.
Dongdaemun Night Market (Sebit Market) operates daily from 8 PM to 3 AM. You will be able to taste delicious street food and get cheap fruit, clothes, shoes and bags here. If the market is not enough, head towards department stores such as Migliore and Doota - a paradise for Korean fashion lovers.
Every Friday and Saturday from April to late October, the DDP Youth Runaway Market operates nearby. This market is a Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market and operates from 6 PM to 11 PM. Here, you will be able to find items from young designers, food vans, and photo zones.
Take subway line 2, 4 or 5 and get off at Dongdaemun History and Culture Park station, exit 1, 2 or 3. If your accommodation is on subway line 1, get off at Dongdaemun station, exit 7 or 6.
Namdaemun Market is a traditional Korean market operating daily from 10 AM to 3 AM. It is situated next to Namdaemun Gate (Great South Gate) and not too far from Seoul Station.
The market first opened in 1964. It is the oldest and largest market in South Korea.
During the day, the market is busy with locals and tourists shopping for clothes, homeware, glasses and traditional herbal teas. At night, Namdaemun becomes an ideal place to eat street food and grab a bargain from the various stalls. I recommend coming here if you wish to try heartwarming food and shop for traditional souvenirs.
I also recommend passing by "market food street" as it’s filled with great restaurants. If you come hungry, don’t miss a chance to try Namdaemun Naengmyeon (cold buckwheat noodles). Most restaurants serve this dish.
To get to Namdaemun Market, take subway line 4 and get off at Hoehyeon Station, exit 5.
Myeongdong (People's Neighbourhood) Night Market is probably the most well-known Seoul night market and is close to Namdaemun Market, Seoul Station and City Hall. The area is a shopping street filled with high street clothes and makeup shops. The stores are open from morning till late evening.
Myeongdong Night Market operates daily from about 5 PM to 1 AM. You can find market stalls in the middle of the main streets here. It is different from other traditional night markets as its stalls are filled with innovative food that you can’t get anywhere else in Seoul.
I recommend trying the fruit cocktails, dry seafood snacks, and tornado potatoes with cheese. Bring lots of cash with you as Myeongdong Night Market is a street food paradise!
To get to Myeongdong, take subway line 4 and get off at Myeogdong station. Head towards exit 6 or 7, which are the closest to the main entrance of the market street.
Gwangjang Market is a permanent night market that is one of the bigger markets in South Korea. It is open daily from morning till evening and is well known for its vintage clothes arcade and food court where you can find traditional Korean street food. If you visit Gwangjang Market, you have to try bindaetteok (mung bean pancake) - it is the most famous dish here!
Note that all stores, excluding the food court, shut around 6 or 7 PM, so if you wish to shop for vintage Korean clothing, make sure to come before closing time.
To get to the Gwangjang market, take subway line 1 to Jogno 5(o)-ga, exit 7, or take the subway line 2, 5 to Euljiro 4(sa)-ga, exit 4.
Yeouido World Night Market is one of Seoul's most famous Bamdokkaebi Night Markets. It operates on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 6 PM to 1 AM. The market is located in Yeouido Han River Park near the Han River and the famous 63 Building.
The market is known for its food tents and performances from all around the world. It also has handcrafts from various countries. Head to the market if you wish to enjoy a relaxing night out with great food and music.
The closest subway station is Yeouinaru on subway line 5. Get out at exit 2.
Cheonggye Plaza Seasonal Night Market happens 3 to 4 times a year at Cheonggye Plaza, which is next to Cheonggyecheon Stream and City Hall. The seasonal night market usually opens at 6 PM and closes at 11 PM.
This is an open market and always has different themes depending on the month and season, such as a Christmas theme, a hot summer nights theme, and a chestnut season theme. Cheonggye Plaza market is always filled with fun activities for families, performances, food stalls, and handmade items.
For the dates of the market, take a look at the Seoul Metropolitan Government website.
Mokdong Stadium Night Market is a Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market. It is open on Fridays and Saturdays from 5 PM till 11 PM.
Visit this market if you are interested in sports, sports equipment, and sports clothing. You can buy a great pair of hiking shoes, a sturdy backpack for traveling and many other things here for an excellent price. I recommend bringing cash with you as most of the stalls don’t accept cards.
To get to the market, take subway line 5 and get off at Omokgyo station, exit 3 or 4.
Oil Tank Culture Park Night Market is located within Oil Tank Culture Park grounds in the Mapo district. The area used to be an old oil depot, but the Seoul government has now converted it into a public space that teaches people about the environment.
The night market is open for three weeks in May. It operates on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 PM till 9 PM.
It is the perfect place to have a picnic, browse around the flea market and enjoy the street performances.
Take subway line 6 towards World Cup Stadium station, exit 2, then follow the signs to Oil Tank Culture Park.
Banpo Romantic Moonlight Market takes place at Banpo Han River Park every Friday and Saturday from 6 PM till 11 PM.
The market sells unique and locally-created art pieces. It’s an ideal place if you are looking for a special present or souvenir for someone. The market is popular for its magnificent performances and spectacular views of the city lights and river.
I highly recommend checking out the Banpo Flea Market too when here as you can find some fantastic items from the 50s and 60s.
Banpo Romantic Moonlight Market is near the Express Bus Terminal (line 3, 7 and 9, exits 8-1 or 8-2), Sinbanpo (line 9, exit 1) and Dongjak (line 4 and 9, exits 1 or 2) subway stations.
Cheonggyecheon Stream Time Tour Night Market takes place along Cheonggyecheon Stream, near Gwangtonggyo Bridge, every Saturday and Sunday. It is open from 5 PM till 10 PM on Saturdays and 4 PM till 9 PM on Sundays.
The central theme of this market is "time travel". At the market, you will find countless traditional performances, snacks, souvenirs and street food. If you aren’t interested in traditional Korean performances, walk along the stream and enjoy the beautiful views of the floating lanterns.
The closest subway stations are Gwanghwamun (line 5, exit 5), Jonggak (line 1, exit 5) and Euljiro 1(il)-ga (line 2, exit 2) stations.
Seoul's night markets are the best way to experience the nightlife in the city, try the best food, and shop till you can’t feel your legs anymore.
Every market mentioned on this list is worth a visit. However, I don’t recommend visiting more than two markets in a single night. You won’t be able to enjoy everything a market has to offer otherwise!
Before visiting any of the above markets, I suggest checking the official websites for more information. It is possible that operating hours have changed or the market itself might be cancelled.
I hope this list will be useful for your trip and you will have a great time exploring the night markets in Seoul!
This article was edited by Loredana Elena and was first published on Dec 13, 2019 19:18 UTC.
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