Lonely Planet review for Namdaemun Market
You could spend all day in this awesome night-and-day market and not see it at all. Each section has hundreds of stalls. The market specialises in cheaper-range clothing and accessories for all ages and styles, but you can find anything under the sun here – from food and flowers to spectacles and seaweed. The seaweed may be natural or factory-made, and these days can be flavoured with wasabi, kimchi, green tea or even chocolate. Different sections of the market have different opening hours – wholesalers are open all night and many shops open on Sunday. Alpha has two floors of toys and two floors of stationery. Samho has a jaw-dropping amount of fashion jewellery spread over two shopping sections, with some of it made on the premises. Mesa Family Fashion Mall, the market’s first high-rise mall, has over 1000 shops on 16 floors. For food, Noodle Alley has a dozen stalls selling sujebi (dough and shellfish soup), homemade kalguksu noodles and bibimbap (mixed rice, meat and vegetables) for around W4000. Restaurant Alley has a huge range of Korean food – all with plastic replicas outside to make choosing easy. A very popular wangmandu stall sells these large dumplings freshly made at a bargain price, while a little further on Jungang Jokbal sells great-tasting pork hocks (a W15,000 plateful is heaps for two people). It comes with vegetable soup, lettuce wraps, a salad and side dishes. In complete contrast to the raucous hustle and bustle of the market, wrap yourself in luxury inside Shinsegae Department Store. Down in the basement is the opulent supermarket (the cakes are works of art) with one food court, while another is up on the 11th floor together with Starbucks and a garden with seats to relax in after footslogging around the market below. In the Hoehyeon underground arcade, shops selling secondhand LPs, CDs, cameras, stamps and coins are mixed in with boutiques, money-changers and shops selling bargain spectacles.