Gwangjang food market food stall

Gwangjang Market in Seoul: A Foodie’s Paradise

Looking for an authentic Korean culinary adventure? Right in the heart of Seoul you’ll find Gwangjang Market (광장시장), Korea’s oldest and largest traditional market.

Gwangjang Market is a foodie’s paradise in South Korea, famous for its street food stalls and fabric market selling traditional Korean clothing (also known as hanbok).

This comprehensive guide dives into what to expect at this food paradise, including how to get there, what to expect and what street foods to try.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about this vibrant market in Seoul.

Gwangjang Market alley with Korean signs

How to get to Gwangjang Market

Going to Gwangjang Market is easy. Here is a quick guide:

  1. Get on the Metro. This is the best way of moving around Seoul.
  2. Go to Jongno – 5 station. This is the stop for Gwangjang Market.
  3. Leave the station through either Exit 9 or 8. Both exits will take you to the market.
  4. Look for signs pointing to Gwangjang Market or ask people for help.

Tip: Download ”Subway”, a convenient metro app. It’s one of the most useful apps while traveling in South Korea.

man cycling next to Korean shops in Seoul

What to expect at Gwangjang market

So, what can you expect at this food market in Seoul?

Lots of street food stalls

Gwangjang Market is a hot spot for street food. It’s like a large, open kitchen. You will see many food stalls in rows. They make dishes right in front of you. This market has every Korean street food you can think of.

Bindaetteok or mung bean pancakes are a big hit here. There is also mandu, which are yummy Korean dumplings. If you want to try something spicy, go for tteokbokki! It’s made with rice cakes and red sauce.

food at Gwangjang Market in Seoul

A fabric market selling traditional Korean attire (hanbok)

Sometimes overlooked due to the amount of street food stalls, yet on the second floor you’ll find the fabric market. The fabric market at Gwangjang Market is a must-visit for anyone interested in traditional Korean attire, known as hanbok.

Here you can find a wide selection of beautifully crafted clothing that showcase the rich cultural heritage of Korea. You’ll also find dressmaking services here.

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this side of the market and immerse yourself in the world of traditional Korean clothing.

If you’re more into shopping for vintage clothing, then you should check out this flea market in Seoul.

Must-try street foods at Gwangjang Market

When visiting this buzzing market in Seoul, you should definitely try some of its traditional Korean snacks and dishes, including the famous bindaetteok (mung bean pancakes) and bibimbap (mixed rice).

Read on to find out what Korean snacks are worth trying at Gwangjang Market!

fish at food market in Seoul

Korean snacks and dishes

When exploring Gwangjang Market in Seoul, it will be difficult to know what to look for and what foods to try. Here are some of the must-try street food options:

  • Mung bean pancakes: These savory pancakes made with mung beans are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are often enjoyed with a soy-based dipping sauce.
  • Korean dumplings: Known as mandu, these dumplings are filled with meat or vegetables and steamed or fried to perfection. They come in different shapes and sizes and are bursting with delicious flavors.
  • Bibimbap: Bibimbap is a popular Korean dish that consists of mixed rice topped with different vegetables, meat and a spicy sauce. It’s a colorful and nutritious meal in a bowl.
  • Hand-cut noodles (kalguksu): These thick wheat noodles are handmade and served in a flavorful broth. They can be enjoyed plain or with various toppings like seafood or vegetables.
  • Seaweed rice rolls (gimbap): Similar to sushi rolls, gimbap consists of seaweed wrapped around seasoned rice along with various fillings such as eggs, vegetables, and meat. It is a convenient snack on the go.
  • Bindae-tteok (Mung Bean Pancake): This pancake made from ground mung beans is packed with ingredients like green onions, carrots, and kimchi. It is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
  • 10 Won Cheese Bread / Pancake: A relatively new street food selled on this market since 2023 is 10 Won Cheese Bread / Pancake. If you’re looking for a cheesy snack, then try this.
Cheese coin food

Tips for visiting Gwangjang Market

When visiting Gwangjang Market, it’s best to go in the morning or early afternoon to avoid the crowds and have a better selection of food options.

The best time to visit

To make the most of your visit to Gwangjang Market in Seoul, it’s best to go during the daytime when the market is buzzing with activity.

The market usually opens at around 8:30 AM and stays open until late in the evening, so you have plenty of time to explore.

However, a lot of stalls only open after 11:00 AM, so I would recommend getting here past 11:00 AM for the full experience.

If you want to avoid large crowds, it’s better to go on weekdays rather than weekends when the market can get quite busy. Still, during weekdays expect crowds at the most popular stalls and restaurants at the market.

people eating at a food stall in Gwangjang Market

It’s best not to visit the market on Sundays, as some of the stalls aren’t opened during this day of the week.

Keep in mind that Gwangjang Market is an indoor market, so you don’t have to worry about weather conditions affecting your visit.

Whether you’re a morning person or prefer a later start, anytime during regular opening hours (after 11:00 AM) is a great time to experience this foodie paradise.

Woman with vegetables at Gwangjang Market

Tips on how to navigate Gwangjang Market in Seoul

To make the most of your visit to Gwangjang Market, here are some tips on how to navigate the market:

  1. Start at the main entrance – Enter through the main entrance of Gwangjang Market, which is easily recognizable by its colorful sign. This will give you a good starting point to explore the different lanes and sections.
  2. Don’t forget to visit the second floor – As mentioned above, here you’ll find the fabric market.
  3. Take your time – The market can be crowded, especially during peak hours. Don’t rush and take your time to walk around and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.
  4. Follow your nose – The smells of delicious street food will guide you to the various stalls in the market. Follow your nose and let your senses lead you to some tasty treats.
  5. Try something new – While it’s tempting to stick to familiar dishes, don’t hesitate to try something new. Gwangjang Market is known for its diverse range of street food, so step out of your comfort zone and discover unique flavors.
  6. Explore beyond food – In addition to food stalls, Gwangjang Market also houses a fabric market where you can find traditional Korean attire like hanbok. Take some time to browse through the colorful fabrics and maybe even pick up a souvenir or two.
  7. Stay hydrated – With all the walking and eating, it’s important to stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle with you or take advantage of the numerous drink stalls offering refreshing beverages.
  8. Wear comfortable shoes – You’ll probably do lots of walking in and near to Gwangjang market!
guy walking in Gwangjang Market

In conclusion

In conclusion, Gwangjang Market in Seoul is a must-visit for food lovers. With its vibrant atmosphere, buzzing lanes, and a lots of traditional Korean street food, it truly is a foodie’s paradise.

Don’t miss the chance to try some delicious Korean dishes like bindaetteok or bibimbap while exploring this lively market. So head over to Gwangjang Market for an unforgettable tasting experience!

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