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Nagwon/Nakwon Music Arcade in Seoul, South Korea (낙원 악기상가)

This article is part of a regional reporting project in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative.

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The Nagwon Music Arcade. Since all signs are written in Korean, look for the Standard Chartered Bank across the subway. The arcade starts on the second floor of this building.

Name of market: Nagwon/Nakwon Music Arcade (낙원 악기상가)

Address: 110-707 428, Samil-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Operating times: Monday – Saturday (closed on Sundays), 9 AM – 8 PM

How to get there: via subway, Jongno-3-ga Station (Line 1, 3, 5, Exit 5, to your right). It starts on the second floor of Standard Chartered Bank.

Fast Facts:

  • This is the ultimate go-to for music enthusiasts in South Korea. The arcade has everything: from Spanish guitars, baby pianos, to pink guitars customizable with your own name.
  • As the arcade is mostly catered for Koreans, the signages are written in Korean as well. Just ask around where “Nagwon Music Arcade” is and locals will be more than helpful to assist you. Tip: It’s on the second floor of “Standard Chartered Bank” just across Exit 5 of Jongno 3 (sam)-ga station.
  • Shop owners here know their stuff well as they are serious musicians themselves. You will be safe from vague selling points typical with general music stores.

Visitor Tips:

  • It would be useful to learn basic Hangeul (Korean script) and Korean when visiting this market because almost all signs are written in Hangeul. You can check out Talk to Me in Korean, hands down the best resource for Korean language learning!
  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
  • Why I’m going back: One, it’s South Korea (R and I’s favorite country aside from the Philippines). Two, it’s refreshing to find locals so passionate about music that selling is sort of beside the point. Three, the arcade is just a stone’s throw away from Jongo 3’s food street which is a destination in itself.
  • As with any country in the world: do not quickly assume. Make sense of the why behind the what first and while you’re at it, get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Tongin Market in Seoul, South Korea (통인 시장)

This article is part of a regional reporting project in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative.

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Tongin Market, just a few minutes away from Gyeongbokgung Palace.

Name of market: Tongin Market (통인 시장)

Address: 18, Jahamun-ro 15-gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Operating days and times: All 7 days of the week, 8:30 AM – 6 PM. Except for: the third Sunday of each month (for stalls), and Mondays (Dosirak Café).

How to get there: via subway, Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3, Exit 2). A few blocks after Geumcheongyo Market.

Market map: Download here. Provided for free by South Korea’s Tourism Office.

Fast Facts:

  • The market is famous for its dosirak (bento-like) packed lunches, where you get to curate your own meal set. This is a unique concept, far off from the pre-prepared dosirak lunches usually bought in stores.
  • Tongin Market is not only a go-to for fresh produce. It is also a popular meeting place for the elderly, where a big pagoda stands outside the main entrance where 할머니 (halmeoni, “grandmother”) and 할아버지 (harabeoji, “grandfather”) gather to play chess, eat snacks, and catch up.
  • The market has a very local feel, situated quite far from popular tourist areas and the subway.

Visitor Tips:

  • It would be useful to learn basic Hangeul (Korean script) and Korean when visiting this market because almost all signs are written in Hangeul. You can check out Talk to Me in Korean, hands down the best resource for Korean language learning!
  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
  • Why I’m going back: it is such a refreshing site to see locals coming together after market hours, chatting, playing cards, or watching their kids play. It is an authentic local area to spend some time in after visiting the tourist-heavy Gyeongbokgung Palace.
  • As with any country in the world: do not quickly assume. Make sense of the why behind the what first and while you’re at it, get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Geumcheongyo Market in Seoul, South Korea (금천교 시장)

This article is part of a regional reporting project in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative.

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Geumcheongyo Market, famous for its samgyetang (chicken soup)

Name of market: Geumcheongyo Market (금천교 시장)

Address: Google Map

Operating days and times: All 7 days of the week. 8:30 AM – 6 PM

How to get there: via subway, Gyeongbokgung Station, Exit 2, first left.

Fast Facts:

  • Near the famous Gwanghwamun area, Geumcheongyo Market is a must-see for Korean traditional and street food enthusiasts. It’s important to note that although it’s locally called “Geumcheongyo Market,” the entrance arc in fact says, “Sejong Maeul Imsig Munhwa Goli (세종마을 음식문화 거리).” Don’t get lost!
  • There are so many local shops to choose from but the area is famous for its samgyetang (chicken soup), a highly sought-after Korean dish made with ginseng and many other spices. It can be more expensive than other Korean soup dishes, but it offers many health benefits that it’s usually put on menus as a food for gongang (건강)/ good health.
  • The market gives a small community feel, which caters largely to locals.

Visitor Tips:

  • It would be useful to learn basic Hangeul (Korean script) and Korean when visiting this market because almost all signs are written in Hangeul. You can check out Talk to Me in Korean, hands down the best resource for Korean language learning!
  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
  • Why I’m going back: It’s the place to be for South Korea’s authentic street food fix.
  • As with any country in the world: do not quickly assume. Make sense of the why behind the what first and while you’re at it, get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Gwangjang/ Kwangjang Market in Seoul, South Korea (광장 시장)

This article is part of a regional reporting project in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative.

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The main entrance of Kwangjang/ Gwangjang Market

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One of the many entrances to Kwangjang/ Gwangjang Market

Name of market: K/Gwangjang Market; K/Gwangjang Sijang (광장 시장)

Address: 88 Changgyeonggung-ro Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Operating days and times: All 7 days of the week. 8:30 AM – 6 PM (shops); 8:30 AM – 12 MN (food stalls)

How to get there: via subway, Jongno-5-Ga Station (Line 1, Exit 8)

Website: http://www.kwangjangmarket.co.kr (in Korean only)

Fast Facts:

  • Korea’s first permanent market
  • Over 100 years old; founded in 1905
  • Coincides with the establishment of the Gwangjang Corporation in 1905
  • Famous for vintage clothing, home furnishings, street food, and traditional fresh and packaged foods

Visitor Tips: 

  • Wear comfortable shoes. The market is huge and it can take 10 minutes to get from the entrance to the street food area smacked in the middle of the market.
  • There are market maps plastered outside every gate, right beside subway exits. They can help tremendously especially when you’re looking for specific items, or a specific shop.
Map

Market guide maps written in Korean and English posted outside every gate, right beside subway exits.

  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.
  • Why I’m going back: It’s a massive market that sells everything from traditional to modern South Korean foods and wares. I like how everything seems to fit in this one place.
  • As with any country in the world: do not quickly assume. Make sense of the why behind the what first and while you’re at it, get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut❤