Gwangjang Market: Delicious Korean Street Food in Seoul

Seoul’s Gwangjang Market is an absolute must-visit for any self-respecting foodies. Its bustling lanes are full of food stalls and the area comes alive at night, when locals fill the benches of the different establishments. The owners (seemingly always older Korean ladies) are quick to fill patrons’ bowls with delicious freshly-cooked food. The laughter and beer flow late into the night as Seoulites unwind after a long day at work, stop by for a quick snack or just pick up a cheap takeaway dinner. Seeing as Korean food is one of the reasons why everyone should visit this incredible country, I had to check it out!

Gwangjang Market
Gwangjang Market is bustling with activity every night

I came out of Jongno-5 station on a warm evening and made my way to the nearby entrance to Gwangjang Market. Two narrow walkways squeezed between countless stalls offering Korean specialities like gimbap and tteokbokki, mandu dumplings and, of course, beer. Each stall had benches positioned right at the front so no matter where you sat, you were essentially at the Chef’s Table, watching the owners expertly prepare fresh food right in front of you.

Delicious food - Gwangjang Market
Some of the delicious food on offer at Gwangjang Market (source: epublic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/)

These benches are also communal so you invariably find yourself rubbing shoulders with strangers. Strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet! It’s great for people watching and casual conversation – I struck up a conversation with a Scottish expat who shared his beer over stories of his experiences in Korea. In a country where the culture is inherently social, this wasn’t a big surprise.

Sundae - Gwangjang Market
Sundae is a type of blood sausage made from animal intestines. Dessert lovers, look away now!

I started off by walking along the lanes, taking in the sights and the smells before deciding to sit down at a stall selling delicious-looking dumplings. There was a choice of two flavours – minced kimchi and pork and I tried both. They were absolutely delicious, especially when paired with tasty sauces and more kimchi on the side. In Korea, all sides are usually free and you can keep topping them up!

Korean dumplings - Gwangjang Market
Delicious Korean dumplings at Gwangjang Market

Next up was a stall selling gimbap – Korea’s answer to sushi – and tteokbokki, which are hot rice rolls prepared in a chilli sauce. I couldn’t choose between the two so I just ordered a big plate of both! It was very hearty and filling and I could barely move afterwards!

Tteokbokki and gimbap - Gwangjang Market
A mix plate of tteokbokki rice rolls and sushi-like gimbap

I strolled around and watched locals enjoy drinks and food with friends – the atmosphere was really welcoming and the market was only getting livelier as the evening went on. All that walking around and trying delicious street food is thirsty work so I treated myself to a freshly made sugarcane juice – one of my favourite drinks!

Sugarcane juice - Gwangjang Market
Sugarcane juice – my favourite!

A visit to Gwangjang Market is one of the top things to do in Seoul – especially if you want to get a taste for traditional Korean food and experience it fresh and in a real local environment.


The Trip

What: Gwangjang Market is a food market in Seoul, South Korea. Its alleyways are full of stalls offering Korean street food and drinks. It’s a great way to interact with the locals while trying some traditional dishes

Opening Hours: Gwangjang Market food stalls are open daily until around 11pm. Stores in the market open 08:30-18:30 and are closed on Sundays

Getting There: Gwangjang Market is located at 88 Changgyeonggung-ro, Jongno-gu. The easiest way to reach Gwangjang Market is by taking the subway to Jongno-5 station. It’s only four stops away from Seoul’s main station on the 1 line. Take exit 8 or 9 and you’ll come out right next to the market. For more information on using public transport in Korea, check out my Korea Essential Tips post.

How Much: Street food isn’t as cheap as in other parts of Asia but you can still have a great meal without breaking the bank. A portion of dumplings costs around £3 ($4) and a full plate of tteokbokki and gimbap is around £5 ($6.50)

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Seoul’s Gwangjang Market is an absolute must-visit for any self-respecting foodies. Its bustling lanes are full of food stalls and delicious Korean fare

17 thoughts on “Gwangjang Market: Delicious Korean Street Food in Seoul

  1. Tracy says:

    My daughter loves Korean food (as do I) and as we have Korean friends is familiar with the different items on offer – she chose to visit South Korea on the first stop of her summer holiday and has been raving about the food! I must ask her if she went to this market. We are in Sydney now and off to meet our Korean friends later for a Korean BBQ – can’t wait!! We must visit S Korea I think!

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Barry, I am not sure we can be friends! Kimchi is one of my favourite things to eat in the world! But I know many people who don’t like it too so I guess I understand! At least we can appreciate sugarcane juice together

  2. Siddharth and Shruti says:

    Oh! Yum! Those sushi-like gimbap look good! How were the dumplings? Love korean food. We are a bit vary of the street food though. Hope you didnt have any stomach upset the next day (which usually happens to us after having street food).

    • Travel Lexx says:

      Oh that’s a shame. I mostly eat street food when I am travelling and have never had a problem in the many months I’ve spent in Asia. I think street food is safer to eat than restaurant food a lot of the time as it’s made right in front of you and ingredients tend to be fresh!

  3. Marcelle says:

    It looks quite a challenge to choose from all the food offers in Seoul’s Gwangjang Market! I wonder what all the non-vegi stuff is and if I’d like to try it 😉

    • Travel Lexx says:

      I really want to go back and spend even more time trying all the food! Eating your way around Seoul is quite a legitimate way to spend a day!

  4. Travel4lifeblog says:

    Stop it! You almost made us want to lick the screen:) We love Asian street food but we don’t really know about Korean food. You definitely made us want to try it now. Everything looks so Fresh and delicious. Will pin this if if end up visiting Seoul one day 🙂 Keep up the great work!
    Patrick and Cécile

  5. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    Gwangjang market indeed looks like a paradise for foodies.Love the fact that one gets to taste authentic Korean fare here.

  6. Trippin' Turpins (Kelly) says:

    Food is definitely one of the reasons I want to visit Korea! Those Korean dumplings look delicious…. but do you really drink the sugarcane juice? I can’t bring myself to do that…. if I am going to have something that is almost all sugar I would prefer grape juice….. in the form of red wine! LOL

  7. Angie (FeetDoTravel) says:

    I haven’t really had an opportunity to sample Korean food so I read this post with interest. Love that you ordered a portion of 2 meals as you couldn’t decide …why not eh! I’m sure you hiked or ran up a mountain the next day and it was able to give you extra energy 😀 I have heard that Korea is a very friendly place so when I visit, I remember that the strangers I encounter are just friends I haven’t met yet! Pinned! #FeetDoTravel

  8. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) says:

    Great video and photos of your time in the Gwangjang Market “Street Food” in South Korea. I love visiting that market and sitting with the locals along with the expats and enjoying some tasty food. I am not a kimchi fan but love the pork dumplings. Seoul is fun with a mix of the old and new. Thanks for sharing! #feetdotravel

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