If you’re like most visitors to Seoul Gwanghwamun Square and Gyeongbokgung Palace will be high on your list of places to see. Once in the general area people then seem to gravitate east towards Bukchon Hanok Village, which is indeed a place worth visiting. We have done so numerous times, but more and more people are choosing to head west to Seochon Village which has its own area of hanok houses as well as Tongin Traditional Market.
Not one of the oldest, or largest, markets in Seoul it is nonetheless well worth visiting for its unusual approach for buying a meal.
They use old coins as tokens for your meal. This allows you to chose smaller portions of a few different things that you may not have tried if left to your own devices. You find the small crowd gathered around the person selling the tokens and pay your 5,000 won, get your tokens and a tray and off you go. All the stalls have sign saying how many tokens each item is, and you basically just point and pay.
Once you have your tray of food you go back to where you got the tokens and head upstairs to a seating area. You can also buy your bowl of rice and get a drink of water upstairs. The market is narrow and crowded, especially at lunch time, as many students and workers come here to grab a good cheap meal. The upstairs eating area can also be busy. Once you’ve finished your meal watch how and where the locals place their trays, uneaten food etc otherwise the staff might take your stuff and give you disapproving looks. Elizabeth did it correctly, me not so much.
We tried to get a good sampling between us so we could try as much as possible. Some things were exceedingly yummy. You can also pay cash for your food, but using the old coins as tokens makes it a more interesting experience.
Elizabeth kindly stood in line with a hungry bunch of middle schoolers, who were a bit pushy, for my favorite Hotteok.
An interesting way to grab a quick lunch and try a good selection of street/market type foods Tongin Market is well worth a visit.
Have a great day everyone.
You may also like Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Markets, Tuho, and A Look at Hongdae.
Please do not copy or use without permission and accreditation. All photo credits to Elizabeth and Debora Marzec,
These types of markets are always worthy going to. My fave in Thailand was the Chatuchak Weekend Market. While, back then, tourists sought out the floating market, we went to the more popular one for locals. And it did not disappoint! There was this table set up in the middle selling some type of curried meat over rice. I believe I spent $1.50 CAD and felt it was the best meal ever! My 2nd favorite market is actually in Vancouver, B.C. It’s right by the ocean and is the Granville Island Public Market. We got farmer’s market produce, venison pate and other wild Canadian cured game meat. And freshly baked sour dough bread. Topped with amazing BC red wine and we had ourselves a lovely carpet picnic that night with good friends whom we were staying with (the plan was to have a beach picnic but the weather wasn’t ideal that day).
We went to lots of Korean markets while we were there and also ate lots of ‘street’ food. Everything was interesting, and mostly delicious. I’m kinda a picky eater but I found some of my favorite all time eats in Korea. Would love to visit Thailand at some point, it sounds wonderful too.
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