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Dongdaemun, Seoul – 20 Things To Do (2024)

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Dongdaemun is a large commercial district and popular Seoul neighbourhood to stay in with plenty of affordable hotels and its iconic Dongdaemun Design Plaza building, shaped like a UFO.

Seoul’s super cool design district, Dongdaemun has many historical and cultural attractions, but is best known for its massive budget malls and traditional markets that sell clothing, accessories and electronics, some of which are open 24 hours a day.

Dongdaemun also has many Korean restaurants and is a short walk to the famous Gwangjang Market where you can try many traditional dishes and classic Korean street-food dishes.

Culture fans will love staying in this Seoul downtown area as the epic Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) is located here which holds regular art exhibitions.

From mural villages to late night malls, bus tours to bars, here is our ultimate guide to visiting Seoul’s Dongdaemun district in 2024:

Dongdaemun, Seoul

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How to get to Dongdaemun

The best way to explore Dongdaemun is to arrive by public transport and alight at either Dongdaemun station or Dongdaemun History and Culture Park station.

Start your day in Dongdaemun at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza by taking Subway lines 2, 4 or 5 to Dongdaemun History and Culture Park and take exit 1.

Alternatively, alight at Dongdaemun Station (line 1 or 4) and take exit 7.

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Recommended accommodation and Dongdaemun Hotels

Budget ($)

Travelodge Dongdaemun Seoul
Budget 3 star chain hotel offering rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. Facilities include a fitness centre and restaurant offering American or an Asian breakfast. Check out prices and availability for Travelodge Dongdaemun Seoul

Travelodge Dongdaemun Seoul
Travelodge Dongdaemun Seoul

Mid-range ($$)

Hotel Skypark Kingstown Dongdaemun
Located steps away from Dongdaemun shopping district and connected to the Hyundai City Outlet, this mid-range hotel has a rooftop lounge, garden patio, restaurant, laundry and fitness center. Check out prices and availability for Hotel Skypark Kingstown Dongdaemun

Luxury ($$$)

JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul
Luxury hotel with rooms featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and city views. Hotel facilities include restaurants, rooftop bar, spa, indoor pool, fitness center, hot tub and steam room. Check out prices and availability for JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul

Sotetsu Hotels The Splaisir Seoul Dongdaemun
A 4* Seoul hotel located very close to the DDP plaza and Subway exit (plus lots of shopping malls), The Splaisir Seoul Dongdaemun higher floors also offer great views of the local area and the Seoul hills. Check out prices and availability for The Splaisir Seoul Dongdaemun >

Rates for other Dongdaemun hotels in Seoul can be found on >

Dongdaemun, Seoul – 20 things to do

1. Dongdaemun Design Plaza

By daytime, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in Seoul is an aesthetically awesome design centre containing a design museum (certain exhibitions are free), the design lab and a conference center, plus a handful of shops, restaurants and cafes.

From afar, it looks like a huge silver UFO has landed in the centre of Seoul.

The DDP also lights up in the winter months (especially around Christmas time in Seoul) with a free, festive winter light show.

The DDP Seoul Light show features illuminations and projections on the side of the curved and ultra sleek building.

Since its first edition in 2019, the DDP light show has attracted over 1 million visitors and is one of the most popular free activities in Seoul.

Winter light show

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2. Seoul City Wall Walk/ Fortress Wall

For one of the best views in Seoul, take a stroll along Seoul’s historic City Wall. One of the main access points and best gates – Heunginjimun Gate, is a short walk from the DDP.

With the first part of the wall built in the 1390s to deter invaders (to coincide with the construction of Gyeongbokgung Palace), Seoul City Wall is just under 20 km in length (although not all of it is fully walkable).

It takes in many historical sites and views including Baegak, Naksan, Namsan and the Inwangsan Mountains.

It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the ensuing centuries. The highlights at Seoul Fortress Wall are the eight gate towers, especially the East Main Gate – Heunginjimun Gate.

A free thing to do in Seoul, one of the best and most sections of the Fortress Wall to explore is in Naksan Park. We’d also recommend combining a Seoul City Wall with a visit to nearby Ihwa Mural Village.

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3. Heunginjimun Gate (Historic City Wall Gate)

A short five minute walk from the main DDP area, Heunginjimun Gate is a designated ‘national treasure’ and one of the oldest surviving parts of Seoul and its fortress wall (it was originally constructed in the 1390s and then rebuilt where it is today in the 1860s).

Also called Dongdaemun Gate as it is in the east part of Seoul, this is the only one of the remaining remaining city gates that has distinctive crescent shape defences and shows the incredible architecture of the late Joseon dynasty.

The walls on either side no longer exist but the gates look grand and serve as a nice distraction from today’s traffic!

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4. Cheonggyecheon River Walk

One of the best walks in Dongdaemun any time of day, the Cheonggyecheon is a downtown public park and river walk that is lit up and open 24 hours.

Cheonggyecheon is an example of urban regeneration whereby this formerly neglected and run down riverside area was transformed in the early 2000s into a wonderful walk along a river, complete with benches, stepping stone bridges and a long concrete walkway (also ideal for jogging).

During festivals and Christmas, the Cheonggyecheon stream sometimes has special lights and pop-up events.

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5. Ihwa Mural Village

A hillside artist’s retreat and residential village renowned for its street illustrations, Ihwa Mural Village is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Seoul’s city streets below

The area was due for demolition around 20 years ago as it had been established without the necessary city planning.

However, murals and other artistic flourishes encouraged by the MInistry of Culture turned the Ihwa Mural Village into a rather curious visitor attraction.

​Art is always in the eye of the beholder BUT if we are being honest, there isn’t that much surviving street art left in Ihwa Mural Village with most of the street art being pretty run down and decrepit (based on our visit in summer 2023).

We’ve also read a lot of the Ihwa Mural Village residents don’t like all the tourists overrunning their homes so took matters into their own hands and painted over lots of the artwork.

If you are in the area, check out the Naksan Pagoda nearby, one of the most serene places in Seoul with a hillside vantage point and lovely panoramic view.

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6. Baked Baffle Netflix Lady Stall

One of Seoul’s most famous food stalls, the ‘baked baffle’ store (also known as Baffle Yaki) outside Dongdaemun Market has featured on numerous TV programmes and blogs / vlogs including the Seoul edition of the Netflix Street Food Asia series and Mark Wien’s YouTube channel.

Baked Baffle Netflix Lady Stall Dongdaemun Market

It is an interesting creation of rice baked into a waffle (baked baffle) and comes with variety of flavours and fillings like bacon (or shrimp), egg, chilli sauce and fish flakes.

Most of the baffles were pre-baked and the lady running the stall (Jo Jungia) was very sweet and encouraged us to take lots of pictures.

She was immensely proud to have featured on Netflix so do consider checking out a baked baffle when visiting Dongdaemun Food Street.

Be sure to also visit the famous Netflix Knife-cut noodle lady in Gwangjang Market (but be prepared to queue).

Baked Baffle Netflix Lady Stall Dongdaemun Market
Baked Baffle Netflix Lady Stall Dongdaemun Market

Seoul Shopping Malls in Dongdaemun

Dongdaemun is certainly one of Seoul’s best neighbourhoods to stay in if you love shopping including several high profile malls with a lot of big brands, plus a couple of smaller malls (which aren’t so good).

Seoul’s Dongdaemun shopping malls include:

7. Hyundai Outlet Mall & CGV Cinema

Hyundai City Outlets shopping center is located in between the Dongdaemun Design Plaza and nearby DOOTA shopping mall (so it is very easy to shop ‘til you drop).

This fine looking shopping mall is the perfect place to grab discounted goods at bargain prices (although note not everything is discounted).

Hyundai outlet Mall Dongdaemun
Hyundai outlet Mall Dongdaemun

There are high end fashion stores like Tommy Hilfiger plus dozens of fashionable furniture and international furnishing stores like Laura Ashley and Denby (best of British eh).

One of the stand out stores at Hyundai City Outlets is the Kyobo Book Store. On the 10th floor there is a CGV cinema – we were particularly taken by the karaoke booths that were in full swing when we visited one weekday afternoon.

CGV cinema Hyundai outlet Mall Dongdaemun

Hyundai City Outlets in Seoul is also home to lots of pop-up shops plus a gorgeous food court and restaurant area on the B2 level – the smell of fresh castella bread was a particular highlight for us (plus watch it wobble as it comes out of the oven).

Hyundai outlet Mall Dongdaemun
Hyundai outlet Mall Dongdaemun

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8. DOOTA Mall

If you are visiting the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP), the best mall that is closest has to be DOOTA Mall, with lots of fashion stores aimed at younger shoppers, particularly on the first five floors.

DOOTA Mall Dongdaemun

Floor 6 to 12 at DOOTA Mall is for Duty Free shopping. Whilst not as grand as many other shopping malls in Seoul, it is one of the better fashion malls in this Dongdaemun area.

On the second basement level of DOOTA Mall, you’ll find storage lockers plus a help desk for overseas visitors (shopping discounts are available for foreign travellers).

DOOTA Mall Dongdaemun
DOOTA Mall Dongdaemun

Doota Mall’s biggest store is a Nike athletic footwear stall where you can customise your own Nike outfits and sneakers. Locals and tourists also flock to the Shake Shack burger chain located right by its main entrance.

DOOTA Mall opening times are 10am to 11pm (times may vary at DOOTA Mall during public holidays).

Nike DOOTA Mall Dongdaemun
Nike store
DOOTA Mall Dongdaemun

CK Travels Tip
Be sure to grab a Dongdaemun Super Pass for free from Tourist Information Offices around Seoul. It offers discounts and privileges in the Dongdaemun area like a free welcome gift for tourists from the Hyundai Outlet Mall, buy 1, get 1 on selected items at DDP Market or a free coffee from the Robot Cafe in Doota Mall.

9. Migliore Dongdaemun Mall

A huge shopping mall located next to DOOTA Mall, Migliore Mall has featured in countless TikTok videos due to its row upon row of K-beauty products, customisable clothes and fashion items, all of which are open until very late in the evening (sometimes until 4.30am).

Migliore Dongdaemun Mall

One of the most popular places on social media is the ‘Nail Mall’ on the 16th floor, with thousands of nail polishes, dip powders, acrylic sets, stickers and UV lamp lights!

Full of fabrics (including hanbok and school uniform outfits that you definitely wouldn’t be allowed to wear in school), souvenir shops and Korean sock stalls, Migliore Dongdaemun Mall is your best late night shopping spot in the area.

A food court and late night restaurants can also be found inside.

Migliore Dongdaemun Mall
Migliore Dongdaemun Mall

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10. Other Dongdaemun Shopping Malls

We’re grouping all the smaller Dongdaemun shopping malls together as most of them were quite small and many of them seem to have lots of vacant stalls (particularly the Korean Fashion Mall located across from the DDP).

k pop goods mall Dongdaemun Seoul

Essentially, there are about half a dozen malls within walking distance of the DDP but most of these are teeny tiny malls and sell quite cheap / low quality clothes (DDP Fashion Mall / Kwanghee fashion mall / K pop goods mall etc).

Please note Lotte Fitin mall is temporarily closed (possibly permanently as of January 2024) – it was boarded up when we visited in late 2023.

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11. Dongdaemun History Museum

Much of Seoul is a charming combination of the old and new, where shiny sleek skyscrapers jut against historic heritage buildings and hanoks.

Tthis has never been truer than in Dongdaemun where ancient city gates and walls juxtaposed against modern malls and roads.

Dongdaemun History Museum Seoul

When the Dongdaemun Design Plaza was excavated and built, lots of old artifacts were dug up and the  Dongdaemun History Museum was established to preserve them and put them on show. 

Inside the museum, you’ll see excavation blueprints engraved on the floor and immersive VR experiences of how the site used to look and the hidden history below it before the DDP.

Dongdaemun History Museum is free to visit – nearby, you can also visit the Dongdaemun Stadium Memorial, showcasing memories from a huge stadium that also used to sit on this site.

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Markets in Dongdaemun

12. Dongdaemun Market / Dongdaemun Shopping Complex

Located near to the Cheonggyecheon River, Dongdaemun Shopping Complex (Market) is apparently the world’s largest clothing and fabric material markets, full of colourful patterns (and the odd counterfeit brand based on what we saw).

Dongdaemun Market Seoul
Dongdaemun Market Seoul
Dongdaemun Market Seoul

This is the go to place in Dongdaemun for cheap off-the-rack (or even made to measure) hanbok outfits to buy outright, or bedding and accessories to take back home.

Many of the retailers are wholesale so you might need to buy multiple of the same items

Dongdaemun Market Seoul
Dongdaemun Market Seoul

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13. Gwangjang Market

Gwangjang Market is Seoul’s most famous food market, a myriad of market street food stalls selling some of the best food you’ll taste in Seoul (or anywhere in South Korea).

Gwangjang Market has bags of character, from the numerous (and competitive) stallholders who beckon you over (“Sit. SIT”!) to the huge array of awesome and authentic street food available.

Boiling hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the winter, Gwangjang Market is a foodie’s dream and a must visit when in Dongdaemun.

Check out our full guide to Gwangjang Market in Seoul >

14. Bangsan Market

Very much a local’s market selling cheap as chips goods and wholesale items, Bangsan Market has over 200 stalls and used to be famous as a shop to buy pretty packaging and boxes.

Bangsan Market Dongdaemun Seoul
Bangsan Market Dongdaemun Seoul
Bangsan Market Dongdaemun Seoul

When we visited Dongdaemun’s Bangsan Market in late 2023, we found it to be mainly hardware and home interiors plus the stench of fake perfume lingers; there were lots of labels that said things like ‘smells like Chanel”.

Other random items to buy at Bangsan market included rose ice cube trays, astroturf and lots of fabrics and gaudy decorations.

Bangsan Market Dongdaemun Seoul
Bangsan Market Dongdaemun Seoul

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15. Jungbu Dried Seafood Market

Sounds fishy to us! Jungbu Dried Seafood Market is one of Seoul’s largest inner city fish markets and is where all the locals go to get dried or wet seafood for their fish suppers.

Jungbu Dried Seafood Market Dongdaemun

Whilst mainly selling fish to prepare at home or in restaurants, Jungbu Dried Seafood Market in Dongdaemun had a few takeaway food stalls that you could eat there and then selling items such as fishcakes or warm hotteoks.

This is also a great place to buy the dried fish products you see in most of Seoul’s craft beer bars and pubs or even grab some ginseng. Jungbu market has a dedicated Anchovy Alley!

The fish are all kept under bright lights so the smells can be pretty strong at times.

Jungbu Dried Seafood Market Dongdaemun
Jungbu Dried Seafood Market Dongdaemun

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16. Pizza Pie at Onion Cafe

Another Dongdaemun Seoul street food we discovered by chance (and partly because of the small queue we saw), Onion Cafe at Gwangjang Market specialises in ‘pizza pie’.

Pizza Pie at Onion Cafe

This is essentially layers of flaky sweet puff pastry served with a side of sticky strawberry jam to spread all over plus a syrup glaze on top.

Delicious but messy as – Onion Cafe’s Pizza Pie costs 4,000 Korean Won a slice plus you can take home a huge whole round pie in a pizza box!

Pizza Pie at Onion Cafe

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17. Gwanghuimun Gate (south east)

Although most visitors to Dongdaemun will more likely see the bigger Heunginjimun Gate near to DDP, the other historic gate – Gwanghuimun Gate, is still worth checking out.

Gwanghuimun Gate dongdaemun Seoul

Gwanghuimun Gate was partially destroyed during the war and sadly the remaining part was dismantled in the 1960s to make for new buildings, so the current gate is actually a reconstruction built in the 1970s just a few metres away from the original site.

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18. Take a tour bus around Seoul

There are several open top bus operators in Seoul, all of which provide hop-on hop-off routes of the city.

These include the Seoul Hop-On Hop-Off Downtown Palace Course with Seoul City Bus Tours (available from Viator and Klook), plus the Seoul Yellow Balloon City Bus Tour which departs hourly from DDP itself.

This is a cheap way to get around the city at leisure and the start point at DDP is easily walkable from most Dongdaemun Hotels. We also jumped on the DDP Yellow City Bus Tour for ‘free’ as part of the Discover Seoul Pass.

Book a Seoul City Tour Bus Night View pass here >

19. Isaac Toast

Isaac Toast is a top toasted sandwich store in Seoul (very cheap too). Isaac Toast can be found all over South Korea (700 outlets and counting) including a Dongdaemun branch right next to Hyundai Outlet Mall and across from the DDP.

Isaac Toast Seoul South Korea

Their classic sandwich consists of ham, cheese, egg, pickle and diced cabbage covered in swathes of sauce, covered in toasted butter sweet bread.

Whilst not gourmet cuisine, most sandwiches cost around the 3,000 to 4,000 Korean Won mark and each toastie is cooked fresh, so it is perfect for a cheap meal.

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Our final thing to do in Dongdaemun

20. Tap Shop Bar

The buzziest new shop and foodie experience at DOOTA Mall (opened in early 2023) is the Tap Shop Bar.

Tap Shop Bar Dongdaemun

We visited the TAP Shop Bar after it recently opened and it is one fine looking wine bar and drinking space (food is also available) located in the basement area.

You can pick and pour own wines using an electronic wristband – if you like self-pour drinks in stylish settings, be sure to also check out ArtMonster Gangnam craft beer bar.

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