Dongdaemun is a top attraction that is constantly crowded with international visitors! Tourists who visit this area typically only spend an hour or two here, but there are so many things to do or see that you may even spend an entire day exploring. Some of the most representative attractions found in this area include the nation’s first designated treasure, Heunginjimun Gate, the all-time favorite Cheonggyecheon Stream, as well as the notable landmark of this district, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP).
The area of Dongdaemun is bigger than most tourists know and thus, several hidden attractions are often left unexplored. Read on for our very own one-day guide for first-time travelers to have a productive time in the Dongdaemun district!
Heunginjimun Gate & Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park
Heunginjimun Gate is the official name but due to its position on the east side of the outer wall of Seoul Fortress, it is also commonly referred to as Dongdaemun Gate. At that time, four large gates and four small gates were built in the Seoul Fortress surrounding the city. The four main gates (East, West, South, North) each had a Hangeul character attached, indicating benevolence, righteousness, propriety, and wisdom respectively. The east gate of the fortress was formerly named ‘Heunginmun Gate’, but was later changed to ‘Heunginjimun Gate’ with the addition of the Hangeul ‘ji (지)’ which was added to invigorate good energy.
Heunginjimun Gate is the largest gate in Seoul, surpassing even Sungnyemun Gate. It has a semicircular ongsung (a small wall built in front of the gate for complete protection) that differentiates it from the other fortress gates.
There is an uphill road behind the Heunginjimun Gate and it leads to the Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park. Due to the strong presence of other tourist attractions, as well as the small scale of the park, visitors to this area tend to miss out this hidden gem. Here at the park, you can catch a bird’s eye view of Dongdaemun where one can observe a harmonious blend of Korea’s traditional architecture with the modern skyscrapers.
- TIP) Enjoy night views from Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park
- Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park is especially known for its nightscape. Enjoy a spectacular night view of the soft lights glowing from Heunginjimun Gate, along with the vibrant lights emitted from the modern buildings in the background. In particular, the headlights from the countless cars passing on the roads below somehow create an even more dynamic atmosphere.
- ☞ Address: 288, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 종로 288)
- ☞ Directions: Walk approx. 2 min from Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 7
Dongdaemun Seonggwak Park
- ☞ Address: 70, Jong-ro 6-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 종로6가 70)
- ☞ Directions: Walk approx. 3 min from Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 1
Cheonggyecheon Stream flows through Jongno-gu and Jung-gu districts. It is an all-time favorite leisure place to relax or hang out with friends in the heart of the capital.
Although Cheonggyecheon Stream starts from the area around Gwanghwamun Square, visitors may also get to the stream from Dongdaemun Station. There are a total of 22 bridges that cross over Cheonggyecheon Stream, with the bridge nearest Dongdaemun being Ogansugyo Bridge. The bridge is located at the spot of the previous Ogansumun Gate, where five streams flowed out of the old capital. Due to urban development, the old gate can no longer be seen, but its memory lives on in the name of the bridge.
- ☞ Address: Area of Jong-ro 6-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 종로 6가 일대)
- ☞ Directions: Walk approx. 3 min from Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 8
Dongdaemun Fashion Town Special Tourist Zone
Fashion and shopping are two of the most highly associated words with Dongdaemun. The area was designated as Dongdaemun Fashion Town Special Tourist Zone in 2002 and it gives a completely different vibe from typical shopping malls. Here at Dongdaemun, visitors may enjoy a unique experience of both traditional flea markets, as well as modern shopping complexes.
Although international tourists tend to visit the modern-style shopping malls, Dongdaemun Shopping Complex and Pyounghwa Fashion Plaza are also highly recommended. Visitors may experience a different vibe from the usual shopping: a crowded mall mixed with the homely sense of a traditional market. Dongdaemun Shopping Complex mainly sells fabric, buttons and other similar materials while fashion-related goods and commodities can be found at Pyounghwa Fashion Town.
Dongdaemun Shopping Complex
- ☞ Address: 266, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 종로구 종로 266)
- ☞ Directions: Walk approx. 2 min from Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 9
- ☞ Operating hours: Fabric & sewing supplies 08:00-18:00 / Accessories 09:30-19:00 / Wedding & household items 08:00-19:00
* Hours vary by shop. Closing time is earlier on Saturdays.
* Closed on Seollal (Lunar New Year) & Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) holidays
* All shops closed on second and fourth Sundays of each month / Some shops closed on first and third Sundays on each month
Pyounghwa Fashion Plaza
- ☞ Address: 274, Cheonggyecheon-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 청계천로 274)
- ☞ Directions: Walk approx. 5 min from Dongdaemun Station (Seoul Subway Line 1, 4), Exit 8
- ☞ Operating hours: 1-2F 22:00-18:00 (the following day) / 3F 22:00-12:00 (the following day)
* Closed Saturday 22:00-Sunday 18:00
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
The landmark of Dongdaemun, Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) was designed by world-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid. The DDP is shaped like a swirling spiral, representing the dynamics of Dongdaemun Fashion Town. The most outstanding feature of DDP lies in its curves and atypical architecture. Neither straight lines nor right angles can be found in the entire structure. There are seven floors (three basement levels and four above-ground levels), but astoundingly, the floors are not exactly distinguishable from the outside.
The structure itself is not only unique on the outside but is also full of fascinating attractions on the inside. The complex is convenient and makes exploring enjoyable as it is divided into four segments namely Art Hall, Museum, Design Lab, and Design Market. The park next to DDP is installed with 25,550 LED roses that make a beautiful scene at night. It’s the perfect location for a romantic date night.
- TIP) Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market on Fridays & Saturdays
- Do not miss out on the exclusive Seoul Bamdokkaebi Night Market. Held from April 5 to October 27, the night market takes place every Friday and Saturday evening from 6pm to 11pm. Visitors can enjoy various street foods and even unique fashion shows directed by young designers!
- TIP) Fill up with good food at the DDP Farmers Market
- Dongdaemun Design Plaza’s Oullim Square hosts a farmers market selling foods made with farm-fresh ingredients. The aim of the market is to promote a healthier lifestyle while helping city dwellers connect with the farmers who grow the food they consume. The market takes place 11:00-19:00 on the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of each month from March to December.
Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
- ☞ Address: 281, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 을지로 281)
- ☞ Directions: Walk approx. 4 min from Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 1
- ☞ Operating hours (interior areas)
– Museum: Opens daily at 10:00 * Closing time varies by exhibition
– Design Lab: Sunday-Thursday 10:00-21:00 / Friday-Saturday & public holidays: 10:00-22:00 * 1F Design Shops closed in April for construction
– Rose Garden lighting: 5 min after sunset – 00:00
* Closed third Monday of each month
Dongdaemun Night Market (Sebit Market)
When the sun goes down, a night market appears as if by magic behind Dongdaemun Design Plaza. Yellow tented street stalls spring up, selling everything from clothing to bags and accessories. The official name is Dongdaemun Sebit Market but many people call it the Yellow Tent Market. The market has expanded from its original location in front of Doota to fill the area from Hanyang Business High School to Dongdaemun Fashion Biz Center and Apm Place to Toyoko Inn.
Dongdaemun Sebit Market
- ☞ Address: Area of 279, Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul (서울특별시 중구 을지로 279)
- ☞ Directions
Hanyang Business High School – Dongdaemun Fashion Biz Center section: Walk approx. 3 min from Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 2 Apm Place – Toyoko Inn section: Walk approx. 3 min from Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (Seoul Subway Line 2, 4, 5), Exit 3
- ☞ Operating hours: 20:00-03:00
* Tent set up begins around 20:00-21:00 and most vendors close at around 02:00 in the morning.