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5 Things To Do In Dongdaemun, Seoul (Besides Shopping)


Azizul •  Oct 08, 2015


The Dongdaemun district in Seoul, South Korea might be famous for its array of shopping complexes and markets selling cheap souvenirs, clothes and other accessories. However, there are many other places to visit and activities meant for the non-shopaholics! The Dongdaemun district has been designated as a history and cultural district. Here is a list of five things you can do in Dongdaemun that is sure to keep you occupied for an entire eventful day.
1. Visit the Heungingjimun (흥인지문)
dongdaemun seoul korea heunginjimun travel hhwt
robert koehler
The word ‘Dongdaemun’ simply means the Large Eastern Gate. The Heungingjimun (Gate of Rising Benevolence) was the large eastern gate which used to be part of the outer wall of the Seoul Fortress during the ancient times. There are seven other ‘gates’ still standing till date in juxtaposition to the modern urban fabric of today, a clear evidence of its historical significance. Located just outside the Dongdaemun subway station exit 9, this landmark is a good photo-opportunity spot to start off the day!
2. Visit the Ihwa Mural village and Seoul Fortress Wall
seoul fortress wall korea copy
Seoul City Wall
Those who are more historically or physically inclined may continue their journey northwards for more sightseeing. This is suitable for those looking for a quick hike and bird’s eye view of the city without having to travel to the national parks at the outskirts of the city.
seoul fortress wall korea
While you might be lucky to find small local stalls selling ice-creams or vegetarian or seafood ‘파전’ (Pajeon a.k.a Korean pancakes), it is advisable to bring along some light snacks and water as it may take about 1-2 hours up and downhill. As you walk along the fortress wall, you'll soon arrive at the Ihwa Mural Village which is located near Daehakno, a bustling university area.
ihwa mural village seoul korea sky
ihwa mural village seoul korea
sketch and run
The several mural paintings on the walls and steps of the Ihwa mural village makes the journey upwards more interesting with pleasant surprises at almost every turn.
3. Visit the Cheonggyecheon (청계천)
The Cheonggyecheon is a subterranean stream that is sunken below the street level that leads all the way to the Han River. Its lush landscaping helps in creating an intimate recreational and chilling space for couples and families.
Cheonggyecheon stream seoul korea dongdaemun
A good time to visit the Cheonggyecheon would be during sunset (timing changes depending on season.) If you’re lucky, there might be small community events and you might get treated to a free amateur Korean concert!
cheongyecheonstream night seoul korea dongdaemun
Seiman C
Take note: although this is a recreational space, cycling along the Cheonggyecheon is discouraged. Instead, one may cycle along the main river with designated cycling paths.
4. Visit the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)
ddp dongdaemun design plaza seoul korea
Robert Koehler
Besides the ancient landmarks, Dongdaemun is also home to new architectural masterpieces. The DDP is a must for the artsy-fartsy and those interested in architecture. For a start, the DDP is designed by world-renowned American Iraqi-born ‘starchitect’ Zaha Hadid.
ddp dongdaemun design plaza seoul korea interior
architectural digest
This large futuristic complex sits on a historical site of not one but two stadiums side by side! The DDP is a one stop hub for several types of permanent and temporary exhibitions and art installations both indoor and outdoor.
ddp dongdaemun design plaza seoul korea interior shop
earth to iris
On top of that, there are souvenir shops and bookshops that sell cool and funky artworks, apparels and books dedicated to the art. Café chains at the basement offer visitors a place to pause to take a break from this (read this: tiring) activity.
5. A sumptuous meal at Samarkand Restaurant
samarkand dongdaemun nepali restaurant korea seoul 2
To end the day off with a proper meal, head southwards to this Muslim-owned Uzbekistan restaurant named Samarkand.
samarkand dongdaemun nepali restaurant korea seoul shashlik
It serves a mix of Western and Mediterranean food along with traditional local desserts and tea. Prices are affordable, about 10,000₩ for a decent main dish meal. Located deep within the secondary streets, it might be challenging to spot the restaurant’s entrance.
samarkand dongdaemun nepali restaurant korea seoul
Operating Hours: 09:00 – 23:00 Address: 120 Gwanghuidong 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea Directions: Go to Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Subway Station Exit 5, walk about 120m Contact: +82-2-2277-4261 [caption id="attachment_2641" align="alignnone" width="970"]
Shortest walking path from Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Subway Station Exit 5
Shortest walking path from Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Subway Station Exit 5[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2640" align="alignnone" width="979"]
Street view from google maps.[/caption]
Just FYI, Samarkand has another outlet just outside Korea University (KU) at Anam. Surely useful for students studying overseas there. Here is its exact address: 102-59 Anamdong 5(o)-ga Seongbuk-gu, Seoul South Korea
Below is a map indicating the locations of the 5 sites. There is surely something for everyone at Dongdaemun. Have a great time there! [caption id="attachment_2631" align="alignnone" width="407"]
Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 3.48.54 pm
Shortest walking path from Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Subway Station Exit 5[/caption] Legend
  1. The Heungingjimun
  2. Ihwa Mural Village and Seoul City Fortress Wall (loop path in clockwise manner)
  3. Cheonggyecheon
  4. Dongdaemun Design Plaza
  5. Samarkand Restaurant
M1 – Dongdaemun Subway Stn (Line 1, 4) M2 – Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Stn (Line 2, 4, 5)