5 Things To Do in Dongdaemun Besides Shopping

5 Things To Do in Dongdaemun Besides Shopping

Hit up these quintessential spots in Dongdaemun after your much-needed shopping spree!

Lined with row after row of markets and shopping centres, there is no doubt why Dongdaemun would be considered the shopping mecca of Seoul. As the largest shopping district in Korea, it is packed with dozens of wholesale malls and thousands of retail stores. Some of them even stay open all the way till 5am!

Although shopping holds the reigns of Dongdaemun, it is not the only fun activity to take away from the district. As a designated historical and cultural area, Dongdaemun hides a variety of interesting spots in its vicinity. From the iconic Dongdaemun Design Plaza to the ancient Dongdaemun Gate, discover the hidden side of Dongdaemun when you hang out at these five places.

1. Cheonggyecheon Stream

things to do in dongdaemun

things to do in dongdaemun

Image credit: (top right) travel oriented (bottom) riNux

The Cheonggyecheon stream is an urban riverscape that merges the Jongno-gu and Jung-gu downstream and flows out into the Han River. Although the stream runs through one of Seoul’s busiest boulevards, this subterranean place boasts serenity as it is located some 4.5m below street level!

The calm stream is adjoined with steps for couples and families to sit and enjoy the scenery. Some parts of the wall bordering the promenade are well adorned with artistic murals that give a vibrant splash of colour to the walk.

2. Dongdaemun Design Plaza

Image credit: (left) Eugene Lim

You can’t say you’ve been to Dongdaemun if you miss visiting this unique building! Dongdaemun Design Plaza is an architectural masterpiece that has grown to become the district’s icon. Fashioned by the world-renowned architectural mogul, the late Zaha Hadid, this edifice features an atypical style that embodies curves and a fluid form that his designs are known for.

This fascinating structure houses a total of seven floors which boast an array of establishments, such as exhibitions, art installations, bookshops, apparel stores, café chains and souvenir stops.

3. Ihwa Mural Village

Image credit: Wei-te Wong

What was once a poor slum all set to be demolished has since been transformed into an artistic village plastered with art installations and colourful wall murals. An initiative by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the slum was envisioned to become an artistic tourist landmark and thus, been remodelled into what is now known as Ihwa Mural Village.

Artists and local university students came together to create masterpieces that added charm to the village’s atmosphere. Captivating art forms, such as the famous Koi painted stairs and mosaic floral stairs decorate every wall and bend of the Ihwa Mural Village. The influx of tourists has also resulted in an array of quaint coffee shops that are speckled around the village. So, don’t forget to pop into a café for a dose of caffeine while strolling around the village.

4. Dongdaemun (Heunginjimun) Gate

Image credit: Jyounnng

Dongdaemun, literally translating to Large Eastern Gate, was named after the grand old monument that sits at the centre of the district. Dongdaemun Gate is the main eastern gate that used to be part of the outer wall of Seoul Fortress in the olden times. It is also referred to as the Heunginjimun Gate. A total of seven such historically significant gates remain today, dotting the urban fabric of Seoul with its ancient grandeur!

A great photo opportunity awaits when evening dawns and the Dongdaemun Gate becomes a spectacular sight when it gets illuminated. All in all, as traffic streams past and the modern city of Seoul lights up, time stands still at the Dongdaemun Gate where ancient stories of Seoul are kept within.

5. Naksan Park and Seoul Fortress Wall

things to do in dongdaemun

Image credit: Ko Byungsuk

Naksan Park is an easily overlooked hidden gem that sits quietly in the backdrop of the Dongdaemun Gate. This hilly granite park offers a peaceful walk in a tranquil environment. Although there are several hiking trails leading up to the park, take the Naksan Mountain Trail to cruise past the Seoul Fortress Walls adorned with ancient inscriptions. Look out for the various styles of bricks and layering styles that differ according to the era they are from.

The park’s peak is studded with an observatory where one can feast their eyes on the spectacular aerial view of the vast cityscape stretching out below.

So, now you know that Dongdaemun is not just about glitzy malls and shopping galore. The district is home to many hidden gems that boasts historical and cultural significance. One only needs a pair of keen eyes to uncover these secrets of Dongdaemun!

About Author

Begum Khalida
Begum Khalida

A curious yet quirky oddball who believes that she is the spirit animal of Matthew Gray Gubler. Apart from having a part-time job of having to correct the pronunciation of her name, Khalida is a passionate tea enthusiast who also loves to read, daydream, travel and watch a plethora of dramas.


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