- Travel Home
- Travel News
Best markets on Jeju Island
Where to buy El Dorado and mackerel gimbap while vacationing in Korea's tropical haven
Yes, the golf courses and fancy hotels on Jeju Island are new and beautiful, but visitors who want a look at how locals live and eat should check out the island’s traditional markets, which are getting a hefty injection from Jeju’s Agency for Traditional Market Administration in an effort to give them a tourism boost.
Due to the island’s oceanic climate and fierce protection of its natural assets, Jeju’s indigenous goods, ranging from seafood to fruit, boast a quality that often cannot be matched on the mainland. Find them at these top three markets on Jeju Island.
1. Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market (서귀포매일올레시장)
The best market on the island, Seogwipo Olle Market was established in 1960 and features more than 200 shops that sell everything from freshly caught fish to casual apparel.
The market is almost predominantly frequented by island locals and is a welcome respite from the tourist scene. Haggling may invite some good-natured complaints from the vendors, but at the very least they’ll add in more than what you thought you were paying for.
In an effort to make it more visitor-friendly, the government introduced an artificial stream that runs down the middle of the path, and also roofed the entire market in anticipation of the many rainy days.
The best part? The market is connected to Route 6 of Jeju Olle Course, a beautiful hiking route that encompasses both coastal and downtown areas. Saunter down after a scenic hike for some delicious local snacks.
Seogwipo Market Must-eat: Kkong-chi (꽁치) Roll
The Kkong-chi gimbap (Mackerel roll) sold at the entrance of the Seogwipo Olle Market may look rather off-putting for those accustomed to the delicate appearances of sushi, but it is surprisingly delicious and heartily recommended by locals.
Jeju, Seogwipo-si, Seogwi-dong, 277-1 (제주 서귀포시 서귀동 277-1); +82 64 762 1949
More on CNNGo: Best wet markets in Hong Kong
2. Dongmun Market (동문수산시장)
Founded during the late 1970s, the Dongmun Market is the biggest fish market on Jeju. Located close to the airport and the main transportation hub of Jeju city, the market is known to be the heart of commerce of the island and is a great place to swing by for last-minute purchases before leaving the island. The majority of the seafood for sale are “Dang-il bari” (당일바리), or goods that have been caught that day, ensuring their freshness in quality.
Dongmun Market Must-eat: Hanchi (한치)
Cost: Daily market price
The best part about the Dongmun Fish Market is that customers can choose what they want to eat. By purchasing a fish among the 107 stores in the market, one can carry the fish over to a “Customer Customized” restaurant (고객맞춤음식점) close by and ask for it to be sliced up into fresh hoe.
The restaurant charges the customer a small fee for the gutting and scaling of the fish and serves up free side dishes. Hanchi, also known as mitra squid, is one of the most popular items on the menu from June to October.
Jeju, Jeju-si, Leedo-1-dong, 1349 (제주 제주시 이도1동 1349); + 82 64 752 8959
More on CNNGo: Best Bangkok night markets
3. Jeju Minsok Five-day Marketplace (제주민속5일장)
Five-day marketplaces can be found in almost every city throughout Korea, and Jeju is no exception. Like the others throughout the country, Jeju’s Minsok (meaning Folklore) Five-day Marketplace is held every five days and is the largest market on the island.
Carrying every item imaginable, the marketplace takes up approximately 40,000 square meters and is home to 1,004 stores. Unlike other markets, this marketplace has a designated area for grandmothers older than 65 to sell goods without being charged for rent.
“The grandmothers are very affectionate,” says Hong In-pyo, Jeju Island's Merchant Chairman. “You can tell just by the sheer amount of “on-the-house” goods they heap unto their customers.”
Jeju Minsok Five-day Marketplace Must-eat: Hwanggeum Hyang (황금향)
Cost: ₩10,000 for 1 kilo
A type of tangerine that only grows on Jeju Island, Hwanggeum Hyang (which can be translated to either “Gold Scent” or “El Dorado”) is both sweet and sour, and exquisitely tangy.
Jeju, Jeju-si, Dodu-1-dong, 1204-1 (제주 제주시 도두1동 1204-1); +82 64 743 5986
More on CNNGo: 50 must-visit traditional markets in Korea