Tongyeong is nestled in a little bay off the southern coast of South Korea. The place is famous for its Tongyeong Jungang Market. This is a local, traditional market. It has 400 years of history attached to it.
It is well-known for its variety of seafood. The quality and freshness of the seafood is unparalleled. It comes straight from the port every day. Here, you can find fresh fish, oysters, octopus and much more. Mhmm, hungry yet? If yes, then read on to find more!
How to get there?
If you are travelling from Seoul, the best way to reach Tongyeong is by train. The route is 4 hr and 30 mins long. A tad tedious you might say but trust me it is worth it.
You could also catch the bus from Seoul Express Bus Terminal to Tongyeong. It is a 5 hour ride so make sure to take your favourite novel with you.
Once in Tongyeong, take the intercity bus to the Tongyeong Jungang Market.
Tongyeong Jungang Market: a bustling place
The market is open from 9 am to 6 pm every day. Right as you come in through the entrance you will see stalls on every side. These stalls are loaded with fresh seafood from the nearby port. Rows and rows of old ladies sit on the floor chopping fish. They call out to the passers-by to buy their products.
The whole place has an atmosphere of hustle and bustle. The friendly shopkeepers ask everyone to try their food and even offer free samples.
No wonder this place is popular with tourists and locals alike. There is no better place for some fresh, cheap seafood.
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What to see?
There is a huge variety of marine life everywhere you look. You can see all types of exotic fish in all shapes and sizes. Here, you will find oysters, sea cucumbers, shellfish, sea pineapples and even sharks! It almost looks like every animal in the ocean is on display.
The fish are kept alive and swim in large plastic baskets. So you might want to be careful when you go close. You don’t want to get splashed by an escaping fish!
Tongyeong Jungang Market : What to buy?
Tongyeong Jungang Market is the best place to buy seafood in all Korea. You can buy fresh seafood like shrimp, abalone, octopus, squid and all types of dried fish. But you have to buy oysters. Ask any local and they will tell you that Tongyeong is known for oysters. In fact, the seller often gives some for free with every purchase!
Definitely, the people at Tongyeong Jungang Market are very hospitable. The vendors offer generous discounts to their customers. And they let their customers select a live fish of their choice. Explains why this place is always full of buyers.
Aside from fish you can also buy fresh fruit and vegetable at this market.
Tongyeong Jungang Market : What to eat?
After all that walking, you will definitely be hungry. Don’t worry there are many food-stalls offering tasty snacks. Many types of raw fish dishes are available. The sashimi is very famous. People say it almost melts in your mouth. You can also try spicy rice cakes and seaweed rolls.
But you must try the Chungmu Gimbap. This is a classic Tongyeong dish that is almost 80 years old! It is made of rice wrapped in toasted seaweed. The dish is served with radish and squid on the side. It is actually called Chungmu as this was the old name of Tongyeong.
You can find it at the Chungmu Gimbap Outlet. This is a famous restaurant in Tongyeong Jungang Market. Their squid in chili sauce is also a must try. Truly, this place is every seafood lover’s paradise.
Tongyeong Jungang Market: a sweet surprise.
After eating all that fish are you craving something sweet? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Try the yummy kkulpang! This is a honey bread that is a local speciality. In fact, some would say honey bread was first sold in Tongyeong. It then became famous throughout Korea.
This warm, golden bread is made with dough and eggs. It is covered in a sweet grain syrup that makes it beautifully glossy. It is filled with a sweet red bean paste. Other filling options are sweet potato, chestnut and green tea. A generous sprinkling of sesame seeds adds the finishing touch. Trust me, it will satisfy all your sweet cravings.
Legend has it that in the past sailors ate this bread when food supply was short. True or not, we must say that it does taste like the stuff of legends.
Tongyeong Jungang Market is excellent for a day’s outing. You will experience the bustling activity of a traditional Korean market. And also get to try some amazing food at unbelievable prices. So pack your bags because this place should be on every foodie’s travel list.
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