As in all Korean cities, there is no shortage of places to shop here. Daejeon has a nice range of traditional open markets and multistoried department stores.
Daejeon has a bunch of small neighborhood markets, but the largest one is the central Jung-ang Shijang, 40, Won-dong, Dong-gu (tel. 042/256-0567), located right near Daejeon Station. Started in 1953, the facilities are being updated by the city government in an attempt to attract customers lost to the major discount stores (like E-Mart). It's still a bustling market open most days from 9am to 7:30pm.
Another fun open marketplace is Indong Shijang, 42, In-dong, Dong-gu (tel. 042/283-2029). Started in 1919, it has been shrinking in size in the past few years. It sells mostly agricultural products from the area -- the main products are rice and grains. It's open 9am to 7pm Monday through Saturday.
Located in Jangdae-dong, Yuseong-gu, is the Yuseong O-il (5-day) Market, going strong for over 90 years. Taking over a large triangular space (encompassing five or six alleys in the area), the marketplace comes alive on days that end in 4 or 9. An open market for goods of all kinds, it's open 9am to 8pm on market days.
Tucked between small alleyways and side streets, groups of specialty shops have popped up all over Daejeon. One such area is the Wondong Tool Street, where (you guessed it) you can buy many kinds of tools sold by small and medium foundries in the In-dong area. Within walking distance from Daejeon Station, the grouping of about three dozen shops is located between Daeheung bridge and Jung bridge. Most shops are open daily from 7:30am to 6:30pm.
Of more interest to you may be Hanbok Street (Korean Traditional Clothing Street) in Wondong. There are about 300 stores specializing in hanbok (the traditional Korean outfit), some of which have been in business since 1954. Some of the stores sell clothes both wholesale and retail, while others specialize in just mending and modifying outfits you may have already. You can also find Korean handicrafts, blankets, and other traditional fabric products for good prices here. Shops are generally open daily from 9am to 8pm.
Although the goods sold here will mostly be too large to take home with you, it's fun to browse Hanbat Furniture Street in Jungri-dong. Since most of the shops here sell factory direct, you can find some good deals. Open daily 9am to 10:30pm, they're closed every third Tuesday of the month. Another area that specializes in furniture is the Seodaejeon Furniture Street in Jung-gu. An older area than the one in Jungri-dong, the prices are more expensive here, but products are more upscale. The stores are generally open daily from 10am to 8pm.
Another fun place to browse is the Herbal Medicine Street in Jung-ang-dong. Started in 1958, it is one of only three markets in South Korea that specialize in herbal medicine. About 100 shops are located in the area, peddling everything from dried roots, unidentifiable plants, and interesting specimens of who-knows-what in little jars. You can also get herbal tea, herbal rice cakes, and a variety of herbal cures for minor ailments. The shops are open Monday through Saturday 9am to 6pm.
If you're just interested in Korean insam (ginseng), look no further than the ginseng and herbal medicine shops in Busa-dong. There are a variety of roots and medicinal plants at decent prices. And, as a rule, they don't sell imported roots, so you know you're getting the good homegrown stuff from Korea's mountains. Most stores are open daily 8:30am to 8:30pm, but close the first and third Sundays of the month.
The Root of the Matter
Ginseng (called "insam" in Korean) is probably the most famous ingredient in traditional folk medicine, both in China and in Korea. This thick, tubular root is taken for everything from the prevention of diabetes and hypertension and the strengthening of memory and digestive function to the encouraging of longevity and sexual vigor. Those who take it (in the form of pills, powders, and teas) swear by it, and South Korea's ginseng is considered the world's finest. The root can take years to mature -- even the lowest-grade ginseng spends 4 to 5 years in the ground, and some wild ginseng is over 100 years old. Not surprisingly, those roots are extremely expensive. Just remember that you're allowed to bring only red ginseng (more expensive than the more common white ginseng) out of the country.
Most major department stores are pretty much the same throughout South Korea, and those in Daejeon are no exception. They are huge multistory complexes with several floors of fashion sandwiched between a basement level with a grocery store and Korean fast-food joints and a top floor full of mid- to high-priced restaurants.
In the Jung-gu area, there are two major department stores. One is Galleria Dongbaek, 3-14, Seonhwa-dong, Jung-gu (tel. 042/221-3000), which has parking and is open daily from 11am to 8:30pm. Avoid the store on weekends if you don't like crowds, since they usually have concerts, celebrity events, and contests then. The other department store in Jung-gu is Say, 1-16, Munhwa-dong, Jung-gu (tel. 042/226-1234), which has a cultural center and sports center on its top two floors. They're open daily 10:30am to 8pm.
In central Seo-gu, the popular department store is Galleria Timeworld, 1036, Dunsan 2-dong Seo-gu (tel. 042/480-5000). They also have a sports center and cultural complex, as well as a beauty shop and travel agency. With nine floors, musical instruments and CDs are on the first-floor basement, with books and stationery items on the second basement floor. The larger Lotte Department Store, 423-1 Goejeong-dong, Seo-gu (tel. 042/601-2500), has 12 floors, which include a cultural center, movie theater, game room, and coffee shops. They're open daily 10am to 8pm, but close two Mondays a month (the dates vary each month, so call ahead).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.