Traveling to Korea doesn't have to involve fancy restaurant visits for every meal. In fact, Korean street food is a widely popular genre of snacks and desserts that showcases unrivaled tastes and endless variety—all for prices that will make your wallet as happy as your palate. Think food stands at the county fair, but better!

Street food varies from region to region, making it easy to access from wherever you're staying. From Seoul's famous Mangwon Street Market to Kkangtong Night Market in Busan, there's likely a rich sampling of street food nearby.

Here are some beloved options that guarantee a well-rounded tour of Korean street cuisine.

Korea's finest

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1. Hotteok (호떡)

You can get these hot pancakes fresh off the griddle and filled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and chopped nuts. This warm Korean classic is pressed down using a circular, flat-ended tool to achieve that perfect chewy-crispy balance. Each bite comes with a rush of sugary goodness enveloped in a delicately fried flapjack. Sticky fingers are worth it for the miraculous taste of this street food staple.

2. Bungeoppang (붕어빵)

These famous pastries are filled with a series of red bean, custard, and chocolate varieties to suit your taste. Not only is this dessert an entire photo opp on its own with its cute fish-like shape, but its freshly-baked aroma and subtly sweet flavor make it memorable and leave you wanting more to take home. While they're made in a similar way to American waffles, they get their iconic shape from uniquely-patterned waffle irons, so if you can, stay and watch the vendors shape, fill, and grill this snack in front of you--it's a treat for the eyes and the stomach! 

Trip to South Korea 2016

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3. Gunbam/Roasted Chestnuts (군밤)

Search for these stands during chilly winter months to warm your stomach and soul all at once. Vendors roast chestnuts in their shells right before you to release their sweet, hearty flavor. Popping them in your mouth as you continue through your day is the ideal way to eat them. This snack’s beauty lies in its simplicity--you’ll likely be tempted to come back and buy another bag.

Nuts for nuts

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4. Doughnuts (도나츠)

Hot, golden-brown, deep-fried doughnuts? Yes, please! The sheer variety of doughnuts--from kkwabaegi (twisted doughnuts) to chapssal doughnuts (sticky rice doughnuts)--offers a wealth of flavors and fillings like sweetened red bean paste to choose from, all topped with a shower of sugar. Different from the average donut, these have glutinous rice in their dough, making them extra crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. 

5. Ddeokbokki (떡볶이)

This well-known dish epitomizes Korean street food: these rice cakes doused in a sweet and spicy, gochujang-based sauce with vegetables and fish cake steal the hearts of tourists and natives alike. Half the beauty of street ddeokbokki is the fast-paced, intimate nature of it: with few to no chairs and quick service, it's distinct from the typical sit-down experience. Served with warm odeng (fish cake) soup and assorted fried side dishes like gimmari (fried noodle rolls), sweet potatoes, vegetables, and dumplings, this street food is a must on your itinerary!

6. Hot Dog (핫도그)

Korean street hot dogs resemble American corn dogs with a twist. Creative toppings like panko breadcrumbs, melted mozzarella cheese, and even French fry chunks adorn each sausage dipped in batter and fried into a crispy masterpiece. Top yours with ketchup and mustard, or even sugar, to complete your delicious snack-on-a-stick, and make sure to snap a picture for the ‘gram before it disappears in minutes.

yup ―that's sugar on my corn dog 🐶

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7. Kkultarae/Korean Court Cake (꿀타래)

This delicate dessert takes “melt in your mouth” to another level and is popular both for its taste and the unique technique required to make it. Each piece of this confection has a wrapping of over 1 million thinly pulled sugar strings with a finely-chopped mixture of nuts and sugar tucked inside. Half of the excitement comes from watching vendors pull the special sugar mixture until it becomes threadlike. As soon as you put a piece in your mouth, the sugar dissolves instantly, giving way to the delicious filling. If you happen to visit a kkultarae stand, remember to keep your video camera at the ready to capture the magic!

Making Kkultarae

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8. Gilgeori Toast (길거리 토스트)

This Korean classic features an unexpectedly delectable combination of ingredients: egg omelette filled with diced vegetables, chopped cabbage, ketchup, ham, and a sprinkle of sugar all sandwiched between two pieces of bread toasted golden in butter. Koreans love to grab these for breakfast on the go or as a snack between meals. The unique combination of flavors turns out to be surprisingly addictive--which explains its longevity and popularity amongst many of Korea’s street foods.

While this list is a great place to start, there are countless other street foods to discover and try out. Make sure to save a few hours (and stomach room) for Korean street food during your next trip!