Here are 8 things that you must pack for your trip to Korea! You’ve bought your ticket, booked your hostel, and now you’re ready for your Korean adventure to begin. A little preparation can go a long way in making sure you can enjoy all the highlights and once in a lifetime experiences.
1. A portable charger and power adapters
One of the most relaxing and fun things to do in Seoul is to hang out in a café and recharge your phone after a long day of walking around and sightseeing. Having an extra battery charger or converter will mean you can be active all day, and then take a break recharging in a café. This also will push you to find and explore some of the most vibrant parts of modern Korea. Highly recommended!
Also, keep in mind that the voltage in Korea is 220V and the electrical frequency is 60Hz. The sockets and plugs are type C and F.
2. Comfortable clothes and shoes
In Korea, while there are four distinct seasons, their summer is much hotter and wetter and the winter much colder than some other countries. So if you are going there for the summer, we recommend that you bring very light clothes with breathable fabrics, whereas if you are visiting in winter, bring thick clothes that will protect you from the cold Korean wind.
As for the mid-seasons, since the Korean climate can be very variable during that time, we recommend that you bring a little bit of everything and dress “onion-style” so that you will be prepared for all types of weather. Both spring and autumn in Korea have quite mild and pleasant temperatures.
Be sure not to overdo it! In Korea you will definitely be shopping a lot, so leave some extra space in your suitcase for the things you will buy there.
Keep in mind that, in Korea you will have the opportunity to visit an incredible number of places and therefore, you’ll probably do a lot of long walks! It’s true that with Korean public transportation you can get everywhere comfortably within a very short time, but it is also true that to experience a city in depth, you should try going around by foot. This way, you can discover even the most hidden sides of the city that might not be covered in tourist guides. Whatever season of the year you choose to visit, remember to also pack shoes suitable for walking long distances.
We recommend that you bring medicines from home. Korean medicines can be quite different from what we have at home – they are often much weaker and may not be as effective as you would like. As time goes by, you will get used to your new environment and you may be able to use local medicines, but for emergencies, it is always recommended to bring some aspirin or painkillers with you.
For stress-free travel, it is always a good idea to have some spare medication so that you are prepared for any eventuality. Basic medicines do not have to be declared, so they can be packed into your luggage without any problems. For more information you can read this guide on the Korean customs website.
4. A list of public holidays in Korea
Korea has many public holidays, and this can mean some places are closed or operating at limited hours on certain days. Make sure you’ve checked so you’re ready for what might be closed or open. Korea is still awesome on its holidays! It often means there are extra events or festivals you can attend then, and many of them will be free. But be ready just in case. Learn more about Korean holidays and events in our article “Festivals and events throughout the year in South Korea”.
5. A surgical mask
During different times of the year pollution here can be significant. Being ready with a light mask will make sure you can enjoy walking around the city without worrying about breathing problems or irritating your nose. Nothing serious is needed, just a small mask that most convenience stores sell. It will also make you look like a celebrity walking down the street – K-pop stars and models always use them to cover their faces between schedules. In neighbourhoods like Apgujeong (압구정) and Cheongdam (청담), celebrities use it to blend it.
6. A large fashion bag for shopping
There is a lot of good shopping in Korea, and you’ll want to take advantage of it all. Many times I’ve been out for the day and suddenly run into a great shopping area like Edae (이대) or even the Express Bus Terminal (고속터미널) underground mall. You’ll need a bag that can fit in your purse or backpack one minute, and expand to carry home all your new purchases the next.
7. Personal hygiene products
Finally, we recommend that you bring some personal hygiene products with you, such as toothpaste and deodorant. Although it has recently become easier to find some Western brands such as Nivea and Yves Rocher for deodorants and Mentadent for toothpaste, the locally branded products can be quite different from those found at home. Especially in the case of toothpastes, it may be difficult for you to adapt to the flavor. So our advice is to pack what you need to avoid surprises when arriving in Korea. However, should you forget to pack them, don’t worry! Unlike a few years ago, it is now much easier to find Western brands in South Korea. They are now commonly seen in cosmetic chains such as Olive Young, Lalavla, and LOHB’s.
8. Instagram app
Korea is Instagram crazy, and everything you want to connect to will be accessible through it. Cool cafes that pop up all the time in new neighbourhoods find many of their customers on Instagram. You’ll want to be ready to find them. Concerts for up and coming singers are also posted on Instagram. Last minute shopping events pop up all the time, and Instagram live stars drop information on club performances happening that night (Cakeshop in Itaewon (이태원) is great for this – #cakeshopseoul). A February 2018 Korea Times articles noted these and other facts about just how popular Instagram has become – as well as that the hashtag #gangnammatjib (#강남맛집) has over 500,000 posts detailing the best restaurants in Gangnam, for example.
If you are walking through areas like Sinchon or Hongdae, you’ll often run into starts doing live events. Too find out who they are or what they’re promoting, just type their name into Instagram. With tagged posts and other fan reports, you’ll find tons of constantly updating information. You’ll need it to make sure you don’t miss anything.
If you forget anything important, you’ll likely still be able to find it in Korea. Korea’s has many gorgeous malls (all connected by the subway) and one of a kind smaller shopping areas. But being prepared can help your trip run more smoothly, and ensure you take advantage of everything amazing that comes your way. These five things to pack for Korea are nonetheless our recommendations to make sure your first trip is as awesome as possible.
If you like to read more about life in Korea, make sure to follow our blog where we cover everything you need to know about South Korea!