What to pack for South Korea

Compared to Thailand Korea actually has a lot more access to things that you might need during your stay (depending on where you are) However there are a couple of things that I wish I had brought… or glad I did!

  • Deodorant- If like me you hate roll on deodorant then I would recommend bringing enough sprays to keep you going (and roll on ones if you like a certain brand) It can be hard to find here and if you do find it it’s usually only one brand like Nivea. Not to mention for one spray it can cost almost $7! This goes for boys AND girls!
  • Bedding- Bedding here can vary in sizes and be very expensive! It can also be not as good quality as back home. If you like your cotton sheets make sure you bring some with you!
  • Towels- Again if you like nice towels bring some with you, all the ones I have seen here are polyester, expensive or really small. It might sound like a small thing but it really makes a difference!
  • Hair dye- If you dye your hair you might want to bring enough to see you through. Yes you can get dye here but remember it is for Asian hair which is dark brown/black. Why is this a problem? Well for someone who is naturally fair I decided to dye my hair dark blonde/light brown using Korean hair dye and it came out peroxide blonde! Luckily this colour suited me but meant I had to keep dying my hair while here to avoid roots!
  • Make up- Again almost all make up you get here will be for Asian skin which is lighter so if you like foundation or BB cream bring some from home if you want the right tone. Also if you do buy some make sure it doesn’t contain ‘whitener’ which many products do!
  • Toothpaste- One I wish I had known before! Of course you can buy toothpaste here but almost all Korean toothpaste’s do not contain fluoride. So bring some of your preferred brand from back home so you know what’s in it!
  • Birth control Again yes it is available here but it may not be the one you’re used to… not something you want to mess up! So even if it means a year’s supply of pill then it’s worth it!
  • Girls ‘products’- Sorry guys avert your eyes!! Tampons are almost non-existent here (at least where I live!) and you are only able to really get pads…. So if you prefer these or have a favourite brand then its best to bring a year’s supply!
  • spices If you like cooking bring some with you!
  • Bank details- As I have mentioned before you WILL save money in Korea and unless you want to carry a load of cash home with you bringing your home back details is useful. You need your SWIFT code (international bank number) your account number and your BSB/sort code you also need your banks address.
  • International driving licence-  Apparently quite easy to get if you are anywhere other than the UK, Andy got his here. You only need if you plan on driving anything over 125cc. We planned on getting a car but ended up just getting a 100cc scooter.

Thing to Wear

  • Remember Korea has all 4 seasons. It gets very hot and humid in summer and very dry and cold in winter. Make sure you bring light loose clothing for summer and warm clothing for winter!
  • If you are big (and by that I mean 10/12+ or L/XL male then you might want to bring plenty to wear. If you are in the big cities of Busan and Seoul then there are stores (however can be expensive!) with western sizes but if not bring plenty! Some UK stores do send to Korea… my favourite being www.newlook.com one of my favourite stores from back home, western sizes, cheap delivery, quick and good prices! So much so our Korean manager has started using it!
  • Shoes- if like me you have big feet (UK size 7) then you will struggle to find non-ugly shoes. Make sure you bring shoes for summer and winter!


  • Laptops/tablets– Yes Korean might own Samsung but it doesn’t mean it’s cheap!! We expected to get good priced electronics here but all shops only seem to sell top of the range gear here which costs much more than back home! There is a great electronics market in Yongsan you can find out about here.
  • Smart phone- WIFI is always available and these come in handy. If like me you keep close contact with parents and friends back home get them to download whatsapp, free international messaging service where you can chat, send pictures or videos for free. Thanks to this I can chat to my best friend everyday… and my parents!! Be sure to make sure it is unlocked before you come so you can get a sim card (Also iphone 3’s are hard to find a sim for here!)

Korea is getting better for getting your hands on things but it all depends on where you live… hopefully this helps!

If you think of anything else please add below!


18 thoughts on “What to pack for South Korea

  1. If you’re at all well-endowed be sure to bring enough bras to last you. Also, if you wear anything larger than a US size 8 shoe it will be almost impossible to find footwear. Selection in a size 8 is pretty spare but exists.

    Bringing spices is a great idea. I’ll be bringing tea bags and maybe a few cans of tomato soup.

    If you’re fair-skinned be sure to try out Korean cosmetics because a lot of them are really awesome. True BB cream only comes in a one (or a couple) shades but it’s better quality than what I’ve tried in Canada.

    • Oh YES…. bras!! Wow YES! I am a size that many Korean have never seen before most of the bras would only cover a nipple! haha

      Yes I use BB cream here and just put a tiny bit of colour on my cheeks to darken it up!

      Tea wise…. you can get Liptons here…. I drink about 3 cups a day….
      if you bring spices you can make some awesome homemade tomato soup!!

  2. I’m glad that I thought of most of these things before I came, because it definitely would have been frustrating to run out of certain things. I brought several pounds of toiletries so that I wouldn’t have to worry-especially with the female productes. I wish I would have thought of the spices, though! Thank god for i-herb?

    • Yeah moving to a new country is always fun but its the little things from home that makes things easier!!!
      Yeah my partner is a big cook so we had so many spices and packet sauces with us! I never used I-herb…. found out about it too late!!!

  3. yea! great list! i definitely second on the cold medicine that rachel said below! i was nonstop sick or with allergies from the onset of winter thru spring and summer my first year, it was absurd! but i think i’ve adjusted to the horrendous air quality bc i’ve harely gotten sick the past two years! i also came with over a yr’s supply of face wash, deodorant and toothpaste and always have my mom send me more when i run out. the tampon this is so funny, because while i’m able to find them in seoul, my coteacher asked me just the other day if i wore tampons and she was SO shocked because koreans just do not. such a weird funny cultural thing 🙂

    • That’s funny you say that I was asked in a bathroom how to use a tampon once when I was going scuba diving in Busan aquarium. Think it’s a cultural thing they are not as popular here as back home, same as Thailand!
      Yeah I was so sick my first month with tonsillitis I ended up in a drip… I think it must be the air! Although I live in Geoje right by the sea so I wood have thought the air was quite clean here!

    • Seems like the first year is tough on everyone. I was sick for two months straight, and then kept getting the damn cold again for months. It was miserable. There were even a few days where I was at work and my co-teacher just told me to go “take a rest” all day instead of teach.

  4. Great list Jennie! I would also add cold medicine. The first year especially is rough, it seems like I spent the whole year sick! It helped to have some meds from home, instead of having to take 5 pills twice a day like they’ll give you at korean hospitals. I like knowing what Im putting in my body, haha. 😛

  5. I’m with Meagan. Tampons and birth control are super easy to get here. BONUS: the birth control is waaayyyyy cheaper than back in the states and you can buy it over the counter. I’ll be stocking up on pills here before I go home instead of the other way around.

    • Thats good to know you can get birth control here…. although I am from Scotland where birth control is free (along with all prescription medication!) so for me to bring a year is worth it!! I forget you have to pay for it in other countries!
      I have never seen tampons… not even in homeplus! Maybe it might depend on where you live! Luckily I brought enough with me!! 😀

  6. I have been in Korea for almost 3 years and every time I go to the grocery store I get excited by something new that they are stocking. It’s getting easier the longer I stay. I definitely agree with spices. Nothing can beat the spices from back home that we are used to. And toothpaste! It’s not necessary, but I do appreciate having my favorite toothpaste from back home. I have never had trouble finding tampons in Korea. My local Emart, Home Plus and Costco all stock them. Maybe they’re more difficult to find in smaller areas.

    • Yeah I have noticed more and more being added!
      Wow really? I still have never seen tampons even in homeplus where I live Costco is a bit of a drive for us!! It must be where you live I suppose! (Although after living in Thailand I brought plenty with me!)

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