Packing for the move to South Korea can be a daunting task, even if you’ve travelled to other foreign countries. Some things that you’re used to can be easy to find and some things are nearly impossible. That’s why we’ve created this list of things to help you get started on what to pack for South Korea.
Over the past few years, foreign products have become more readily available for expats living in Korea. There are more imported goods in grocery stores, foreign food markets and international districts around Seoul.
Essential Packing List for South Korea
Personal hygiene items
- Your favourite deodorant and toothpaste are hard to find. You might want to pack enough of your favourite brands to last you the year – Korean brands simply aren’t the same, trust us.
Your favourite foods & spices
- If you like to cook or like the tastes of home, bring some of your favourite spices, soup mixes, packaged seasoning to spice up your home cooking. However, if you forget these items, Korean food is life changing!
- If you are bringing a variety of electronics such as a computer or a camera charger, you’ll need a power converter. We also recommend bringing a power strip to plug into a converter, giving you more outlets (so you don’t have to constantly be plugging and unplugging things).
- A computer is something we highly recommend bringing if you have one. Keeping tabs on family and friends, current events and paying bills becomes part of daily life, and can be a headache if you are constantly going to a PC bang. They are also helpful for class preparation and work related tasks. If you can’t fit it into your suitcase or don’t have one, purchasing one in Korea is definitely an option, but because of warranty and language issues, we recommend buying one before you move.
- Sheets are available here but can be pricey, not to mention Koreans have a different standard for quality of sheets (they’re not 100% cotton). Be sure to enquire with your school what size your bed is before packing bedding!
Full-size bath towels
- Koreans don’t use full size bath-towels, they only use hand-towels. Towels take up a lot of room in your suitcase, and although they are expensive, they can be bought when you arrive.
- If you are planning on doing some weekend trips around Korea or hopping on a plane to a nearby country, we recommend bringing a backpack to fit your needs.
- As mentioned above, you’ll probably need some extra power.
- Most companies are legally obliged to sell unlocked cellphones. Take your cellphone and pop in a local Korean SIM.
Pictures of your family & home
- Print off your favourite Instagram photos of your friends and family and bring them along.
- Go crazy with that Polaroid in your final weeks and capture a picture of those you love!
Medication & supplements
- Bring along any supplements that you take.
- You can bring up to 6 bottles of medication (for personal use) that don’t contain any narcotics or amphetamines.
International Driver’s License
- Definitely bring along your driver’s license.
Guys, you should probably bring…
- Underwear – If you are selective on what brands you like to wear, bring enough for the year.
- Shoes – If your feet are size 11 or bigger, we recommend bringing shoes that will last you the year as well.
- Sports Gear – Soccer cleats or specific gear for sports, keeping in mind that sports like basketball and soccer are much more common than hockey or football.
- Jeans – Also a good thing to bring if you are larger or taller than the average person. If you like shopping you will enjoy the hunt, but there are no guarantees you will find a pair that fits.
- Condoms – And if you foresee the need: condoms.
Types of Clothes to Pack for Korea
One important thing to remember while packing is the dress code is at your work place. Dress codes vary from school to school, some informal and casual, others professional and tidy, so be sure to first enquire with your school and pack accordingly.
Keep in mind that Korea has four seasons. If you are used to the changing seasons, then there will be no real surprises with Korean weather, but if you aren’t, make sure you’ve covered all the bases. The summer is hot and very humid, with the monsoon in July watering every inch of the country. The winters are cold and dry but typically very sunny, although the past few winters have brought unexpected, record-holding snow falls which have left almost the entire population without a pair of decent snow boots. The spring comes early, with magical gusts of warm temperature and blooming trees. And the fall seems to carry on for months, entertaining the city and country side with the mystical dance of autumn colors and cool evenings.
Food items and specialty foods are becoming more available in the larger grocery stores in Korea. If you have specific foods or cooking items that you can’t live without, you should pack an ample amount for your stay.
If you have any allergies or special dietary needs, be sure to bring enough supplements to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Vitamins and minerals, protein supplements and medicinal products you use on a regular basis are also things you should stock up on.
Foreign food stores and international markets have some more hard-to-find items but there are never any guarantees they will have what you need.
What can I leave at Home?
- Most appliances don’t work well on a different voltage, so consider leaving those at home.
Hair dryers & all other bathroom appliances
- It is almost a guarantee that they won’t work.
- Other than sheets, it isn’t worth the space.
Don’t over do it on the books
- We recommend downloading Audible or the Kindle app, books are heavy when moving abroad.
You can bring too many shoes and clothes
- Don’t bring a pair of shoes for every occasion, shoes take up a lot of space.
- Pick out some of your outfits, and items that are interchangeable. More is less when it comes to packing.
- Anything you’re on the fence about or might use, leave at home.
How Much Money can I Bring to Korea?
How much cash can I bring to Korea?
- You can bring up to USD 7,000.00 into Korea, which is approximately KRW 8,000,000.
Does South Korea accept US dollars?
- Most stores only take KRW.
- Make sure to travel with a working credit card or KRW.
Are credit cards widely accepted in Korea?
- Credit cards are widely accepted in Korea.
- Cash advances work through ATMs if you need cash.
- Almost anywhere will take credit card – except buying a transit pass.
Should I exchange money before I travel?
- Did you know that you can pre-order money at major airports? Although this does not change the exchange rate, you get a reduced rate on the amount it costs you to exchange money.
- Each city will have local providers. Google search some highly ranked money transfer companies and then call ahead to make sure that your desired currency is available.
Where can I exchange money in South Korea?
- You can exchange money at a variety of places in Korea, there are money changers.
Do taxis in Seoul take credit cards?
- Yes, taxis in Seoul and Busan take credit cards.
How much is the taxi fare from Incheon Airport to Seoul?
- There are some direct buses, and trains that take you there. Hint: we’ve got a blog about this.
- Taxis are the most expensive way to get around Korea, however if you would prefer a taxi, go with International Taxi Service which can vary from KRW 55,000 to 75,000.
How much is a meal in Korea?
- You can eat very cheaply; for a couple dollars you can get a delicious meal from a hole in the wall.
- You can also spend a lot on a vibrant meal and drinks.
- Korean Barbeque is a go-to for many people, it will vary in cost but is very reasonable.
Are taxis expensive in Seoul?
- Though reliable, taxis are the most expensive method of transportation in Korea.
What would I need cash for?
- In order to load money on your transit-card (your T-money Card) in Seoul and other satellite cities you need cash.
- At all of the subway stations you can put money on your transit card with cash.
Packing for Korea: Frequently Asked Questions
What clothes should I wear in Korea in winter?
- Winter in Korea can be cold, long and dry. We recommend a comfortable and warm jacket. A swanky toque/hat and some mitts. Koreans excel at fashion, so this might be a fun thing to buy when abroad.
How many bottles of alcohol can I bring to Korea?
- If you aren’t a fan of Korean Soju, you may want to bring your own alcohol.
- According to Korean immigration, you can bring in one bottle (less than 1 litre) into Korea without paying tax on it.
- If you want to bring more, you will be paying tax on it – why not just try Soju?
Can I bring food into Korea?
- You can bring prepared food for personal consumption into Korea, but it cannot exceed USD 400.
Can I bring my vape to Korea?
- Yes you can bring your vape to Korea, it is legal.
- There are mixed reviews but most people would agree that E-juice is more expensive in Korea so some people bring some with them.
Do I need an adapter in South Korea?
- Yes, you absolutely need an adapter.
- The type of adapter you need is a socket type C or F.
- The standard voltage in Korea is 220V, that’s a lot of power compared to the 120 that the USA and Canada are accustomed to.
What should I wear in Seoul?
- It depends what season is, we recommend looser clothing that has breathability.
- Most women will always have their shoulders covered.
- The range of fashion is business attire, classy, creative and creative!
- Join in the fashion!
How cold is Korea in Winter?
- It can get cold in Korea in the winter, as cold as -5 celsius (23 Fahrenheit).