Whatever you’re doing while in South Korea; from touring Seoul’s palaces to rubbing shoulders with locals at the famous Noryangjin Fish Market, you need to make sure you pack all of the essentials that you will need for a great trip to South Korea. So use this South Korea packing list to help you enjoy every second of your time here, no matter what the weather or your choice of activities and entertainment. We’ve got you covered!
South Korea Packing List
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Firstly, how do the locals dress in South Korea?
South Korea and Japan are two countries that have very similar weather and stylish fashionista locals. The majority of South Koreans wear western clothing these days and K-pop is a huge influence on the younger generations style choices. You might see some locals wearing traditional Korean clothing called hanbok. This type of fine silk clothing is usually worn by women for formal occasions. So to fit in with the locals in South Korea wear long loose skirts or pants for modesty. Unless you are in a tourist beach area, its also best to wear a one piece swimming costume instead of a bikini. You’ll find that most local women wear shorts and t-shirts instead of swimwear.
Think about the weather and climate when creating your South Korea Packing List
Top South Korea destinations like Seoul aren’t weather reliant and the weather conditions at any time of year won’t affect your trip to these large cities. However the best time to visit South Korea in general is between April and May and also September and October. This is when most of the main tourist destinations will have their best weather (not too hot or cold). Summer time is between June and August and if you don’t mind crowds and heat it’s a good time to visit too. For lower prices visit South Korea in Winter between November and March which is considered low season. Wrap up warm because this place can get extremely cold.
You might also like: Top 10 Things To Do In South Korea
Clothing To Pack
Trousers x2: Pack trekking trousers that
double triple-up as trousers you can wear for general sightseeing and even on the plane too. This saves room in your luggage. If necessary make use of your hotels laundry service. I like these boot cut outdoor stretch pants because they fit quite snug and flatter your figure (you CAN look good while hiking without offending the locals). They’re also stain, rain and UV resistant.
A pair of jeans: If you’re visiting a big city like Seoul and just want to look and feel normal.
Short Sleeve T-shirts x2: Pack 1 breathable lightweight t-shirt that can be worn during the day or for a hike.
Long Sleeve T-shirts x2: Icebreaker is a really great brand for keeping you warm or cool depending on the weather. Choose pale colors like beige or light grey to help keep you cool.
1 dress: Cute boho maxi dresses will be perfect for most places in South Korea.
Lightweight Fleece: Pack one that’s lightweight and quick to dry like this beauty.
Sports Bras x2: If you’re trekking, hiking or just doing a lot of sightseeing pack sports bras.
Headband or Buff: Get one like this that can double-up as a scarf to cover your hair in temples and a headband for sweat absorption and to keep your hair out of your face. You can use it as neck support to sleep on public transport too. This will be incredibly useful and you will be so glad you packed one.
All other clothing you can buy out there, that’s what all the markets and awesome shops in South Korea are for! You will be so happy that you have a little space in your luggage for some cute new clothes.
Sandals: These will be what you wear during the day for most sightseeing, the sandals you pack for South Korea need to be lightweight and comfortable. A pair of Tivas (very popular) or Chacos (which I use) will work great. For the evening if you want to look a bit more stylish then consider packing a pair of Uin Loafers which will be perfect to wear on the plane too.
Hiking Boots: If you plan on going off the beaten path in South Korea your boots can seriously make or break your trip. Make sure they’re broken in properly before you go. Most importantly, you should not be able to ever feel your big toe touch the front of the boot. These mid-rise waterproof hiking boots by Hi-Tec are a great choice.
Flip Flops: Bring a really cheap pair of flip flips or buy a pair when you arrive and give them away when you leave. Use these for going in and out of temples so you can slip them on and off easily.
Gear To Pack
Day Pack: I love Osprey’s Daylight Plus Daypack which comes with a hydration pocket for your Hydration pack which you’ll need if you plan on doing any hiking or trekking.
DSLR Camera: For a trip of a lifetime that you know will set your instagram account on fire you might want to consider bringing your DSLR. That said, my camera on my iphone is so good I’m not sure I can justify the extra weight of a DSLR these days.
Trekking towel: Fast drying, very absorbent, compact and lightweight; the Rainleaf micro fibre towel is one of the most popular choices and you can use it after your travels for the gym too and lots of other sweat-inducing things.
Drinking Bottle: Camelbak has really good options for easy to use water bottles.
Sunglasses: Pack polarized sunglasses with UV protection that can be worn at a high altitude too so you can double them up as trekking sunglasses and everyday sunglasses too.
Waterproof Sack: For valuable and electronics in case it pours down if your visiting during the monsoon season (oh and it will, but only if you’re not prepared… because thats life!).
Padlock & Chain: For your backpack, and keeping things safe in hotels, hostels and when sleeping on public transport.
Sleep sheet: So handy especially if you’re doing South Korea on a budget.
Ziplocks: Trust me, they will come in handy!
If you plan on buying toiletries when you arrive to save space in your luggage be aware that their toiletry brands will be very different than what you’re used to so if you really like a certain product, bring it with you.
Sunscreen: Sunblock can be a bit of a rip off in a lot of places so consider bringing a small bottle with you.
Hand sanitizer & wet wipes: Buy it there.
Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel: Buy it there.
Toothpaste and toothbrush: Bring it with you so you can brush your teeth at the airport or on the first night if you don’t have time to shop. You can probably make do with a travel sized tube of paste considering you only need a pea size amount for each brush.
Deodorant: I would bring your preferred deodorant with you, it’s annoying having to use one you don’t like much plus they weigh nothing. I use an all-natural deodorant (without the aluminum) made in Bali because it smells like roses and does the job.
Makeup: Mascara, eyeliner and maybe some lip gloss is about all I use when in East Asia. During the Summer, concealer, powder etc will just get sweated-off the moment you step off the plane and then clog your pores up so really don’t waste your time.
Nail cutter and nail file: Bring it with you because there’s nothing more annoying than having a broken nail you can’t do anything about.
Toiletries travel bag: Bring a clear TSA approved travel makeup bag for liquids to speed up going through customs.
Optional Extras (we love)
Packing Cubes: Travel light and stay organized with these lightweight Eagle Creek packing cubes.
Re-useable Mini Cosmetic Bottles: Cute and high-quality travel bottles that won’t crack on you.
Hidden Pocket Scarves: Stash secret cash, lip balm and your passport in a sneaky scarf like this.
Where to buy your South Korea travel gear
You really don’t need to spend a small fortune on all this travel gear for a trip to South Korea. Besides you’ve already spent enough just getting to South Korea. If you’re planning your trip in advance then you should be able to catch a sale at any good outdoor clothing store, there’s usually about three or four each year. I’ve bought everything from hiking boots to sunglasses by timing my shopping trips to coincide with a sale and saved between 40-75% each time. So planning in advance will save you a lot of hard earned cash.
If you don’t have time to wait for a sale, you can still get a good deal online. Of course Amazon is one of the best places to go to read hundreds of reviews and compare prices before making a purchase. Another bonus of shopping online for your travel gear is that you can save your legs for a visit to the DMZ (demilitarized zone) or Seoul’s palaces!
If you forget to pack something don’t worry, you can find everything you could possibly need when in South Korea. But this shouldn’t be necessary because this fabulous South Korea Packing List is here to help you to not forget the essentials.
Travel Resources (we swear by)
Skyscanner for getting the best deals on South Korea flights.
Booking.com for booking South Korea hotel accommodation.
Hostelworld for budget travelers or anyone looking to meet travel buddies while backpacking in South Korea.
GetYourGuide for the best tours and activities to do once you’ve arrived in South Korea.
IVisa helps us know if we need a visa, how long it will take to process and how much it will cost.
Lonely Planet South Korea: Check price on Amazon
For more South Korea travel tips take a peek at our South Korea Travel Guide which includes the South Korea basics, top things to do, fun festivals, what to eat, where to stay and recommended trip planning resources.
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Did we miss something that you think should be included in this South Korea Packing List? Let us know in the comments section below!