In a weeks time I’ll be heading back to South Korea. There are a few things I have to pick up at the store before I board the plane. Here are some things I suggest you bring with you on your own trip to South Korea.
1. Comfy shoes.
Your feet are your main mode of transportation. Public transit is pretty cheap and accessible in the cities but even if you plan on using public transit there are a lot of people in Korea and you most likely will have to stand on the trains and busses.
2. A good bag
You will buy lots of things. You will want a good bag (maybe a small hiking backpack) to put everything in. If you get tired of carrying your bag most subway stations have lockers you can pay to keep you bag but they do cost money.
If you have been researching Korea, I am sure you have heard all about the need to buy deodorant in the States. It is true. Deodorant is not popular in Korea.
4. Your favorite toothpaste
If you are a Colgate fan, stock up on some tubes. Colgate is not easy to find. I like the Colgate natural stuff. (If you haven’t noticed the color strip at the bottom back of toothpaste, google it….”toothpaste color bar” it may shock you.) In Korea the toothpaste is all made out of chemicals.
*Disclaimer: I have been made aware that the strip may not be accurate. However, in my own experience the strip has been realistic. It is up to you to come up with your own opinion. 🙂
5. Comfy clothes
Most places do not have electric clothes dryers. Unless you are staying in a hotel or with Koreans don’t be surprised if there are no dryers to be found. Though dry cleaning is cheap. Most times of the year you can dry your clothes over night with a drying rack.
Korea has a lot of make-up. Though it does not always match well with Westerners. A lot of make-up there helps you come across as having lighter skin. Also I have found that the make-up that I have bought there makes my skin shiny. I do, however, really like the eye make-up you can get in Korea.
You will want to take pictures. LOTS of pictures! The colors are amazing. The architecture is breathtaking. I went with one camera and I now own a small snapshot, a DSLR and recently bought a camcorder.
8. Phone SIM card
If possible bring a phone that you can use in Korea. Rather that is picking up a SIM card or getting an international plan. Once you are in Korea you will want to use certain helpful apps. (a future blog will share helpful apps) WiFi is pretty much everywhere in the cities and easy to access.
9. Favorite Snacks
If you are stuck on certain snacks, you might want to bring some with you. If you are planning on moving to Korea they don’t have very many cheese products (like mac and cheese). If you are planning on living in Seoul, you most likely will have ways to find things that you enjoy but they might be expensive. Also breakfast foods like pancakes are not very popular in Korea. You can easily get breakfast foods but I have found real cereal bars are oatmeal to be hard to find.
10. Phrase book/book
It would be wise to bring a phrase book or learn a few Korean phrases before you go. In the cities most people can speak broken English. If they don’t speak it most Koreans understand English. There will also be down time (rainy days, too hot and humid or too freezing cold to go outside days). Bring a book to read. There are book stores that sell English books but they can be costly and hard to find.
These are just a few things that I make sure I have or buy before I fly back to Korea. If you are moving to Korea some of these items will ease your adjustment in to the new culture. For the most part you can find some form of everything you want in Korea but a lot of it can be expensive or hard to find. A lot of items have taken me two years to find in Korea and ultimately are too expensive to justify buying it.
(Side note: When I first moved to Korea I had the misconception that because Korea has a lot of technological companies then technology… like computers, kitchen appliance, cameras ect….would be cheap. Those things are not cheap at all.)
Of course you will probably want to multiply some of these items based on how long you will be staying in Korea.