Planning a trip can be stressful, especially when you are travelling with family. In fact, the day or two before a big trip is nearly always stressful!
There’s a lot of pressure to make sure that you have everything that you need, that your documents are sorted, and that everyone is packed and ready when the time arrives to leave.
However, there are nearly always a few things that are forgotten. While it usually isn’t the end of the world, it can cause some inconvenience on your trip.
It is for that reason that I wanted to create this post. This isn’t a full packing list, but rather, it’s a list of things that you should buy before you visit Korea. Some of them are essentials, and some will just make your life far easier!
If you are looking for a short, shop-able list of items to buy before visiting Korea, I have made a list on Amazon.
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, read my affiliate disclaimer.
Korean Travel Adapter
Electronic devices are essential these days. Whether you want to charge your camera to take travel photos, or if you are using your smartphone to navigate, it’s essential to make sure they are fully charged.
This is especially relevant in a country where the language is different, as even communicating can be hard at times. For this reason, the most important item to buy before coming to Korea is a power adapter.
Thankfully, if you are from Europe, this won’t be an issue. The sockets used in Korea are type C. These sockets also work with type E and F.
What does this mean? Well, it means that European devices will work natively in South Korea. It also means that any European adapter will also work here.
However, if you are from the US or any other region of the world, you will need an adapter. While it’s possible to purchase them in Korea, they can at times be difficult to find when you are in a rush.
Further, they can cost a lot if you are forced to buy them at a convenience store. In the end, it’s easier to just come prepared!
My recommended travel adapter – Universal Travel Adapter with 4 USB ports
Following the theme of electronic devices, another essential item to purchase before coming to Korea is a battery bank. While this may not seem essential at first, hear me out.
If you plan to stay in Seoul, or any other city, for your whole trip, then the battery bank is not an essential item. However, if you plan to do any day trips while you are here, then they are important.
Day trips in Korea can take up to 12 hours, and a phone battery generally doesn’t last anywhere near that long when you are watching videos or playing games on the bus. Even if you are just scrolling through Instagram, very few phone batteries last that long!
On top of this, taking pictures can drain your battery exceptionally fast. You don’t want to not be able to take pictures when exploring Korea’s wonderful countryside!
Luckily, battery banks can be purchased for very cheap these days and they are much more accessible than they used to be. My usual battery bank is a cheap Chinese one, and it cost $10. It usually charges my phone 3 times, and it has lasted me for years!
Purchase battery bank – 26800mAH Anker Battery Bank
There are also many other items which are worth purchasing before coming to Korea, but that aren’t for everyone. For example, if you are looking for a travel camera already, why not get one before going on a trip? It’s the perfect time!
If you don’t already have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, then they are another great item to purchase before a trip. I didn’t know why I needed a pair before travelling, but after using them on planes, trains and buses, I consider decent noise-cancelling headphones an essential.
Another item which I have found to be a fantastic travel buddy is the kindle. I love to read, and the kindle made it so much more accessible while travelling. While I can understand people who love books (I do too!) It’s hard to bring books on trips. They are heavy, large, and depending on how fast you read, only last a few hours. For this reason, I love having a kindle while travelling and I’m glad I got one before travelling to Korea!
Fine Dust Mask
Fine dust masks are not essential in all seasons, but it’s always better to play it safe – especially if you are travelling with someone who has asthma or another respiratory condition.
Generally, these masks are most essential in spring and winter. However, there can be bad days in any season. Air pollution in Seoul especially is no joke.
The best masks for protection from fine dust are those that are rated N95 or N99. Korean masks follow a similar rating system, and KF94 masks perform similarly to N95. However, N95 masks are generally easier to purchase overseas.
I have covered fine dust masks in more detail before, and if you are interested in learning more I recommend reading the article. If you are just looking for a quick recommendation though, check out these masks.
My recommended Fine Dust Mask – Cambridge N99 Mask
Moisturiser & Lip Balm
Moisturiser and lip balm might sound like obvious things to bring on a trip, but in winter in Korea, they are especially essential, and they are definitely something that should be purchased before coming to Korea.
Wintertime in Korea is extremely dry and it can be very harsh on any exposed skin. Even when you are indoors! For this reason, lip balm, hand cream and face cream will come in very handy on your trip to Korea.
These don’t need to be expensive. Just anything that can rehydrate your skin and will keep it from cracking or peeling.
Raincoat & Umbrella
This is another seasonal item, but if you’re planning to visit Korea in the rainy season, then it’s most definitely an essential item to get before you visit!
Korea’s rainy season usually occurs in mid-June or early July and varies by a little bit each year. During this season, you can expect a LOT of rain. It often rains every day for a week or two, and heavily at that.
Due to this, you will be wanting not only a raincoat but a good one. While this might not sound like a problem, there is a catch. Since June and July are summer months, it’s often very warm at these times. Occasionally, the temperature will reach 40 degrees!
For this reason, it’s essential to bring a light raincoat (that can withstand a large amount of moisture) and an umbrella. It’s very easy to be caught unprepared during this season. Don’t be one of those who (like me, often) are unprepared!
Just as it is essential for many people to always have charged devices, many people also prefer to have their devices connected at all times. While there is a lot of free WiFi in Korea, it’s far better to have a SIM card or portable WiFi if you are someone who feels more comfortable always being connected. For this reason, I highly recommend getting your connectivity options sorted out and purchasing a SIM card before coming to Korea.
There are a TON of internet options for travellers in South Korea. I recently dedicated a whole post to comparing the best sim cards for travellers in Korea, and since then a few more options have popped up!
However, the two main options are WiFi eggs and SIM cards. SIM cards are pretty self-explanatory and will give your device LTE wherever you are in the country. WiFi eggs on the other hand, are little devices which act as a WiFi hotspot.
These devices are better if you have multiple devices that need a connection – for example, if you are travelling as a family that has multiple devices that require the internet. At the same time though, these eggs do have downsides – they require charging and are an extra device that needs to fit in your bag.
Purchase WiFi Egg & SIM card – Short-term SIM card
Another item which is best purchased before visiting Korea is the transport card of your choice. There are a few different options – T Money is the standard choice, Korea Tour Card has a few benefits for travellers, and the Discover Seoul Pass is great for those who want to fit in a lot of activities in a short time.
While these can all be purchased in Korea, it’s best to purchase them before you leave. This allows you to pick them up at Incheon Airport (or whichever airport you land at) and they are ready to go. Nothing else is required!
The main benefit is convenience. Purchasing them before you arrive in Korea means that you will have no worries and no problems to sort out when you land at the airport.
Tour & Attraction Tickets
Tour tickets are very important to purchase before you come to Korea if you plan on visiting some of the more popular tours and events. This is especially true for once per year events (think Seoul Music Awards, cherry blossom festivals, etc) as these will sometimes sell out months in advance.
Tickets for places and events that are open year-round generally do not need to be pre-purchased. However, if you already know what you want to do, then it’s worth pre-purchasing tickets to make sure that you won’t miss out!
The great thing is that booking tickets for attractions in advance also tends to be both cheaper and easier than purchasing them individually at the entrance. Some great sites for purchasing tickets in Korea are Klook, Trazy, and KKday.
Check out tickets here – Klook
Korea Rail Pass
If you are in Korea for a short period of time and plan to travel a lot during that time, the Korea Rail Pass is a must. It allows access to all Korail’s (Korea’s main rail provider) rail network. This includes the KTX, which can normally cost $30 or more per ticket.
If you plan to stay in one location during your trip then the Korea Rail Pass is probably not worth it. If you want to take your time and leisurely explore Korea, then this pass is also generally not worth it.
However, if you are planning a trip where you want to see everything in a short period of time, then this pass is a fantastic way to save money. Transport can definitely add up, and the Korea Rail Pass will save you money if you ride the KTX more than two or three times during the duration.
The pass can be purchased in 2 day, 3 day, 4 day, and 5 day lengths. Due to the money that the pass can save, I would highly recommend getting one sorted early on in your trip, or in the case of a flexible pass before you land in Korea.
Purchase Korea Rail Pass – Korea Rail Pass
Deodorant & Hygiene Items
This is another thing which may sound obvious, but it’s often overlooked. Why? Well because usually, it doesn’t matter if you forget deodorant or if you only bring enough for a few days, because you can always buy more right?
This isn’t always the case in Korea though. Deodorant is possible to find, however, it’s not common. For this reason, I would recommend bringing enough to last you the whole trip. When you are travelling you don’t want to have to waste time going out of your way to look for deodorant!
Another hygiene item that is worth purchasing is hand sanitiser. Most public bathrooms in Korea will not have soap, and hand sanitiser is a must if you plan on using these bathrooms. With the current virus situation in Korea, this is even more important currently.
Purchase hygiene products – Deodorant
Other Items to Buy Before You Visit Korea
This list is meant as a helpful reminder for items that you should get before visiting the country. Whether because they can’t be purchased in Korea, or because they will just make life easier to sort out before you leave.
With that being said, I will update this list with more items in the future. Is there anything that you would add? What items do you consider essential for purchasing before coming to Korea? I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to comment on this post and let me know what you wouldn’t leave without.