Table of Contents

25 Top South Korea Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

South Korea skyline
Updated on

Korea is an absolutely incredible place to visit. From ancient temples to bustling cities, there is a stark contrast that can be found in this country, with serene nature and modern technology coexisting in perfect harmony.

The culture is unique, the food is delicious, and the landscapes are vast. But packing for South Korea is not as obvious as some locations. This is why I created a South Korea packing list, along with sections on what to wear in South Korea, what NOT to bring, and answers to common FAQs.

Man-in-South Korea looking at view
See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.

What to Pack for South Korea - 25 Essentials

  • 1. Jet Lag Relief

    For most, the flight to South Korea is long, and you don’t want the first few days of your trip to be tainted by the symptoms of jet lag. This natural relief will help both prevent and minimize symptoms of travel exhaustion. We love that these actually work, all without the use of strong caffeine or stimulants.

    Jet Lag Relief

    View on ➜

  • 2. Power Adapter for South Korea

    Korean outlets have two round holes instead of two prongs, so it’s important to bring a power adapter if you want to charge any electronic devices. This universal power adapter will allow you to charge a few devices at once and can also be used in 100+ popular other countries, so it will be useful for all of your future travels.

    Power Adaptor

    View on ➜

  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Not to scare you, but South Korea has deemed the growing amount of cybercrime as an issue of national security. NIS reported that South Korea gets hit with an average of 1.2 million attack attempts PER DAY. When logging onto public Wi-Fi networks at cafes, airports, hotels, etc. – you are putting your data at risk. While Korea offers extensive internet access, it’s always wise to get a VPN as an extra level of security for your passwords, credit card numbers, and private information.

    A VPN will protect you from local hackers that are just waiting to catch you in an unsecured network. It’s too affordable not to have and there’s a lot of censorship in Eastern countries, but a VPN will eliminate blockages and restrictions on your favorite websites (like Netflix, YouTube, X, PayPal, HBO, and more). Trust us, it pays for itself and will spare you a lot of headaches over stolen identities and geo-targeted price-gauging.

    Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    View Plans ➜

  • 4. Comfortable Walking Shoes

    Though South Korea has an extensive public transportation network, you’ll be walking quite a bit. Many places in South Korea are also very hilly, so sneakers that you’ll be comfortable in for long periods of time are essential. You should also make sure you can slip them on and off easily, as many religious sites don’t allow shoes inside.

    Comfortable Walking Shoes

    View on ➜

  • 5. Reusable Water Bottle

    Most Koreans do not drink tap water without boiling it first, although it is generally safe. Plus, recycling plastic bottles is few and far between in South Korea, so a reusable water bottle is a great option for travelers. This one comes in a variety of colors, improves the taste, and gives you autonomy over your water supply while abroad.

    Reusable Water Bottle

    View on ➜

  • 6. Travel Insurance for South Korea

    Frankly, I can’t imagine traveling to South Korea without travel insurance. No matter how much you plan ahead, you’ll always have to expect the unexpected when venturing abroad. Be sure to get reliable travel insurance to help cover hotel cancellations, lost baggage, flight delays, evacuations, and medical emergencies. This is particularly crucial since your domestic provider does not follow you overseas. Paying out-of-pocket for international medical bills would cost a fortune and is completely unnecessary.

    Our go-to provider is Faye Travel Insurance because they offer easy payments through their app, affordable coverage, and unique add-ons like the ability to cancel your trip ‘for ANY reason.’ It’s often less than 5% of your total trip cost and well worth it for the undeniable peace of mind.

    Faye Travel Insurance

    Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

  • 7. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    While in South Korea, there is always a decent chance it might rain on any of the days you visit, especially in the summertime. I used this reinforced umbrella during my trip, and it was the perfect size to fit in any day bag and carry-on. It’s also very well-made and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee! It may be the last umbrella you ever need to buy.

    Hero Umbrella

    View on ➜

  • 8. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    If you find the towels in your accommodations less than ideal, this small towel is a lifesaver. It is both compact and dries super quickly, making it easy to store in your daypack. We use these as towels, sweatbands, seat covers, packing cushions, and more.

    Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    View on ➜

  • 9. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    There is nothing worse than your phone or camera dying while in the middle of a full day of activities. This portable charger connects with a standard USB cable and holds multiple charges, so you can use it several times before needing to charge it again. Throw it in a purse or bag next to your electronics, and let it take care of the rest!


    View on ➜

  • 10. Stylish Jacket

    Korean fashion is much less casual than in America, and you can definitely stand out as a tourist by wearing old t-shirts and leggings while traveling. This jacket is both comfortable, stylish, and can be paired with many different outfits. It’s chic without being too try-hard.

    Stylish Jacket

    View on ➜

  • 11. Neck Wallet

    While traveling internationally, it’s important to keep copies of your important documents, along with credit cards, cash, and passport on you at all times. This neck wallet can be worn under your clothing, and therefore out of sight from potential thieves. The most common crime for tourists in South Korea is pickpocketing, so don’t even give them the chance to see your essentials.

    Neck Wallet

    View on ➜

  • 12. Packing Cubes

    Let’s be honest: most of us have a tendency to overpack. Combined with all the Korean clothing and beauty products that make great souvenirs, your luggage could be overflowing. These packing cubes save so much space while also keeping your belongings well organized, with labels for each cube so you don’t have to throw things around the hotel room in chaos.

    Packing Cubes

    View on ➜

  • 13. Korean Phone SIM Card

    Do you hate being price-gauged by your phone company? Instead of paying outrageous roaming rates and international fees, opt for a Korean SIM card that can be easily put into your phone, giving you a local phone number. Simply make sure your phone is unlocked before you leave and restart your phone upon arrival. That’s it!

    Korean Phone SIM Card

    View on ➜

  • 14. Nice, Small Daybag

    While traveling during the day, you’ll need a bag that can hold all of your essentials while also being small and relatively unobtrusive. This one is a great compromise between practicality and style. The perfect crossbody!

    Nice, Small Daybag

    View on ➜

  • 15. Activated Charcoal

    Korean food is delicious, but can be a bit spicy for foreign visitors. If you run into any stomach issues from the local cuisine or contaminated tap water (or ice), use activated charcoal to absorb toxins in your stomach, easing food poisoning and stomach aches quickly and naturally. We never travel without it.

    Activated Charcoal

    View on ➜

  • 16. Discounted Tickets to South Korean Attractions

    Get Your Guide is our favorite booking service for authentic tours. From dinner theater to peaceful temples, South Korea has cultural experiences that stretch the line between traditional and modern. Explore the historic city of Gyeongju, walk through the Garden of Morning Calm, and visit the famous Alpaca World!

    If visiting the capital city of Seoul, you can utilize the Go City All-Inclusive Pass for access to the top 25+ attractions. For a more intimate excursion, I recommend a daytrip to the Demilitarized Zone where you will learn more about the ongoing war between North and South Korea.

    Discounted Tickets to South Korean Attractions

    See all South Korean attractions at ➜

  • 17. Long Skirt

    For visits to Korean religious sites, you need to wear more conservative clothing. While long pants, especially during hotter days may be constricting, a long skirt is a great compromise that will allow you entry to modest temples. You can look cute and stylish while also being respectful.

    Long Skirt

    View on ➜

  • 18. Modest Shawl

    The same goes for covering exposed shoulders and arms in certain locations. A shawl is an elegant addition to your packing list and can look beautiful on many occasions. You will reflect Korea’s sense of modesty and conservativeness, which will garner more respect from the locals.

    Modest Shawl

    View on ➜

  • 19. Rolling Suitcase

    You don’t want to be carrying heavy bags through the bustling cities of Seoul or the uphill landscapes of Busan. We always use rolling suitcases to ensure we can remain on-the-go. This one has 4 wheels and a hard shell to protect your items during the (less-than-gentle) handling of most airlines.

    Rolling Suitcase

    View on ➜

  • 20. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    Don’t neglect to add luggage locks to your suitcase. After having things stolen out of our checked bags, we don’t risk it anymore. These TSA-approved luggage locks are 10x more secure than most 3-digit locks since they have a 4-digit code. Put in your birth year or something easy to remember. They offer sincere peace of mind.

    luggage locks

    View on ➜

  • 21. Hanging Toiletries Bag

    In Asian bathrooms, you don’t know if you’re going to get the full set-up or a tiny squat toilet (a hole in the ground). In case the storage is less than ideal, use this hanging toiletries bag to hold all of your skincare, haircare, and hygiene items. It unfolds while hanging on a door, giving you a shelf-like system no matter where you roam.

    Hanging Toiletries Bag

    View on ➜

  • 22. Surgical Mask

    Although the COVID-19 mask mandates were lifted a long time ago in many parts of the world, for South Korea, it’s only been a few months. Many people still wear these and some public places require them, not to mention different times of year can bring bad pollution. So carry a couple with you to show respect for others and mitigate breathing issues. These are KN95 which means they have a filter efficiency of 95%.

    Surgical Mask

    View on ➜

  • 23. Non-Toxic Mosquito-Repellant Wristbands

    Luckily there is no malaria in South Korea, but there have been cases of Zika and Dengue fever. While mosquito-related illnesses are uncommon in Korea, it’s still best to defend yourself with repellant. We use this brand because they’re natural, safe for kids, and can be worn all day rather than re-spraying harsh chemicals over and over. Definitely have these on hand from June to October when the mosquito density increases.

    Non-Toxic Mosquito-Repellant Wristbands

    View on ➜

  • 24. Travel Bed Sheets

    When I’m traveling to places where I may need to sleep on planes, trains, in hostels or economic accommodations – I bring a set of travel sheets. Sometimes the beds are not as clean as I would like, or no sheets are provided at all! So it’s nice to have these as a backup to stay warm and comfy.

    Travel Bed Sheets

    View on ➜

  • 25. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    Korea is known for its top-notch beauty products, skincare items, specialty tea, soju and makgeolli (alcoholic drinks), and handmade artisan goods. You will definitely want to do a little shopping while you’re here and maybe find gifts for your loved ones! So bring along this “just in case” bag that is super lightweight, large, and can hold a ton of stuff. It also counts as your personal item on the flight home and fits perfectly under your plane seat, you’re welcome!

    Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    View on ➜

What to Wear in South Korea

It’s easy to stand out as a tourist in Korea, but not in a good way. In general, Korean fashion is much more pulled together than in, say, the United States. The stereotypical ‘backpacker’ look, with cargo shorts, worn t-shirts, and old back-packs will definitely be silently frowned upon. Among the younger generations, Korean street fashion reigns supreme. While the unique styles of Korean streetwear are becoming more popular abroad, it’s not expected that you dramatically change your fashion to visit Korea.

Dress a little more formally than you normally would, with clean, slightly more conservative clothing, and avoid especially loud prints and bright colors. While it’s easy to not spend time into your appearance if you’re traveling extensively, putting in a little extra effort will be appreciated. Remember, South Korea is a fashion and beauty mecca, with great deals on clothing, makeup, and skincare, so make sure to leave a little extra room in your suitcase for items you can’t easily get back home!

what WOMEN should wear in South Korea - (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list.(All items link to for your convenience).

Korean women put a lot of effort into their appearance. It’s not completely uncommon to see women of all ages touching up their makeup on their daily subway commute. While short skirts and pants are very common, low-cut shirts and anything that shows too much shoulders are seen as too provocative. For trips into the countryside and to religious sites, it’s best to cover up even more.

Comfortable sneakers are essential for all seasons, as you’ll be walking quite a bit while visiting Korea. Sunglasses, sundresses, and hats are recommended for the hot, humid summer season. Sweaters, light jackets, and long pants are best for the cooler springs and autumns.

what MEN should wear in South Korea - (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list. (All items link to for your convenience).

Most South Korean men work long hours, and will be wearing suits, no matter the temperature. Outside of the office, though, South Korean men dress modernly, and often in muted, darker colors. South Korean men’s fashion is heavily influenced by South Korean streetwear trends, with many younger South Koreans looking like they stepped right out of an Instagram post.

Still, you can’t go wrong sticking to clean, modern basics. White t-shirts, comfortable shoes, and dark pants are appropriate for most activities. Bomber jackets and denim jackets can add a bit of style to any look. Long sleeve, button down shirts are great options for both nightlife activities and more conservative temple visits and homestays.

Packing for the Seasons in South Korea

Spring – March, April, May

With cool mornings and evenings, and sunny, warm days, spring is a great time to visit South Korea! The spring blooms make it a very popular time to visit, so be prepared for crowds. Make sure to bring comfortable sneakers and a denim jacket for cooler nights.

Temperature: 51°F to 74°F (10°C to 23°C)

Summer – June, July, August

Summer is the rainy season, and tends to be hot and very humid. This could be a good time to visit if you want to avoid big crowds, and don’t mind the heat. Make sure to pack a hat, an umbrella, and light layers for places with air conditioning.

Temperature: 81°F to 86°F (27°C to 30°C), though it often feels hotter.

Autumn – September, October, November

Autumn is an ideal time to visit South Korea, with more temperate weather than summer and winter, and less crowds than spring. It is cool and dry, with warm days perfect for seeing the beautiful changing leaves! cool, dry, beautiful changing leaves (50s to 60s, 40s in November). You can get away with wearing long sleeves and light sweaters during the day, but bring a heavier jacket and a scarf for the evenings.

Temperature: 53°F to 72°F (12°C to 22°C), but evening temperatures can dip to 40°F (4°C)

Winter – December, January, February

Winter in South Korea is cold and dry, with a lot of frost and the occasional snowfall. There are many winter activities available for those who visit in winter, like ice skating and skiing, but since many historic sites are outdoors, make sure to bring a coat that you can easily travel with, gloves, and a heavy scarf.

Temperature: 35°F to 40°F (2°C to 4°C), though temperatures can dip below freezing (32°F, or 0°C)

Dressing Appropriately for the Activity - (Click to expand)

Nightlife – One of the biggest draws of South Korea is its bustling nightlife. In terms of a dress code, it tends to vary depending on which area of Seoul you’re in. Bars and clubs in Hongdae and Itaewon, for instance, are much more relaxed than the ones in Gangnam. Shorts and open-toed shoes are not advised in all places and don’t be afraid to bring a coat in the winter, since coat check is much cheaper here than in other cities. the most strict, and Hongdae and Itaewon being more relaxed.

Temple Visits – While visiting Buddhist temples, it’s important to be respectful of the space by not wearing anything too revealing or dirty. Bright colors and excessive makeup and perfumes may be frowned upon. Make sure to wear shoes you can slip on and off easily, as shoes are not allowed in many temple buildings.

DMZ – Many visitors to South Korea use their time to try and get a glimpse of its northern neighbor by taking a day trip to the much-contested Demilitarized Zone, or the DMZ. Dress codes for these tours, especially ones run by the USO for American citizens, are very strict. In general, you shouldn’t wear ripped jeans, shorts, short skirts, open-toed shoes, sleeveless shirts, or crop tops. You should also stay away from anything very oversized, t-shirts with big logos, and athletic or military attire. In general, you should dress clean, plain, and conservatively, or else you’ll be left behind!

What NOT to Bring to South Korea


    The vast majority of places in South Korea take international credit cards — in fact, cash is not used much at all! Save the space in your wallet by only bringing a small amount of cash in case of an emergency.


    Bringing hardcover books will only make your bags heavier. South Korea is such an internet savvy nation that you can easily look up maps, recommendations, and extra information online.


    As is the case with most travel, you should think twice about bringing anything especially expensive or dear to you in the rare event that your belongings are lost or damaged on the trip.


    The outlets in South Korea are likely a different voltage than yours at home, so your hair dryers and curling irons probably won’t work — or worse, break completely when you try to use them.


    Similar to not bringing a guidebook, consider bringing a Kindle or other e-reader instead of a few new hardcovers.


    Bringing travel size samples of your favorite products will save important space.

What NOT to Wear to South Korea – (Click to expand)
We’ve already mentioned how prevalent street-style is in South Korea, especially Seoul, but it’s not expected for tourists to dress in their coolest clothing while they are visiting Korea. However, you don’t want to stand out negatively. While shorter-length shorts and skirts are generally acceptable, low cut tops and any shirt showing shoulders are not appropriate. You’ll see many women in Korea wearing tank tops and camisoles only with a sweater or jacket on top. More generally, wearing anything dirty, too casual, or rumpled will be viewed negatively, as will the stereotypical ‘backpacker’ look that is common among tourists in other countries.

FAQs about South Korea travel

  • 1. How prevalent is English in Korea?

    In South Korea, most people, especially younger ones, have at least a basic grasp of English, with English being more commonly understood in urban centers rather than the countryside. Regardless of their English level, most South Korean people will readily try and help you if you’re lost or in trouble. In major cities, all public transportation announcements and signs are shown in many languages, including English.

  • 2. How safe is South Korea for solo travelers?

    South Korea is an extremely safe place, especially for solo travelers. In large cities, violent crime is incredibly low, and there are many kiosks and information centers set up to help foreign visitors. Solo travel may be slightly more difficult in rural areas if you do not speak Korean, since much fewer people will understand English.

  • 3. What is the best season to visit South Korea?

    In terms of cost, it is cheapest to visit South Korea in the summer and the winter, mainly because the weather tends to be more extreme during these seasons. Spring and autumn are more popular times to visit, for good reason. There are amazing festivals unique to South Korea in both seasons, and the spring blooms and autumn changing of leaves are gorgeous experiences.

  • 4. What is the best way to travel around South Korea?

    The South Korean public transportation system is incredible, with its network of buses, subways, and commuter rail covering almost every corner of the country. Within big cities, like Seoul or Busan, subways and buses run at almost all hours of the day. For day trips and traveling between urban centers, trains will be the quickest option. Signage and announcements on all public transportation are usually in several languages, including English. Though fares are already quite cheap in South Korea, you can save money by investing in a KoRail Pass and a T-Money Card.

  • 5. How can I save money on my trip?

    Thankfully, South Korea is much cheaper than many expect it to be, so it’s easy to save money while there. If you have an especially strict budget, South Korean hostels and even South Korean spas, or jjimjilbang, are great, cheap options that usually offer lockers for your belongings and some inexpensive food for sale. In terms of food, foreign or ‘Western’ food that you may be more used to tends to be pricier, so do as the locals do and stick with authentic South Korean food to save.

  • 6. How can I take a tour of the DMZ?

    Many are surprised to find out that it is relatively easy to take a tour of the DMZ, with many full-day and half-day tours leaving from Seoul daily. It’s important to note that the only way to visit the DMZ is with a tour, so do some research on different companies and what they offer, along with which sites they visit before you book. For example, some tours may visit the Joint-Security Area — the closest place you can physically get to North Korea — while others may visit the Freedom Bridge connecting the North and the South.

  • 7. How can I get into a K-Pop show?

    K-Pop, or Korean Pop Music, has recently exploded in popularity internationally, with many fans going to South Korea to try and see their favorite artists. Each week, artists and groups with new music perform on different music shows, which are essentially broadcasted concerts. To get into most of these shows, you need a South Korean permanent resident card, making them difficult for tourists to attend. The easiest to get tickets to is M! Countdown, where audience members are admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis. You can find details on how to attend different music shows here.