A Complete Packing List For Korea, And An Overview Of Koreas Four Seasons

Do you enjoy soaking in rainwater? Peeling fried skin off your back? Amputating frost-bitten digits? No? Well, then check the weather and read our ultimate guide on what to pack for Korea.

Before you embark on your journey to Korea, it’s important to pack well. From the frozen Han River to the blistering Daegu sun, we’ll take you through Korea’s four distinct seasons. 

Read on to find out about Koreas distinct four seasons and crucially- what to pack for Korea.

A monthly breakdown of the average high and low temperatures, and rainfall in South Korea.A monthly breakdown of the average high and low temperatures, and rainfall in South Korea.
A monthly breakdown of the average high and low temperatures, and rainfall in South Korea.

Check the Forecast

When preparing for the weather, monthly averages are a great starting point. A glance at the chart will show most of Korea’s rain comes down in June and July.

But, Korea isn’t a desert. It’ll rain any season of the year. A quick glance at the government’s website (Korean language) or Google search for “how’s the weather where I am” will give you a good read.

Keep in mind, if you’re setting out for a short ride, you need not prepare as much. You can trust the forecast like you trust your family dog.

If you set off for a weeklong adventure, trust the forecast as much as a politician. Prepare for betrayal and bring the kitchen sink.

Regionalism

Korea is a small country. The climate doesn’t differ as widely as America. However, there are key differences.

In the wintertime, ice will top the river in Seoul. Snow will coat most of the peninsula. However, white flickers from the heavens rarely visit the southeast.

Check out our season-by-season breakdown of the climate in South Korea.

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What To Pack When Traveling To Korea.

It’s important not to forget the necessitates!

So below we have listed the most important items that you shouldn’t forget.

Let’s begin with the most important.


Passport and flight tickets:

A picture of an English passport

Without your travel documents, you won’t have the chance to board the plane and enter Korea.

Now that would be a shame!

Importantly, you must have a valid passport with at least two empty pages.

You should also check your Visa.

Double-check that you have six months’ validity that extends the duration of the visa you are applying for by at least 6 months.

For more information about applying for a tourist visa read here.

Hotel reservation:

The Koreana Hotel in Seoul

You will need to complete your landing card and write down where you will stay the first night.

Therefore, I would suggest booking your accommodation before you arrive.

Maybe print out your: Hotel, Air BnB, or Guest House information to use as a reference.

You can use: Air BnB to book a modern and spacious room. Or, if you want a hotel, I think the best place to look would be on booking.com

Bank Cards:

In England, you have to inform your bank so you can use your Debit/ Credit Cards in a foreign country.

For my bank, the time expires after a set amount of days so keep this in mind and update your banking,

Korean rail pass :

If you are wanting to explore the country and visit a few different cities it’s convenient to use the KTX.

Using the Intercity buses will probably save you money, but it will also add time to your journey.

The time you might not have.

Still, you can buy a rail pass to save you money.

Follow the link below to see how much you can save and how to buy it.

You need to order it at least 3 days before your first train ride.

Travel Card-T-Money and Cashbee:

A picture of T-Money card

When you travel around the major cities including Seoul, Daegu, and Busan you can use a transport card on public transport.

The transport card can be used on public buses and subways.

You just tap the card on the card reader and go through the turnstiles in the metro or sit down if you’re on the bus.

It’s that simple.

Expect to pay around 1,250 won per subway and bus trip.

With the T-Money card, you can save a little bit of money each time.

For instance, if you use the card on Seoul Metro it will cost you 1,250. Whereas if you use cash, expect to pay 1,350. With T-Money you also don’t have to go through the hassle of purchasing a ticket.

The price of the card is 4,00 won (Card is not loaded upon purchase.)

You can top them up on the card vending machines in the subway station or most convenience stores. (Cash only)

Using the T- Money card saves a lot of hassle of purchasing single journey subway tickets for every ride.

Make sure to tap the card when you leave the bus as you will get a discount when you transfer within the transfer time limit. (30 MINS)

Discover Seoul Pass

Discover Seoul pass with information on the versions you can buy, how to buy and if T-money works

If you plan on visiting Seoul’s attractions; then this pass is for you!

With Discover Seoul Pass, you can visit over 40 popular attractions for free! These include:

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Trickeye Museum
  • COEX Aquarium
  • Deoksugung Palace
  • Namsan Seoul Tower Hanbok Experience Center

What’s more, you can also enjoy many more attractions at a discounted rate. Some of these include Dynamic Maze, PooPoo Land, and Hello Kitty Island in N Seoul Tower.

I would suggest planning your itinerary before purchasing the pass as you want to make the most out of it!

Card duration and types of passes

You have the option to purchase various types of passes.

These include the 24/48/72 hour pass.

They are available as physical cards or mobile passes.

What do I think?

I think it’s totally worth the money!

It’s easy, convenient and really practical.

Before arriving, download the DSP app on your mobile to make it easier on yourself. You can then scan the QR code on the card and you are ready to have fun in Seoul!

* If you press the picture of the card on your app, you can also view the free AREX voucher.

The AREX voucher lets you board the train from Incheon International airport to Seoul station for free. One time only, so you can’t use it on the way back.

The cost of the AREX train ticket is usually 9,000 won. So already you are saving money before you even get to Seoul!

Via the app, you can also keep track of where you have visited and the places you’ve yet to visit. The app also has a digital countdown to let you know how long you have left.

The Discover Seoul pass also doubles up as a T-Money card which can be topped up and refunded for any remaining balance.

The card is perfect if you’re only in Seoul for a short time and want to cram in lots of activities and also save money!

You can book your pass here

Klook has numerous recommendations from satisfied customers and excellent customer service. So it’s very easy to pick up when you arrive at the airport.

Korea Plug Type

A picture of a UK to Korean power adaptor

Make sure you bring the right adapter!

Korea uses the European style plug. The Korea electricity voltage is on a standard 220V AT 60Hz.

When i travel i always bring a power bank.

You will probably be using your phone a lot for maps, music, and translations.

Trying to find somewhere to charge it up can be a hassle as cafes are usually packed with people using the sockets for their gadgets.

Download some useful Korean apps for your phone:

An iphone showing apps.

Use Google play store/ Apple Store (All free to use)

Google maps can be an annoyance as it doesn’t always work when you want it too.

Therefore the maps and top 5 apps in Korea we recommend you to download are:

  1. Naver Maps– is good if you don’t have Kakao. You can also download the maps to use offline too. Useful for saving data.
  2. Kakao Maps– This is my favorite map as you can combine it with Kakao Bus and Kakao Subway to see when the next bus and subway is coming.
  3. Kakao-Kakao is Korea’s most common messaging app. It might be useful for direct communication such as tour guides or locals you might meet on your trip.
  4. Kakao taxi– If you struggle to read or speak Korean this app could be a lifesaver. Simply enter the address where you want to go and a taxi should be dispatched in minutes.
  5. Papago– I saved the best one for last. This translation app has got me out of some awkward situations. It’s easy to use and I think the translation is much more natural than google translate.

Maybe a hardcore copy of the map might suit you better.

Lonely Planet has sold over 120 million books since its inception and has some great maps of Korea and Seoul.

Their guide books are also useful if it’s your first time visiting as it lists the best places to eat, see.

*Packing one in your backpack might be a good idea.



Weather in Korea during Winter

A chart of the high and low temperatures in Korea during winter.

The South Korean winter is dry and cold. December through to February; the air is dry and the temperatures are low.

Besides cities in the southeast, ice and snowfall and collect on many of the walkways and paths.

Two bikes sit against a gazebo covered in snow in Korea
Snow can sometimes cover roads and bike paths in winter.

What to pack for Korea in the Winter

A Korean Winter packing list: windproof jacket, warm long-sleeve shirts, elastic pants, windproof gloves and hat.

In fact, make every outer layer windproof. Wind will slip through even a thick cotton sweater. A simple rain jacket with two insulating layers underneath might be enough to keep your top part toasty.

Keep your insulating layers light. Synthetic, long sleeve workout shirts work well. They keep heat and dry fast.

You might also want to consider:

  • Sweaters
  • Jeans
  • Woolen or thick socks
  • sunglasses
  • Sunscreen and lip balm- useful if you want to go skiing or cycling in Korea.

If you want to travel light you can buy all the items listed here in Korea. Prices might vary depending on the brand you buy.

Korean winters although harsh can be a great time to enjoy the outdoors. Cycling, skiing, Ice fishing festivals are just some of the numerous things you might want to do when you visit.

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Weather In Korea During Spring

A chart of the high and low temperatures in Korea during spring.

Spring transforms South Korea. Gone are the snowy days and finger nipping cold. The air softens. The temps warm. A hint of rain also returns to breath life into the starved foliage.

However, you’ll feel the lingering bite of winter at night. In early March, you might spot frost on the edges of car windows.

A rider cruises down a bike path near Namji in the south of Korea.
Spring brings greenback to Korea’s foliage and hillsides.

Cherry Blossoms In Korea

Cherry blossoms emerge and sprinkle the path with white peddles in the springtime. You’ll spot white tops poking out from the hillsides.

When Japan occupied Korea before WWII, they planted their famous cherry blossom trees along streams and parks.

A row of cherry blossoms in Seoul sit along a stream during the korean winter
Streams and parks fill with cherry blossoms from late March into April.

Though the invaders are long gone, Korea adopted the blossom’s wondrous blanching. Natives and tourists alike flock to famous for their cherry blossom festivals.

The cherry blossoms begin on Jeju Island towards the end of March. They make their north and reach Seoul by mid-April.

Pollution In Korea

Springtime also brings higher than normal air pollution. A national problem, the air thickens with a combination into a haze.

What is the culprit? Three-fold.

Because the wind blows from west to east, China had the bright idea to move their factories from the center of the country to the coast. This saves their population from breathing their smoggy belches. However, the wind carries fine dust winds over the Yellow Sea and blankets the Korean peninsula.

The second smog bandit? Korea. The country is still reliant on coal for over half of its energy. It’s also deep into meat and potatoes manufacturing, chemical processing, and oil and gas extraction and refinement.

The third culprit? Geography. Seasonal winds originating in Mongolia and northern China kick up anything that floats and carries it across the divide. Known as Asian Dust or Yellow Dust, Korea sits directly in the path of this lung boogeyman.

With or without pollution from the man-made industry, Korea’s roll of the air-quality dice never turns out too well.

Pollution Solutions

It’s no fun breathing fine dust. There could be impacts on your health with excessive exposure.

Like the weather forecast, check the pollution forecast. Download an app such as Plume Air Report or AirVisual to keep tabs on the air quality. Check the apps regularly before and during your ride.

If pollution hovers above 150 US AQI (Air Quality Index), slip on a face mask.

A good face mask can filter out particulate matter (PM2). Most drug stores (약국) will sell one for ₩ 3,000.

Face masks come in a variety of ratings. The most common are N95, which filters 95% of particulate matter. You can also find Korean Filter (KF) masks rated as KF80, KF94, KF99, which filter 80%, 94%, 99% respectively.

Reusable masks are great if you’re facing a few days of persistent smog. The sports focused masks help you suck in more air when cycling.

What to pack for Korea in the Spring

Springtime brings warmth back to South Korea. You’ll find some days warm enough to walk around in just t-shirts and shorts.

Korean Spring packing list: light jacket, breathable t-shirts & shorts, elastic pants, sunscreen and sunglasses. A packing list for Korea

If you come in early spring, bring a light jacket. Passed sundown, frost monsters of winter’s past arise. You’ll thank yourself for bringing a pair of gloves and a hat, too.

Remember, cool weather isn’t the same as less sun. A full day of riding exposes you to hours of rays. Bring sunscreen for your skin. Bring sunglasses for your eyes.

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Weather in Korea during Summer

A chart of the high and low temperatures in Korea during summer.
Helps people decide on their packing list for Korea

Summer bathes Korea with warmth and water. You’ll find long, hot days ballooned with moist air.

Summer is a great time for a leisurely bike ride. However, beware! Elemental forces are out to get you!

Watch Out! Water!

Summer is also a monsoon season. You can expect three times as much rain as any other month of the year. Soggy days soak half of July and August.

A bike rests on a fence. in the background there is a korean beach  with sand and waves
Biking in summer brings lots of sun and rain. Bring sunscreen and a rain jacket.

In August and September, a typhoon or two might cross over from Japan. When this happens, skies open. Rivers overflow. Wind tears at infrastructure. It’s safe to say, this isn’t the best cycling weather.

Watch Out! Sun!

Don’t let all that wet weather fool you, though. When the sun comes out, it’s hot. Hot hot.

Stay hydrated. Take breaks. Heatstroke can sneak up on you. Calling emergency services is a terrible way to end your trip

If you have fair skin, watch out for exposed skin. Cool winds blowing over your skin give you radiation amnesia. You may feel cool. But, the sun sneaks passed the breeze and bombards your arms, legs, and face.

Apply sunscreen before you go outside and also as you walk around.

Use a waterproof sunscreen like Neiva Swim & Play. The lotion will stay on sweaty skin and won’t drip into your eyes. SPF-50 plus protect fair skin the best.

In fact, bring sunscreen with you all year long. Seasons come and go. The sun sticks around all year. A towel might also be handy to dab away the sweat!

Korean Summer packing list: rain jacket, breathable t-shirts & shorts, sunscreen and sunglasses, waterproofing bags and covers. A packing list for korea

What to pack for Korea in the Summer

When thinking about your packing list for Korea in summer, remember: its a hot, wet mess. Bring a rain jacket. Bring shorts and t-shirts that breathe and dry quickly.

You’ll also want to waterproof. Fit backpack rain cover over your pack to keep the water out of your luggage.

A snake crosses a bike path in Korea during the spring weather. Cherry blossom flowers line the bike path
Be careful when riding on the bike paths.
Critters, crawlers and things that slither call the
rivers and hills of Korea their homes, too.

However, with enough rain and time, everything will get wet. So, take some resealable plastic bags (Ziplock bags). Drop your phone and wallet in for extra protection.

The thick summer air also brings out many critters and crawlers. Along with sunscreen, bring some insect repellent.

What not to wear in South Korea:

When you visit the beach in the summer, you will notice many Koreans don’t wear bathing suits or bikinis. Maybe you might notice in Busan, but in most places, Koreans cover up to protect themselves from the sun.

If you want to blend in you could add a rash guard to your packing list for Korea.

Alternatively, you could just don the swimwear you have in your bag and enjoy the beach!


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Weather in Korea during Autumn

A chart of the high and low temperatures in Korea during Fall. helps people decide on what to pack for korea

When the heat mellows and rain abates, autumn arrives. Weather and temps are similar springtimes. However, vivid orange and red replace springtime cherry blossoms. Clear skies overtake polluting dust storms.

A picture of autumn woodland.

Break out your bicycle. This is the best time of the year to go for a ride.

In September, expect tamed summer. The rain gives way to clear skies but holds summer’s warmth. By October, the air grows crisp. Winter’s fingertips take hold in late November.

Color Comes

Foliage color reverses the cherry blossoms’ path. In Seoul, watch the trees flush with color in mid-October. Oranges and reds flush meander down to Jeju Island in the south by early November.

Like cherry blossom festivals, the changing leaves bring out festivals in the cities and glorious hikes through national parks.

Holidays Arrive Early

You thought Christmas travel was a pain? Try Chuseok!

Along with Lunar New Year (Seollal), Chuseok brings everyone out of their apartment buildings and onto the roads. For three to five days in mid-September, transportation infrastructure swells to capacity.

Train tickets go faster than Coachella. If you can get a bus ticket, you might as well harness snails to a dog sled. You ain’t going nowhere on those highways.

What to pack for Korea in the Autumn

Autumn is the most forgiving of seasons in Korea. It’s not too hot, nor too cold. What to wear in September and October in Korea? Well, you can get away with t-shirts in September and early October. However, nighttime brings the cold. Don’t forget to pack a light jacket.

Korean Autumn Packing List for Korea. Items on a picture card.

Shorts are good during the day.

In fact, you might have to break out a pair of dusty gloves and a skull cap. 3 °C on a November night is enough to sear the edges of your knuckles.

And, don’t forget the sunscreen. The year-round sun doesn’t care about temperature. Exposed skin will suffer.

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Choosing what to pack for Korea comes down to your personal preferences. If you’re not sure what to wear you can still do some shopping and pick up some items you forgot.

The country has an endless supply of clothes to fit all four seasons. Have a look online at H&M or Zara.

I hope you enjoyed our packing list for Korea.

If you have any other recommendations please get in touch or comment below.

Have a great trip!