Our Travel Blog is heading to Seoul again! I think the second best place in my books would be Korea. There’s so so so much to buy there and things are so affordable you barely even think before you make that purchase! Whatsmore with the Korean wave and pretty idols endorsing all the products, how does anyone resist not buying anything!
So here’s a short and sweet list of mine that I definitely get when I’m in Kimchiland!
This is just totally self explanatory. Who doesn’t buy kimchi when they’re in Korea. I’m personally a big fan of Kimchi and can eat it everyday with no complain, which explains why it’s the first on our list.
Kimchi is a staple when eating in Korea and what better gift/souvenir to get for your friends/family than freshly made Kimchi which are relatively cheap and can even found across supermarkets in Korea. There are plenty of variety of Kimchi prepared using different types of vegetables, my personal fav are either white cabbage or radish. And the staff in the supermarket are super accommodating and well prepared. Your purchases are all ready to be shrink wrapped securely fastened to ensure it’s intact.
However, as written in our 14 Things you Must Know Before Heading to Korea article, do note that we advise you to check in the kimchi as big packets of kimchi are not allowed to be carry on in your hand luggage.
You’ll need something to go with your kimchi, so why not get another of Korean’s popular staple that goes superbly well with Kimchi, Korean Ramen.
Alvin and I loveeeeee instant noodles (yes we know how unhealthy they are) but you know how addictive they can be as well! Although the flavors are not as comparable to what the cup noodle museum in Japan offers, but there’s just something different about the noodles in Korean Ramen as compared to other cup noodles, they are more chewy and bouncy.
Besides, there are also plenty of ramen flavors to choose from of which, the latest trend that had the world raving about is the EXTRA SPICY noodles. You definitely see videos of people doing challenges online. We’ve personally tried them and I only added half a packet of spicy sauce, and I couldn’t feel my lips halfway into the bowl. But still, I LOVE IT. Do try to add a little at a time, try the spiciness first and refrain from adding the entire packet.
I’m not a must-have-alcohol-for-meals-kind-of-person, but I personally fancy the Grapefuit soju which totally complements the meal while you’re having Korean BBQ! The original soju tastes much like pure vodka, which may be very difficult for some to drink, but surprisingly the Grapefruit one doesn’t taste like that at all and it is super tasty! And its pretty expensive in Singapore, so you’ll definitely see me packing a few bottles back!
Another raving drink that you definitely see in BBQ stalls are Makgeolli. It is made from rice, thus getting the nickname “korean rice wine”. It is a slightly sweet alcohol that is usually served in a bowl or a kettle in korean restaurants. But fret not, they are in bottles readily available for you to grab and go and get some bottles home!
If I’m looking for a decent souvenir or gift for my parents/grandparents, Red Ginseng is the gift to go. Ginseng is good for an exquisite gift and it is a tonic good for all ages, and Red Ginseng is widely famous in Korea. You can find plenty of boutiques selling Ginseng and you can find them in different forms, i.e. packaged as candy, supplements or even syrup to drink as Ginseng tea.
5) Korean Snacks
I personally wouldn’t buy seaweed from the supermarkets as they are slightly pricey there. The best place to get seaweed is at Namdaemun Market. Buying in bulk gets you better bargains and they have a variety of flavor for you to choose from. My recommended flavors to get are sesame or the spicy kimchi flavors. Do note to be there earlier as the market opens in the day, and if you’re there before lunch, you can walk around the other shops in the maket and grab lunch there!
· Variety of Korean chips
With the sudden influx of Shine Supermarket in Singapore, I’m sure you all have your own favorite snacks from Korea. There are SO MANY to choose from and I don’t even know which to recommend. One of the famous of the lot would definitely be Honey Butter Chips, Market’O brand brownies or Pepero sticks which you can get at a fraction of a price as compared to in Singapore.
But my favorite one is the O!karto chip, I LOVE ALL THEIR FLAVORS!
6) Facial products/Cosmetics
Korea is a skincare paradise. There are so many brands to choose from and one gets lost as all the shops looks the same when you exit one and enter the next. For a vain pot like me, this has got to be my favorite section till date for an article, but the list will never end and the more this list goes on, the more Alvin will know how much money I’m wasting on cosmetics/facial products. But one must make the ultimate sacrifice for all our readers out there, even if it means having Alvin hawk eye my wallet when we’re in Korea. So here goes!
As everyone has different skin types and suitability of products are subjective to each individual, I can’t specifically recommend which products to get, instead, I’ll be sharing a few of my personal favorite to visit/buy brands from Korea.
Sulwhasoo, Laneige, Innisfree, Nature Republic, 3CE and Etude House are some of the brands I definitely wouldn’t miss visiting to stock up my facial and cosmetic products.
To name a few, I’ll stock up on my BB cushions and Water Sleeping pack from Laneige, face masks from innisfree and nature republic, essential skincare products from Sulwhasoo and my current fav, Make up remover from Banila. Co!
For makeup fans, do not miss out StyleNanda in korea where you can get 3CE makeup products!
Truth be told, there are too many to name and very often some of the products available in Korea are not sold in other markets, so you probably have to go there and see and decide if you want it.
In addition, I would suggest doing some research and listing out a list of items you want to get before heading over. You can note down the prices in Duty Free at the airport at the departure hall and compare the price when you’re in Korea. As there are times there may be promo exclusive to DFS that makes it cheaper than buying the actual item in Korea. SO if its cheaper in DFS, you can just purchase it when you return. GST is not charged regardless when you purchase it when you depart or arrive.
This list is not exhaustive and we would be constantly adding on to this list when we chance upon more things to buy in korea. Don’t forget to also subscribe to our Singapore Food Blog to know about the amazing must try foods in Korea!
What about you? What are some of your must get things when in Korea? Let us know in the comments below!