Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is a heady blend of 21st-century consumerist hedonism, ancient monuments and a treasure trove of East Asian culture. This city of 12 million is growing as a destination not just for travelers but for digital nomads too, scoring a respectable 4.5 out of 5 on Nomadlist. Whether you’re after the fast, free Wi-Fi or looking to fill up on street food, we’ll show you exactly what to pack for a trip to Seoul, with key recommendations from someone who’s made the weekend jaunt countless times.

The first thing that you need to know about South Korea is that there are four distinct seasons, so the weather will almost always vary depending on which time of the year you visit. Summers (usually May through September) offer little in the way of respite from scorching temperatures, while winters (November through February) are bitterly cold. Spring and autumn are absolute bliss in Seoul, however, so if you are planning a trip to the capital, then you’re best off scheduling it for one of the ‘shoulder’ seasons.

With that meteorological rundown out of the way, let’s get to the travel essentials. We’re going to discuss how to pack for a trip by breaking these travel essentials into a few categories, all of which should make your packing experience more efficient.

A stunning view over Seoul

Clothing Picks For Seoul

We’ve already spoken a bit about how extreme South Korean can be, so keep that in mind when you’re putting together your travel packing list. For summer in Seoul, pack in at least two to three synthetic shirts (short sleeved shirts, preferably), either a button-down or a golfer if you’re looking for something that you can take from day to night without any hassle. In winter, consider a padded fleece outer to guard against the sub-zero temperatures, while a couple of turtlenecks will also serve you well. Autumn and spring are a bit more forgiving, so for a weekend all you’d need are a couple of light-fitting outers – think light jerseys and pullovers which you can take off once the temperatures rise during the day. As far as footwear goes, you’re most likely going to be covering lots of ground, so keep your shoes comfortable. A trendy yet understated pair of lifestyle sneakers are a solid choice. If you’ve got a pair of Birkenstocks, don’t be afraid to unleash them on the Seoul streets during summer either. You definitely won’t look out of place as Seoulites are known to be some of the most fashionable citizens in Asia.

Toiletries To Pack For Seoul

Toiletries in South Korea can be a minefield if you aren’t entirely sure what to look for. You could pick up the basics from a convenience store but foreigners are best off bringing their own washbag items as a) there isn’t much variety when it comes to South Korean grooming products and b) many of the face creams have lightening agents. A few key items to put on your travel list include deodorant, hair product, cologne, body wash, and your own moisturizer and face cream. Arcido Washbag helps you in organizing your toiletries. 

Electronics in Seoul

It can be tempting to go overboard with the electronics in such a tech-driven city, but my advice is to keep your tech carry as light as possible. A travel camera and power bank will generally suffice, but you should also consider bringing along your earbuds or AirPods, as you might be spending a fair amount of time commuting using the subway.

Miscellaneous Essentials For Your Trip To Seoul

Then there are the miscellaneous essentials which will serve you well during your Seoul sojourn. If you don’t already have a T-Money card (the card used for public transit) then it’s dead simple to pick one up at any convenience store and get it loaded up with credit. An umbrella is also an item which could be the difference between staying dry and getting caught in a summer rainstorm, so check the forecast ahead of time. There’s also the questionable air quality to be aware of, so first up, download an app which shows you the AQI forecast and if necessary, pick up a mask in the city. Anything above KF94 is advisable, as these masks will filter out 94% of harmful particles.

Delicious and fresh seafood

Seoul might be light years ahead of other cities when it comes to tech but unfortunately, single-use culture is still very pervasive, so here are a couple of packing tips to cut back on waste. Many guesthouses, hotels and even restaurants will have cold water dispensers, so rather than buy bottled water, bring your own bottle with and top it up for free. You’re also most probably going to be savoring the delectable street food, so bring your own re-usable cutlery and straws to do your bit in minimizing waste.

Finally, you’ll need a capable day pack to hold all your essentials as you trek around the capital. The Arcido Vaga day pack is a great choice with its low profile which fits snugly in the Arcido Akra, as well as a durable yet stylish heathered gray finish which hides dirt and scuffs. I’d go so far as to say that truly minimalist travelers could travel Seoul using nothing but the Vaga, with no need for a larger backpack. As a day pack is where this product really shines, however.

With that, your weekend Seoul travel packing list is complete. Are you ready to spend 3 days exploring the streets of this exciting South Korean metropolis?

Written by Stuart Hendricks