When traveling to a new country for the first time, or even otherwise, it is always nice to buy some local delights to bring back home for ourselves and our loved ones. In today’s globalized world where everything is available everywhere, the dilemma stands as to what to buy during a trip. If you are visiting Seoul in South Korea, you will be delighted to know that there are still a number of things which are unique to Korea and probably are best available there. Planning your holiday soon or in Seoul already? Continue reading below to find out about some of the best things to buy in Seoul.
1. Korean paper products
These Korean paper products known as Hanji are made of mulberry bark. These papers are durable and are usually used to make various products such as wallpapers, lamps, boxes and even stationery. The paper-making tradition is something which is over a thousand years old. It is said that Hanji was widely used in Korea until the Western mass production printing methods were introduced in the country in the late 1800s. In fact, there are only a couple of dozen Hanji paper mills operating in Korea. As such, the amount of Hanji that is produced annually is limited, making it a worthwhile item to procure while in the country. Visit one of a Hanji craft shop in the city and get the chance to make a craft for yourself or to bring home as a gift. There is nothing more unique than that! These Hanji papers can be converted into great gifts like a picture frame or a doll for a child.
Where to buy: Gyeongil Hanji Department store, Seoul.
Price: 3 USD to 4 USD
2. Good quality ginseng
Ginseng is one of the most popular plants or herbs, grown in South Korea. Ginseng grows well in South Korea because of its ideal climate. There are three types of Korean ginseng; Ginseng in its natural form is known as susam, dried ginseng is known as baeksam and ginseng that has been steamed and then dried is known as hongsam. This herb is found in different forms such as ginseng tea, candy and even health supplements. The best places to find ginseng is in markets such as Gyeongdong Yaknyeong Market and Naemdaemun Market. The best time to buy ginseng is probably during the ginseng festivals.
Good quality ginseng
Where to buy: Gyeongdong Yaknyeong Market and Naemdaemun Market
Price: About 60 USD for 600gm of ginseng
3. Personalised stamps
Stamps, or Dojang, are widely used in Korea for the signing of documents. There are stores in Seoul, in particular, Insadong, that will personalize these stamps according to the name you want. This personal stamp makes for a great souvenir for yourself or your friends. After carving your name on the stamp, you will be able to use this to sign letters, make cards and even decorate gifts. Many shops dealing with personalization of these stamps will also conduct classes to let you know how to create one. Choose this personalized stamp for yourself or your loved ones back home.
Where to buy: Insadong, Seoul
Price: From 25 USD
4. Korean beauty products
It is a universally known fact that Korea is big on beauty products and cosmetics. As such, the country is definitely known for carrying a wide range of these products. When at the stores, you will notice that there is a plethora of products to choose from. These range from lipstick, to gloss, eyeliner, mascara and so on. There are also products like face masks made of various ingredients for one to choose from. These sheet masks are also inexpensive and famous brands are those such as A by Bom, SkinRx Lab, I’m Sorry for My Skin and Papa Recipe. A good place to look for these beauty products in abundance is the Myeongdong shopping street.
Korean beauty products
Where to buy: Myeongdong shopping street
Price: Anywhere from 5 USD to 55 USD
5. Traditional embroidery
Traditional Korean handicrafts were once very popular in the country. However, given advancements in technology, this craft is slowly disappearing. Nonetheless, there are a number of artists who continue to preserve the tradition. As such, it is possible for one to find a relatively wide range of products with traditional embroidery on them. One can choose from embroidered pouches, wallets for ladies and even bags. These can easily be found in local stores at reasonable rates. In particular, check out glass cases and aprons which can be found in embroidered designs.
Where to buy: Gukje Embroidery, Insadong
Cost: Starting from 17 USD
6. Korean delight, dried seaweed
Gim is the Korean name for the seaweed that we all savor and eat. Gim is perhaps one of the most popular and widely cultivated types of seaweed in Korea. This makes it something that one definitely has to buy when in Seoul. Seaweed here is processed into paper-thin layers and sold in individual packets. Koreans love to eat it with rice or simply as a snack on its own. Dried seaweed can be found all around Seoul, especially in all supermarkets and department stores.
Where to buy: All supermarkets
Cost: 4 USD for 1 pack of 6 to 10 pieces
Hanbok is well-known as the traditional dress of Korea. Hanboks are elegant and made of a shirt or jacket with a long wrap around the skirt. Prices of hanbok vary according to the type of fabric which is used. Koreans take much pride in their traditional outfit and still wear them on special occasions such as during the Lunar New Year or for weddings. One can buy many accessories to go with the outfit. These range from hairpins to brooches and more intricate pieces of jewelry. Getting a custom-made hanbok for yourself or off-the-shelf ones for others back home will help you bring back a slice of Korea with you.
Where to buy: Jongoh Underground Shopping Centre and Seoul traditional markets
Cost: 58 USD onwards
8. Hadong tea to sip on
Korea is well-known for its range of high-quality tea leaves. In fact, one of the finest teas South Korea has to offer is known as the Hadong tea. This tea is known to have many health benefits which one might appreciate. Unlike other tea production sites which make use of machines for processing tea leaves, the region of Hadong continues to produce tea using traditional methods. As such, it is believed that Hadong tea is high-grade and is thus sold at high prices. So, if you are a tea-lover, buy some of this tea and take it back with you from Seoul.
Where to buy: Tea Culture Center area (Hwagae-myeon & Akyang-myeon, Hadong-gun)
Cost: Tea culture experience- about 9 USD
9. Character socks
South Korea will come to one’s mind first when thinking of buying quirky items. Seoul is no exception, where buying character socks is highly worthwhile. Kids or otherwise, one will instantly fall in love with these cute socks. If you are looking to delight your kids, then get a couple of pairs with animal and cartoon character images. Otherwise, there are adult-themed socks such as Oppa socks or even socks with images of Donald Trump on them. There is a huge range of designs, ranging from mild-natured ones to the craziest of the lot. Walk through some of the shopping streets in Seoul and you will be sure to stumble upon many shops selling these socks.
Where to buy: Myeongdong and Dongdaemun shopping districts, Namdaemun Market and departmental stores
Cost: About 1 USD a pair
10. Fancy phone cases
If there is one thing that would be hard to find back home, it would be a fancy, quirky phone case. Phone cases have an industry of their own in Korea and there’s a great demand for these cases. This can be attributed to the fact that there is a high population of people in Korea who are mobile phone users and like aesthetics. As such, one will find that Seoul has an overwhelming selection of cute and funky phone case designs. As they are hard to come across in your home country, why not choose some covers which you fancy and take home as lovely souvenirs?
Fancy phone cases
Where to buy: Myeongdong, Hongdae and Gangnam shopping districts
Cost: 8 USD to 25 USD
Lovely souvenirs to take home
There is a wide range of great souvenirs that you buy from Seoul to take home, ranging from food products to crafts and sundries. Take these home and share some of your wonderful memories with friends and family.
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