Buying souvenirs in Seoul is easy as there is a kaleidoscope of different retail outlets including some very attractive department stores. There are a number of distinct shopping areas including Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Gangnam. There are some great markets to visit in Seoul too and many of them are specialist ones and are fun just to wander around and soak up the atmosphere as well as getting some rather special gifts for the folk back home! Let us have a look at the top 10 souvenirs to buy in Seoul.
1. Enjoy some Korean tea
This is a great souvenir as it is light and easy to pack! There are stalls in the various markets where tea can be bought loosely by the gram so this is perfect if you want to take a selection of teas home. All Korean teas are healthy as they are made from dried plants. One of the most popular teas is daechu-cha which is made from small sweet Korean dates – this tea is also known as Ju-tu tea. Another popular tea is made from buckwheat and a third is a delicious taste of sweet and sour which is known as Yuja-cha which is a really thick tea that is the perfect way to warm up on a cold winter’s day.
2. Pack some Gim
Dried roasted seaweed (Gim) is very popular in Korea and is widely available in Seoul. Seaweed is used in a variety of savory dishes and is rich in antioxidants so is considered very healthy. There are plenty of seaweed snacks to choose from with tempting mixtures of seaweed and onion, seaweed and olive oil and seaweed and wasabi- check out the supermarket shelves!
3. Grab yourself some ginseng
Ginseng is famous all over the world for its great health benefits which include giving your immune system a boost. Korean ginseng is said to be the finest in the world. Ginseng is pricey but its benefits are well documented.
There are three different kinds available in Seoul; natural is susum, dried is baoksam and steamed then dried is hongsam. The best place to buy some is in the Herbal Medicine Market. Along with ginseng, you will find a variety of ginseng products including tea, candy, and a powerful ginseng liquor!
4. Buy a beautiful Buchae
Paper folding is a real art and what better souvenir than a brightly colored paper fan? Buchae – paper fans – are used in Korean dancing and are widely available. There are a number of artist workshops where you can find artisans hand painting them – what a special souvenir and of course if you buy several, they can be used as attractive wall decorations.
5. Promise your self a great night’s sleep
It may seem strange to buy a Korean pillow as a souvenir, but they are a rather unique souvenir! They look really beautiful and are filled with husks of buckwheat which sound strange but are actually brilliant as they mold themselves to your head and align your spine. A Korean pillow certainly promises a good nights sleep and can be bought in Namdaemun Market.
6. Admire some authentic craftwork
There are many young artists living in the city and it is well worth pausing to admire their work. They make unique pieces of jewelry woodwork and paintings and sell them at good prices – what a truly unique souvenir from your time in Seoul.
7. Select some gorgeous Hanji paper
This gorgeous paper is handmade from mulberry bushes and is surprisingly durable. Along with exquisite sheets of writing paper, you will find Hanji paper made into an assortment of souvenirs including lampshades and pocket fans.
8. Invest in some Korean cosmetics
Korean cosmetics are popular all over the world and are very reasonably priced and good quality. There is the full range available including lipsticks, mascara, and eyeliners. Go for the top brands such as Innisfree, The Face Shop, and Tonymoly. For something fun and rather different, buy a pack of Korean face masks. These are different as they are sheets of paper, gel or thin cloth that have been impregnated with mixtures of natural ingredients. They are sold in packs of 5-10 and do wonders for the skin!
9. Enjoy the taste of Tteokbokki
This delicious snack is tube-shaped rice cakes that are covered in a sweet spicy sauce that is very moreish! Tteokbokki is probably the most popular street food and can be enjoyed at any time from barrows where it is being freshly made. Packets of Tteokbokki taste pretty good and make an easy to pack, fun present for friends and work colleagues.
10. Get a new phone cover
Needless to say, nearly everyone in Seoul has a mobile phone so accessories are widely available including thousands of different mobile covers. There are just so many to choose from and most of them are cutie designs and there are even matching his and her designs! What makes a new phone cover from Seoul extra special is that the same designs are hard to find outside the city.
Updated: April 26, 2019