Going shopping is half to fun of visiting South Korea. It is almost impossible to go outside without stepping into at least one store and finding yourself emerge with an armful of shopping bags hours later.
Yet when it comes to buying souvenirs for your loved ones back home, you might be stumped for gift ideas that are appropriate, representative of Korea and won’t break your bank, or break in your suitcase. Here are some gift ideas to please all your friends and family when you return home from your travels.
If you are souvenir shopping for young children or teenagers, visit Ewha Womans University Shopping Street and browse the range of fun and affordable accessory shops. Cheap accessories can be found in most stores in this area and there are even stores which specifically sell only socks, and street stalls for cute hair accessories. Go to Ewha Womans University Station, exit 3, walk straight and you will find a plethora of small, bustling shops.
This is a great souvenir as they are unique, lightweight and don’t cost too much. Stock up on these fun gifts and make your younger relatives gleam when you return home.
Quirky Make Up Products
Korean make-up products are slowly taking over the world. Treat your friends at home to some of Korea’s unique yet highly regarded beauty products to make them smile. Beauty stores can be found in most busy areas, but if you visit shopping districts such as Myeongdong, you are likely to be given plenty of free samples which can also double up as gifts!
Choose products which are quintessentially Korean such as sheet masks, foundation cushions, lip tints and much more. If you don’t know what to buy, the staff in beauty stores are always keen to provide assistance so you will have plenty of recommendations to choose from.
Another great gift idea for younger children and teenagers is stationary. Taking into account how intense the education system in Korea is, it is no surprise that Korean stationary is such a successful industry. Stop by an Artbox or Daiso and you will find abundant stationary sections which make fun gifts for your studious relatives.
Stationary is usually reasonably priced and small so makes the perfect gift to take back home without worrying it may get damaged. This is a great last minute gift idea as you can find a stationary shop in most busy areas and they are often open until late.
This gift will be greatly appreciated by parents, older relatives and your health conscious friends. Korea is well-known for its range of fresh, healthy and delicious teas which have many health benefits. These teas can be packed away compactly into your suitcase so is the perfect gift if you are travelling light
Popular teas include daechu, ginseng, barely and brown rice tea. Specialty tea sets can be purchased in many tourist areas such as Insadong. Why not pair this with an authentic Korean tea set if you are buying a souvenir for someone special?
If you are looking for cheaper alternatives, simply visit a food mart and browse the selection of interesting yet reasonably priced teas- these will be appreciated by your loved ones back home who cannot access Korean products so easily.
Authentic Artwork and Ornaments
Pay a visit to Insadong and browse the seemingly endless number of authentic souvenir shops. These stores offer all kinds of traditional Korean gifts from artwork, wall hangings, fans, ornaments to hanbok and fashion items.
Artwork, paintings and wall hangings are brilliant gift ideas as they can easily be stored in your suitcase and will not be damaged on the way back home. Small ornaments are also a very well appreciated souvenir, if you can safely pack it in your suitcase, that is.
Insadong is a little pricier than other shopping areas, but offers a wide range of souvenirs which means you are likely to find something for everyone in this area. This area is worth visiting if you would like to purchase a special gift which has a historical significance as well as being appropriate for the receiver!
Although Korean clothing can be purchased online, many of the best pieces can only be found on the rails of a stall in one of Korea’s cheap clothing streets. Popular areas include Ewha Womans University, Hongdae and Dongdaemun’s night market.
This is perfect for friends and younger relatives, and will be greatly appreciated as Korean fashion is quirky and fun, unlike much of the fashion trending elsewhere in the world. Be careful when you are shopping though, as many pieces are only available in one size.
Korean Snack Foods
Some of the best gifts can be bought from your local convenience store. Korean snack foods can be impossible to find, or extortionate, in other parts of the world, so spoil your friends and family with something from your local 7/11. This is a great gift for your food loving friends, group gifts, or for anyone interested in Korea as it gives them a special and unconventional taste of the country.
Snack foods are small and easy to pack as well as being generally very cheap so is an ideal gift for anyone on a budget. If you aren’t sure what to buy, take a look at our Ultimate Korean Convenience Store Guide.
If you are looking to buy something a little more special, take advantage of South Korea’s impressive electronics market. The home of Samsung and LG, this is the place to buy that new mobile phone or laptop your child, significant other or relative has been yearning after. The quality is high and the prices are often cheaper than they are elsewhere in the world.
Places to buy electronics include Yongsan Electronics Market, I’Park Mall and Gangbyeon Techno Market. It is worth shopping around a bit before committing to one of these more expensive products, but it will definitely make an excellent souvenir, as long as you have space for it in your suitcase.