Top 30 Things People Buy Back From Seoul & Where To Find Them

Pro tip: Just head to Lotte Mart in Seoul Station.

Practical souvenirs and non-food items:

1. Super cute character socks

Image via Living Nomads

If you're cracking your head on souvenirs to buy back for your countless family members and friends, these are your best bet. On average, a pair of cute socks only cost about KRW1,000 (about RM3.55), so... go crazy!

In addition to plain-coloured ones, take your pick from iconic characters like the Avengers, the Justice League, Pokemon, Disney princesses, Toy Story, Mickey and Minnie, as well as cutesy animals and even political figures like Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Stalls lined along the shopping districts (e.g. Myeongdong, Hongdae, Dongdaemun), underground shopping centres (e.g. Myeongdong and Gangnam), and certain local markets.

2. Phone cases

From cute pastel-coloured designs and pop culture icons to bejewelled varieties and even customisable options, you'll wish you had more than one phone just so you can buy more than one of these cool phone cases!

However, if you're using anything other than an iPhone or popular Samsung models, you may be hard pressed to find one to your liking. Fret not, however, coz some stalls also sell ear phones, charging cables, as well as power banks with unique designs.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Stalls lined along the shopping districts (e.g. Myeongdong, Hongdae, Gangnam), underground shopping centres (e.g. Myeongdong and Gangnam), and certain local markets.

Image via loriboriii

3. Face masks

Sheet masks are everywhere and sold in bulk quantities in various forms (gel, paper, fabric) for very low prices in Seoul. Writer's note: I once bought a packet of 50 The Saem masks for KRW20,000, which is about RM70 (about RM1.40 per sheet).

In addition to typical "flavours" like rice, aloe vera, and shea butter, don't be afraid to try out bizarre ones like snail slime, placenta, and horse fat. Do keep an eye out for those with super cute packaging too! 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: At every corner in the Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Gangnam shopping districts and underground shopping centres, particularly in the beauty flagship stores (Innisfree, Tony Moly etc.) as well as drugstores like Olive Young and GS Watsons. 

4. Korean beauty products

Like face masks, flagship stores of Korean beauty brands can be found in pretty much every shopping district in Seoul. I'd actually spotted at least three Etude House outlets in Hongdae alone!

Stock up on make-up essentials like BB and CC creams/cushions, lipstick and lip tints, hand and body creams, nail polish, and eyebrow pencils. Some brands - like Clio, 3ce Style Nanda, and Banila Co - could be much cheaper compared to in Malaysia too, especially if you buy them at duty-free shops.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Gangnam shopping districts, as well as drugstores like Olive Young and GS Watsons. Do try to check out the prices at Lotte and Hyundai duty-free department stores to compare. 

5. K-pop albums and merchandise

Seoul is, after all, the birthplace of Korean pop music! Keep an eye out for stores that exclusively sell K-pop related merch such as posters, autographed stills, T-shirt, stationery, and more. 

K-pop albums are also cheaper in Seoul (about RM20 to RM40 less) compared to buying them in Malaysia... and there are more options too. :D 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Check out the list of places that sell K-pop exclusive merch here.

6. Starbucks tumblers and limited edition cards

If you're an avid collector of Starbucks merch, keep an eye out for limited edition designs when you're in Seoul. In fact, most of the pretty tumbler designs you might have seen online were probably created by Korean designers. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: 
Any Starbucks outlet in Seoul. 

7. Korean fashion pieces (especially one of those chic winter coats)

Do note that some pieces, especially those sold in pop-up stalls and underground stores, are probably one-size-fits-all. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Hongdae shopping district (especially Style Nanda) for unique and one-of-a-kind fashion brands, Dongdaemun Market and Namdaemun Market for cheap but chic options, Garosu-gil and Apgujeong for high-end designer brands, and the underground shopping centres in Myeongdong and Gangnam. 

8. Dojang (personalised name stamps)

Typically made of wood, ivory, or jade, you can even have the stamp customised to your own name (as long as it fits within the square base).

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Insadong a.k.a. the artsy part of Seoul.

Food, drinks, and snacks:

9. Gim (seaweed)

Gim - or laver, as it is sometimes referred to on the packaging - can be used to make gimbap (Korean rice rolls), cooked in soup, and even eaten on its own as a healthy snack. Aside from the usual salted variety, they also come in flavours like habanero, teriyaki, wasabi, and spicy pepper.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: You can easily find gim (or laver, as it is sometimes called) at supermarkets in Seoul, where they are usually sold in packets of 10 or more. In fact, Lotte Mart at Seoul Station has an entire aisle dedicated to seaweed!

Note: Thanks to its paper-like form, they will not add much weight to your luggage, but do note that gim packets can take up quite a lot of space.

10. Shin Ramyun Black

Every "things to buy in Seoul" listicle I came across recommends buying Samyang spicy noodles, but why would you want to fill up limited luggage space with something you can easily buy back home? 

Get yourself a packet of Shin Ramyun Black, which comes with extra beef stock soup and has a richer taste compared to the original. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul. 

11. Kimchi

Image via Serious Eats

Apart from the usual spicy cabbage or radish variations we're used to seeing, you will find way more varieties in Seoul, such as kimchi made of cucumber, spring onions, and even non-spicy ones. 

Make sure to check in your stash of tightly- and double-wrapped kimchi on your flight home, because you're not allowed to hand-carry it on board. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: You can find pre-packaged ones in any supermarket or duty-free store, but you'll find more kimchi variations (and freshly-made too!) at local markets. 

12. Korean ginseng

Also known as red ginseng, Korean ginseng can be pricey but totally worth buying home for your parents or loved ones. There are three types on ginseng available - susam (natural form), baeksam (dried ginseng), and hongsam (steamed then dried). 

You can also find all sorts of ginseng-based products in Seoul, such as candies, tea, and health supplements. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: You can find nicely packaged ones in any supermarket or duty-free store, as well as loose variations in local markets like Gwangjang Market, Namdaemun Market, and Gyeongdong Yaknyeong Market. 

13. Honey pancakes

Not unlike Doraemon's beloved dorayaki, these honey pancakes are fluffy on the outside, and though the honey may look a little dry on the inside, it's delightfully gooey once it's in your mouth. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Bread section at supermarkets in Seoul.

14. Market O Real Brownies

I don't trust pre-packaged / boxed brownies, but these bite-sized things are BOMB.COM. Soft, chewy, and rich with melt-in-your-mouth chocolate bits, they come in three flavours - chocolate, green tea, and orange. 

Note: Market O brownies are non-halal, as they incorporate alcoholic preservatives.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: They're pretty much available in most (if not every) supermarket and grocery store in Seoul, where they are sold in boxes of 4's and 8's. If you're here to stock up, however, go for the special 4 x 8 gift boxes. :p

While you're at it, do check out the brand's addictive Cheese Chips (made with cheddar and camembert cheese) and chocolate-coated crackers too:

15. Lotte Choco Pie

Probably one of the most popular snacks for tourists to buy back home, Lotte Choco Pies also come in funky flavours like green tea, strawberry, cacao, red velvet, and in the summer, calamansi. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

16. Orion Moist And Chewy Cake

SO CUTE. Shaped like a fish, the dense cake has a chocolatey red bean paste in the middle and will no doubt be a hit with the little ones. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

17. Tom's flavoured almonds

Sure, we have these in Malaysia, but betcha didn't realise there are tons of other flavours too! In addition to Honey Butter and Wasabi, the almonds also come in funky flavours like Hot and Spicy Chicken, Yogurt, Strawberry, Cookies and Cream, Sweet Red Bean, Laver, and Caramel. The brand also offers other types of nuts like macadamia and cashews. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

18. Honey butter chips

Aside from the usual French butter variety, you may also find flavours like maple syrup, cherry blossom, and caramel almond. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

19. Binggrae flavoured milk

In addition to the popular banana-flavoured one, you can also try other flavours like melon, strawberry, and coffee. 

Do not that the bottles ones only last for less than a week, so you might want to opt for the boxed variation (below) to bring home.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

20. Mitte Hot Chocolate

Fluffy bunnies (and pandas!). 'Nuff said. 

WHERE: Supermarkets, department stores, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

21. Soju and makgeolli (rice wine)

These alcoholic Korean staples are pretty cheap, so take your time to try out modern flavours like pineapple, apple, raspberry, and grapefruit. There's even a cheese-flavoure makgeolli, you guys. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

Image via Visit Seoul

22. Honey citron tea

Perfect for both hot and cold days, as it can be served with ice or piping hot, Korean honey citron tea comes in both powdered or capsule form (boxed) and gel-like concentrate (in a large jar). These refreshing honey-based teas also come in flavours like grapefruit, aloe vera, ginger, blueberry, and jujube.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: 
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

Image via Living Nomads

23. Pepero

These cookie sticks are also readily available back home, but if you simply must buy some, keep an eye out for flavours that you don't often see in Malaysia like Nude Cheese and those with colourful sprinkles.

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

24. Petitzel sweet pudding

It comes in rich flavours such as royal Custard, chocolate, milk custard, whipped cream, and strawberry. The brand also offers a cheesecake-like pudding in camembert and blueberry flavours.

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul. 

If you prefer fruity desserts, check out Petitzel's Fruit Jelly (below), Yogurt Jelly, and Gummy Jelly products. 

25. Crown Butter Waffles

Buttery, thick, and crunchy, these biscuit-like waffles are perfect for dipping in coffee (or any hot drink, your choice, really). You can also try Waffle Mate, another brand that sells a similar sort of snack.

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

26. Tteokbokki crackers

These crackers may not be as spicy as the spicy Korean rice cakes you'd usually have on the streets of Myeongdong, but its slightly sticky and sweet flavour will make you wanna lick your fingers clean afterwards.  

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

27. Anytime Milk Mint

Image via Carousell

Sucking on these candies are quite the experience. Its milky shell melts into a minty centre, or you can simply bite into it for instant minty freshness. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: 
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul. 

28. Green tea spread

Perfect for matcha fanatics, this sweet spread also comes in flavours like green tea almond (with bits of almond in it) and chocolate with cookie crumbs. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul. 

29. Korean sauces and pastes

Image via Living Nomads

Feeling inspired to try cooking Korean-style food after your trip to Seoul? Start with basic sauces and pastes like jinganjang (soy sauce), doenjang (fermented soy bean paste), gochujang (hot pepper paste), and chamkireum (toasted sesame oil). 

WHERE TO FIND THEM:
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul.

30. Instant soup base packets

Image via MyFatPocket

If you're not too keen on starting from scratch, simply grab one (or a few) of these ready-made Korean soup bases like samgyetang (ginseng chicken soup), beef broth, kimchi-based soup, and seaweed or vegetable broth. 

WHERE TO FIND THEM: 
Supermarkets, grocery and convenience stores in Seoul. 

What other souvenirs and snacks do you always buy back from Seoul? Let us know your favourites in the comments section below!

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