Your Holiday Shopping Guide in Korea on a Budget

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Your Holiday Shopping Guide in Korea on a Budget

“I need to go to holiday shopping for my family back home and I have no idea what to buy!”

I’ve heard some concerns about the holiday shopping from my expat friends. Yes, it can be hard if you are new here. What to buy, how much should I spend, and am I getting a good deal? I don’t know! So, here I am, presenting ‘your holiday shopping guide in Korea on a budget’. All items are around $20, small, and easy to ship. These items are culturally interesting, beautiful, and it’s in your budget for sure. Places I recommend are Gwangjang Sijang (Gwangjang Market), Namdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Market, and Jongro. Here are your options.

Tea

Citrus tea

Citrus in a cold day

Korea is a land of tea. Different from China or England, but definitely tea is a big part of the culture. Not just tea leafs, there are many kinds of tea made of fruits, vegetables, and even woods. Nowadays many manufacturers produce the tea in powder or liquid for your connivence.

Korea is not well known for its tea culture as much as China or England, but we have been drinking tea for a long time. Even when I was little, barley tea was a common drinking water because we had to boil the tap water before drinking. We always boiled a big pot of water and made barely tea as drinking water for the family.

#Options for traditional tea: Green tea, Green tea with brown rice, Jujube tea, plum tea, cinnamon tea, citrus tea, ginger tea.

#Where to get: Grocery stores, supermarkets, traditional markets.

#Price: from 3,000 won (50 tea bags) ~ 10,000 won (1 jar of traditional tea)

Socks

Obama Socks in Korea

President Obama Socks in Korea

Korea is a sock heaven. Colour, cartoon, style, price… you name it, it’s there. Earlier this year, President of the US, President Obama was the most popular subject in socks. You can also find all the different kinds of socks for just only 1,000 won. Maybe it’s odd to send ‘socks’ home, but it is a cultural product of Korea!

#Where to get: anywhere. Street vendors usually have the best collection. Go Namdaemun of Gwangjang Sijang for a whole sale price.

#Price: 1,000 won/ pair and they will give you some extra if you buy a lot. That’s how they role.

Painting

More arts and ink-and-wash painting

Painting and ink and wash painting

Watercolor painting or ink-and-wash painting has a long history in Korea. There are many artists around the country, and you can get it relatively cheap from local artists. Also painting on Korean fans could be a good present. They can write customer’s name in the painting.

#Where to get: lots of artists are working in Insadong.

#Price: 5,000 won for a small painting ~ various per size.

Mask

Mask

Masks in Insadong

Mask theater show (Talchum) is one of Korea’s national treasures. Actors wore masks to protect their identity while they were making fun of their politicians and this society in the old days. Each mask indicates a different person, position, and emotion.

It comes with various sizes for a souvenir. The store takes care of through packing if you ask.

#Where to get: Insadong is the best place.

#Price: around 25,000 won/ full size but prices are various depend on the size and quality.

Scarf

Korean

Korean at King Sejong Meseum

What is so special about the scarf? Well, you’ll be surprised! This is my favorite selection of all the items on the list: scarf with Hangeul (Korean) written on it. This is both culturally unique and useable every day. Great mash up!

5 different colors, and at least two different styles: hand written font and gothic font. It’s big and fairly good quality for the price.

#Where to get: Gwangjang Sijang, Insadong and many street vendors

#Price: 15,000 won/ each. Also, fancy designer shops also do Hangeul design.

Greeting cards

Greeting cards

Greeting Cards

You can finish your holiday package with a unique greeting card. My favorite is the one with hanbok design. Usually, greetings card comes with the next year’s zodiac animal. Next year is a dragon: that explains a lot of dragon decoration around the country.

#Where to get: Insadong has the most various selection, and most of the souvenir store have it.

Also, Post office introduced 15 different selections. It’s cheaper than other stores and it comes with a stamp (National delivery only. You have to pay extra for international delivery).

#Price: 700 won ~ 3,000 won according to the complexity of design and quality.

Little souvenirs

Cell phone charm

Cell phone charm

Cell phone charm, fridge magnet, flag, notepad, fan, pins… There are many cheap and cute souvenirs you can pick up!

Extra tip

Use the pretty pockets (like the one on the top photo) to wrap your presents. For a little extra, it will bring your present up to the next level. It worked like a charm for me, every single time. You can buy it 1,000 won ~ 3,000 won.

Good luck with your holiday shopping! I’m sure your friends and family back home are happy with your ideas! Check out Barcelo Discount code when traveling to Korea.

DSC_9801

Souvenir shop in Insadong

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, a happiness-seeking storyteller. Photographer, writer, and trained mechanical engineer. Life-long nerd. I left the cubic farm to follow my true love: the world. A firm believer of serendipity, astronomy enthusiaster, and living by passion and love in life. Currently, on a quest to discover stories and find the place where I can call 'home'. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Google+ .

19 Comments

  1. Rachel says:

    Nice guide! I actually haven’t seen a scarf with Hangul on it, but now I want to look for one!

  2. Lauren says:

    Tea! What a great idea. I am addicted to 모과차 and really want to share it with my mom & sisters. Maybe I will start sending it back to the US so I have a stock for when I leave Korea.
    I love your colorful photos, too!

    • Juno says:

      mmm… 모과차 is great! 🙂 We used to make citrus tea and 모과차 at home when I was little. Yeah, pack it tight and send it home! You will miss those. 🙂 Thanks for liking my post!

  3. Evan says:

    Awesome ideas! That Hangul scarf is super cool!

  4. Chris says:

    What a fun entry! I did enjoy shopping in Korea. So many cute and kooky gift ideas.

  5. Leslie says:

    Great gift ideas! Those cards are beautiful and I wouldn’t mind getting a few cute socks 🙂 Do they have versions for all the Republican presidential candidates (e.g., Michelle Bachman socks) or is it mainly Obama? Hehe

  6. Lola T. says:

    Very interesting blog post! All the images, especially the first one, looks very attractive. You have selected the right items to be included in this list. Korean visitors will find it very very helpful.

  7. Lola T. says:

    Wonderful and colorful blog post! I am visiting the great country Korea this year. Very helpful article, even this article can serve as a great holiday gift 🙂

  8. John says:

    Hi Juno!

    Brilliant article. All the items mentioned here are excellent. The first one is so eye catching. I must appreciate your eye for detail while writing this blog post. Indeed, Korea is something that has always amused me and I am happy to see pictures of the place.

  9. Leonor Miller says:

    Korea us a country of great culture and I intend to visit it one day. All the items listed here are superb! I would definitely love to taste Korean tea.

  10. Penny says:

    The danglers look cute 🙂 Are there cellphone accessories too? Love to visit Korea soon. Thanks Juno ^_^

  11. Juno, nice post. I would most probably go for the socks if I visited Korea. Anyway, I’m sure there’s more to this list, right?

  12. I am always a fan of Korean apparels, I think their dresses are really fashionable.. shopping for the coming Holidays!

  13. Claire says:

    I think we can always get better stuff and send it back home to the family, its much easier to get odd and qwirky stuff outside of the UK/US however I always worry about shipping as everything was lost one year and I felt awful.

  14. Manuel says:

    Very interesting blog post! All the images, especially the first one, looks very attractive. You have selected the right items to be included in this list. Korean visitors will find it very very helpful.

  15. iceprinxess says:

    Innovative and unique post on getting gifts on a budget in Korea. ^^

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