Top 5 Survival Items For Expats & Exchange Students in Korea

Living by yourself can be fun and exciting since you get to be independent and free from your nagging parents! However, it also comes with a lot of responsibility.

Last time we posted about must-have beauty products from Daiso, which is a store selling everything from beauty products to household items to school supplies all ranging from 1,000 to 5,000 KRW. Today’s post is about 5 survival items from there that we recommend for all you expats and exchange students staying in Korea for the long run to keep at home!

1. Roll Cleaner

Use these simple but innovative roll cleaners to clean hair and dust off your floor or remove lint from your clothes. You can also purchase refills in bundles.
roll cleaner.jpgIt’s a quick and simple way to clean your home and doesn’t take up any space to store either!

2. Reusable Recycling Bins

Korea is pretty strict with recycling policies and there are certain rules you should follow if you want to avoid having any angry garbage men or your apartment’s maintenance man chasing after you! Reusable Reclying Bins.jpgThese reusable recycling bins make sorting your trash easy so you don’t have to be digging through everything and sorting it at the dumpster!

3. All-purpose Tweezers

If you’re a lazy couch potato, this product is ideal for you. Now you can reach for the TV remote, switch off the lights, pick up the can that missed the bin – all thanks to these all-purpose tweezers!

4. Hair Stopper Sheets

Those of you with long hair may especially be able to relate to this. No one likes cleaning clogged hair out of a drain as it’s messy and gross. Well, you’ll no longer have that problem with these hair stopper sheets!

They come in both rectangular and circular shapes and all you have to do is peel and stick it onto your drain, then throw it out once there’s a significant amount of hair caught on it! Simple!

5. Mini Rectangular Frypan

Kitchens in one-room apartments or dorms are usually quite small and you usually don’t need to have huge cookware and tools when you’re only making food for yourself. Lo and behold, the mini rectangular fry pan for one! mini rectangular frypan.jpgThis frypan is super cute and convenient to store and the perfect size for making meals for yourself!

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Daiso Mall

Survival Tips for Travelers to Seoul- The Illustrious T-money Card

Why Must Travelers Have This Magical T-money Card in Korea?

3686207257_703278dc32_b.jpgIn South Korea, travelers can buy a Single Journey Ticket or a rechargeable card called T-money Card. We advise you to get a T-money Card as it is a magic wand that will make your journey super convenient!

These cards can be used for all the buses, subway and taxis. If you’ve forgotten to bring your wallet, you can even make payments with these cards in convenience stores. 😉 3707332912_0192c18755_bOther T-Money items: There is a variety of accessories such as key chains, mini mirrors, straps, all of which can be used just like the T-money Card.

1. Where to buy your T-money Card

You can easily purchase the basic T-money Card at retail convenience stores such as CU, GS25 and 7-Eleven. The card itself costs 2,500 KRW.1 (1).jpgNowadays, Kakao Friends is gaining a huge popularity and it has released T-money Cards with totally cute Kakao characters. These cards cost 4,000 KRW.

2. How to recharge your T-Money Card

There are 3 ways to recharge your T-money Card.

1. Locate a ticket vending machine. They are located inside all the subway stations and train station.3686203061_017ce8945b_b

Click the third button with the T-money logo on the far right. Place your card and then select the amount of money. Insert coin or bill and wait until the charge is over.

2. Newstands near bus stops with a display of the T-money sign. You can find them usually next to the subway station exits and entrances.

3. Head over to retail convenience stores. This is the easiest way to recharge your card!

Tip: Some Student IDs offer the T-money card service, but may not be recharged at convenience stores. Therefore, find the closest subway station to reload your card.

Refunds: If you have a T-money balance of 20,000 won or less, visit a T-money affiliated convenience store and receive your money. If your remaining balance is more than 20,000 won, please visit the T-money headquarters at:

Address: 1st FL. T-money Town, Seoul City Tower Building, Namdaemun-ro 5Ga, Jung-gu, Seoul

Phone: Customer Service, 02-1644-0088/080-389-0088

Directions: Located just outside Seoul Station Exit #8, Seoul Subway Lines 1 and 4

3. How to use T-Money Card

Bus: When you get on the bus, place the card on the sensor. It will tell you how much money has been charged and your remaining balance. If an error occurs, give it a second or two, and try again. If this continues, the bus driver will let you know what the issue is. When you exit the bus, tap the sensor one more time to get a discount for the transfer. You can enjoy 4 discount transfers in a day._MG_5284Tip: Make sure you tap your card again and you hear a beep. If you don’t, you will be charged extra for distance traveled.

Metro: When you enter the subway station, place the card on the sensor. If an error occurs, press the red “help” button and the staff will come and help you.

Photo credits to 

Taxi: Not all but some taxis do accept T-money as a form of payment. Look out for the signs on the taxi and see if the driver accepts to money.

Photo taken from VisitSeoul

When you arrive at your destination, simply tap your card on the sensor and the screen above the gray box (see picture below) will let you know your remaining balance.

Photo credits to VisitSeoul

*If you’re looking for a train pass that travels throughout all regions of Korea, we recommend you a KR Pass! Find more details here or read A Beginner’s Guide to Train Travel in South Korea from our previous post.

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Survival Tip: All about SIM Card in South Korea! (Prepaid SIM Card for foreigners)

Do you want to use your phone in Korea with a prepaid SIM Card?

No worries! We’ve got you covered. 😉

Before getting a SIM Card…

First, you should check whether your phone is unlocked or not. If your phone is locked, then you should call your mobile service provider to unlock it or you can use your provider’s roaming service (but it’s expensive, so we advise not to use it).

Also, here’s a reminder for travelers from US or Canada to Korea. Some of the devices from your country may not have a SIM Card slot, so please check it before traveling.

Second, make sure your device supports WCDMA 2100 MHz frequencies. Take note that most Korean networks run as 3G and 4G.

1. Where to Buy a SIM Card

The most convenient and the easiest way to buy a SIM Card is to buy it online. If you have to buy it offline, don’t worry. You can purchase it at major convenience stores, Incheon Airport or Korean mobile service provider stores (KT, SKT, LG).

Convenience stores are the easiest places to buy a SIM Card. Small convenience store chains like Mini Stops or Family Mart sometimes don’t have enough inventories, so we strongly advise you to visit major convenience store chains like GS25, CU or Seven Eleven. %5BGS25%5DGS25_이용할_때_할인%2C_적립_팁_._정보_모음

2. Choose the Right SIM Card Typebyod-modal-step3-250x140

If you are using iPhone (iPhone 5/5S/6/6S), Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy 6 or up, then you need to get a Nano SIM Card. If you are using Galaxy 3/4/5, Huawei, HTC Desire, HTC Sensation, you should get a Dual SIM Card (micro+standard SIM). The price varies depending on each type of SIM Card (Nano SIM card is more expensive than the Dual SIM Card).

EG-SIMFBkl_.pngNevertheless, we highly recommend you to buy a USIM Card (Universal Subscriber Identity Module Card), a universal type which is compatible with phones using standard, micro and nano SIM. Seriously, USIM Card saves all your work!

After choosing the right SIM Card, decide how much you want to top up. You may find the same type of SIM Cards but with different prices. When you buy a SIM Card for the first time, the price includes the fee for the card and the rest of the amount will be for topping up.

For example, if you buy a card with the price of 30,000 won, the fee of the card is 10,000 won and the rest of the amount is the top-up.

3. Activate a SIM Card

When you purchase a SIM Card, you also get a manual including how to activate the card. Follow the manual to activate the SIM Card.

Make sure to turn on and off your phone several times when you first put the new SIM Card in your phone. (+ Also if you buy  EG SIM Card, you can find an application which helps you to activate and top-up your card.)E_AbouEGSIMCard

4. Recharge Your SIM Card

After using all the money you topped-up the first time, you can recharge the SIM Card. There are also many ways to recharge it.

First, go to the convenience store and ask the staff to recharge it for you. You don’t have to buy a new SIM Card. If you pay the money to the staff, he/she will give you a receipt with the numbers. You should call there to let them know you paid for recharging.

Second, directly call the SIM Card company to recharge it. However, you need to have an alien registration card to prove your identity. The SIM Card companies provide an English service.제목 없음

Third, use an App to recharge it. Follow the instructions on the App and you will be able to recharge the SIM Card easily.

The most frequently used SIM Card company is EG SIM Card. And this is the image of the application of EG SIM Card. Online purchase for EG Sim Card is available here.

If you want to buy not only a SIM Card but also a new phone, we recommend you to drop by Yongsan Digital Mall. On the 8the floor, there’s a store where you can buy a used phone or a new phone with a prepaid SIM Card.

Which SIM Card Should I Buy?

1. SIM Card – 3G Data & Voice Calls (Up to 30 Days)

| Ideal For: Short-term visitors & business travelers

If you only need to use data and want to make voice calls, here’s a SIM Card that provides you 1GB of 3G data and a balance of 5,500 KRW for making calls and sending SMS.

You can use this SIM Card for 30 days, and while you are using it, you can recharge as per your need via mobile app.

Click here for more info or to purchase the SIM Card.

2. SIM Card – Unlimited 4G/LTE Data – No Voice Calls (Up to 30 days)

| Ideal For: Short-term visitors & business travelers

For those of you who want to get connected 24/7 in Korea, here’s a SIM card with unlimited 4G LTE data usage.

This data package is provided by the largest wireless operator in Korea, KT (Olleh) and you can also share the internet connection with other devices via tethering.

The package comes with 3 options for you to choose from, depending on how many days you want to use the SIM Card: 5-day, 10-day or 30-day.S

Keep in mind that this is a data-only SIM Card, which means you cannot make or receive voice calls. However, the SIM Card does support MVolP calls via LINE, Kakao, Whatsapp or Messenger.

sim-card-unlimitedClick here for more info or to purchase the SIM Card.

3. SIM Card – 4G/LTE Data & Voice Calls & SMS (Up to 90 days)

| Ideal For: Long-term visitors, international/exchange students

If you are planning on staying in Korea for more than 30 days then this long-term prepaid 4G-LTE SIM card is the best option.

With this SIM card plan, you can enjoy phone calls, text messages and 4G/LTE data for up to 90 days after activation, which also comes with a balance of 40,000 KRW.

※If you buy the SIM Card separately without balance, it costs 8,800 KRW.

You have pick up the SIM Card at Hongik University Station Office, which is the same place you can top up or extend the expiration date of your SIM Card. Make sure to bring your alien registration card and change your SIM Card before it expires.

You can also top up the SIM Card at any GS25, CU or 7-Eleven convenience store around you.

sim-card-90daysClick here for more info or to purchase the SIM Card.

If you want to use Wi-Fi instead of a SIM Card

If you don’t have to make voice or phone calls or send text messages, then buying a WiFi Egg or a Wi-Fi router, is the best option for you. If you want to rent one, click here.portable-wifiRead more: SIM Card vs Wi-Fi Router: Which Mobile Internet Option Should You Use When Traveling in South Korea?

If you want to buy the Wi-Fi Egg instead of renting it, you will need an alien registration card, which is an ID card for foreigners in Korea, so it is best to get your ID proved. Check out our guide to getting an alien card in Korea here.

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9 Useful Tips for Travelers Visiting Korea


1. Language

imagesHow is overall English speaking level in Korea? Seoul is an English-friendly city but if you travel outside Seoul, you may find it difficult to communicate. On average, people in Korea have fairly good understanding of English, but the elderly know very little spoken English. Ask young university students!

2. Peak Travel Seasons

Peak seasons would be around national holidays, such as Lunar New Year in January/February and ‘Chuseok‘ in September/October.korean-folk-village-643931_1920Many Koreans visit their relatives during these holiday periods and so traveling by train or bus will be very challenging. Also, many shops will be closed, especially on the very day of Lunar New Year’s Day and Chuseok.

However, on the other hand, these two periods can be a great time for travelers and tourists to enjoy traditional performances and events that will take place around the country.

Read How Koreans Celebrate Lunar New Year or 3 Interesting Facts about Korean Thanksgiving- Chuseok.

jeju-958523If you want to plan a trip to Jeju island for your summer vacation, it is highly recommended that you make a reservation for your accommodation, tour and flight 3 months before the trip. The summer months are when many Koreans use their vacation leave, and they tend to fly to Jeju Island because of its amazing natural scenery and proximity.

3. Food

Korean foods are usually spicy but no worries. You can find plenty of restaurants that serve fusion and international cuisine, especially in an expat-friendly, multicultural district called Itaewon in Seoul.

Also, do take note that Korean people use chopsticks and spoons, so try to get used to using chopsticks.

4. Tipping Culture & Free Services

krw-1000-south-korean-wons-2Tipping is not customary in Korea. Including restaurants, beauty salons and even hotels, there’s hardly any place you have to tip.

You may tip in the taxis but this is also uncommon. People sometimes don’t receive the change coins and leave it as a tip. Even so, people don’t give tips over 1,000 KRW. 90% of the taxis in Korea do not expect tips.

In Korea, you can many kinds of free “services (서비스)”.

Local restaurants serve many kinds of side dishes that you don’t have to pay for it. If you want to have more, just ask for it. Some restaurants also serve you desserts like ice cream, coffee and tea and they are complimentary, too.

5. Public Transportation

Most cities have orderly network of transportation and the signs are written in English. The 4 major cities (Seoul, Daejeon, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju) offer a very convenient subway network and major tourist attractions and destinations are easily accessible. In Seoul, it is better to take the subway than bus or taxi because of the traffic jam.

For Jeju Island, read our Essential Transportation Tips & A Perfect Hassle-Free Guide To Getting Around Jeju Island.


6. Safety

Korea is an incredibly safe country! Many of the convenience stores and cafes are open 24/7 and the streets are bright and busy until late night.seoul-bars

7. Internet

Internet speed and connectivity are truly amazing. You can find many internet cafes called “PC Bang (PC방)” almost everywhere in major cities. Here, you can enjoy high internet speed and connection at a cheap price. You can also easily access to Wi-Fi as well. For more info, read our Survival Tips: How to get Wi-Fi in Korea.

Internet Speed Race!

8. Quick, Quick, Quick

If you travel to Korea for the first time, you will probably find almost everything quick and fast. There’s even an expression that describes such unique culture, “Pali-pali (빨리빨리)” culture, which means “quickly, quickly” in Korean. Because of this “quickly” culture, you can find things that make Koreans’ life more convenient.

  • Restaurants

lbodMqnAzVtDXKYou can call the servers merely by pressing a call button on the corners of the table. You don’t have to call out to the server nor wait until a server comes to your table to place your order. If you need anything, just press it!

  • Delivery service

Korea is famous for its orderly and fast delivery service. You can order almost every kind of food (even McDonald’s provide delivery service in Korea!) and it will be delivered in no more than 30 mins. (Sometimes it takes more time to choose the menu than the delivery time.)

  • Instant food at the convenience store

There are tons of instant food at Korean convenience stores. The most famous one is cup noodle and it takes only 3 mins to cook it. Check out 10 Must-Try Korean Convenience Store Foods.

9. Korean Customs

  • Honor and respect are pretty important in Korea. On subways and buses, there are separate sections with seats for elders. It is common practice to give seats to the elderly in Korea.
  • Koreans share food with others. Especially for the ‘jjigae (stew)’, it comes out in one big pot. People will put their spoons in the pot and eat the soup.
  • No chairs in some places. In Korea, there are many places where you have to sit on the floor. Be used to taking off shoes and sitting on the floor at some restaurants.

Watch our “8 Hot Keywords about South Korea” below that covers everything about this wonderful country!

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SIM Card vs Wi-Fi Router: Which Mobile Internet Option Should You Use When Traveling in South Korea?

Do you want to share your travel experiences real time on Facebook and Instagram? Or do you have to make calls and send text messages while traveling in South Korea?

Among many options for you to get accessed to the mobile internet and stay connected in Korea, here are the two most popular options that are commonly used by travelers: Prepaid SIM Card and WiFi router, or WiFi Egg.

See which option is ideal for you based on your needs and stay connected in mobile-friendly South Korea!

1. Prepaid SIM Card

Need to make voice calls and use mobile data & SMS? Purchase a prepaid SIM Card!

If you are a traveler who needs to make local and international calls and also wants to use mobile data and text while traveling in South Korea, purchasing a prepaid SIM card is a better option for you instead of WiFi router.

EG SIM card is recommended as most the popular prepaid SIM card in Korea, which provides high-quality voice calls and high-speed mobile data and text everywhere in Korea. For details, click here.E_AbouEGSIMCard

Need a local Korean number? EG SIM card is what you are looking for.

Once you purchase the EG SIM card, you will receive a new local (Korean) phone number while using your own mobile phone. Therefore, the best thing about using EG SIM card is that you will be able to communicate with the locals and receive international calls as well! This is why the EG SIM card is ideal for travelers on a business trip or short sojourn who need to make local calls in Korea.

*Possible Downside
Do keep in mind that since you will be using a new Korean number, you will have to go through the hassle to tell your friends, family and acquaintances back at home about your new number.korea-sim-card-mobile-voiceFor those who don’t want to go through the hassle, here’s a small tip for you. Along with the mobile device that you are using right now, bring another one that you do not use anymore. Register and insert the SIM card in the old device and use the new Korean number. This way, you can easily make local calls by just using your old phone.

2. WiFi Router


Need to use loads of mobile data every day? Rent a WiFi Egg!

If you are a traveler who does not need to use the voice calls and text messages but needs loads and loads of mobile data for surfing the internet and send large files of photos and videos online (and of course, avoid a bill shock from costly roaming service), using a WiFi router, or WiFi Egg, is highly recommended. For more details on WiFi Egg, click here.

Pocket-WiFi-Korea-LTEAccording to a research, the average daily usage of mobile data of travelers is 125MB/day. While the EG SIM card provides 1GB of mobile data and the 3G service for up to 30 days, the WiFi Egg provides 1GB a day.

For those who are wondering how much 1GB a day is, just think of it as sending/receiving 28,000 emails, shooting 2,000 Instagrams, or making 6,000 posts on Facebook.

Therefore, if you think about using 1GB for 30 days, the amount of mobile data provided by EG SIM card is comparatively smaller than that of the WiFi Egg. If you are using the WiFi Egg, though 1GB is still a lot of data, try to avoid heavy downloading and uploading online because you do have to pay extra charges (US$ 0.02 / MB) when you exceed the data limit of 1GB. 😉

Share WiFi with your travel buddies with WiFi Egg!

WiFi Egg can connect up to 5 people simultaneously, which makes it perfect for you if you’re traveling with friends and family or in a small group of buddies. If you do share the router with your friends, you can share the cost as well.

*Possible Downside
The battery life of the WiFi Egg lasts about 5-7 hours on a single full charge, which means that you have to carry around the battery charger when traveling. Plus, the battery life drains quicker when the WiFi Egg is used simultaneously. So make sure that you have an extra charger to charge the Wi-Fi router device. 

3. Where & How to Purchase/Rent Sim Card and Wi-Fi Router

Travelers can purchase a prepaid SIM card online and then pick it up at places such as Incheon International Airport.korea-sim-card-mobile-voiceIf you want to save your time and stay connected as soon as you arrive at the airport, we advise you to purchase the SIM card online via Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, those who don’t need to use any voice calls or SMS and are going to stay temporarily in Korea, the data-only plan is an ideal choice. Booking a mobile data-only SIM card at a discounted price is available here.

On the other hand, if you are planning on staying in Korea for more than a month, then this long-term prepaid 4G-LTE SIM card is a better option than the data-only plan.prepaid-sim-cardWith this SIM card plan, you can enjoy phone calls, text messages and 4G/LTE data for up to 90 days. For more info, click here.

This SIM Card is highly recommended for long-term travelers and international students visiting Korea for a student exchange program.

Similar to the prepaid SIM card, it is advisable to rent WiFi Egg online in advance and then pick up the egg at the airport.wifi-koreaOn the last day of your trip, you must return it to the collection locations, Incheon Int. Airport as an example. For more info on collection locations, click here.

sim-card-wifi-compareNow, did you get your answers for which option to use when traveling to South Korea – the prepaid SIM card or the WiFi Egg?

If you want to find out more about South Korea’s SIM Cards, make sure you check out our previous post on ‘Survival Tip: All about SIM Card! (Prepaid SIM card for foreigners)‘.

Last but not least, don’t forget to visit, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop, for all the latest, newest and trendiest things to do in South Korea that will make your travel the best.button_main

Survival Tip: Shopping for essential items in Korea.

In the first week after your arrival in Korea, you might not know what to do first. Before you start travelling and having fun, you need to buy the necessaries!


If you live in a dormitory, basic things will be served. However, there are still things you need to buy such as detergent, wastebasket, etc. Here are some helpful tips you should know before going on a shopping spree.

1. Learn the Korean words of the basic items.

Let’s learn how to pronounce these words in Korea so that you can order the items without so much trouble.

1. Detergent = 세제 (Se jae)


2. Hanger = 옷걸이 (Ot geol i)


3. Wastebasket = 쓰레기통 (Ssu re gi tong)

다운로드 (2)

4. Blanket = 이불 (I bul)

다운로드 (3)

5. Clothes horse = 빨래건조대 (Bbal lae gun jo dae)

다운로드 (5)

6. Clothes basket = 빨래바구니 (Bbal lae ba gu ni)

다운로드 (4)

2. Know where you can go grocery and item shopping!


1. Daiso (다이소)

It’s a $1 shop where you can get things at a cheap price but the quality isn’t guaranteed.


2. E-Mart (이마트)/ Lotte Mart (롯데마트)/ Homeplus (홈플러스)

They are the Korean versions of Wal-Mart. You can find almost everything at this big mart.

3. In case you need to do dry cleaning,


1. Cleantopia (크린토피아)

It is a big chain cleaning company and easy to find almost everywhere. It sometimes has a laundromat also and you can get your laundry done at a cheap price.


2. Cleanwith (크린위드)

It is also similar with Cleantopia. You can also get a cheap cleaning service here.

Welcome to Korea and don’t forget to travel around! 🙂