Surviving the Winter in Seoul

Jan and I, being complete newbies to true winter, spent our late honeymoon slash babymoon (never knew there is such thing) in South Korea, where the temperature dropped to -6°C. Although we were told that the current winter is warmer than usual, it is by far the coldest we have ever experienced.
Winter in South Korea

Coming from the Philippines, particularly in Davao where we are located just one planet away from the sun, we prepared to bundle up but realized we can never really be prepared against this unimaginable, despicable cold. We survived anyway.
From 32°C to -6°C.

Layering is the key

I am a wuss when it comes to cold. 16°C already bothers me, how much more when temperatures go negative? I layered and this is what I have on:

  • - On top: A HeatTech long sleeves, a sweater, another ultrawarm HeatTech layer, and a padded winter jacket/coat with insulation. This combo can get me warm and cozy enough. But not until the wind blows. Winter winds, no matter how mild, are a killer, just so you know.
  • - Bottom: Heattech leggings and any jeans/pants
  • - Footwear: Thermal socks plus any shoes that is comfy and has good traction so it doesn't get slippery when paths are icy or wet.
  • - Other accessories such as mask, bonnet, ear muffs, scarf, or gloves.
Snowfall in Seoul
My first snow fall experience.

Other ways to stay warm in Korea:

  • - Find refuge inside shops or malls.
  • - Hot drinks from vendo machines help.
  • - Hot packs are lifesavers. These only cost around 1000₩ and available in any convenience store. They usually last for 12 hours or more.
  • - Eat something hot (and spicy).
I honestly do not know what this is. Haha

Other tips for surviving winter:

1. Boost your immune system.
Your body might react differently to the drastic change in weather. It's highly likely that you would develop cough and colds. We take vitamin C regularly and continued taking while traveling. We also loaded up on fruits rich in vitamin C when we were there.

2. Take care of your lips, skin, and hair.
Winter's harsh weather can crack your lips, and get your skin and hair dry. Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize!

3. Bring extra batteries and/or power bank.

The cold weather can drain your batteries drastically. So better bring extras and/or a power bank since you will need your device when navigating in an unknown place.

Packing for winter

Packing for winter can be difficult. Especially when you have all these cute winter outfits set in mind only to realize you do not have the luxury to pay for extra luggage space.

Here's how I managed to stay warm and still look good without paying for excess baggage.

1. Stick with neutrals.
Neutral tones are easy to mix and match. That way, I do not have to bring a different set of outfit for each day. My inner layer clothes are usually grey, white, and black.
My baby bump is showing. :)

2. Pack items you will wear at least twice.

During winter, since I never sweat (and I take baths even when it's freezing), my clothes do not automatically go to the laundry after one use. I would usually just change the order of layers so that it would look like as if I have changed clothes. Haha.

For example, my day 1 clothes compose of thermal long sleeves, white thermal, and grey sweater (in that particular order), then I would don a large pink over-sized coat.

The next day, I would wear the same thermal, same grey sweater, and this time it's the same white thermal sweater that's showing under my brown coat.

3. Be like Jan.
My husband, Jan, who doesn't care about having the same clothes on the pictures from day 1 to day 5 only brought a few inner layers and two easy-fold down jackets with him. He was able to fit his whole 5-day winter wardrobe in a backpack, and that even included his extra shoes.

4. Use a vacuum bag when packing.
It saves a looooot of space.
Packing Hacks for Winter
That's it.

I wasn't built for the cold. I will never be. But being prepared for all of these definitely made us enjoy Korea's harsh winter. With the right clothes on and simple warming hacks, I think we can survive any winter. We're now looking forward to seeing the northern lights in Finland or spending Christmas in Grindelwald, Switzerland. Not soon but someday. ;)

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