Surviving Summer in Seoul

40°C in Seoul, oh my! Isn’t it a scorcher? Of course, the hottest day in over 100 years began on the first day of my much anticipated 3-day summer vacation. As much as I endeavored to adventure, with several plans to visit places on my Seoul bucket list and take amazing photos, I was physically unable. I mean, I survived the subway with its beautiful AC but even that was a struggle. Then, from the subway to the sweltering streets of Seoul, I could go no further. I looked around the sparse streets noticing but a few Koreans with their sun umbrellas, sun hats and portable electric fans. This was not a time for roaming the quiet streets nor was this a time for taking pictures; instead I ran into the nearest restaurant and hastily ordered a bowl of icy noodles ( 냉면). So, finding myself over an hour from home and an hour and a half from my beloved’s abode I decided on the latter. Why? Well, given that I live on a mountain which requires a great deal of strength and energy to climb in order to reach the front door coupled with my AC which had been exuding vast amounts of water but very little in the way of cold air since the week previous, I decided there was only one cold place to be: Dongducheon.

And so, safe in the knowledge that Seoul was literally too hot to handle, I present a list of essential tips necessary to survive in this suffocating and sweat inducing heat:


  1. Don’t go outside. Of course, for some this may prove difficult but I can offer no better way of dealing with the heat than by avoiding it altogether. If you have an AC, turn it on. If you have a fan, do the same. Draw the curtains and pull down the blinds, you need to create a cool little cave hidden away from the sun.
  2. Portable fan. If you are unable to stay inside for the length of the heat wave I suggest you invest in a portable electric fan (Daiso = 5,000W). If you don’t want to splash out on this accessory you can simply use a regular handheld fan however I dissuade you from doing so. Why? The energy required to fan yourself versus the cool breeze produced isn’t worth it. Plus, there simply isn’t room on the crowded subway! 

  3. Sun cream: if you hate skin cancer and aging skin then slap on some SPF 50+. The sun is no joke so stay protected from UV radiation.
  4. Sun glasses & a cap. Although I rate the ajummas that live beneath their sun umbrellas this isn’t a look I can pull off myself. Plus, I very easily lose regular umbrellas so I feel this sun repellent isn’t personally suited to me. That being said, some shades and a baseball cap I can pull off exceptionally well.

    Pic from Google
  5. Reusable water bottle. I am not going to go on a rant about plastic waste and single use plastic but…you should all have a reusable water bottle. Of course, you must stay hydrated in these soaring temperatures and why not do your bit for the environment at the same time. I invested in a hydroflask : and haven’t looked back since. This bottle keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours not to mention it is child proof. Mine has certainly acquired a few dents over the past 6 months as my students have unintentionally knocked it to the floor but all this has added a little more character!flask
  6. Clothing. Wear as little as possible! I can’t believe my eyes when I see Koreans in jeans and long sleeve tees, this is simply absurd. For me, it’s a cotton dress or shorts and a baggy tee. We don’t want those sweat marks seeping through and we must cover our shoulders, this is Korea after all!
  7. Food. Consuming ice-cold delicious delights is another way to survive. Not only are restaurants serving 냉면 or dessert cafes serving 빙수 air-conditioned but the water is always free and flowing. If you don’t want to spend the $5/5,000W on noodles or $10/10,000W on shaved ice why not pop into your local mart and pick up an ice-lolly for 500W? It’s even cheaper than your local GS25 or
  8. Facial cooling mist. I didn’t purchase one of these last summer but I wish I had. Pop into your local Olive Young (or equivalent) and grab a spray. I am not endorsing any in particular but I do lean towards Klairs and Cosrx products as they’re cruelty free.
  9. Insect repellent. If you are prone to mosquito bites then grab from repellent from your local pharmacy, apply and bring it with you on your travels.
  10. Put it in the fridge. If you can safely store it in the fridge, then do so. I do this with all my beauty creams and face masks so that when I apply them they feel cool and refreshing on my skin. I am definitely an advocate for a refrigerated face mask; these are just a sheet of icy heaven for your skin.


And that’s it! I hope that some of these tips prove useful in your quest to stay cool this summer in Seoul or wherever you may be.



*All images are courtesy of Google, I did not take any of these photos nor do I claim credit for doing so.