Travelling to Seoul for the first time? Then make sure to check out these useful tips on things to know before making it to South Korea. This is a guest post by Marie, more of her information can be found below.
It’s always important to be prepared when visiting another country. Korea is no exception! However, there are a few things that are especially important to remember if you are visiting Seoul for the first time!
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The climate in Seoul can be quite extreme. During winter the temperatures can drop far below zero (as low as -20 Celcius!) and during summer the temperatures can go up to 40°C. Seoul has a humid subtropical climate with 4 distinctive seasons. The best times to travel to Seoul or Korea are in the middle of spring (April, May) and during Autumn (September, October). Unless you are looking to celebrate Christmas in Seoul or go skiing. Make sure to pack and dress appropriately for the specific season. Check out this packing guide to know what to wear in Korea.
2. Public Transport
Seoul has one of the best public transport systems in the world!
Seoul has an amazing public transport system which makes it incredibly easy and cheap to get around the capital. When you arrive at the airport make sure to buy a T-Money card. The card can be topped up in any convenience store and works on all public buses and subways all over the country. It will save you time and money because you receive discounts on rides when transferring. It is also easy to get around by taxi but this is way more expensive than pubic transport. Try not to take any black or deluxe taxis, which are more expensive than white or orange taxis.
The easiest way to navigate in Seoul is by downloading Kakao Maps and the Seoul Subway app. If you want to learn more about public transport in Seoul check out the Ultimate Guide to Seoul Public Transport.
Do You Need Travel Assistance During Your Trip? – A popular service called Sidekick offers real-time travel assistance via chat with friendly local guides in English. They can help with any travel needs, such as translation, restaurant recommendations and reservations, shopping assistance, suggested itineraries, step-by-step directions, etc. It works via Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, and LINE and costs $20 per day with discounts for their 3-Day and 5-Day Passes.
3. Restaurant & Coffee Shop Culture
Themed cafes are also incredibly popular in Korea. Cat cafes, Flower cafes, and Board game cafes are all easy to locate! This particular photo was taken at Cafe Seoulism – a cafe with a stunning view.
When you walk around Seoul you’ll see a restaurant or coffee shop every 5 steps. Going out for dinner can be quite inexpensive if sticking to local Korean restaurants. You can get a decent meal for 5000 – 7000 won. In Korea there is no tipping culture, so don’t feel obliged to pay extra when in a restaurant, but if you do decide to tip the amount is entirely up to you.
Korea also has a very big coffee shop culture which keeps growing and growing. All kinds of coffee shops can be found in Seoul like speciality shops, theme cafes, big chains, etc. Coffee shops are more expensive with prices starting around 4000 won for a simple americano.
South Korea is possibly one of the safest countries when it comes to crimes like pickpockets, theft, scammers, etc. This makes Seoul an easy country to travel to for solo travellers, families with kids or a group of friends looking to party.
One thing to remember is that if you would get in contact with the police or the law, it’s often unfairly biased against international visitors or residents. For example, if you get in a fight with a Korean (even if he/she started) and you hit that person, the law would likely be on the side of the Korean.
5. Showers & Bathrooms
When visiting a Korean house, guesthouse or traditional restaurant you might have to take off your shoes. So when going to the bathroom you can put on the provided bathroom slippers otherwise your feet/socks might get wet. This is because the shower is located in the same room as the toilet and most often there is no shower curtain or enclosed shower. If you are peculiar about sharing slippers with strangers, don’t forget to bring your own pair.
Many toilets in South Korea do not have big pipes, which means that toilet paper should be thrown in the garbage bin instead of in the toilet. Most of the times there is a note on the wall to remind you of this.
6. Other Things To Note
Seoul has some beautiful nature. Places such as Seoul Forest show how beautiful the city can be!
– Lots of people visit Seoul for the ‘city’ aspect. However, there are a lot of great natural attractions also!
– If you are planning to visit a lot of the tourist attraction in Seoul, make sure to pick up a Discover Seoul Pass. It will save you a lot of money!
– Even though you can probably get around in English it is always useful to be able to read Korean for directions and when ordering food. You can learn this in less than 1 hour.
– The Korea power outlet is the same type as in Europe, if you’re from America, UK, Canada, SE Asia make sure to bring the right travel adapter.
About the Author
Written by Marie, the blogger behind the South Korea travel blog Be Marie Korea. Before moving to South Korea in 2016 she lived in England and Belgium. Now she is working as a ski instructor, SEO expert and blogger.