The traditional costume of the land of Kim Chi.

Download the subway map application, join a free tour with local volunteers, or rent a free Hanbok, which are some handy tips you should remember for your trip to the land of Kimchi. Are you traveling to South Korea for the first time? Let’s discover top useful tips for visiting South Korea for the first timers and things to know when traveling to South Korea below. Let’s travel with us to Korea safely!

Bongeunsa Temple
Bongeunsa Temple, Seoul. Credit: Korea travel tips blog.

1. Download the subway map application for your smartphone

Jihachul App (Korea’s subway system application) is an extremely useful and necessary mapping application for Korean subway system that is free for iOS and Android operating system. The latest version has a map of the subway system of cities: Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju.

Jihachul App is an extremely useful application for travelers.
Jihachul App is an extremely useful application for travelers. Credit: traveling to South Korea for the first time blog.

With Jihachul, you can:

+ Calculate travel time between two stations in the same network of trams.
+ View area maps of any terminal (Internet access), including the position of the gates.
+ View information about the subway station such as: telephone number, toilet location, position of exit doors when the train to the station, buses at each exit gate of the station …
+ See the train timetable arriving of the day in two-way direction.
+ Remember the stations frequently visited (bookmarks).

Just enter your departure station and arrival station, everything else the application will support you.
Just enter your departure station and arrival station, everything else the application will support you. Image by: tips for visiting South Korea blog.

Just enter your departure station and arrival station, everything else the application will support you. You can download Jihachul for iOS and Android.

2. Backpacking easier with T-money card

You can add money to your T-money card at the machines in the subway or at any convenience store (7-11, GS-25, etc).
You can add money to your T-money card at the machines in the subway or at any convenience store (7-11, GS-25, etc). Photo by: first time in Korea blog.

T-Money can simply be understood as a debit card that is widely and commonly used in Korea, in the most convenient and popular services are public transportation such as subway (metro) and bus. As soon as you arrive in Korea, the first thing you should do is go to the nearest convenience store and buy a T-Money card for between 2,000 and 3,000 won. After purchasing the card you will have to add money to it, depending on your needs at the store. When leaving Korea, you can keep the card as a souvenir gift or for later use, but it is also easy to return the refund in the card through the machine automatically.

The card helps you travel more convenient while in Korea. Image: things to know when traveling to South Korea blog.
Transportation Cards
Transportation Cards

3. Learn some common Korean words

korean in english travel Picture: South Korea travel tips blog.
Picture: South Korea travel tips blog.

Koreans use very little English, so the language barrier was a problem for tourists. If you traveling to Korea, you should accumulate to yourself a few sentences of communication little knowledge to not be embarrassed when coming to this country.

Toilet – Hwajangshil
Water – Mool (pronounced like a cow sound, moo-ing)
Thank you – Kamsahamnida
Expensive – Bisayo
Right – Oo Reun Jjok
Left – Oen Jjok

The last two words used in the case of asking for directions. Although Koreans may know some basic English words, but they have problems with left and right distinctions.

korean in english travel Credit: traveling to South Korea for the first time blog.
Credit: traveling to South Korea for the first time blog.

4. Do not be afraid to ask for directions

Koreans are quite friendly and enthusiastic, especially for those who travel from far away to visit their country. Therefore, if you accidentally get lost or can not find place to visit, you need to go ahead and ask the locals. Some people even take you to that place instead of saying “I do not know” as many people often think. However, you should ask the younger people than older, because young Korean people have quite good English.

Do not be afraid to ask for directions
Do not be afraid to ask for directions. Image by: tips for visiting South Korea blog.

5. Understand the currency

Types of the Korean currency.
Types of the Korean currency. Credit: traveling to South Korea for the first time blog.

The Korean currency is the Won, consisting of 1.000 won, 5.000 won, 10.000 won and coins of 10, 50, 100 and 500 won. Most banks are open from 9:30 am to 16:30 pm from Monday to Friday. Automatic teller machines are available 24/7. Most major shops, hotels, hotels and restaurants in Korea will accept international credit cards with large amounts. However, you should still carry cash because there are many agencies or small shops not equipped with credit card payment devices.

6. Be a wise customer

customer korean Image: things to know when traveling to South Korea blog.
Image: things to know when traveling to South Korea blog.

If you enter into a restaurant and the menu does not specify the price of each item, do not hesitate to ask the shopkeeper or waiter before order even though it is a roadside restaurant. Prices are different for each place and can be up to several times higher than real prices if you do not notice and ask first.

7. Join free tours with volunteers

Meteor Youth Voluntary Club tour (1) Foto: Korea travel tips blog.
Foto: Korea travel tips blog.

If you are a backpacker and want to have the fully complete experience of Korea and its people, let’s join the tours of Meteor Youth Voluntary Club. These friends are volunteer tour guides, relatives of foreign visitors when they come to Seoul. Unlike other volunteer tours, the Meteor Youth Voluntary Club does not require any traveler’s expense except self-travel travel costs, admissions, entrance fees, dining or shopping. The volunteers of the club tour guides fluent in these languages as English, Japanese, Chinese, and who are very enthusiastic for directions. You just go to the site of the club at meteoryouth.org website to sign up and find out the useful information about the tours.

Meteor Youth Voluntary Club tour (1) Credit: traveling to South Korea for the first time blog.
Credit: traveling to South Korea for the first time blog.

Meteor Youth Voluntary Club tour (1)

8. Elevator at subway station

Escalators at Metro Line 9, Seoul, Korea
Escalators at Metro Line 9, Seoul, Korea. Credit: traveling to South Korea for the first time blog.

Many visitors were surprised when look at the signposted signs and mistook elevators at the subway station are only for people with disabilities. However, this lift is available to all subjects, and is designed for those travelers who carry bulky luggage. Some elevators will not close their doors even if you have tried to press the button many times, do not get discouraged, the elevators are still working normally and you should patiently wait a little bit instead of going out and taking the stairs.

9. Hiring traditional Hanbok for free

The traditional costume of the land of Kim Chi.
The traditional costume of the land of Kim Chi. Image by: tips for visiting South Korea blog.

Hanbok is a traditional Korean costume for many generations. Visiting this this country visitors can not be ignored once wore this costume and take photographs the memorable memories. In Korea there are several locations rental Hanbok for free that meet the needs of visitors as:

The shop in Ssamziegil shopping center on Insadong walking street

The shop sale sticker of a cute store owner allows customers to try wear Hanbok, but you may have to buy some lovely stickers for the price of 5,000 to 7,000 won.

Address: The shop is located on the second floor of the mall.

M Plaza in Myeongdong

The Seoul Global Cultural Center is located on the 5th floor of M Plaza. You only need to register and wait for the turn put on a Hanbok.

Location: From Myeongdong Station, take exit No. 4, go straight for 150 meters, M Plaza is on the right hand side.
Address: 27 Myeongdong 8-gil, Myeongdong 2(i)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Hours: 10AM–7PM
Phone: +82 2-3789-7961

The traditional costume of the land of Kim Chi.
Picture: South Korea travel tips blog.

10. Get to the airport early

Incheon International Airport Hub
Incheon International Airport Hub. Credit: traveling to South Korea for the first time blog.

Make sure you get to the airport at least 1-2 hours before flight time to check-in procedures as well as airport taxes. You should remember that Incheon International Airport in Korea is extremely large and has to take trains from one station to another. Some airports in Korea require to pay an airport fee when you fly from there (while other airports include the airfares). Normally, this fee is in the currency of the host country, so in order to avoid having to exchange money at the airport (where the exchange rate is usually low) you should be prepared the money in advance. In addition, you should also have a little amount of money of the country you visiting so that you can spend right away without having to exchange at the airport.

Incheon International Airport Hub
Incheon International Airport Store. Photo by: first time in Korea blog.
Small House Cafe in Bukchon Hanok Village
Small House Cafe in Bukchon Hanok Village

Are you looking for more top things to do in South Korea: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out at here.

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