What Every Beginner Should Know Before Travelling to Korea
Travelling to South Korea gives you a fascinating combination of traditional charm and modern marvels. From vibrant metropolises to serene landscapes, South Korea is a country that captivates travellers with its rich history, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality. If you plan to travel to Korea for a week or even month-long visit, here are essential tips to enhance your travel experience in South Korea.
Master Basic Korean Phrases
South Koreans appreciate when visitors make an effort to speak their language. While many locals, especially in urban areas, may understand or speak English, learning a few basic Korean phrases can go a long way when you plan to travel to Korea. Simple greetings like “Annyeonghaseyo” (Hello) and “Kamsahamnida” (Thank you) can make a significant difference in your interactions.
If you need a little extra help in communicating with locals, there are also translation apps available for you to use. While Google Translate may be the most common worldwide, Naver Korean Dictionary and Papago Translate are usually used by foreigners when they visit. With the Naver Korean Dictionary, you are given grammar tips, proper usage, pronunciation, and idioms. On the other hand, Papago Translate, another app made by Naver, is for on-the-go translation help and allows you to save the words you’ve learned for future reference.
Embrace Korean Customs and Etiquette
With its rich cultural heritage, South Korea comes with unique customs and etiquette. Before you book that flight to travel to South Korea, make sure to do your research on their customs and etiquette. For example, it’s customary to bow slightly when greeting someone and receiving and giving items with both hands is polite. Additionally, removing your shoes when entering someone’s home is common. When you keep these basic practices in mind, you can immerse yourself in Korean culture and even learn something new.
Know the Modes of Transportation Available
A big advantage to travelling to South Korea is that it boasts an efficient and extensive public transportation system, making it easy to explore different places. The subway and bus networks in cities like Seoul are well-connected, clean, and safe. When taking subways and buses to your planned destinations, the most common mode of payment is the T-money card. This is a rechargeable smart card you can use to pay for transportation fares. You can order it online or in a convenience store or subway station in the city.
Aside from convenient public transportation, taxis are available in the cities. However, if you don’t want to go through the hassle of hailing a cab, you can download Kakao Taxi and T-map Taxi. These are the top 2 transportation service apps available in South Korea.
Savour the Culinary Delights
Korean cuisine is popular for its diverse flavours and unique dishes. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in local specialities when visiting Korea, such as kimchi, bulgogi, bibimbap, and samgyeopsal. You can find these flavorful and hearty meals in many Korean restaurants around the city. Moreover, try to venture beyond familiar dishes and try street food delicacies like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) and hotteok (sweet pancakes).
If you’re looking for places in Korea that allow you to truly experience the local food culture, Gwangjang Market and Namdaemun Market are two places you don’t want to miss. For a gastronomic experience with Korean cuisine, one of the oldest markets in Seoul, Gwangjang Market, is the place to visit. The area is famous for its wide range of delicious street food, including mayak kimbap and bindaettok. On the other hand, Gwangjang Market’s Food Alley provides Korean classics, like dakkochi (chicken skewers), and unique treats, like sundae (blood sausage).
Understand the Seasonal Dynamics
South Korea experiences distinct seasons, each with its unique charm. Spring offers cherry blossoms in full bloom, summer brings vibrant festivals, autumn showcases stunning foliage, and winter transforms the landscapes into a winter wonderland. However, for many travellers, the best time to travel to South Korea is usually during the spring months (April, May, and June) and autumn months (September, October, and November). During these seasons, it’s usually sunny and dry, giving visitors comfortable, average temperatures.
Stay Connected with Technology
As South Korea is known for its cutting-edge technology, you’ll find it integrated into various aspects of daily life when you visit. Many places in Korea have Wi-Fi available, from cafes and restaurants to public places and museums. However, if you want to have handy cellular data on your phone, you can purchase a 4G Data SIM Card, which you can collect at the airport when you arrive. Alternatively, you can download an eSIM application and install an eSIM for your Korea travel.
Make the Most Out of Your Stay in South Korea
South Korea offers tourists many destinations, activities, and insights that are one-of-a-kind. Whether you’re captivated by the bustling energy of Seoul’s urban landscape, drawn to the tranquillity of ancient temples, or enchanted by the natural wonders scattered throughout the country, South Korea is a treasure trove of diverse experiences. To truly enjoy your adventure throughout the cities and beyond, make sure to always be prepared before you travel so that you return home with not just memories but a profound appreciation for the country’s unique allure.