To the Land of K-Pop: 7 Traveling Tips When Visiting South Korea
By Space Coast Daily // February 24, 2022
South Korea is an East Asian nation between China and Japan. The country’s capital is Seoul, one of the most famous cities in the world. When most people think about the country, popular Kpop groups such as BTS, Blackpink, and Twice always come to mind. However, South Korea is more than the land of Kpop. It is a small yet progressive country with many popular tourist attractions.
If you’re heading out for a vacation, consider visiting South Korea for a truly unique experience. Although the country is smaller compared to other Asian nations, you can easily get lost when visiting.
With that said, here are some travel tips to heed when you’re visiting South Korea:
Booking a flight to South Korea can be easy. However, the travel duration can vary from 14 to 16 hours if you’re on a direct flight from New York to Seoul. Although 14 hours is nothing for seasoned travelers, you should prepare yourself for the travel time. Follow airline regulations and avoid bringing anything onboard that can get you in trouble.
Also, be wary of airfare as it can get pretty expensive. Always check legit sources to help you find cheap flights to anywhere. A ticket can cost more than $600, and that’s just a one-way ticket. The average price for a round-trip ticket could cost more than $1,000. Although it sounds expensive, some airlines offer tickets to Seoul cheaper, ranging from $400 below. It’s just a matter of where you look.
Although 58% of the population can speak or understand English, you’ll have a hard time during your stay in South Korea if you don’t know the basics. Learning a few helpful phrases can get you a long way during your vacation.
Here are some basic Korean phrases you should at least have in your repertoire:
■ An-nyeong ha-se-yo = Hello
■ An-nyeong-hi gye-se-yo = Goodbye
■ Ne = Yes
■ A-ni-yo or Ani = No
■ Mol-la-yo = I don’t know
■ Jeo-gi-yo = Excuse me
■ Mi-an-hab-ni-da = Sorry
■ Gam-sa-hab-ni-da = Thank You
Data Is Expensive, but WI-FI Is Everywhere
SIM cards that are solely available for tourists start at around $50. For a SIM card that you’ll only be using when in South Korea, $50 is not cheap. Don’t worry about not getting a SIM card, though.
South Korea is one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries. Wi-Fi is practically everywhere you go, especially in big urban cities like Seoul. Being connected to the internet is essential when you’re in South Korea. You can use Wi-Fi to download maps and directions and access social media apps.
South Korea prefers to rely on its own mapping system rather than partnering with Google. Google Maps doesn’t work and isn’t a reliable option to use when in the country. The locations and directions on Google Maps are outdated or won’t even load. With that said, Naver and Kakao provide more updated maps for tourists. These maps are also good options if you’re driving around.
Trains Are Good; Buses Are Better
If you’re in Seoul, getting around the city is easier if you go by train. Since you’re vacationing in such a gorgeous city, why not use the bus and see the sights? The buses in South Korea are safe and extremely efficient. In fact, certain routes are quicker to get to if you use the bus rather than the subway. Do note that in some smaller cities such as Daegu and Jeonju, they don’t have a subway.
South Korea is a bustling country where technologically-advanced skyscrapers meet with ancient temples. When you’re in the country, you won’t be limited to seeing the biggest cities. Some of the best attractions in South Korea are located outside Seoul, which include:
■ Jeju Island
■ Haedong Yonggungsa, located in Busan
■ Jeonju Hanok Village
■ Mudeungsan National Park, located in Gwangju
For those wanting to go to the DMZ or the demilitarized zone, you have to book in advance. The DMZ is the border between South Korea and North Korea or DPRK. If you don’t want to do the DMZ tour, a good alternative is Paju. Paju has Heyri Art Village and an observatory where you can get a look at North Korea through binoculars.
Enjoy the Food
Aside from Kpop, South Korea is also known for Kimchi. Kimchi is a staple in Korean cuisine made out of fermented vegetables. Kimchi is spicy and goes extremely well with meat. There are other dishes you can try out when visiting South Korea.
Here are some good eats to try:
■ Tteok-bokki – Spicy rice cake
■ Mul naengmyeon – Korean cold noodle soup
■ Samgyeopsal – Grilled pork belly
■ Dakgangjeong – Fried chicken glazed with sweet and spicy sauce
■ Bulgogi – Marinated beef barbecue
■ Odeng – Fish cake
■ Pajeon – Korean savory pancake
■ Bingsu – Shaved ice dessert with fruits and sometimes ice cream
■ Dalgona – Sponge candy
You can also enjoy alcoholic beverages like Soju and Makgeolli. Soju tastes like vodka and is stronger than beer. Makgeolli is a milky rice wine that tastes sweet and tangy with hints of bitterness and astringent.
South Korea is a beautiful place to visit. With many tourist attractions, incredible food, and lots of things to do, a visit to this beautiful country is a must for every tourist. The tips above will surely help you have a good time, wherever you are in South Korea.