For most of you living in the United States, Korea is definitely a foreign place to go. However, it is one of the most beautiful places to visit. There are lots of things to do, tons to try and tons of friendly people. It can be, however, intimidating when you do not know the language. Here are a few traveling tips I have for traveling in Korea. BTW, if you have a skin regime you will definitely want to try their skincare products!
Korea probably has one of the most advanced ways to travel. There is no need to have a vehicle at all while being in Korea. Renting a car would be a waste of money and not truly experiencing the culture of being in Korea.
There are plenty of taxis all over Korea. However, there are a lot of public transportation in Korea, so taxis for most are not used often. Subways and Buses are cheaper ways to commute to any destination.
The subways are very advanced in Korea. They have about 19 different lines. Many of the subway stations have things written in English along with Korean because of all of the foreigners teaching English abroad. The best way to learn the subway system is by downloading the Jihachul subway app (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.imagedrome.jihachul&hl=en). You have the option of reading it in Korean and English. There are many features to this app. You can select the location you are nearest to and find the stop in the map you need to reach and the app will find the quickest and cheapest route for you. It will break down where you will need to get off to transfer to the next line. It will also give you the prices and how long it will take for you to reach your destination. This app does not need Wi-Fi or phone service to be used, however you will need Wi-Fi to download it.
The Seoul Bus phone app will help you to get where you need to go, however I believe it needs Wi-Fi or service to be used. So make sure you know your route beforehand or try to get to a coffee shop to use it. The buses can be definitely confusing, so sometimes a taxi will be a better option.
These are more for longer transportations, but cheaper than a plane. It will cost about $50/50000 won each way or $100/100000 won round trip from Busan to Seoul. This is actually a very relaxing and comfortable way to travel. There is Wi-Fi on the train so if you have work to do it would be very convenient, but you have to have a local internet/cell phone service in order to access it or pay for the use.
The best way to travel to Jeju Island (제주도). There are constant plane flights from Gimpo Airport to Jeju Island. It is a very popular tourist attraction.
The Korean form of currency is called a won. Approximately 1000 won is about a dollar. You will have to check daily about what the currency rate is. Most banks in Korea will exchange the currency for free. Most Korean stores take any form of credit cards, so if you are hesitant to carry a large amount of cash while traveling, this will be a safe bet. However, if you happen to be in an open market or even some clothing markets like in Dongdaemun Market, you will need to bring cash. This market is most common for store owners trying to get clothing for their stores. I often times bring my credit card while traveling. Mostly because if there are any issues with the card, I can notify my credit card company about the item in question. Second, there are no foreign exchange rates, which can be expensive with a debit card depending on the bank you use.
Kakao Talk – Great local messaging app in Korea. Perfect for talking to locals, but also family and friends at home. However, KIK messenger is still available in Korea.
Naver – This is the google of Korea. Unfortunately, google is not popular and does not work very well in Korea. Naver is the better version and all Koreans use Naver for their maps and search engine.
**Spoiler Alert: Look forward to next weeks Blog “Foods to Try in Korea”