With its ancient culture and worldwide presence on the stage, or it’s renowned street food South Korea is becoming one of the most talked-about countries on the planet. Therefore, more travelers are looking to visit South Korea. This travel guide will help you understand the basics of travel to and within South Korea. To clarify, this brief run-down is on the country’s visa requirements, travel customs, holidays, currency, and more.
South Korea Visa Requirements
You must be aware of visas when traveling. Foreign nationals entering South Korea are required to have a visa and a valid passport. However, citizens from many countries are permitted visa-free entry. American citizens, for example, can enter and stay in South Korea for 90 days without needing to apply for a visa. If you wish to remain in South Korea longer than 90 days, you can apply for an Alien Registration Card.
However, visa rules can and do often change. Therefore, contact a Korean Embassy or visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website to check your countries requirements.
South Korea Travel Customs
Travel customs are not unique to any country. Customs collects the duties levied by a government on imported goods when entering any country. Travelers coming to South Korea are allowed up to $400 worth of goods without duties or taxes. This limit can include one liter of alcohol, 200 cigarettes, or 50 cigars (250 grams of tobacco products). But, remember you must be over the age of 19 to possess tobacco products. Also, you should declare expensive watches, cameras, and jewelry upon entry, or there will be a tax. Prohibited items include all food and plant/agricultural materials. There is no limited amount of currency you can bring into South Korea. To be safe, make sure to carry a copy of your prescription, medical passport, or doctor’s note for all prescription drugs.
South Korea Holidays
When traveling, you should be aware of holidays that could affect your plans or transportation. South Korea has five National Celebration Days. Four of these days are patriotic events. While the fifth celebrates the Korean alphabet and is called Hangul Day. Korea celebrates the major holidays, including Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Koran New Year. Korean New Year is the Lunar New Year. This holiday is three days, typically beginning the same day as Chinese New Year.
During these holidays, travel to South Korea may be affected. Here is a list of public holidays that also affect travel in Korea:
March 1: Independence Movement Day
June 6: Memorial Day
August 15: Liberation Day
October 3: National Foundation Day
Also, South Korea celebrates the Harvest Festival called Chuseok and Buddha’s Birthday. These two holidays change annually based on the lunar calendar. To clarify, Chuseok is usually around the autumn equinox in September.
The Currency in South Korea
Whether it’s a Ryan plush or a cute hanbok buying souvenirs in South Korea is a must! In South Korea, the currency used is the won (KRW). The symbol is a “W” with two horizontal lines through the center ( ￦ ). Banknotes, dollar bills in America, are typically in values of 1,000; 5,000; 10,000; and 50,000. The most common coins are in quantities of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 won.
Before traveling, check the current exchange rate. Don’t get scammed while changing money.
The Language Barrier
Although lots of netizens speak English in Seoul, most signs, travel websites, and services are available only in the Korean alphabet, Hangul.
To support you on your travels here are some local lingo to help you get around:
Hello: AHN-NYUNG HA-SEH-YO
Goodbye: AHN-NYUNG-HEE GA-SEH-YO
Thank you: GAM-SAH HAM-NEE-DA
It is nice to meet you: BAN-GAP SUP-NEE-DA.
However, we know Korean isn’t a language you can learn overnight, so on the bright side, there is a hotline in Seoul to help travelers with translation or language issues. Contact the Seoul Global Centre by calling 02-1688-0120, or simply dial 120 from within Korea. To clarify, the SGC is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Public Transportation in South Korea
South Korea holds eight international airports, six domestic airports, the KTX high-speed train, some of the busiest ports in the world. Therefore, their abundant options make South Korea’s public transportation top notch. Six Korean cities operate subway systems and bus routes, making it easy and cost-effective to travel the country.
Rail travel is the most popular long-distance transportation method for locals and tourists. KORAIL is the sole passenger railway in South Korea. If you are looking for better seating and fewer stops, try the Saemul-ho. However, the most popular is Mugunghwa-ho service. This train stops at most stops and offers a variety of seating options. The options include reserved and unreserved seats. Finally, Commute service is the cheapest service. Provided are all designated stops, and there is no reserved seating.
The world-renown KTX, Korean Train Express, travels at a top speed of 300 Km/h. There are two lines for the KTX. The lines are the Gyeongbu line and the Honam line.
To clarify, there is a full operation subway system in 4 Korean cities. These cities include Seoul, Busan, Daegu, and Incheon.
Helpful Free Mobile Apps
KakaoTalk – KakaoTalk is Korea’s messaging app of choice. The app allows you to contact other KakaoTalk users through text and call. You can send photos and videos, as well as enjoy cute stickers. This app is free of charge, with a WiFi connection.
Naver Map – Naver is a much more accurate map to use to navigate South Korea. This interactive map allows you to download the maps for offline use. Naver Map features lets you save and download locations in Korean. Therefore, asking for directions from a friendly local just got easier.
Subway Korea – It is fast and easy to travel to Seoul through the subway. However, with 18 Subway lines, you may be overwhelmed at first. Subway Korea is a map app that gives you all the subway routes and to-the-minute train schedules. Best of all, it works offline.
Kakao Taxi – There may be a few times that public transportation doesn’t lead to your destination. This is where KakaoTaxi comes in handy. This ride-hailing app is fast and convenient, dispatching cabs to your location and destination.
Naver Dictionary and Translate – Naver’s app allows you to choose from a variety of phrases based on your context and situation. Therefore, this is a more reliable translation app. Naver also has audio for more natural communication. It is an excellent resource for anyone trying to learn Korean.
The Korea Tourism Organization
Overall, if you have questions or need help planning, contact the Korea Tourism Organization, or KTO (dial +82-2-1330). To clarify, the helpline is open 24 hours, seven days a week, year long.
Therefore, with all these tips and tools, plan your trip today. Travel to South Korea! Check out Kworld Now for more travel articles!