Annyeonghaseyo! Whether you are crazy about K-Pop or just want to have a taste of authentic kimchi, it is easy to get carried away with an exciting trip to South Korea. It is a country full of amazing places and things to experience, especially if it is your first time.
To save time, avoid confusion, and have the best vacation ever, here’s what you should know before visiting South Korea for the first time.
South Korea is in the southern portion of the Korean peninsula, surrounded by North Korea, the East Sea in the east, the East China Sea in the south, and the Yellow Sea in the west. The capital of South Korea is Seoul.
Korean, or Hangul (written form), is the national and official language in South Korea and in North Korea. Other languages spoken in the country are English and Japanese.
The official monetary unit in Korea is the Korean Won (KRW). You can exchange your money for Korean won at banks or authorized exchange service centers. Banks open 9 AM – 4 PM on weekdays, except for Standard Chartered Bank, which operates 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM.
Seasons and Temperatures
To know the type of clothes you need to wear and places where you can enjoy cherry blossoms or snow, choose which month you want to leave:
Winter – from late November to mid-March (as low as -20°C)
Spring – from mid-March to May (15 – 18°C)
Summer – from June to August (23°C and 30°C)
Autumn – from September to late November (avg temp 19-21°C)
The major airports in South Korea are the Incheon International Airport and the Gimhae International Airport.
Before you leave the airport, make sure to pick up your Unlimited 4G/LTE SIM Card, which you can order in advance thru KKDay. The card will allow you to enjoy high-speed Internet connection as you travel in the country.
To go to your destination, you can book a private transfer from Incheon to Seoul or avail the Busan Gimhae Airport (PUS) Private Transfer to Busan City.
Getting around South Korea
Hop on the sleek KTX train to explore South Korea. Use your discounted KORAIL Pass and enjoy unlimited rides on 80 routes and over 600 stations.
You can also use T-Money Card to make cashless transactions in various public transports, convenience stores, and vending machines.
Did you know that by tradition, the order of eating is based on age? You cannot start until the elders already have food in their mouths.
Other cultural rules are:
– You are also expected to make sure everyone’s glass is full.
– When drinking, you should pour someone else’s alcohol, and let the other person do the same for you.
– Remove your shoes upon entering the house.
– Always ask someone how they would like to be called.
– Do not call another person with your palm upward.
– Leave the reserved/priority seats to the disabled, elderly, and pregnant.
– Do not write a Korean name using red ink because it is considered bad luck.
Places to visit in South Korea
Here are the top attractions you shouldn’t miss if you’re visiting South Korea for the first time.
You can explore the biggest city in South Korea by riding on the Seoul City Tour bus. There are different routes to choose from, and they may cover Namdaemun Market, The War Memorial of Korea, the National Museum of Korea, Jangchungdan Park, Cheongwada, Namsan Cable Car Center, Olympic Park, and Lotte World Premium Tower. You can also hire a driver and a car to conveniently take you to places like Gyeongbok Palace, Nami Island, and Edelweiss Swiss Theme Park.
A day tour in Busan is a nice blend rural exploration and nature adventure. You can enjoy the views of Mireuksan from the Hallyeosudo Viewing Ropewa or have a seafood lunch at the historic Jungang Market.
Your stay in Daegu may include learning about its history and culture at Donghwasa Temple, riding the Palgongsan Cable Car ride, and seeing Seomun Market, Tang Tang Chicken, and Kim Gwangseok-gil Street.
Now, are you excited to go to South Korea?