Traveling to South Korea? Favorite Tips and Resources

Korea

Is it just me or Korea is not a popular travel destination? Even for myself, the only reason I went traveling to Korea was because it cost only a bit more to turn a layover stop enroute tfo Indonesia to a few weeks of exploration.

So I didn’t know much about South Korea before I got there. I had little presumptions, no expectations.

I left thinking, “What an easy country to travel!” and nothing but good things to say (especially on Seoul).

Looking back at my time in Korea, here are some of the things that made me enjoy my visit as much as I did.

Getting Internet in Korea

There’s an easy solution for travelers looking for Internet access while traveling in Korea: rent an internet egg.

Internet egg in Korea
Internet egg in Korea

You can rent one of these eggs right outside the arrival gate in Incheon. Having an ‘egg’ is like having your own portable wifi router. Your phone and laptop connect to it just like any other wifi point. No phone/SIM rentals, no data packages, no refill cards to worry about.

It’s a little pricy at about $8/day but it’s definitely easier than the alternatives, I think.

I love having a smartphone and internet access wherever I travel. It makes everything about a gazillion times easier. From looking up mysterious food names in restaurant menus to finding last minute accommodations.

Couchsurfing in Korea

Couchsurfing in Seoul Korea

I thought South Korea was one of the easiest countries to couchsurf. There are a lot of ESL teachers in Korea. Many of them are willing to open their flats/apartments to travelers. The best part is that these ESL teachers are everywhere in Korea – from the big cities to the villages.

While couchsurfing in Korea, I experienced sleeping in a $3000/mo apartment, a Hanuk (local Korean house), and of course… on couches.

My CS hosts in Korea were not Koreans, but they do work there (some have actually taken roots and started families). They are a good source in local knowledge. They speak Korean (some more than others) which always makes going out entertaining because everybody always thought I was a Korean taking my western visitors out – as opposed to the other way around.

If there’s such a thing as couchsurfing 101, Korea would be a good place for it. Some of my best adventures in Korea is a direct result of couchsurfing.

Find budget hotels in Seoul.

Take Advantage of Korea’s Awesome Tourism Board

Do you know that you can get free guidebooks and maps simply by writing Korea Tourism Board? Fill in a form and they arrive in less than a week in the mail. Theirs was the only guidebook/map I used while traveling in Korea.

In popular sites around Seoul, you’ll see young Koreans dressed in bright red jackets – they’re employed by the tourist office to help visitors answer questions about anything from, ‘Where’s the nearest bathroom?’ to ‘Where am I?’




Use TMoney

I always find the idea of buying a card to put money in so you can use the card like you would money is a strange concept. It’s like having a middle man for your money. But somehow, I did find it very convenient to use TMoney. I used it to pay for subway fares, bus and taxi fares, and even 7-11 purchases (more on this below). I think you even get discounts on some fares for using it.

tmoney2

They even come in the forms of key chains and cellphone pendants. So cute!

The unused money is refundable (with 500 Kwon service charge). Just don’t lose the card.

7-11

7-11’s are everywhere (I’m trying to decide which has more 7-11: Korea or Thailand). I thought Korea was expensive city to eat out so I took advantage of the abundance of 7-11 for my meal needs. These little triangles of rice stuffed with kimchi + tuna was only 80 cents!

I ate way too many of these the last few days in Korea I couldn’t even look at them without gagging a bit.

The point is, you run out of water? Need an ATM? Need a cheap snack? Don’t worry, there’s a 7-11 nearby.


So there you go, my pearls of wisdom for those traveling to Korea. Hopefully they’ll help you as much as they did me.

Looking for more offbeat adventures in South Korea? My tip: Try visiting jjimjilbang, a traditional Korean spa or get outside and climb South Korea’s tallest mountain. I also wrote about tips on visiting Seoul, one of my favorite Asian cities.

Got more tips to add? Leave them in the comment section below.

21 Replies to “Traveling to South Korea? Favorite Tips and Resources”

  1. Hi! I traveled to Korea last summer and as a word of advice, I want to recommend the site tourmatekorea.kr ! It saves you a lot of money while giving you the best experience. You get to choose your own travel course and your own travel mate. I got to meet a Korean girl who is super nice and speaks fluent English. Anyways, hope you enjoy Korea as much as I did :)

  2. Travel sheets are pretty handy to bring, many cheaper hotels use blankets instead of sheets and aren’t that fresh! 😉 In Jeju Island we found “minbak” (similar to a homestay/guesthouse) to be great and cheap accommodation!

  3. Korea has always been on my travel list. I'm so thankful for the is article it'll make my future trip so much easier.

  4. Speaking of the tourism board, dial 1330 on any local cell (or your pre-paid SIM) and they’ll translate for you live of find ANY information about getting anywhere in the country – ferry schedules, bus schedules, taxi costs, a place to sleep, no problem. I use it regularly even as a resident, and I’ve never come across anything as convenient anywhere in Asia.
    @2wheelwanderer

    1. Oh wow! I wish I'd known about that when I was there. South Korea is really a visitor friendly destination.

  5. I, too, was surprised at how easy Korea is to travel around even though I don't speak any Korean. Everyone was so friendly and so willing to help out this lost tourist.

  6. This is a great article on one of my favorite places. Korea was such a surprisingly awesome country to live in when I taught English there and I think more people really should travel there more often. Glad you guys got to enjoy some time there and tell others how nice it really is. Cheers!

  7. What fabulous tips you have on Korea…from the egg (who knew?!) to getting free info from the Tourism Board! I took Tae Kwon Doe a bit in college, and was exposed to a bit of my instructor's culture that way. I hope to be able to make a trip over someday:-)

  8. Your reason for going to Korea will be our same reason for making it a stop. It cost about the same for us to fly there and stop before heading to the Philippines. I can't wait. That Internet egg is genius.

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