Are you planning a trip to Korea for the first time? From stunning palaces to bustling city life and delicious street food, this East Asian gem has much to offer. Before you pack your bags and hop on a plane, here are some essential tips to make your journey smooth and memorable.
Best Time to Visit: Spring and Autumn
Korea boasts four distinct seasons, each offering a unique experience. However, the best times to visit are spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November). During these months, the weather is pleasant, and you'll witness the beautiful cherry blossoms in spring and the breathtaking foliage in autumn.
Visa Application and COVID-19 Protocols
Make sure to apply for a visa through the K-ETA app before your trip. Additionally, due to the ongoing pandemic, it's essential to be aware of the COVID-19 protocols. Fill out the Q-Code form within 72 hours of your flight to ensure a smooth entry. The form can be found here.
Affordable Data Phone Plans
Staying connected during your trip is essential. If you need a data plan for your phone, Seoul airport offers very affordable options, so you don't have to worry about staying connected while exploring the country.
Currency Exchange and Transportation
When it comes to currency exchange, the current conversion rate is 1 USD = 1306 Won. While credit cards are widely accepted, it's advisable to carry cash, especially for smaller transactions.
Public Transportation Card: T-MONEY
To navigate the city conveniently, get yourself a T-MONEY card for just 3,000 Won. This card allows you to travel on buses, subways, and taxis (in Seoul only) with ease. Remember to beep in and out when using the bus and keep in mind that the card is non-refundable.
* Transportation is very cheap in Seoul!
Navigating the City
While public transportation is excellent, avoid the subway from 5-7 pm as it can get overly crowded during rush hours. Instead, opt for other modes of transportation, like taxis. To hail a taxi, consider using apps like Kakao T, which make calling taxis a breeze.
Maps and Navigation
Google Maps might not be the best option for navigating in Korea. Instead, try using KakaoMap or Naver Map, which are popular local alternatives and provide accurate and up-to-date information.
Accommodation and Shopping
For a central location in Seoul, consider staying near Myeongdong, a vibrant area known for its shopping and street food. If flying into Korea, Gimpo Airport might be a more convenient choice for some travelers.
Exploring the Palaces
Visiting Korea's palaces is a must, and there's a clever way to save on entrance fees. Rent a Hanbok, the traditional Korean dress, and wear it to the palaces. Many places offer free or discounted entry to those dressed in Hanbok.
I hope this guide has provided you with a solid foundation to start planning your first trip to Korea. If you have any specific questions, feel free to email through the contact page or DM me and I'd be happy to answer!