Home > Travelling Korea > General Travel Information of Korea

General Travel Information of Korea

As you can guess, there’re popular places for shopping, great nature, and amusement parks of Korea, where can be reached within just a few hours from Seoul, a capital city of Korea. There’re also famous services for foreigners to have medical, & beauty cares. I just noted most popular places with summary in this article, as a part of my blog for traveling Korea.

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Overall consumer prices are relatively expensive, cheaper than any cities of Japan, and as expensive as Singapore, & Shanghai in Seoul. It can be a good idea to spend your money to buy something unique, such as clothes, laver related, ginseng related, and Kimchi.

If you take a free tour for a few days, mostly you’ll choose most famous traveller’s places, like Seoul for shopping, Jeju island – A volcanic island, & Seoraksan to see great mountains in Gangwon-do.

Here’re information for you, when you take a free tour.

 

 

 

 

(0) General tips for your itinerary

(South) Korea has about 50 millions of population, and most of them are Korean. And about the half of population lives in Seoul, or suburb of Seoul(Gyeonggi-do). When you plan your travel, it can be a good idea to travel outside of Seoul in weekdays, and travel city area, or Gyeonggi-do during weekend. Daily traffic jam happens during 7 to 10 am (to downtown), and 5 to 8pm (to suburb). During a weekend, heading for outside of Seoul takes longer time at morning, or coming back to Seoul takes longer time at afternoon, or evening.

A cheap package tour has poor satisfaction from travelers after their travel. The prices of package tours are as cheap as just air-ticket only. Therefore, it includes several mandatory shopping shops to visit, and the packages may not include nice places those have entrance fee, and may have cheaper meals. Currently, my friends who took their own free tour has good, or very good satisfaction for traveling Korea. Note that average meal for lunch, or dinner costs 5 to 10 USD, and 1 night of hotel staying costs 50-150 USD in general. If you take a package tour, you’ll need to set your expectation lower enough.

The weather of Korea is various. In August, it’s like a tropical area, it’s very hot & heavy rainfall. In January, you can’t imagine how cold it is, unless you’re from Canada, Russia, or Northern Europe. it can be –10 to –20C in winter (from Dec to Feb), it’s even worse when there’s strong & dry wind from the north. The north & east part of Korea is colder than the south & west part. Note that winter can be sooner, and longer in some areas. You need to be prepared for this cold weather.

 

Internet access is available for local people at home, office, streets, in a bus, and a train with 40 to 100 mbps on average. In most places, your mobile phone will work. You may visit internet café (a local name is ‘PC방’, pronounced ‘PC bang’) to access the internet in almost everywhere too, it costs about 1USD/hour.
 

If you have no idea to find a good restaurant, look for any crowed restaurants. yeah, it’s my own way. For foreigners, I’d like to suggest to use Hotel concierge, or Korean Cuisine e-book at http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/e_book/ecatalog.jsp?Dir=4&catimage= & Korean restaurants guide at http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/e_book/ecatalog.jsp?Dir=6&catimage=

FYI, one thing you need to know before having Korean food, is that it’s art of fermentation(slow food). If you have a difficulty to understand this, remind a piece of cheese. You can eat cheese very easily, but it takes quite long time to make cheese. There’re various sources to cook popular Korean food, takes long time (it may take a few months) to prepare.  You may have difficulty to enjoy Korean food at the first time, but note that it’s not just a strange taste, it’s more about new & acquired taste, that take some time to enjoy the deep & new taste for you.

(1) Public Transportation

In Seoul, there’re many subway lines, those covers most areas of Seoul, and suburbs of Seoul (Gyeonggi-do). Refer this link for routing subway stations in Seoul.  http://www.seoulmetro.co.kr/station/eng/linemap.action

When you transfer lines, it’s useful to remember the color of line that you want to transfer, then you just need to follow a sign that has same color in stations. Note that yellow color indicates an exit.

Apart from Seoul, you will need to take an express bus from express bus terminals such as ‘Dong Seoul Express Bus Terminal’ at http://g.co/maps/eeetg, and Seoul Express Bus Terminal at http://g.co/maps/vyntb 

To travel major cities (city to city) around South Korea, KTX can be a good idea for fast & convenient travel. KTX is high-speed railroad service, about 300km/h by maximum. Refer http://www.korail.com/en/rv/pr21100/w_pr21110.jsp for details & booking.

For less popular places in out-side of Seoul, using public transportation is not simple for foreigners, as well as local people. That’s why local people prefers to driving instead of using public transportation. If you take a taxi, assume that 10km distance costs 8 USD approximately, including some extra charge for time-taken.

To travel by air, ICN (Incheon International Airport), is for most oversea flights in Korea, near from Seoul – less than 1 hour distance. In terms of domestic flights, only Jeju airport & Gimpo airport are preferred for most domestic flights, and the rest airports are not preferred, or less popular. Gimpo & Jeju airport also have some oversea destinations, such as cities in China, & Japan.

Note that there’re trains & express buses from ICN to Seoul, or to many cities. It’s really expensive choice to take a taxi from ICN to Seoul. (It might cost 100 USD in some cases, because the distance can be around 80km from ICN to Seoul, although it takes just an hour, thanks to a highway with expensive toll fee.) Check if your hotel provides a shuttle service.

In terms of driving, the car rental price can be similar with US, or a bit cheaper. It depends on a class that you choose. A compact car class may start from 40USD/day (except insurance options). It’s required to contact a rental shop to check if they provides English version of GPS navigator. And refer the ‘Name of places in Korea’ in this article.

(2) Terms to used for the places in Korea

It can be useful if you know some terms to address any places, such as –do, –si, –dong, –san.

Gyeonggi-do : –do means a province. For example, Gyeonggi-do includes Seoul.

Sokcho-si : –si means a city. smaller unit of –do.

Insa-dong : –dong means a small town, smaller unit of –si

Seoraksan : –san means a mountain.

Bongeunsa : –sa means a (Buddhist) temple

Hangang : –gang means a river.

Notes : As Koreans are not sensitive to differentiate ‘R’ & ‘L’ when it’s pronounced, they’re easily mistyped, or misused. It’s also same for ‘G’ & ‘K’.  For example, someone may use Seolagsan in Kangwondo, instead of Seoraksan in Gangwon-do, which is correct.

(3) Popular Places to visit

Shopping – Refer the e-book, ‘Shopping Guide’ at
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/e_book/ecatalog.jsp?Dir=11&catimage=

Most popular places for shopping, are Myeong-dong, Insa-dong, and Dongdaemun.

National Parks – Refer the ‘Korea Travel Guide’, at
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/e_book/ecatalog.jsp?Dir=70&catimage=

Most popular national parks to travel, are Jeju Island, and Gangwon-do (includes Seoraksan National Park).

Attractions for children,

Most beloved places by Korean,

Everland – a world class amusement park, 1-2 hour distance from Seoul, http://g.co/maps/88b4x

Lotte World (famous indoor & outdoor amusement park in Seoul, http://g.co/maps/z6uet)

Night life

Around Hongik Univ. Station, Gangnam Station : both subway stations belong to the green line in Seoul
Places for night life – nice bars, live shows, & fashion street.

Festivals – refer the e-book at http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/e_book/ecatalog.jsp?Dir=77&catimage=

Most world famous festivals in Korea, are Boryeong mud festival, and Busan International File Festival at the moment.

Seasonal Activities

Ski Resort – Refer the e-book, ‘Winter of Korea’, at http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/e_book/ecatalog.jsp?Dir=91&catimage=

The ski resorts in Gangwon-do, are good enough in general, but you need to check its availability, and consider to avoid very crowded time, because  there’re also many local travelers to enjoy winter sports. Winter is from Dec to Feb.

References 

The official web site of Korean government for travellers.
http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/GK/GK_EN_2_7_4.jsp

Korean National Parks
http://english.knps.or.kr

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Categories: Travelling Korea
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