Useful information before travelling to Korea

  

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As exciting as it may be to explore a new place, it is important to do some research prior to travelling in order to make the most of your travelling experience. Before you start packing, here is some useful information:

Duration
First of all, the duration of your trip determines what you are going to do there, your budget and so on, so you might want to know how long you need to see the country. The duration of your trip depends on what you are doing there. Whether you are shopping, sightseeing or having other experiences, one week should be enough to get a feel of the place, unless you want to explore places off the beaten path.
Language
Although you might be able to get away with speaking in English, some vendors speak Korean only; they might still understand you if you speak Chinese. Otherwise, you better be good at hand language or at using Google translate.
Money matters
Although most places accept credit cards, it's worth having some cash for vendors and to try street food. It's also safer to have some cash on you. Although South Korea is safer than Thailand and it's less likely that you'll get mugged, have a backup travel card that you can keep separate from the card you normally use.
Public transport
South Korean public transport is very reliable, and trains are usually on time. You can save a bit of money if you buy the Korea T-money card; just don't forget to tap in and out of the gantries when you hop on the train.
Although cabs in South Korea are relatively cheap compared to the Western World, black cabs can be quite expensive. Take orange/silver ones instead in order to save a bit of money.
Public toilets
Much like the West, South Korea houses enough public toilets to satisfy the demand. Fortunately, they are clean and equipped with toilet roll.
Weather
If you don't mind the heat, the hottest period in South Korea takes place from late July to early August. Otherwise, your best bet is to schedule your visit in spring or autumn. If this is not possible, and you are stuck with the merciless sun of the summer, make sure you wear a cap and sun cream.
Drinking water
Great news for thrifty travellers: tap water here is drinkable. Just carry a plastic bottle and refill it with water from the tap. If you still don't feel it's safe enough, you can buy bottles of water from convenience stores and vending machines.
Tours
Is it worth discovering the city with tour? Definitely yes. At least you can get your bearings with the help of a professional before you venture and discover the city on your own terms. Besides, there are many areas of South Korea you won't get to see unless you are in a tour.
Travel apps
Train maps can be very confusing and overwhelming if you don't know the area. That is why having a train line app - such as Seoul Metro and Busan metro - that knows everything and makes your travel by metro easier is your best bet.
Tax claims and duty free shops
To claim taxes, you have to spend more than KRW30,000 at the beauty stores in Myeong Dong, which is one of the famous shopping districts in Seoul Korea. The place to claim your taxes is at the airport, but it can be quite complicated and troublesome, apart from being slow process as it is very busy, so it might not be worth your time.
Locals
Although South Koreans are known for being very friendly, this is not an infallible rule for everyone. Be warned that some locals, the older generation in particular, can be quite obnoxious. Just beware and don't take it personally or be shocked if you get elbowed on the train.

 

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