With the Hallyu Wave at its peak, everyone is looking to travel to South Korea! We can’t blame you. With mouthwatering cuisines, incredible landscapes, jaw-dropping historical sites, and of course, super fun pop culture, South Korea has become one of the top travel destinations in recent years.
With that, we hope to help you in planning your Korea trip. We’ll give you everything you need–all our tips and tricks–to make sure you have the best trip ever! Can’t wait to know more? Then read on!
Is South Korea Worth It?
Definitely! You’ll never run out of things to do when you visit South Korea. Even when you’re not into K-Pop or K-Dramas, you will still have a blast when you visit this amazing country. There’s something here for everyone–whether you like slow days filled with sightseeing or action-packed days with thrilling adventures! No matter what kind of traveler you are, you definitely have to visit South Korea.
When To Visit Korea?
The country offers different charms based on the season you visit. There are different sights to see, activities you can do, and festivals to attend depending on when you visit, so rest assured you’ll have fun no matter what time of the year you decide to go. But in general, the best times to visit Korea are during Spring and Autumn.
These seasons offer comfortable weather that will make sure you can sightsee with no problem at all. Plus, Korea looks like a living painting during these seasons! The pink cherry blossoms of spring and the vibrant fiery foliage during autumn are definitely sights to see.
- The Best Time To Visit South Korea
- Everything You Must Do In Korea During Spring
- Your Ultimate Guide To Korea During Autumn
The Best Cities To Visit In South Korea
Of course, we have to start off with the capital. Over half of the country’s population lives in Seoul, which means it’s a city that’s always brimming with energy and vibrant culture no matter the time of the day! Seoul has pretty much everything you can think of–towering mountains, historical architecture, lovely gardens, fun festivals, and more!
The nightlife is especially alive in Seoul, with your pick of discreet watering holes, fancy cocktail bars, and loud noraebang (karaoke) rooms! Gangnam, Hongdae, and Itaewon are where many of the most popular bars are. These are popular neighborhoods known for bringing in the nightlife fun. Gangnam is more expensive while Hongdae is more budget-friendly, so you’ll find a lot of young locals here. On the other hand, Itaewon is known for bringing in an international audience.
Read More: All The Hidden Gems in Seoul
If all you know about Busan is that zombie movie, then you definitely need to visit to learn more! Located on the southern coast, Busan is a coastal city that’s filled with incredible beaches, delectable seafood, and a unique maritime culture you just have to experience!
From beaches, parks, observatories, and more, Busan is the perfect city for sightseeing. We also recommend heading to Haedong Yonggunsa, one of Korea’s only oceanside temples! To truly experience Busan, you have to sample the local cuisine! As one of the busiest sea ports in the world, Busan has some of the best seafood you’ll ever taste. The Jagalchi Market is the country’s largest fish market, with each day’s catch freshly displayed. Rows after rows of fish, eel, crab, abalone, and more await.
Read More: The Best Things To Do In Busan
Gyeongju may not be as famous as the first two cities we mentioned, but it is definitely one of the most beautiful and interesting places you can visit in all of Korea. Because it was the capital of the ancient Silla Kingdom, Gyeongju remains a treasure trove of historical sites, ancient artifacts, and ornate royal monuments! Known as “the museum without walls,” walking through Gyeongju is like traveling back in time.
We definitely recommend visiting the Royal Tombs of Tumuli Park to get a sense that you’re truly among royalty. The beautiful Cheomseongdae Observatory is also a must-visit, including all the different temples, pagodas, grottos, and bridges you can find in the city!
Read More: The Ultimate Travel Guide to Gyeongju
Transportation In South Korea
Getting around Korea is a no-brainer. With a highly efficient public transport system, you’ll have no trouble navigating the streets of Seoul–or even the winding roads between cities! From buses and taxis to express trains and subways, the Korean public transport system is truly world-class.
The base fare for regular taxi rides is ₩4,800 (~$4) per 1.6km. Meanwhile, larger taxis, also known as deluxe or jumbo taxis cost ₩7,000 (~$5) per 3km. Inter-city and intra-city buses can also get you around without costing much. Bus tickets can range from ₩ 1,200 to ₩3,000 (~$1-$2). They do take a bit slower, but it’s also a good way to familiarize yourself with the city.
On the other hand, the subway systems are much faster but they can get a little pricier. The starting point of subway ticket prices is ₩1,350 (~$1), and of course, it gets more expensive the farther your destination. In general, though, we recommend getting the buses and subways to get a scenic view of the streets. That’s a part of the experience, after all!
Reduce your transportation costs by using getting ultimate train rides with the Korea Rail Pass!
Type Of Accommodations In South Korea
Guest houses are among the cheapest types of accommodation you can get in South Korea. But remember, “cheap” doesn’t always mean bad. There are plenty of decent and comfortable guest houses in Korea. You don’t necessarily have to break the bank to get a good room!
Guest houses are also typically a bit older than your usual hotel, which means they carry a whole lot of character. Affordable guest houses can be found near just about any bus and train station in Seoul. A double room costs around ₩20,000-₩35,000 (¬$15-$26).
If you have a bit more budget to spare, then you might want to consider staying at a hotel. This isn’t to say that all hotels are expensive; in fact, there are plenty of great hotels in Korea that you can stay in without breaking the bank.
Rooms in well-rated hotels go for around ₩40,000 (~$30) per night. With clean and comfortable rooms, ample space, and oftentimes, free Wi-Fi, you really can’t ask for much more! Meanwhile, if you want a more luxurious stay, then you can also go for those four-star hotels which would cost somewhere around ₩200,000-₩265,000 ($150-$200) per night.
You May Also Like: The Coolest Hotels in Seoul
Staying at a hanok would surely make your trip unique. Hanok are basically traditional Korean houses with gorgeous architecture and a unique, tranquil atmosphere to them. Don’t worry about getting cold either because hanok employ a traditional heating system called ondol which can keep you warm even on the coldest winter nights!
We definitely recommend staying at a hanok if you can because it provides a unique cultural experience that you won’t get anywhere else in the world. From Seoul to Gyeongju and Jeonju, there are plenty of hanok stays you can avail. On average, it costs around ₩32,000 (~$24) for a one-night stay.
- Everything You Need To Know About Hanok
- Best Hanok Stays in Seoul You Must Book
- Beautiful Hanok Stays In Jeonju
- Must Try Hanok Stays in Gyeongju
- Coolest Hanok Cafes in Seoul
How Much Does It Cost To Visit South Korea?
The ultimate cost of traveling to Korea will ultimately depend on what kind of traveler you are. Some like to splurge more on flight tickets and accommodations, while some prefer to spend their savings on seeing the sights and exploring. But in general, the average traveler would spend around $980 or ₩1,300,000 for a week-long trip.
This includes economy flight tickets which cost around $535. This also includes the daily cost of food, travel, and sightseeing which can be around $34 per day, as well as accommodation which goes for around $30 per night at a comfortable hotel room.
Read More: How Much Does it Cost to Travel to Korea?
How To Get Internet In Korea
Rent a Portable Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi in South Korea is known for being among the best and fastest in the world! With a pocket-sized Wi-Fi router, you can pretty much have a good connection wherever you go. Because they’re so small, they’re also super convenient. You can just put them in your pocket or bag and be ready to go!
Pocket Wi-Fi batteries last for about 5-9 hours. It can be used by 3-5 people simultaneously. You can conveniently rent these pocket Wi-Fi in airports, including Incheon International Airport and Gimhae International Airport in Busan. They cost around ₩5,900 (~$5) per day.
Get an eSIM
Another convenient way to get data is to set up an eSIM. eSIMs are really convenient because you can set them up even before you arrive in Korea! With eSIMs, you can buy a SIM card online and then activate it once you get to Korea. Afterward, you’ll be online–it’s as easy as that! These will cost you around ₩20,000 (~$15) for an entire month’s worth of data!
Few Korean Sentences To Learn Before Your Trip
When traveling to a different country, it’s always useful to learn a few local phrases to help you get around. Here are some easy ones that will definitely come in useful when you’re going around Korea!
1. An-nyeong-ha-se-yo (안녕하세요)
This is an easy one! Annyeonghaseyo means “hello” and also “goodbye.” It’s a polite greeting you can use with anyone.
2. Kam-sa-ham-ni-da (감사합니다)
Next up we have another word you might hear often in K-Dramas. Kamsahamnida is Korean for “thank you.”
3. Ban-gap-sum-ni-da (반갑습니다)
This next phrase is a polite way to say “nice to meet you.” Say it to all the new friends you’ll make and you’ll surely impress them with your Korean skills!
4. Bap Meo-geo-seo-yo? (밥 먹었어요?)
Our next phrase is pretty interesting. Literally, it translates to something like “Have you eaten yet?” But in Korea, when people say this, they don’t actually mean it literally. It’s their way of asking “how are you?” This phrase just goes to show how important food is in Korean culture!
5. Chwe-seong-ham-ni-da (최성합니다)
Another important phrase to learn is “I’m sorry.” This is the polite way of apologizing whenever you make a mistake or offend anyone.
6. Ju-se-yo (주세요)
This translates to “please” or “please give me” so it’s a very useful word to learn! For example, you can use it while shopping and pointing to the item you like and saying “ju-se-yo.”
7. Eol-ma-ye-yo? (얼마예요)
And finally, one of the most important phrases you have to learn is this one! It means “How much is it?” which will definitely come in handy when you’re shopping or having a food trip.
Scams To Avoid In South Korea
Korea is a very safe place to travel to, but scams exist anywhere in the world. As a tourist, you’re especially vulnerable to people who want to take advantage of you. Here we’ve compiled just a few of the most common scams you might encounter while traveling in Korea.
One of the most common scams tourists experience in Korea is the so-called “travel scam.” This is when a group of people (usually 2 or more) approaches you and offers a “cultural experience” or even a “spiritual experience!” Sounds sketchy? That’s because it is. You have to be mindful when strangers seem overly friendly because this is usually not the norm when it comes to Koreans.
These scammers also usually speak good English since they especially target tourists, so you have to be extra careful. It’s best to join cultural tours from certified and trusted travel agencies.
Another scam you have to watch out for involves “cult ceremonies.” Usually, a “mother-daughter” pair will approach you and suddenly ask if you’ve had any relatives or loved ones who passed away recently. If you say yes, they’ll invite you to a “traditional Korean ceremony” so you can supposedly make an offering.
Whether or not you are actually grieving from a recent loss, you have to avoid these kinds of situations! Once you get wrapped in, you’ll be forced to “donate” a big amount of money!
Unfortunately, scammers will even use religion just to take advantage of innocent people. When traveling to Korea, you have to be careful of people who pose and dress up as fake monks in order to ask for donations. There are plenty of Buddhist temples in Korea so this may not seem too weird of an incident, but remember that true Buddhist monks never ask for any money!
We hope you liked our ultimate travel guide to South Korea! We’re so excited for you to get to travel to Korea. It’s truly one of the best countries you can go to and experience incredible culture, mouthwatering cuisine, heart-pumping celebrations, and more!
Have any more questions about traveling to Korea? Tell us all about it in the comments!