Published: June 29, 2024

7 Must-Know Tips for First-Time Travelers to Korea       

Are you planning your first trip to Korea? Congratulations, you are in for an amazing experience! From the bustling streets of Seoul to the serene countryside, Korea has something to offer every type of traveler. To make sure you have a smooth and enjoyable trip, we have put together 7 must-know tips for first-time travelers to Korea. Whether it’s your first time traveling abroad or just your first time visiting Korea, these tips will help you navigate through this beautiful country with ease.

Research and plan ahead

Research and planning ahead are key for any successful trip, especially when it's your first time in a new country. Take some time to research the popular tourist destinations, local customs, and transportation options in Korea before your trip. This will help you create an itinerary that suits your interests and budget. For example, you can take a tour to the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) and learn about the history between North and South Korea. It is a unique experience that you won't want to miss while in Korea. Moreover, booking your accommodations and flights 

Learn basic Korean phrases

While English is widely spoken in Korea, learning some basic Korean phrases can go a long way. The locals will appreciate your effort and it will make communication easier for you during your trip. Simple phrases like "hello" (annyeonghaseyo), "thank you" (gamsahamnida), and "excuse me" (joesonghamnida) are easy to remember and will come in handy when interacting with locals. You can also download language apps or carry a pocket phrasebook with you for quick reference.

Familiarize yourself with cultural customs

Korea has a rich culture with many unique customs that may be different from what you are used to. For example, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering a home or certain establishments, and it is considered polite to use both hands when giving or receiving something. Take some time to research and understand these customs before your trip so that you can show respect and avoid any unintentional faux pas.

Plan your transportation

Korea has an excellent public transportation system, making it easy for travelers to get around. However, it can be overwhelming for first-timers, especially in big cities like Seoul. We recommend downloading a transportation app like KakaoMap or Naver Map to help you navigate and plan your routes. Taxis are also plentiful, but make sure to have the name and address of your destination written down in Korean to show the driver.

Try local food

Korean cuisine is known for its bold flavors and diverse dishes, making it a culinary adventure worth exploring. Try local specialties like kimchi, a spicy and tangy fermented vegetable dish, bibimbap, a mixed rice dish with seasoned vegetables, meat, and an egg, or bulgogi, grilled marinated beef. Street food is a must-try, offering delicious options like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes) and hotteok (sweet pancakes), and a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture. If you have dietary restrictions, research or ask for recommendations, as many places are increasingly accommodating various dietary needs.

Pack for the weather

Korea has four distinct seasons, and the weather varies greatly depending on when you visit. Check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly. Generally, spring (March-May) and autumn (September-November) are the best times to visit, with mild temperatures and beautiful foliage. In spring, enjoy cherry blossoms that create picturesque landscapes. Autumn offers vibrant fall colors transforming the scenery. Summers can be hot and humid with monsoon rains from late June to early August, so bring light clothing and an umbrella. Winters can be very cold, especially in the north, with temperatures often below freezing and snow for winter sports. Pack warm, layered clothing and accessories like gloves and hats to stay comfortable.

Have cash on hand

Although credit cards are widely accepted in Korea, it’s prudent to carry some cash as well. Many small shops or street vendors may only accept cash, and some places may charge an additional fee for using a foreign card. You can exchange your currency at the airport upon arrival or withdraw from an ATM, but make sure to inform your bank beforehand about your travel plans to avoid any issues.

We hope these 7 must-know tips for first-time travelers to Korea will help you have an unforgettable experience in this beautiful country. Research and planning ahead, learning basic Korean phrases, familiarizing yourself with cultural customs, and being prepared for transportation, food, and weather will make your trip smoother and more enjoyable. Embrace the unique culture, try new experiences, and most of all, have fun! Korea is waiting for you to discover its wonders.