Korea is a fantastic nation to visit and offers people the chance to get to grips with that glorious part of Asia. If you’re interested in taking a trip here are some tips to make the most of it.
Fall or spring
These seasons have the best weather, and you will be able to see the country in its full beauty. Autumn has gorgeous foliage while the early spring has cherry blossoms. Summer and winter will not be bad for someone who has the freedom, but it is not the best of ideas to visit during these times. Summer tends to be humid and you will find it hard to leave your hotel room, and winter is just winter.
Reading up a bit on Korean history
If you want to enjoy a given country, it is a good idea to do a little research about the culture and history of the country. Even if this means joining a Crash Course video to get a rough idea of the culture, it will end up giving you a connection to the place.
If you want to go deep learning about the culture, then head over to Amazon and have a look at the Korean history section. Look for the things on the Korean War and Joseon dynasty if you are interested in something a little more specific.
Transportation is cheap and efficient
The country has a great public transportation system and this is why this is the case. You can easily get around without having to spend a lot of money. When you get there, start by picking a T-Money card, which you can use for paying for public buses and subways in different cities. This is going to save you the hassle of having to purchase a single journey subway ticket when you travel, and you will also be getting discounts on rides. You can easily find taxis because they are everywhere, and the charges are determined by time and distance, and usually inexpensive. You should stay away from “deluxe” taxis, which usually charge more because they reportedly provide better services.
Travel and Korea metro apps
Travel apps will become very important, especially if you are a first-time traveler. The train maps can look daunting because it can be complicated, and it won’t help that Korean words are used, which will leave you even more scared. Having map apps such as Busan Metro Map and Seoul Metro will help you a lot when in Korea. There is also a VisitKorea app that will have traveling and food tips that will go a long way. If you’re wondering where to stay in Busan or Seoul – our advice would be close to a metro in both instances.
Korean is the official language of Korea. You should keep in mind that many vendors are not going to understand English, even in areas considered touristy. If you are Chinese, you might have an easier time because they can know a few Chinese characters such as the price of their products. If you are not Chinese, you will be forced to employ hand language.
The unfortunate part is that locals understand a little bit of English, and it is very hard for them to converse in English.
Whether you are traveling to South Korea or North Korea, you should learn common phrases in the Korean language because it will help in doing routine work. You can also learn the Korean alphabet known as Hangul. Go to YouTube and watch videos or movies so you can familiarize yourself with the tone and common words of the language. Try doing this before you travel to Korea, and you will be excited when learning the language.
South is Considered One of the Safest Countries, but…
South Kore is one of the safest countries because of its lowest crime rates. While there are petty thieves, drunken brawlers, and con artists in the metropolitan area, it is still safe any time of the day provided you stay vigilant of your surroundings and also keep a low profile.
One thing to keep in mind is the legal adjudications in the country tend to be unfairly biased against international visitors and residents. If you happen to be accosted by a Korean in a bar, the best thing to do is walk away. If you decide to punch or hit him back, then you are going to be incarcerated and the law will favor the Korean every time.
One thing I cannot deny is that locals can be both nice and rude. There are locals, especially the older ones, who can be very aggressive. This is the one thing I wish I had been warned about before traveling. I was surprised and upset when shoved aside in crowded places, elbowing me because I sat too close, and many other incidents. What I have been able to deduce from these experiences is that the older generation expects to get some respect from the younger generation, but I don’t think this is the right way to ask for respect.
To be honest, there are more friendly Koreans. During our trip, we were able to meet many locals who were talked with well, a taxi driver who was excited to have us as the first passengers from Singapore, and also a kind person who helped us by flagging a taxi after having a short conversation. I am very happy and thankful for these people who helped us a lot when we were in Korea.
One of the best ways you can know more about a given country is to try the local food found in street-side stalls. There are different options when it comes to South Korean foods, and you need to try as many as possible. Some of the things you need to try include Pajeon, Korean BBQ, kimchi salad, Bibimbap, and Japchae. There are also unique drinks that you need to try before leaving the country, and this includes; Cider, Soju, Omijacha, Hallabong, and Makgeolli.
Gifts are Equated to Graciousness
Gift exchange is important in the Korean culture – whether business or personal relationships – and linked to show of respect, being courteous, and maintaining harmony. If someone invites you to their home, it is customary to bring along a small gift, e.g. a bottle of wine or flowers, because you will be showing graciousness. When giving the gift, make sure you do it with two hands, and also you should never open a gift in front of the giver.