Destination: Korea

Things to Know Before Traveling to South Korea

Destination: Korea

Things to Know Before Traveling to South Korea

What can I expect from South Korea?

South Korea is probably one of the most underrated countries in East Asia. However, despite its small size, South Korea has a lot to offer: history, UNESCO heritage sites, beaches, islands, modern cities – and delicious food.

There are 9 provinces in South Korea: North Chungcheong, South Chungcheong, Gangwon, Gyeonggi, North Gyeongsang, South Gyeongsang, North Jeolla, South Jeolla, and Jeju Special Self-Governing Province.

COVID-19 Travel Information for Korea

At of the time of writing, international tourists are allowed to enter South Korea. You must submit the following in order to travel Sout Korea:

  • K-ETA – Korea Electronic Travel Authorization: The K-ETA is not a visa. It’s a travel authorization document by the Korean government to monitor international travelers to Korea.
  • Q-Code for Quarantine-Free Travel
  • Proof of Vaccination

For more details about the K-ETA, Q-Code and quarantine information, read my blog post here.

Things to See and Do in South Korea

  • Explore Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Shop in Myeongdong
  • Walk through Bukchon Hanok Village
  • Swim at Haeundae Beach
  • Do a Templestay
  • Wander through a green tea field
  • Have Korean BBQ
  • Sleep in a Hanok in Jeonju
  • Explore Jeju Island

Typical Costs When Traveling

Accommodation – Traveling in South Korea isn’t as expensive as Japan but also not as cheap as China, for example. Hotels in Seoul are especially pricey in the most popular areas. However, you can find some incredible budget rooms at so-called “love motels” (yes, they are targeted at couples…) with jacuzzi bathtubs and themed rooms.

Food – Korean food is extremely popular around the world right now – so be sure to try as much as possibl! Some of the best dishes include: bibimbap, BBQ, jeon, jjiggae, kimbap and the liquor soju.

Transportation – Because Korea is a relatively small country, you can easily get around using express inter-city buses and the high-speed train KTX. Big cities usually have a subway system and you can purchase a T-money card that allows you to use transportation more conveniently.

Suggested daily budget

35-50 EUR / 40-56 USD

(Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation.

Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)

Money Saving Tips

  • Don’t Exchange Money at Incheon Airport. Conversion rates and fees are generally higher at the airport. Instead of converting your money at the airport, head to a bank in the downtown district of your destination city.
  • Ditch the taxi. Most large cities in Korea have a great public transit system. Buses and subways run super frequently and won't cost you nearly as much as a taxi ride.
  • Get a city pass. The Discover Seoul Pass was created by the Seoul Tourism Organization and Seoul Metropolitan Government with the aim to provide visitors with a complete experience of Seoul, including access to the most prominent landmarks and tourist attractions with ease and flexibility.
  • Take advantage of Lunch Time Deals. Many restaurants in Korea offer discounts on selected items or all of their menu during lunchtime saving you up to 20%.

Recommended Travel Guides for Korea

If you want to learn more about South Korea and have a handy travel guide in your pocket, check out these three options below:

DK Eyewitness Top 10 Seoul

This Top 10 Seoul guide is a great pocket guide that breaks down the best of Seoul into helpful lists of ten - from selected highlights to the best museums and galleries, and the most authentic restaurants, tearooms, bars, shops, and markets. I personally helped update the most recent version of this guide. Buy this book.

Lonely Planet Korea

You really can't go wrong with a lonely planet guide in your hand luggage! I'm a huge fan of Lonely Planet and own this guide myself. What I love is the brand-new pull-out, passport-size 'Just Landed' card with wi-fi, ATM and transport info - all you need for a smooth journey from airport to hotel! Buy this book.

South Korea: The Solo Girl’s Travel Guide

Calling all my solo female travel ladies out there - this guide is amazing! Part of the #1 Travel Guidebook Series for Women (and couples), this take on South Korea will help you avoid the scams, creeps, and tourist traps and skip ahead to the cities and adventures that are worth your time (and money)! Buy this book.


What can I expect from South Korea?

Be prepared to get your mind blown. Serioulsy, because not many people consider Korea a travel destination, it isn’t much talked about. That’s why you’ll be even more impressed once you explore the vibrant local culture and visit Korea’s many fascinating attractions and natural wonders.