Due to the boom of K-pop and K-drama, many fans worldwide have been engulfed in Korean culture. Today, Korea is one of the top destinations that many travelers would include on their bucket lists; it’s understandable. From tourist attractions and restaurants to entertainment areas and adventurous activities, the Land of the Morning Calm is a great destination choice.
If this is your first time visiting the country, planning early and organizing your trip by knowing what to expect is best. South Korea is a cultural country, and you won’t ever go back home without a heart filled with new learnings, discoveries, and cherished memories.
To make the most of your first trip to Korea, consider these pointers below:
1. Learn Some of The Basic Hangul Words
Known as Hangul, the South Korean language is spoken throughout the country. As a first-time traveler, knowing some of the basic Hangul words is helpful. You can study Korean courses online right before your plan to visit the country. After all, not many Koreans speak English. Learning some of their basic words can save you in the least way you expect it. The locals will appreciate simple ‘thank yous,’ ‘hellos,’ and other basic Hangul from travelers. In their eyes, tourists talking in the local language is like speaking directly from their hearts. Knowledge of the language will also come in handy since most street signages are in Korean. So, navigating your way in the country should not be a problem if you know a few Hangul words and characters.
2. Prepare For the Weather
Before you fly to Korea, one of the most important things to do is to research the weather and temperature and prepare well for it. Winter in Korea can be excruciatingly cold, and summer is molten hot. Get ready to sweat profusely during summer when their temperatures go as high as 40°C.
However, the coldest months are December and January, when temperatures can drop to -20°C. You should anticipate how to deal with the extreme cold during these times. Prepare to pack the right clothes to keep you warm. It is one of the definite ways to make your trip stress-free. You might not be able to fully enjoy your first-time trip to Korea if you don’t prepare and research their temperatures early on.
If you’re staying in their capital city, Seoul, anticipate it’s colder than other cities in the country. You won’t have to worry about rain in winter, yet you should expect to experience the coldest wind. As for summer, this is the time when rain showers happen from time to time, and the environment can get pretty humid.
3. They Don’t Practice Tip Culture
One culture common in other countries but not prevalent in Korea is the tipping culture. Tipping is not customary among Koreans. Some might feel offended when you hand them out tips. Every restaurant and store’s menu and price are already fixed, so customers know what they need to pay. All the workers in the hospitality industry perform their service and jobs without expecting you to tip them. So, be mindful of this when you go to Korea for the first time.
4. Delve Into Their Street Food
There are a variety of street foods available in Korea. If you want to try the most mouth-watering and authentic Korean foods, you should explore their street markets. From Toppoki to corn dogs, you’ll get to try whatever food you’ve been intrigued with from your favorite k-drama.
Seoul’s streets have these street foods all day long so you can take advantage of food tripping anytime. Some must-visit places to explore street food markets are Gangjiang Market, Myongdong, Dongdaemun, and so on. Different kinds of Korean cuisine are available at these destinations.
5. Prepare To Bring Korean Won
When traveling to Korea, it’s crucial to prepare for your finances. The Korean currency is called KRW or the Korean won. For your reference, 1500 KRW is equivalent to one USD. It would be ideal to be prepared and buy Korean won from your home country. Or another alternative is to bring US dollars and convert them into money changers in Korea.
Most places accept cards, but smaller businesses and sidewalk stalls may only accept cash. ATMs that accept foreign cards should be available in every convenience store. So this won’t be a problem if you ever run out of cash.
6. Travel With Travel Insurance
In these unprecedented times, purchasing travel insurance for your Korean trip is best. After all, it’s always better to travel with protection. Hospitalized travelers have been denied departure from Korea until they could pay a substantial amount of money after they were hospitalized while traveling through Korea. Because of these reasons and possibilities, it’s best to be well prepared and get travel insurance early on.
7. Download Helpful Apps
When exploring Korea, you’ll ride many of its convenient transportation systems. From trains to buses, you’ll be able to go to your next destination without hurdles. However, one of the most helpful tools is to download some apps. For instance, downloading the subway app can help you where to go more easily. This app will guide you on the easiest and fastest route to your location.
Also, other navigation apps can help you through your stay in Korea. Ride-hailing taxi apps and even food delivery apps make your vacation in the country more convenient and comfortable. Search and download the most helpful apps to maximize your stay in this beautiful country.
8. Learn About Their Culture
Lastly, learning about the culture of the destination you’re planning to visit is crucial. It might seem easy for tourists to get away with anything when visiting a country, but knowing the dos and don’ts of culture will make for a more memorable trip. Not to mention, you’ll make good impressions and make the local people feel comfortable having you around to stay in their home country.
You might have learned a lot of cultural practices through K-drama and movies, but it’s now time to put them into practice. When going for a drink with a local, let them pour you one, and you should also do the same. Also, hierarchy is important in their culture, so you should be mindful if the other person is older than you and address them accordingly. When eating meals in public, be mindful of not blowing your nose or retouching your makeup. All these and more cultural practices are essential things to understand and learn before you visit Korea.
Korea is a worthy destination that you’ll surely enjoy and never forget in your life. South Korea will surely delight you if you love trying new cuisine or exploring one of the world’s most beautiful and story-filled countries. Get ready to be awed by their interesting culture and beautiful attractions, and you’ll want to return a lot more times.