Traveling around Korea must be a wish of many people, especially ones who love Korean films and its entertainment. In addition, Korea is famous for its landscape and attractive culture. Hence, traveling around Korea is very worthy as it brings us lots of interests and wonderful memories. Therefore, in this article, All Know-How will give tips for all of the things for traveling around Korea. With these tips, traveling around Korea becomes easier than ever.
Country: Republic of Korea, referred to as Korea. The official English name is the Republic of Korea (ROK) (not called South Korea).
Capital: Seoul, with the population of 10.44 million people (January 2013).
Geographical location: in the south of the Korean Peninsula; East, West and South border on the sea; North borders on Korea via the military demarcation line running along the 38 ° North parallel
Area: 99,392 square kilometers (the whole peninsula: 222.154 kilometers)
Population: 50.76 million (February 2013).
Ethnicity: Only one ethnic group is a Korean group.
Religion: Buddhism: 10.7 million people; Protestantism: 8.6 million; Catholicism: 5.1 million; Confucianism: 104 thousand
Language: Korean (a voice, a script).
Time Zone: (UTC + 9)
Internet domain name: .kr
Phone number code: +82
2. Primary Items For Traveling Around Korea
a. Passport and identity card
They are of important items we need to prepare if we want to go traveling around Korea. We need the original passport. However, it must be in the duration of validity of over 6 months and still has a page of visa. It is easier than we a photocopy of the passport is not necessary. Nevertheless, we must submit a photocopy of the identity card but we don’t need to have it notarized.
b. The application of the visa
Although the official website of the Korean Embassy also has a visa application form in English, when we submit our application, we will be provided with a Vietnamese form. So, we do not have to fill out the English form at home. Just come to the embassy a bit early and we can easily fill out the Vietnamese form.
The form will require a 3.5 * 4.5 photo taken with a white background. Remember that we must have a sharp picture so that they will accept it.
c. Proof of financial capacity
They are the savings-book with a balance from 5000USD deposited over 1 month to the submission date of the application with confirmation of bank deposit near the submission time of (02-week limit) and a 2-side photocopy of the savings-book. So, how do we show our proof of financial capacity if the savings-book sent under one month? Don’t worry. If that, the savings book must have a three-month deposit period enclosed with the Land Use Rights Certificate with a notarized English translation or a photocopy of 2-side vehicle registration companies by name of the person submitting.
d. Proof of occupation
Proof of occupation is of importance if we want to go traveling around Korea. Quite many things we need to prepare to prove our occupation. However, they are not much difficult. These following things are what we must have:
• The original employment contract and its photocopy, and the additional English translations without being notarized. Also, if anyone has its bilingual version, no translation is required.
• Application for leave: We make the bilingual application for leave, have it signed and imprinted. Besides, we need to clearly indicate that we apply for traveling around Korea, from which date to date, and commit to returning to work after the holiday of traveling around Korea.
• Career confirmation: Write a letter of intent to confirm that you are currently working in that company, the position, the salary … We should mention all of them here. Furthermore, we also write in English and get it signed and imprinted.
• The last 3- months payroll with the company’s imprint. Moreover, we need to have an account statement showing the salary paid during those 3 months.
e. Confirmation of booking rooms in Korea and air ticket
We book rooms in the way of cancellation with no charge on Booking.com. Then we print all of the bookings attached to the application. After that, once we have a visa then, we can cancel those bookings and book other rooms again. It is relatively easy, and we pay no charge. For the flight tickets, we must hunt the cheap ones in advance; hence, we just need to print them.
f. Other documents
Other documents that we can include a certificate of property ownership such as land, marriage registration, birth certificates, etc. Nevertheless, we must have them notarized by a local notary (Vietnamese version) beforehand, plus a notarized English translation of the document.
3. The Weather In Korea
Climate changes clearly and diversely according to four seasons. Summer is hot and humid, and winter is long, dry and cold. However, autumn and spring are short but the weather is comfortable due to the cool air and lots of sunshine. In winter, the average temperature is -16 ° C and, but in summer, it is 34.5 ° C.
At the time of transfer between summer and autumn, heavy rains often occur in large areas. Winter starts in November and ends in March. New Year’s Eve is usually accompanied by drizzling rain. Soon after April, the weather becomes gentle, and the hills and mountains are the fields of flowers with vivid colors. They like a splendid flower forest, reaching out to the wind. That is also the time when the farmers sow seeds. The cool weather with a blue sky is a beautiful feature of autumn in Korea. It seems that a beautiful heaven welcomes visitors and the residents. When traveling around Korea, let’s enjoy that wonderful moment.
4. Currency And Other Cards
a. Korean currency
The Korean currency is Korean Won, abbreviated as KRW. The exchange rate is quite stable: 1 KRW ~ 0.000895 U.S. dollars.
b. SIM of mobile phone
It is the fact that free wifi is only available at airports like Gimpo or Incheon, in hotels, cafes when we enter. But when traveling around Korea, which means we are on the road, to have wifi to use, we will still need to have a sim card to sign up. Another way is buying a package of a certain supplier, but it still needs a sim card.
So, if anyone needs to contact or needs the Internet when traveling around Korea, there should be a 4G sim. In addition, buying a sim is easy because there are many stores in the airport. But the sim price in Korea is quite expensive and more expensive than other Asian countries.
c. T-money cards
This is the type of card for traveling on board, bus and payment at convenience stores. When traveling around Korea, we should buy this card. Also, the price of the card is 4000KRW with no money in the account. Hence, we have to recharge at the automatic ticket machines at the train station. Besides, the price for each train, if we use T-money, is 1250KRW and 1350KRW for the retail ticket. T-money is of convenience as we will not consume time to buy tickets again, just swipe and get in.
When we come to Korea, we should know the different ways to transport from the airport to the city center, around the city center or from the city center to other cities. It assists us to move conveniently and easily. The followings are some ways for transportation so that we can go traveling around Korea more easily.
a. Traveling between the airport and the city center
Incheon International Airport
When flying from Vietnam to Seoul, we will often land at Incheon Airport, Korea’s main and largest airport. From the airport, there are many ways to get to the city center such as bus, taxi or subway. For ordinary travelers, we can go by subway as it is the most convenient and cheapest. There are two types of subways to Seoul:
• Express Train: This fast train connects the airport and the city. It runs straight to Seoul without stopping at any train station. Nonetheless, the cost is a bit expensive: 8500KRW /turn. Besides, we must buy the ticket at the counter (T-money cards are not available).
• All Stop Train: This is a subway running from the airport to the city. It is a slow train as it stops at all the stations on the way. While the Express Train runs 40 minutes, the All Stop Train is form 50 minutes to 1 hour. The All Stop Train price is 3250KRW and T-money cards are available.
If we fly from Seoul to Jeju and Busan, it is near the city than Incheon. Moreover, from Gimpo to Seoul, taking the All Stop Train (no Express Train) is quite simple. Or if anyone traveling from Incheon wants to go to Gimpo, they can also take the All Stops Train. This train lasts about 30 minutes. The ticket price is just equal to that of the normal subway, which is 1250 KRW per turn.
The usual procedure when we fly to Seoul is to find a store selling a phone sim (the stores are on the way to the subway), then buy a T-money card and take the train back to the city. At any airport, the terminal is also Seoul Station because the airport line is private. It doesn’t have a transfer station connecting with other lines. From this station, we continue to catch the subway to the hotel.
b. Traveling by subway in the city center
For traveling around Korea, it is the most convenient and the cheapest to travel by train. Also, we should download the tram map to the phone or software Subway Korea to see visually. Besides, it is also easy for us to search and find the way to anywhere on the phone.
However, the train system in Seoul is quite complex. There are 9 lines in total in different colors with their numbers from 1 to 9. Hence, we need some experience of going by train when traveling around Korea. And they are followings:
• Like going by trains in other cities, we should determine the right station on the Seoul map. After that, see whether there is the nearest station or not. Once we have identified, access the Subway software to find the shortest route to go, and note the line changes.
• In Seoul, there are a lot of stations built a long time ago, and no elevator. So, when we go to any station, we must decide which door is to get in to save time, especially the door that has a few stairs. It is extremely necessary in case we have to drag our too heavy luggage.
• On the map, we will see some of the routes have both direct and stop hops. Hence, we must be aware of which stations they notice. We might think the train stops at the intermediate station; however, it has run through where we must go off.
• Noticing continuously guidelines in the stations to see which direction to the station we want to go.
Note some special lines
• The Airport Railroad – line dedicated to the airport, both Incheon Airport and Gimpo Airport are on this line. Line airport also crosses Hongik Univ. This station is to go to Hongdae district.
• Line 1: Go through Dongdaemun Station. Moreover, we can go to Cheonggyecheon Stream and Dongdaemun Design Plaza by this line/
• Line 3: It includes Anguk station to Bukchon Hanok Village and Express Bus Terminal to Banpo Bridge to see the light show.
• Line 6: Go to Itaewon.
Take the train from Seoul to other cities
If we want to travel from Seoul to Busan or other cities, we can catch the train. It is the quickest and most convenient. For example, to go to Busan, we have to go through Seoul Station (adjacent to Subway Seoul Station). Furthermore, we can book the ticket in advance via Letskorail website and choose a fast or slow train (which stops at many stations). Notwithstanding, prices will vary significantly, and the speed also varies accordingly.
6. Where To Stay In Korea?
a. Twin City Apartment
This apartment can accommodate 3 or 4 people with full facilities. Additionally, it is on the 17th floor of Twin City twin tower in Seoul Station, next to Four Points by Sheraton. If we choose the room in the corner angle, we will panoramic city, always at night, the city lights up very beautiful. Also, on the rooftop is a gym with full equipment, free cafe tea, and massage chair. This is an ideal place to do exercises without taking time to go out.
Room price: $ 215/2 nights / 2 people
b. Small House Big Door
The hotel stands close to the busy and noisy Myeongdong, just 5 minutes’ walk away. However, the area around the hotel is very quiet. In addition, rooms for rest, there are also a cafe and an office lunch on the first floor.
Room price: $ 110 / night / 2 people.
c. Moon Guesthouse
This is a Korean traditional house near Bukchon Hanok Village. As it accommodates one person, the small room has only one bed. But the guesthouse also has large rooms for two people or a family. More especially, its style is the very Korean style, it is peaceful and gentle.
Room price: $ 29 / night / single person, double room $ 58 / night.
7. Korean Cuisine
One of the important things we concern when visiting any country is its cuisine. As it is also one of the things attracting foreign visitors all around the world. Similarly, traveling around Korea, we certainly can’t help paying attention to the street food. And these are some street food we should try:
a. Spicy rice cake Tteokbokki
The small rolling spicy rice cakes are similar to Vietnamese round sticky rice cake, served with spicy sauce. Tteokbokki is everywhere, in the street food stalls and even in the cafeteria. In the cold weather, we blow, eating, and feeling the warmth spreads all of our body. How delicious and great it is!
This food includes rice and various ingredients rolled in dried seaweed leaves. Some types also have rolling egg outside, making them more attractive. It is extremely delicious because Korean rice is both delicious and attractive.
Very similar to the Japanese Tempura. Its ingredients are popular vegetables such as okra, sweet potato, onion, carrot. Then they are dipped in the breadcrumb and fried.
Simply speaking, it is spicy chicken skewer. The chicken is marinated with spices and skewered with onions and then baked or fried. Then they will add tomato sauce, syrup or honey to the make it tasty.
There are also grilled chopped fish Odeng, donut Hotteok similar to pancakes, … We can see these street foods in many places in Seoul, especially in the market and shopping areas. Some are Myeongdong, Gwangjang Market, Namdaemun Market, Dongdaemun Street Food District,…
Typical dishes and places to eat
• Korean barbecue – Korean BBQ – (Gogigui 고기 구이): The special dish that we can eat so many times without being bored. Anybody eating Gogi in Vietnam can imagine it in Korea, but of course, eating in Korea is still much better!
• Mixed rice Bibimbap: Rice is mixed with vegetables, chili sauce, added some additional ingredients such as egg and sliced meat.
• Chicken soup with ginseng Samgyetang: Its ingredients are the young chicken with sticky rice, ginseng, biffin, garlic, and ginger. Traditionally, the Korean usually eat this dish on the hottest days of the year called sambok.
• Sundubu Jiggae (재동 순두부): In addition to barbecue, we must try the extremely delicious dishes including seafood egg soup and Tofu at Jaedong Sundubu. We can get there by getting in subway Anguk exit 2 as it is in Bukchon-ro 2-gil alley.
• Gwangjang Market: This is a busy market with many street food stalls adjacent to each other. Lots of street foods are here such as Tteokbokki, Gimbap, meats. Especially, we have a chance to eat an octopus raw. Watching its tentacles are moving on the plate, maybe you are a bit scared. But it is exceptionally tasty.
• Grilled fish in Dongdaemun Grilled Fish Street: Near Gwangjang Market, but it is on the opposite side. Entering the small alley, we will Dongdaemun Grilled Fish Street with lots of small grilled fish kebabs with an attractive smell.
• Mandu 만두, also Korean dumpling similar to Chinese or Taiwanese one. Delicious stalls are Bukchon Son Mandu in Insadong 9-gil alley which is 50 meters from Anguk exit.
* Patbingsu is a pure dessert that combines crushed ice and red bean. However, in Korea, they have a lot of combinations and create a variety of patbingsu in different colors. If we come to Korea, we cannot help eating Patbingsu.
• Noodles: Korea is famous plenty of noodles such as ramen noodles, Udon noodles, Naengmyeon cold noodles, etc. Different restaurants are on the streets. Besides, the price ranges from 5000 to 8000KRW / bowl.
In the meals in Korea, they will usually have a variety of side dishes such as Kimchi, dried fish, pickles like cabbage or radish… We can get as much as we like.
8. Some Places To Visit In Korea
a. Shopping in Myeongdong
The street is extremely popular in Seoul. Many of the busiest shopping centers with a variety of cosmetics, fashions and food streets are here. Hence, we must go to Myeongdong several times during our traveling around Korea.
How to get there: Euljiro 1 (il) -ga Station (Seoul Subway Line 2), Exits 5, 6 & 7 or Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4), Exits 5, 6, 7 & 8.
b. Namsan Tower – N Seoul Tower
It is close to Myeongdong, so we can walk to get there. This tower is on Nam San Mountain and it is also considered one of the symbols of Seoul. Among famous places to visit when traveling around Korea, this tower is worthy of seeing. To get to the tower, we need to pass an automatic elevator – or call the cable car also. Then buy a ticket for the cable car (8500 KRW / round trip) to get to the foot of the tower.
From here, we can take part in the activities at the foot of the tower because there is a leisure center. Additionally, there is a bridge like the bridge Pont des Arts (the bridge of love) in Paris. Or we can buy tickets to the top of the tower to watch the entire Seoul. Next to the Namsan Tower is Namsan Park, and the ancient village of Namsangol Hanok Village.
How to get there: Myeong-dong Station (Seoul Subway Line 4) Exit 3, then walk 15 minutes along the right path of the Pacific Hotel. The cable car is in front of us.
c. Banpo Bridge on the Han River
If we go traveling around Korea, we must go through this bridge for at least one time. This bridge is famous for its spectacular fountains, and it also sets the Guinness World Record for the longest bridge in the world. This bridge has a total length of 1,140m and 10,000 LEDs. To get here, we take the subway to the Express Bus Terminal, a 1-kilometer walk to the Han River.
d. Seoul Forest
It is not only suitable for family picnics but also for eating and drinking in the style of Container. That means fashion shops, gifts or cafe are built from the container and painted with attractive colors.
Seoul Forest is very wide, fresh and has lots of trees. Due to the beautiful weather in Seoul, the city has a number of parks that facilitate people to walk, play and relax.
How to get there: Seoul Forest Station (Subway Bundang Line), Exit 3
e. Amusement parks like Lotte World and Everland
Normally we must spend the whole day to explore these places. They are almost like the water park or Dam Sen Park, Sentosa in Singapore. But they are super wide with countless different games. Also, we just buy one ticket to play all the games, and only a few special services require paying more. Everland has a zoo, except for Lotte World
How to get Everland: go to subway Jeondae-Everland Station (Yongin EverLine), Exit 3. Get shuttle bus to Everland (bus operating time: 05: 30-23: 30).
f. Nami Island
This is one of the places attracting people because this is the setting for the movie “Winter Sonata”. The island is actually just a small land area between the two rivers. So, we have to take a shuttle bus from Gapyeong Station quite far from the city. Then catch a ferry across the island to get to this place. The island is full of services; hence, we can rest or play all day here.
Taking a bath at Jimjilbang is a cultural feature of Korea, almost like the steam bath in Vietnam. We will bathe in the spring water from the depth of 300m underground. Then we enter a large room, where there are quite a number of smaller saunas with many temperatures depending on the endurance of each person. There are cold, hot and super-hot rooms. Even we can sleep overnight at the Jimjilbang bath for saving money of staying at the hotel for one night. The common price to enter sleep here is 10k KRW per person.
9. Korean Festivals
a. Seoul International Fireworks Festival
Seoul International Fireworks Festival is a fireworks event held annually on October 5th. Before the fireworks start, we can take part in various shows and performances. Many local and international professional fireworks teams such as France, Canada, and Japan perform in this show. Therefore, we will have unforgettable moments of the light and artistic performances. Traveling around Korea and seeing these fireworks are unforgettable memories. This is due to it is worth seeing such a famous festival.
b. Hwaseong Suwon Cultural Festival
It is a unique cultural festival in Suwon City, Gyeonggi Province, in October every year. Also, it is on the occasion of Suwon Citizen’s Day. The Hwaseong Fortress (UNESCO has recognized it as the world cultural heritage) is a place where attracts visitors most. Of course, this place becomes very bustling the festival.
There is a number of events including the acting out of the procession of the royal throne of Jeongjo (the 22nd king of the Joseon Dynasty), the Jangyongyeong ritual of the guards, the parade of citizens, and many traditional performances. Participating in the festival, we also taste traditional dishes from around the world.
c. Jeju Fire Festival
This festival takes place in the winter of Korea (March 7th-9th). The Jeju-dong fire festival is a ritual for health and good harvesting for the following year. Moreover, the festival unveils a series of traditional heritage events when we take part in traditional and folk games. Furthermore, we have a chance to enjoy the beautiful nature of Jeju Island on this occasion.
d. Jeju Cherry Blossom Festival
Traveling around Korea, we can also watch cherry blossom blooms somewhere. The warm weather at the beginning of the year makes the flowers bloom everywhere. Besides, the center area of Seogwipo city and sports complex are where the old cherry blossoms of Jeju bloom. Their petals on these trees are also considered the largest and most beautiful. However, they will only bloom for 2 or 3 days during the festival in April. Additionally, we will be listening to soft music while going jogging on the brilliant cherry blossom road of Jeju Island.
a. Korean cosmetics
Cosmetics are one of the famous souvenirs in Korea that we must choose first. Nevertheless, in case we are not sure about the cosmetics brand, we can choose Innisfree or Laneige. This is a precious experience of the shoppers. Additionally, BB Cream is the best-selling cosmetics, which many visitors choose to buy as souvenirs. But make sure we can try before buying cosmetics.
b. Personal items printed with K-pop stars
If our friends love Korean movies, this is the perfect place to buy a great souvenir on our Korean trip. These are the calendars, socks, notebooks and a series of stationery printed with famous K-Pop stars. In addition, we cannot ignore small cards, keys or coffee cups printed with idols. We can purchase all K-pop items at souvenir shops.
c. Dried seaweed
Fresh seaweed is at many of South Korea’s beaches. However, we can choose dried seaweed to be the good souvenir for our friends and relatives and get it packaged. It is light and can be in preservation for a period of time. Moreover, we can always eat them without cooking. The flavors of seaweed are quite varied with the taste of oil or salt. More especially, this souvenir is easy to buy as we can find it at grocery stores or at supermarkets.
d. Decorative embroidery
Although Korean traditional embroidery is gradually dying, some artisans still preserve it. Visitors traveling around Korea can buy easily small bags with decorative patterns on them. Or even we buy wallets in local stores to be the ideal souvenir for us. In addition, we can find unique aprons with embroidery patterns available. These gifts are not only beautifully delicate but they also have many useful uses.
11. Other Notes
Korea is a developed, civilized and modern country in the world. When traveling around Korea, we will not have to worry about transportation, food, technology, shopping and other means of payment because they are available anywhere. Moreover, theft or other social problems almost do not exist. Besides, in case we go by subway, we don’t need to worry about pickpockets or robbery. But the cost here is expensive, which is a bit inconvenient.
In addition, the residents almost do not speak English, very few people can speak English. However, those who work in the service industry related to the foreigner such as travel agents, guest rooms, etc, they can speak very well. But they often say a sentence with a half in Korean and the other in English. Hence, we should use Google Translate or some Korean translation software for better communication.
Also, Korea is cold and dry, so we should bring cream so that our skin is not dry, making us uncomfortable. At the luxurious hotels or homestays, they will have some creams available for us, but conventional hotels do not.
These above are the brief information about traveling around Korea, which will help you have a better trip to Korea. You can explore other reviews or information about Korea in detail by following and reading other articles at All Know-How.