Arrival in Korea
With the outbreak of COVID-19 a few years ago and a gradual exit out of it, Korea has introduced strict arrival procedures which are applied to all visitors.
A complete and constantly updating set of rules can be found here- please take your time to study it in every detail and complete all the required procedures on time to be able to enter the country.
Commuting from the airport to the city
You will most likely to arrive in Incheon airport as the major international hub for the city, and there are several ways to get from there to the city. Please browse here to find the best option for you to get to the venue hotel.
Getting around the city
In Seoul, you can visit most places by using the vast subway network. There are nine numbered lines plus a smattering of named suburban lines, all distinguished by different colors. All signs in the subway system are in Korean (both hangeul and if applicable, hanja) and English, as well as Japanese and Mandarin in some stations. The signs leading to the platform for a particular direction of travel on a given subway line typically list the names of a number of stations in that direction. Stations each have a 3 digit number, but locals rarely make use of these numbers, and they're not on most subway maps, so don't rely on them. An English subway map can be found here.
Subway fares are based on the distance traveled, but the shortest ride costs ₩1,250 (base charge) plus a deposit of ₩500 for single-ride cards (refundable if you return the card at designated machines at each station). The base charge roughly covers up to 10 km (6.2 mi) of the journey and ₩100 is added for every 5 km (3.1 mi) beyond that. Cards can be purchased from vending machines only. All vending machines accept coins and bills, up to ₩10,000 notes (and some ₩50,000 notes, but cash exchange machines are at each station). Hang onto your card until the end of your trip, as you'll need it to get out. Most of Seoul's automated card machines are equipped with touchscreen and full English support (along with Chinese and Japanese).
If planning on using the Metro extensively or staying for more than a couple of days, you should consider purchasing a T-money stored value contactless smart card. You can buy this card from staffed desks at most subway stations, many newspaper kiosks near subway entrances, and convenience stores with the T-money logo. The most basic card costs ₩2,500, and cash can be added to the card as often as you like. When entering and leaving a subway turnstile, place the card on the reader (leaving it inside your purse or wallet is fine), and it will deduct the appropriate fare from the card. Using this card will allow you to save ₩100 on all transfers (these are common with Seoul's extensive subway system), and you can get all but ₩500 back if you have unused credit. Any value on the T-money card never expires. Credit refund up to ₩20,000 can be received in most convenience stores. Above ₩20,000 you can still get a refund, but the procedure is more complicated, so it's wise to keep your credit below that figure.
Typically for most travellers staying less than a week in Seoul, purchasing this card may not be cheaper, but other factors should be considered: it can also be used for taxi fares, buses, storage lockers, pay phones, etc. The T-money card is far more convenient than buying per trip ticket. Using a transportation card is highly recommended if you wish to use it between subways and buses, simply for its ability to transfer for free since you will not have to pay for the basic fare twice for a single journey when using two modes of transport. Note that the subway does not operate late at night.
Be aware that any issues (e.g. unsufficient balance) are not displayed in English at the turnstiles. Only the error code is shown in latin letters. The different error codes are listed at the metro website.
Here are some things to know when riding the subway.
Some stations have a similar names, so be sure to check the map and destination. For example, Sinchon subway station(Line 2) is located far from Sinchon rail station(Gyeongui-Jungang Line) and both are not transferrable. And Yangpyeong subway station(Line 5) is in Seoul, but Yangpyeong rail station(Gyeongui-Jungang Line) is located at Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi-do(about 50km away).
At the edge of the train car, there are specially marked seats for the elderly and disabled people. It is de facto mandatory to leave this seat for others, unless you really need them. Also, some trains have pink seats for pregnant women.
Some terminus stations and branch lines like the Gyeongui-Jungang Line between Gajwa and Seoul Station have very, very few trains, sometimes less than one per hour. Be sure to check the timetables beforehand. Also, the platform for Gyeongui-Jungang Line at Seoul Station is separated from the other lines, in the old station building.
There is also a separate class of commuter trains in Seoul. Lines 1, 4, 9, and several others do operate 'express (급행)' services. They are slightly faster, skipping several stops and passing normal service trains. No extra fees are required to use them. Line 1 also has a 'limited express (특급)' service, which makes even fewer stops. Same fare.
Seoul Metro (Operator of lines 1 to 8) has some info on their 'Theme Tour' section. You can check the timetable there as well.
You cannot use metro stations for crossing streets. If you enter a metro station and leave at another exit, the fare for a single ride will be deducted.
If you entered a metro station at the wrong side by accident and return the card will be blocked (or in case of a T-money card the fare for a single ride will be deducted) even if you exited at the same turnstile.
Seoul also has an extensive bus service. There are four different kinds of buses: yellow, green, blue, and red. Yellow buses have a short circuit usually around tourist areas. Green buses travel around neighborhoods and connect with the subway. Blue buses go across town, while red buses are intercity buses. Buses will only stop at designated bus stops and will not wait for indecisive travelers. Press the red buttons before your stop to let the driver know; some drivers will drive through stops if they see no one waiting at the stop, and no one has pressed the button.
Adult fare is as follows:
Cash – ₩1,200
T-Money Card – ₩1,050
By using a T-Money card, you can transfer between the bus and the subway for free up to 30 minutes after your last scan. That is to say, the base charge of ₩1,050 won't be charged twice. If, for example, you travel 10 km (6.2 mi) by subway, transfer to a bus and travel a further 5 km (3.1 mi), ₩1,050 will be deducted once you leave the subway, nothing will be deducted when you enter a bus, but you will be deducted ₩100 for the extra 5 km (3.1 mi) journey you made on the bus. If you do not tag the machine as you leave the bus, you will be charged the maximum fare possible for the route.
Deluxe taxis are black with a yellow sign and are more expensive than regular taxis but provide better and more comfortable service. Regular taxis are silver. For the most part, regular taxi cabs have leather interiors and the drivers are nice—so, for many people, "regular" in Seoul might be "deluxe" in their hometown. It is easy to hail a taxi any time of the day or night along any relatively major Seoul street.
You can call a deluxe taxi wherever you are by calling 3431–5100. Sometimes, you can find a visitor's guide taxi, a kind of deluxe taxi, the drivers of which know English and Japanese and can guide you around Seoul.
As of February 2022, the basic fare for regular taxis is ₩3,800 (₩4,600 at night), with a surcharge of ₩100 applied according to time and distance. (The basic fare is up to 2 km (1.2 mi), plus ₩100 per 132 m.) In deluxe taxis, the basic fare is ₩6500 and the additional fare increases in increments of ₩200. (₩4500 basic fare for up to 3 km (1.9 mi), plus ₩200 per 151 m). International taxi drivers speak at least one foreign language (generally English) fluently. International taxis use the same basic fare as regular taxis, plus an additional 20%.
If there is more than one passenger, and you are traveling only a short distance (like 1-2 metro stops) it is usually cheaper to catch a taxi than to take a bus or subway.
In general, taxi drivers do not speak English or any other foreign language, so have your destination written in Korean to show to the taxi driver. It is also wise to get your hotel's business card in case you get lost. Some may even reject looking at a map so whenever possible, have the location written in Korean.
All taxis advertise a free interpretation service that can be called if you need help. The phone number for the interpretation is on the window sticker of the back seats. Taxis that have an "On Base Authorized" sticker on the side, or a green sticker on their front bumper, are capable of entering US military bases in Seoul. These drivers are required to speak better English as part of their contract and may thus be easier for any English speaking tourists.
All taxis in Seoul accept credit cards and T-money cards. However, drivers generally prefer that you pay cash, especially for shorter rides. You can also ask for your receipt ("Yeong-su-jeung" 영수증).
As in any other city, there are some bad apples, and some drivers may take you the long way. Although the drivers often have a GPS device on the dashboard of their car, this is relatively meaningless if you do not know the area or cannot speak sufficient Korean to argue the point.
If you like cycling, there are many bike rental stations in Seoul (and other cities). Seoul City government operates Seoul Bike(nicknamed 따릉이 (Ttareungyi)), and you can get around easily at little cost. There are many voucher options, but a day voucher is enough for most tourists. At the homepage or official app, purchase the voucher and receive the rental number. At the nearby rental spot, press the button on the bike you want to rent and type the digits. You have to return the bike to the rental station within 1 hour (2 hours if you bought the Premium voucher). You can rent it as many times as you want for 24 hours, as long as you return the bike for respective period of time. A regular voucher is ₩1,000 and a premium one is ₩2,000.
When riding the bike, be sure to obey the traffic rules and try to wear a helmet. Read the warnings on the signage and ride with care. The official app shows the location of rental station and how many bikes are there, so plan your journey while knowing where to return. Naver map or Kakao map can show the bike roads and have a direction search option for bikes.
If you know the Korean and sign up for them, you can use the weekly, monthly, and yearly option.
Other than that, there are other private bike rentals at Han river park and Yeoido.
In general, make sure the driver turns on the meter, get an idea of the cardinal direction of your destination (north, south, east, west), and use the interpretation service if you want to agree to a fare beforehand.
Seoul is literally dotted with ATMs .However, there are two types of ATMs in South Korea: those that accept foreign cards and those that don’t. Cash dispenser (CD) machines generally accept international cards. If you insert your card into an ATM and it gives you an error message, you’ll need to search for another machine.
Look for the Global logo on the front of the
ATM and select the English option before you insert your credit, debit or
travel card. These types of ATMs are common in public places such as bus and
train stations, 7-11 stores, and are out of service after 11 p.m.
Local ATM operator fees will apply
South Korea is a modern and cosmopolitan country, with exciting culture and food. Credit cards, debit cards, and cash are all accepted without issue in South Korea, with cash becoming less common.
According to the Bank of Korea, only about 20% of financial transactions
in Korea are made with cash. Between credit card, debit cards and the popular
T-money cards, South Korea is quickly becoming a cashless society. The best way
to make payments in South Korea is to use credit cards.
Cuisine/Restaurants/Eateries/ Street food
Seoul boasts hundreds of spots to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, or even a snack. However, a visitor should be aware that most of them cater local meals, while European meals are mostly represented by numerous coffee shops and Italian eateries, as well as, ready-to-eat meals at 7-11 shops.
The top 10 genuine Kporean dishes are:
- Rice cakes in sauce (tteokbokki)
- Pork and potato soup (gamjatang)
- Cold noodles (naengmyun)
- Blood sausage stuffed with noodles (sundae)
- Korean barbecue (gogi-gui)
- Pigs' trotters (jokbal)
- Savoury pancakes (jeon)
- Octopus (jjukkumi)
The easiest way to try them all is to visit Myeong-dong after 4pm daily.
The list of Indian vegetarian restaurants can be found here
The list of halal restaurants can be found here
If you are keen to have a quick a reasonably priced breakfast/luncheon/
dinner and pick it from a vast offer, try the food court at the basement of the
world-famous Lotte Department Store. The food court opens at 9am and closes by
Public wifi in Seoul isn't as easy to find as many people suggest. There is no city-wide wifi network, and you can only connect to wifi in Seoul at restaurants, cafés, hotels, and some tourist attractions. Renting pocket wifi in Seoul is affordable and a great alternative to relying on public wifi infrastructure.
We recommend to order it online in advance through Klook. They have really good prices, and you can cancel up until the day before you’re scheduled to pick up your device if your plans change.
You can pick up and drop off your pocket wifi device at Incheon International Airport.
There are locations in both terminals right outside the secure area. They are near the exit door straight in front of the doors you walk out of after gathering your luggage-it is impossible to miss it!
There is a drop off location in both terminals before you enter the secure area.
You can get a map of the airport showing the return location as part of your pocket wifi rental, so you’ll have no problem finding the drop off booth.
You can also return your pocket wifi at Gimhae International Airport (Busan) or Busan Harbour if you’re travelling throughout South Korea.
No matter where you choose to pick up and return your pocket wifi, the
process is incredibly easy and smooth. It only takes a few minutes, and you can
start using your pocket wifi right away!
The healthcare system and health insurance in South Korea is of extremely
high quality, and expats will receive excellent care during their stay in the
country. The only problems expats may encounter are lengthy wait times, even
in emergency situations.
Anyway, in case of emergency situation, please follow the recommended protocol. We also recommend you check it out in advance.
The most convenient and easiest way to buy a SIM Card is to buy it online in advance. To buy it offline, you can purchase it at Incheon Airport or outlets run by Korean mobile service providers: KT, SKT, LG U+. Major convenience stores, such as GS25, CU, Seven Eleven, also provide SIM cards
Other useful information
- Average temperature in September: 23°C
- Currency: Korean Wona (1 USD roughly is 1,200 KRW)
- Electricity: The standard voltage in Korea is 220 volts at 60 Hertz, and the outlet has two round holes. If you do not have a multi-voltage travel adapter, you may ask to borrow or purchase one from your hotel's front desk.
- Languages: English is widely spoken in Korea but mostly by the younger generation; also, in the subway and on the streets, signs are usually transliterated to English
- Time Zone: GMT+8
- Weather: in September, Seoul generally has high temperatures with maximum daytime temperatures around 26°C (79°F), minimum nighttime temperatures around 18°C (64°F) and high monthly rainfall. So, on average the conditions are pleasant that month.