Looking for some top-notch info on South Korean travel? Or maybe you’re considering moving, doing business, or living in South Korea?
If so, you’ve come to the right spot!
We’ve got heaps of awesome articles and resources to make sure that you know everything you need and to make sure you have an amazing time on your next trip out here.
If you’re one of the many foreigners who want to move permanently to Korea or just a traveler who wants to cross South Korea off your travel list, read on, or jump to your favorite subject in the table of contents below.
- 1 Traveling in Korea
- 2 Korea International Travel
- 3 Best time to Visit Korea
- 4 Best Places to Visit in Korea
- 5 Is South Korea Safe?
- 6 Things to do in South Korea
- 7 Moving to Korea
- 8 Everyday Life in Korea
- 9 Festivals & Events in Korea
- 10 Jobs in Korea
- 11 Food & Drink in Korea
- 12 Korean Language in Korea
- 13 Shopping in Korea
Traveling in Korea
Whatever your Korea travel plan is, it will likely be one that’s easy to accomplish. Korea overall, with Seoul as an exemplary example, has a well-built public transit system, covering most regions very well.
These are the seasons when the roads are expected to be the most jammed, and when it’s the hardest to get train tickets to just about anywhere.
So exactly what type of transportation options do you have for your Korea travel? What about public transportation in big cities such as Seoul and Busan?
Seoul Public Transportation
It is without a doubt that Seoul has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. The taxis are relatively cheap, especially by Western standards, and more applications such as KakaoTaxi are popping up all the time to make traveling by taxi safer for travelers.
Seoul also has an extensive bus network, with the designated color of the bus telling you what type of routes they run. Green buses only run through shorter routes between a few designated neighborhoods.
Blue buses go for longer distances, from one side of Seoul to another.
Red buses are slightly more expensive express-like buses that you can use to reach the greater Seoul metropolitan areas such as Bundang and Yongin.
Lastly, Seoul has a magnificent subway network that only comes with one flaw: at the moment, it doesn’t run around the clock. Not only can you reach just about any destination within Seoul by subway, you can also reach just outside of the main Seoul areas including but not limited to Incheon, Suwon, Ilsan, and Pyeongtaek.
Busan Public Transportation
Just like Seoul, Busan has an excellently designed subway network system that you can use to reach nearly every destination on your list – or at least the bus stop from where you can take the bus to reach that destination.
As Busan is much smaller than Seoul, there are fewer lines, making it easier to learn to navigate it. The bus network is also broad enough that you don’t have to stress about getting to where you want to go. However, it is advised to check the route before hopping on board.
You may also consider taking a taxi, but know that the chances they’ll speak English are much lower than in Seoul. That’s another motivating reason for learning Korean!
Train Travel in South Korea
It is almost surprising just how easy it is to travel in Korea just by train. If your budget can allow it, then the KTX (Korea Train Express) is absolutely the fastest and the most comfortable way to travel.
With the KTX, not only can you get to Busan from Seoul in less than three hours, but you can also reach the other cities in South Korea with ease.
Alternatively, if you are on a low budget, cheaper train options like Saemaeul and Mugunghwa also exist. Mugunghwa in particular is affordable and will make a stop in the smaller towns along the way if that’s where you’re planning to go.
Before buying your tickets, do not forget to do some research on purchasing a KORAIL rail pass. With the pass, your Korea travel just may become even more convenient and affordable!
Bus Travel in South Korea
Though you may not find every destination on your bucket list to be reachable by train, not to worry! You can most definitely get there by bus.
There are four big bus terminals within Seoul alone from where you can find a bus taking you to just about anywhere in Korea. Due to traffic, it may take a bit longer to reach your destination by bus, but the fares are guaranteed to be affordable, and the buses are almost always comfortable enough.
Also, if the journey you are taking is quite long, the driver will make stops at rest areas to let you use the toilet or buy food to eat. For most destinations, there are also several buses offered per day, and they are unlikely to sell out outside peak season.
Just about every city and town in Korea also has its own local buses, covering nearly all the areas you may want to go to. Be aware that they may not run as frequently as buses in Seoul.
Air Travel in South Korea
Of course, there are a few destinations in Korea that cannot be reached simply by train and bus. Jeju Island, first and foremost, is one of these destinations.
In the case of Jeju Island especially, you can fly there from any airport in Korea and reach it in no time.
Ferry Travel in South Korea
You may also consider taking a ferry. A ferry is an option from Busan, Yeosu, Mokpo, and a few other towns as well.
A ferry is also how you can reach the other smaller islands in Korea. They are usually easy to get on, just buy a ticket once you reach the ferry port!
And the most exciting part? You can even reach Japan by ferry from Korea! In this instance, however, you will want to purchase the tickets ahead of time as the ferry journey is also a longer one.
Korea International Travel
Korea provides an excellent base from which to explore other countries. Alternatively, you may be planning a backpacking trip across Asia, with Korea as one of your destinations. Though travel from Korea may not happen with as much ease as country hopping in Europe would, it is still an excellent choice to make your base. Additionally, due to its location, with it being further from most countries besides Japan and China, it’s important to know the best way to travel from Korea to maximize your adventurous fun.
Traveling from Korea to Japan
Japan is, of course, the easiest and cheapest country to get to from Korea. As such, there is more than one way to travel there. From Busan, for example, you can take a ferry to Fukuoka. The ferry ride takes less than 3 hours. Next to Fukuoka, is Tsushima, another city in Japan that you can reach by ferry from Korea. Additionally, you can even reach Osaka by ferry from Busan!
But while ferries might be a new and exciting way to travel, it is still more common to fly. There are several small airlines, both Korean and Japanese, that can take you to just about any place in Japan for a low fare and short travel time.
Usually, you can get these plane tickets for as low as $100 if flying to Osaka in the off-season, even if the trip is short notice. Tokyo will also amount to less than $200 for a round trip, short notice, or planned. The flight time is often less than two hours to a maximum of three hours.
Sapporo and Okinawa are also among some regions in Japan that are cheaper, and faster, to fly to than Tokyo. In either case, if you are looking for a quick weekend getaway, Japan is absolutely the perfect choice when traveling from Korea. Just keep in mind that things are much pricier in Japan than in Korea!
Traveling from Korea to China
Much like Japan, China is fairly close to South Korea. Although flying there seems to be just about the only option, it’s not a time consuming one. The plane tickets are a little bit more expensive in comparison to Japan, at $200 or more, but still very affordable when compared to international travel elsewhere in the world.
The main downside of traveling to China is the need for a visa for most countries. If you are a traveler, just passing through Korea as one of your stops, you’ll likely want to do your research and make preparations before arriving in Korea.
But for those with valid visas for staying in South Korea, you can submit your Chinese visa applications right in Korea. In that case, the most you have to think about is applying early enough for the process to be completed on time.
This makes China not so good a choice for a spontaneous trip. However, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau are all within easy reach from South Korea and don’t require a visa for most countries. And flying to these countries can be quite cheap.
For example, a round trip plane ticket to Hong Kong will cost you less than $200!
Traveling from Korea to South East Asia
Now, there’s no point in denying it: Asia is a huge continent. And while China and Japan might be reachable in under 3 hours from Korea, the rest are not. However, as long as you are staying in Korea, Asian countries are still far more affordable to reach than if you flew there directly from home.
As one comparison, flying to the Philippines from Europe can easily take $1000 out of your pocket, and the flight still wouldn’t be a direct one! But traveling from Korea? The ticket price ranges between $200 and $400, with many Filipino airlines flying the distance without stopovers.
And as far as continental South East Asia goes, many of them are near enough to each other that you only need to fly to one and then you can use local transportation methods to visit the rest.
You can get to Hanoi, in Vietnam, for as little as $250 on a direct flight, making it a great place to start, especially as it is the easternmost point. Alternatively, Bangkok, in Thailand, is less than $300 from South Korea as well, and with no stopovers! Vientiane in Laos is just shy of $300.
Of course, the prices rise as we go further into the peak season, but that’s not the only time of year that’s good to travel!
In the case of Indonesia, however, it is best to take a flight with a stopover, typically in Malaysia. The flight time may be longer, but the cost of the flight will remain less than $400.
Note that, oddly enough, a direct flight to Kuala Lumpur costs about as much as using Kuala Lumpur as a stopover point on your way from Seoul to Jakarta or Bali. For Singapore, you will also save a lot of money by not flying direct. Once there, you can take a bus to Malaysia or a ferry to Indonesia!
Best time to Visit Korea
Each season has something different and exciting to offer visitors, so it’s important to try to determine whether spring, summer, fall, or even winter visit would be in your best interest to set yourself up for success and make sure that you have the vacation of your dreams.
Read on for some of the insight into the best time to visit South Korea, and good luck planning your upcoming vacation!
Visit South Korea in Spring
Birds chirping, cherry blossoms blooming, long and warm days – what’s not to love about spring? Korea has four distinct seasons, so they absolutely experience a true spring (rather than a couple of temperate weeks between winter and summer). You can generally experience the best parts of Korean spring anytime between early April and mid-June.
In those months, you’ll see cherry blossom trees blooming everywhere you look, and you’ll enjoy warm (but not too hot!) weather, so you’ll be able to explore national parks and outdoor markets without sweating your face off. Korea is also home to some pretty amazing outdoor festivals out in the hills away from the cities, and many of them coincide with the spring because it’s the best time to be outside without worrying about extreme heat or inclement weather.
You should visit Korea during the spring if your interest is split between indoor and outdoor activities — it’s the perfect season to enjoy shopping and restaurants and then heading out for a hike or festival to wrap up your trip.
Visit Korea in Summer
Summer temperatures will leave you drenched in sweat and running for the air-conditioner every chance that you get, so do not book a summer trip if you’re not a fan of the heat. Not to mention, most of the best Korean dishes are spicy, so you won’t have much relief from the sweat while you’re indoors either!
The latter half of summer is known as monsoon season, which usually affects China and Japan far more than Korea. That being said, Korea still traditionally experiences at least two or three big storms in this time span. Fear not, though! A monsoon passing through while you’re on vacation doesn’t mean it’s ruined, by any means – it just means you’ll have more time to shop, enjoy restaurants, and spend time experiencing the best indoor parts of Korean culture.
There are some benefits to summer travel — due to being an off-peak season, summer flights are usually much less expensive than spring and fall flights from most parts of the world. You should visit Korea during the summer if you’re not afraid of the heat and you’d like to save some money on plane fare so you have more to spend while you’re in Korea – you’re still bound to have the best time ever!
Visit Korea in Fall
While the spring is definitely a popular time to visit Korea, the Fall is even more popular – the trees turn brilliant colors ranging from rich red to vibrant yellow, the summer heat dissipates and leaves cool, crisp days, and festivals are even easier to come by. Fall in Korea is usually warm enough that you can enjoy a stroll about town in a tee shirt and jeans, but it’s also cool enough that you won’t be uncomfortable and can pop on a sweater if you’re so inclined. One of the best parts of visiting Korea is wandering around the city streets to check out different shopping districts and to generally explore, and there is no better time to do that than September through November when the days get shorter and cooler.
If spending time outdoors on your upcoming vacation is important to you, consider making your trip to Korea in September or October – both months have an average temperature ranging between 50 and 75 degrees, so it’s the best time to get outside and see what this interesting country is all about!
Visit Korea in Winter
Without sugar coating – winter sinks its claws into Korea at the beginning of December, and it makes it pretty miserable to go outside for a solid three months. While it’s not impossible by any means to venture outside in this period, your skin will definitely be a bit red from the brisk temperature when you make it to your final destination!
Because Korea has so much to offer in terms of music, movies, and indoor shopping, there’s still plenty to do in the winter – if you’re not afraid of the cold and come well-equipped with multiple layers and a good winter coat, you’ll have an amazing time. Also, don’t forget that most Korean food is pretty up there in terms of spiciness – eating spicy food is one hundred times more fun in the winter than it is in the summer, so you’ll definitely have to eat your way around town to counteract the cold.
Winter is also an off-peak time to travel, so you’re bound to find similar deals on airfare and lodging as you would traveling in the summer. Consider making your trek to Korea in the winter if you’re used to winter and can’t be scared off by a little snow – you won’t be disappointed!
What is the best month to visit Korea?
The fall and spring are the best seasons to visit Korea. September, October, and November have mild temperatures with little rain. The spring months of April, May, and June are great for clear skies and seeing the cherry blossoms.
Best Places to Visit in Korea
Make sure you add these spots to your itinerary for your next trip to South Korea!
Gwangalli Beach (광안리 해수욕장 | gwangalli haesuyokjang)
When people head to Busan for the first time, they usually head straight for Haeundae Beach. However, if you fancy a less crowded, more authentic experience, then you should head to Gwangalli Beach instead.
Gwangan Bridge (광안대교 | gwangandaegyo), Busan
At night-time, Gwangalli really comes alive, as locals visit the many fish restaurants on the beachfront. Looking out to sea, you can see the Gwangan Bridge, which is lit up in different colors, making for some great night photos.
Busan’s annual fireworks display is also held on the bridge, meaning that the best views of it are had from Gwangalli beach. The beach is walking distance from Gwangan subway station (광안역 | gwanganyeok).
Kyeonghwa Station (경화역 | gyeonghwayeok), Jinhae
If cherry blossoms are your thing then visiting Jinhae during the cherry blossom festival is a must. One of the most scenic spots to see the cherry blossoms is Kyeonghwa station, where the track is lined with cherry blossom trees, ready for budding photographers to grab the perfect snap of the falling white and pink blossoms.
Gongryong Ridge (공룡능선 | gongnyongneungseon), Seorak Mountain National Park
Its name literally means “dinosaur ridge”, and it certainly lives up to that description. The jagged peaks of the ridge sour above the clouds like the back of a stegosaurus. At over 1,200 meters above sea level, it may be a tough climb, but the views from the top are worth it.
For climbers with not quite as much time or energy, the nearby Ulsanbawi (울산바위) is an easier (though still very very vertical) climb with spectacular views at the top. After the climb, you can take a rest in the nearby hot springs or relax on the beaches at Sokcho, you will definitely feel as though you deserve it.
Ulleung Island (울릉도 | ulleungdo)
If you manage to visit here you will definitely earn some kudos from any Korean that you mention it to. Ulleung Island is located in the middle of the ocean, halfway between the Korean mainland and Japan.
To reach the island, you need to take a four-hour-long ferry from Pohang or Donghae. The trip is certainly worth it though, entering the harbor makes you feel like an extra in a pirate movie. The island’s fresh food, clean air, and sea breezes will refresh even the most tired visitor, and the views are unforgettable. If you truly love adventure, then Ulleung Island is a must-visit.
Bulguksa (불국사 | bulguksa), Gyeongju
If you are interested in Korean history, then Gyeongju is likely to be one of the first places on your “to-see” list. The old part of the city contains no skyscrapers, and within a certain area, all buildings must have a traditional Korean roof, even gas stations!
Gyeongju’s main attraction is Bulguksa Temple, the spiritual home of Korean Buddhism. Along with the temple, the Seokgulam (석굴암) grotto, located halfway up a nearby mountain, is also a must-see when visiting Gyeongju.
Nami Island (남이섬 | namiseom), Gapyeong
Made famous by the hugely successful drama Winter Sonata (겨울연가 | gyeoullyeonga), which was the first internationally popular Korean drama when it was launched in 2002, Nami Island is still visited by fans of the show. The tree-lined road where Yonsama and Choi Ji-Woo rode their bicycle, or the bench where they made snowmen, is the most popular photo spots, but the rest of the island is equally picturesque.
Gapyeong is easily reached from Seoul, and from there you can either take a ferry to the island or, if you are feeling adventurous, reach the island by taking a zip-line across the river!
Seopjikoji (섭지코지) and Seongsan Sunrise Peak (성산일출봉 | seongsanilchulbong), Jeju Island
There are so many places to visit on Jeju Island that they could almost warrant an article by themselves. One of the best places to visit on the island (and thus one of the best places to visit in Korea) is Seopjikoji. This coastal walk has been featured in many dramas, and you will find many young couples taking romantic strolls along the cliff-top. From here, you can also see one of Jeju Island’s other famous sites: Seongsan Sunrise Peak. This volcanic crater has almost sheer vertical drops on three of its four sides and looks spectacular at dawn when the sun appears from behind it.
Boseong Green Tea Field (보성 녹차밭 | boseong nokchabat), Boseong
This corner of Jeolla province is where almost all of Korea’s green tea comes from, and the hillside around the town is covered with rows upon rows of luscious tea plants. The greenery makes for great photos, but a visit to the fields also allows you to taste the green tea at its absolute freshest. A trip here is a must for tea aficionados!
Jagalchi Fish Market (자갈치시장 | jagalchisijang), Busan
오이소, 보이소, 사이소 (oiso, boiso, saiso) reads the entrance sign in classic Busan dialect: Come! Look! Buy! One thing it didn’t mention is “smell!” which is surprising for anyone who has ever visited a fish market before. The fish market, and nearby international market (국제시장 | gukjesijang) are the best places to experience the hustle and bustle of this dynamic port city.
You can also eat the freshest fish possible here, or if that isn’t fresh enough for you, you can try the live octopus (산낙지 | sannakji) whose tentacles are still wriggling and squirming even when they are being held by your chopsticks. The market can be reached by taking a subway to Jagalchi subway station (자갈치역 | jagalchiyeok).
Is South Korea Safe?
Generally, South Korea is quite safe. There are some things you should know before you head out to this part of the world. Here’s what you should be prepared for.
Violent Crime in South Korea
The good news is that compared to some other popular tourist destinations, South Korea has very little crime for you to worry about. Guns are not legal for citizens to carry on them, so you don’t really have to worry about being mugged or robbed while you’re out and about on the town.
Believe it or not, tourists are rarely targeted even when these crimes do happen – it could possibly be because you never really know what to expect when interacting with someone from another place! As long as you keep an eye on your valuables as you would in any major city that you’re not familiar with, you’ll be totally fine.
Traffic in South Korea
Just because you don’t have to worry about being cornered in a dark alley, however, doesn’t mean you should let your guard down! Be particularly aware of cars when you’re navigating the city as a pedestrian. You haven’t seen aggressive driving until you’ve almost been hit by a distracted driver in Seoul, so make sure cars see you before you cross the street – yes, even in a crosswalk! Just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean the driver of that fast red car isn’t going to try to cut you off.
Taxis in South Korea
Make sure you are particularly conscious of taxis – not only do taxis seem to ignore the most common driving rules, but South Korean taxi drivers also got a bad reputation a few years ago for being involved in tourist muggings.
Something you can do to keep yourself away from surprises is to have your GPS on your phone while you’re on the backseat of a cab so you can see for yourself that you’re on the right route. That’s not to say that all taxis are dangerous by any means – just keep your street smarts about you and you’ll be fine. If a situation feels weird to you, leave. That’s all there is to it!
Daily life in Korea
What if after your trip to South Korea you’re so in love that you feel the need to move to the city on a more permanent basis? No one will blame you – there’s so much to love! That being said, if you’re planning on staying in South Korea for more than a few months, you’re probably wondering about some other safety issues that don’t really pop up if you’re just stopping by on vacation. We’ll cover them below!
Is it dangerous to be close to North Korea?
So, what about North Korea? If you’ve heard anything about North Korea in the news lately, it has probably been about the potential of nuclear attack or threats of war from the North Korean government. To put it mildly, North Korea and South Korea aren’t huge fans of each other – but, that being said, how worried should you really be?
If you’ve lived in the Western world up until now, you should know that the media in the West depicts North Korean threats as crazy, serious issues that should be dealt with RIGHT NOW. South Korea is way more relaxed about North Korea’s empty threats – they’ve been dealing with various North Korean officials trying to intimidate them for seventy years on and off, so it’s nothing new to them.
Don’t let the tension between North and South Korea keep you from experiencing South Korean life – it’s not as huge of a threat to day to day life as you think. Also, don’t forget that North Korea is threatening most of the Western world from time to time as well – it’s not like South Korea is the only one they’re directing their anger at!
Weather in South Korea
If you’re thinking of moving to Korea, you’re also probably wondering about extreme weather. The most you’d have to worry about is a typhoon (better known as a tropical storm) – typhoon season happens throughout the summer and fall every year.
While they do result in a ton of rain and can occasionally result in some lasting property damage, it doesn’t happen all that often and won’t be something you have to deal with on a regular basis. Just know whether you live in an area that can be affected by flooding and be prepared! Preparation is 90% of safety.
Whether you’re planning on moving to South Korea or making a quick trip, you’re bound to have an amazing time and experience a way of life that’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Use these tips to feel excited and comfortable about your stay – there’s nothing to worry about if you’re knowledgeable, prepared, and aware!
Things to do in South Korea
Whether its beaches, cities, movie theaters, or museum, there’s plenty of fun to be had. Continue on to find out!
- Best Beaches in Korea
- When is the Best Time to Visit Korea?
- Korea Travel: Seoul Museums You Must See
- Fun Movie Theaters in Seoul
- The Best Places in to Visit in Korea
- Fun Things to Do in Korea
- Tourist Attractions You Can’t Miss in Korea
- Fun Things to Do in Seoul
- Traveling from Korea to Other Countries
Moving to Korea
You must be super excited! Several of our team members can remember the feeling, and we know just what you need to make your time here an amazing one. We’ll tell you all about it!
Everyday Life in Korea
Curious about what everyday life is like in Korea?
It’s a really unique country with lots of opportunities for everyone. Adventure or relaxation, young or old, short trip or permanent move—all is possible!
We’ll tell you all about it.
- Interesting Facts About South Korea
- Life in Korea for Foreigners
- How to Open a Bank Account in Korea
- Korean Credit Card Guide for Foreigners
- Living in Korea: 10 Korean Apps You Need
- Korean Food Delivery in Korea
- How to Order from GMarket Like a Pro
- What is the Cost of Living in Korea
- Is South Korea Safe?
Festivals & Events in Korea
Who’s ready to par-tay?
There are plenty of festivals in Korea to attend, no matter which season. We’ve got them all covered for you!
Jobs in Korea
If you want to get a job in Korea, here’s where to start.
Food & Drink in Korea
If you’re a foodie, you’re going to love Korea. With so many tasty options, the main thing you’ll run out of is empty space in your stomach.
Korean Language in Korea
Everything in this guide is jam-packed with stuff you’ll need, love, or both! We also include some essential Korean words, phrases, and descriptions inside of the articles to help you understand Korean. Part of the reason we do that is that everything in Korea is still written primarily in Korean, so it’ll help you communicate better.
The other reason is there is a lot of meaning embedded inside some of the everyday language, so knowing a few words and phrases here and there will help you understand Korea better.
Can’t read the Korean Alphabet? Not to worry! This entire guide was written in a way where you don’t need to know a single Korean letter. And if you do want to learn Hangeul (Korean Alphabet), we’ve got an awesome free guide that teaches you in 1 hour. Knowing how to read the Korean alphabet will make it easier to learn how to speak Korean.
If you want to learn the Korean language, then here is where you should go while you’re in Korea!
Shopping in Korea
Polish up your shopping shoes, and bring out your Sunday best--it’s time for the shopping good times to begin!
There are various shopping areas in Seoul and throughout the country. We’ll explain what to buy, and where you can get it.
Now that you know more about living in Korea, check out the other great articles we’ve got on Korean language and culture here!