Seoul is now a popular tourist destination with the influx of K-pop, Gangnam Style and now Song Joong Ki from Descendants of the Sun! Language is definitely a barrier if you don’t know Hangul. But that should not stop you from visiting Seoul because there’s so much to explore, so many cosmetics to buy and so many types of street food to eat.
This survival guide is good especially for first-timers to Seoul. Make sure you read this before you start planning for your trip. Presenting to you, “15 Survival Tips in Seoul”!
#1 Get a mobile WIFI router from Changi Recommends
To stay connected in Seoul, the choice is obvious – get the #ChangiWIFI router!
It’s a lifesaver for me as it keeps me connected to the Internet, allowing me to navigate around easily with Google Maps as well as finding new places to go.
I got the #ChangiWIFI router from Changi Recommends and what I like is that I can collect and return the device from my preferred terminal in Changi Airport. This also means that when I land in Seoul, I can access the Internet straight away. This is awesome because the wait at immigration can be quite long!
For my Singapore followers, you can enjoy a special rate of S$10/day by using the promo code “AROI10”, for travels by 30th June 2016! Valid for travels to South Korea, Hong Kong and China. Click here to book the WIFI Router!
#2 Purchase T-Money Card
T-Money is similar to Singapore’s EZ-Link card. You can use it for transportation (subway, bus or taxi). You will get travel discounts as compared to using single-trip tickets and the best part is you don’t have to queue every time you want to take the subway. And trust me, you will be taking the subway 90% of your time in Seoul.
T-Money can also be used for purchases at convenience stalls.
#3 Get attraction tickets early
You can now get South Korea’s attraction tickets such as (N Seoul Tower, Everland and Lotte World) at Changi Recommends. This means that you can get guaranteed tickets especially during peak seasons. The best thing is, you can get it from Changi Recommends at a discounted rate! With these savings, you can use it for more street food in Seoul!
Click here to purchase the attraction tickets! The attraction tickets are also available for purchase at any Changi Recommends counters located across Singapore Changi Airport.
N Seoul Tower – S$9 Adult / Child
Lotte World – S$41 Adult / Child
Everland – S$41 Adult / S$35 Child
#4 Take Airport Limousine Bus to the city
Don’t ever think of taking taxis to and fro the airport unless you don’t feel the pain of paying about S$100 for a single trip.
I suggest that you take the airport limo bus, which is just outside the departure terminal. Check with your hotel before hand on which bus to take to the area nearest to your hotel. The bus captains will help you to store your luggage so you don’t have to worry.
Another alternative is Airport Railroad Express (AREX). The costs are quite similar to the limo bus but for the trains, most of the time, you have to transit and it is not very convenient especially if you are carrying a luggage. Escalators and lifts are not a common sight in Seoul subway stations.
#5 Download “Subway Korea” App
You will be taking the subway (trains) 90% of your time in Seoul, hence it is advisable to download the app called “Subway Korea” to assist you in navigating around.
Subway is also the fastest mode of transport, you won’t find yourself caught in the traffic jam.
#6 Use Google Maps for navigating around
Google was and will always be your best friend, especially when you are overseas. You will need it to find your way around.
It is easier to use Subway Korea App when taking trains because Google Maps does not show the train stations in English but only the hangul language and the line colour.
For navigating normal roads, Google Maps is still very useful.
#7 Wear proper shoes
Shoes are essential because you will be doing lots of walking and climbing. Taxis are not that cheap in Seoul and hence you will have to travel via subway most of the time. The walking distance in the stations alone can be quite a distance already.
Don’t expect to find escalators and lifts in the subway station and so be prepared to climb lots of stairs.
The landscape in Seoul can be quite hilly and hence you might be going uphill and downhill during your shopping. Hence, proper shoes are absolutely necessary.
#8 Better to visit Korea in groups
Seoul is best to be visited with somebody, be it your partner or friends. It is not advisable for solo travellers although it’s safe.
The reason I say so is because of the food portion. The food portions are huge and after a meal, you probably won’t have any stomach space left for street food.
So, always bring your friends along!
#9 Prepare luggage for cosmetics
It doesn’t matter if you have forgotten to bring your cosmetics to Seoul. In Seoul, you see cosmetic shops at every single corner.
Even if your friends did not ask you for help in purchasing, you alone will be tempted to buy everything in the stall once you enter. #truestory even from a guy.
#10 No tipping is required
Tipping is not a common thing to do hence just pay whatever is being shown to you.
#11 When taking taxi, prepare your destination in Hangul
In any case that you need to take a taxi in Seoul, ensure that you have your destination written in Hangul to show to the taxi driver.
Most of them don’t understand English, so that’s the only way for them to bring you to your destination.
#12 Learn some basic Korean language
Every country that you visit, it is always good to equip yourself with some basic language, such as hello, goodbye, thank you, how much, etc.
#13 Be prepared to get pushed in crowded areas
Don’t be surprised if you are suddenly pushed in the subway during peak hours or at places where it is crowded. That’s the way some of them behave and it is quite a norm to them.
#14 Get help from tourist ambassadors in red or at tourist information centre
Song Joong Ki was recently appointed the Ambassador for Korean Tourism. But you won’t be seeing him on the streets to assist you though.
If you are lost and you are in a popular tourist destination such as Hongdae or Dongdaemun, you will be sure to meet see tourist ambassadors in red instead. You can get assistance from them. At every tourist information center of that particular area, they have detailed brochures and maps, which are very updated. Do visit them if you would like to find out and learn more about the different areas.
#15 Tax Refunds – Reach the airport 3 hours before your departure
You will definitely want to do tax refunds after buying so many cosmetics. It is advisable to reach 3 hours before your departure as the tax refunds may take some time due to the number of steps at different points with. Be prepared for queues too.
There are some outlets in the city where you can do direct cash tax refunds, but it differs for every shop.
In any case, be sure to inform that the cashier that you want to do tax refunds when you are making payment.
This is written from a first-time visitor perspective and I believe that it encompasses everything that you need to know. If you have more tips to contribute, feel free to comment below. :)
This post is brought to you by Changi Recommends.