First-time traveler to South Korea? Here’s the 2022 travel guide and tips to South Korea that might help you before traveling.
Due to the pandemic some of the borders have been closed for tourism but this year some countries opened the gates to allow visitors just like South Korea. Everyone was happy to hear the good news and some of my friends have planned their trip here.
I’ve been seeing some questions on how to apply for a visa, do I need a PCR test before departure and arrival, what to bring and etc. These are some of the things that a first-time traveler asks. That’s why I wanted to write some travel guides and tips for them. Especially this 2022 when travel restrictions change from time to time.
Since I am not an expert on this, I asked some friends who recently traveled here to South Korea. These pieces of information are based on their experiences and I’m hoping that these things might help you on your first-time travel.
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2022 Travel Guide and Tips to South Korea
What do I need before traveling?
Before anything else, a traveler must have a valid passport, approved visa, and a round-trip ticket. Since it is a pandemic an antigen test is required before departure. These are the most important thing a traveler must have before traveling and the rest will come next.
Hotels, Guesthouses, and other Accommodations
Booking | Klook
Simcards and Wifi
Unlimited 4G Wifi | 4G Unlimited Data Simcard
Airport Transfer Services
Incheon Airport to Seoul | Incheon Airport to Gimpo |
AREX Incheon Airport Express Train One Way Ticket in Seoul
Transit Card and Passes
Discover Seoul Pass | Korea Tour Card T-Money Card |
Korea Rail Pass (Unlimited rides to over 600 stations and 80 different routes for 2,3,4,5 days)
City Tour Bus
Seoul City Tour Daytime Course | Seoul City Tour Night View Course
Discounted Tours and Admission Tickets
Klook | Trazy
Requirements/Application process for visa
Check the complete list of requirements before applying for a visa. Prepare and may personally apply for it at the embassy or under a travel agency.
For visa requirements, you may check the list here:
Tips and Guides for Korean Visa Requirements
According to Unica Mae, she directly applied for a visa at the embassy and got approved after 5 days. She is currently employed and prepared the following documents: Certificate of Employment, ITR, Bank Certificate, Bank Statement, application form, passport, 1pc passport size picture, and Birth certificate.
Some travelers don’t have enough time to visit the embassy and apply personally that’s why they choose to apply under a travel agency. For the first-time traveler, better check if the agency is accredited or not to avoid being scammed.
Do I need an Antigen test?
For travelers, a Rapid Antigen Test (valid for 24 hours) and negative results are required before departure. It costs around 700 pesos and you may take the test the night before your flight.
Upon arrival, an RT-PCR test (valid for 48 hours) is also required at the airport which cost about 80,000 won. For travelers, for less hassle, I suggest taking the PCR test at the airport instead of taking it outside the airport.
Also, children (under 6 years of age) are not required to present a PCR test result but require to take an RT-PCR test upon arrival at the airport. Remember that test results should be written in English or Korean.
Hotel Booking + Itinerary
Hotel reservation is also important so better prepare it before your flight because the officers might check this at the Immigration window. Another thing is, that check-in time in hotels and guesthouses is usually 3:00 pm. Hotels have their 24-hour front desk but guesthouses don’t. So better pick daytime arrivals to avoid panicking especially when traveling from Incheon to Seoul.
Another tip when you are arriving late at your guesthouse it is better to ask for the password at the front door and note to leave your key at the front desk.
For hassle-free, prepare an itinerary of the places you want to visit, things you want to do, and what you want to eat. This is very helpful as you can manage your time and enjoy traveling without any problems.
I’ve also visited a friend who came from Canada and staying in a Hanok Guesthouse. The Hanok Guesthouse Suni is not that visible to the eye but when you enter the Hanok guesthouse is so beautiful. It feels like home! The owner of the guesthouse is very accommodating and they speak English well. They welcome their guests so warmly and they are very friendly. If you are interested in staying in a Hanok Guesthouse, you may check and book here at Hanok Guesthouse Suni located in the neighborhood of Dongseongdong in the district of Seongbuk-du. It is near Sungshin University and Subway Line 4 and for me, it is a perfect place to stay. There are a lot of restaurants and shops too!
What to bring?
What to bring during travel is also one of the main problems of some travelers. There’s a traveler who loves to bring all her stuff that looks like she/he’s transferring to a new house. There’s this traveler also who loves to travel light and only pack what’s important.
Clothes and Shoes
If you are traveling to Korea, better check the season for you to be able to prepare the correct clothes and shoes that you need especially during winter. Summer in Korea is different from the Philippines which is why more light clothes and comfortable to wear are perfect.
Walking in Korea is also a trend so if you wish to walk a lot, comfortable shoes are best to bring. But if you are preparing for OOTD I suggest you try the mix-and-match outfits to lessen your baggage.
Sunblock and Umbrella
If you’re visiting during summer, expect some rain since summer in Korea is also the rainy season. Sunblock is a must too to avoid sunburn.
Type C Adapter
Korea uses a round type of socket which is known as Type C. In the Philippines, most gadgets and appliances have a Type A (two flat parallels) socket. To avoid hassle on your gadgets better bring an adapter although you can also find some in Daiso and electronic shops. But it is more convenient and hassle-free if you prepare one in advance.
Personal Things (upon Emergency)
For travelers who have some allergies or any medical condition better bring your personal medicines with you. For someone who can’t speak Korean well, buying some medicine is a bit annoying. Either you’ll get the right prescription or receive the wrong one.
Korean Sim card/Wifi Rental
Upon arrival at the airport, it is best to get a Korean sim card. This is also one of the important things that a traveler in South Korea must have. There are free wifi’s but some connection are not that stable. You can choose from Unlimited Data for 30 days or Unlimited Data + phone calls for 30 days if you need to receive and send voice calls.
You can buy it upon arrival or book it online. Whatever is convenient for you is fine.
Transportation Card/ Seoul Discover Pass
A transportation card is also important so better get one at the airport. Instead of paying cash, it is easier to tap your card whenever you take a taxi, bus, subway, or KTX. Also recharging is very convenient since you can recharge at subway stations and convenience stores.
But if you want to get a free pass and discounts on Seoul’s representative tourist attractions you can also use Discover Seoul Pass. You can enjoy a discount ticket for 100 tourist attractions within 24/48/72 hours.
Traveler’s Survival Kit
Basic Korean and some phone apps are the best traveler’s survival kits in South Korea. So better download them on or before you arrive.
Phone Apps to Download
Well, before traveling to Seoul for your one-month stay it is best to download the needed apps in advance for you to study how to use them. Here are the phone apps you need to download.
- Kakao Metro – Kakao Metro is an app that I use for the Seoul Subway. It’s easy to navigate and it also teaches you the nearest platform to the exit or when you need to transfer to another subway line. It also shows how many minutes and hours is the travel time.
- Naver Map/ Kakaomap – This is also needed to avoid being lost. Aside from that, you can also check here the nearest station, bus stop, cafes, restaurants, and others.
- Kakao Bus – So if you plan to take the bus to Seoul for transportation you can download the Kakao Bus. This app shows the arrival time of buses and bus stops.
- Naver Papago – Not all people who live in Korea speak their mother tongue so downloading a translation app like Naver Papago is highly recommended.
- Kakao Taxi – Kakao Taxi is very convenient to use when you want to ride a taxi because you can set the starting point, and dropping point and you can also see the estimated amount that you need to pay. For Kakao Taxi, you need a Kakao account to use it.
Learn Basic Korean Words
Well, when you plan to live in Seoul for a month you should be ready for some basic Korean words like greetings (안녕하세요 (Annyeonghaseyo), 안녕히 가세요 (Annyeonghi gaseyo), 안녕히 계세요 (Annyeonghi gyeseyo), saying thank you 감사합니다 (kamsahamnida), saying sorry 죄송합니다 (joesonghamnida).
When you are invited to eat at a friend’s house you say 잘 먹겠습니다 (Jal meokkesseumnida) before eating and 잘 먹었습니다 (Jal meogeotseumnida) after eating.
When you want to buy something and you want to know the price you’ll say 얼마 예요 (Olma yeyo?). When you are lost and you don’t know where you are you can ask 여기 어디예요 (Yeogi eodiyeyo?) Whenever you want to receive something or you want to buy something you can also say 이거 주세요 (Igeo Juseyo).
There are so many words that I wanted to share but it will be a long list to better get a Korean book that is easy to read and understand.
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I hope this 2022 travel guide and tips for South Korea will help you to have a safe, less hassle, and enjoyable trip.