Things to Know for First Time Travellers to South Korea
Planning to head to Korea after this pandemic is over but find yourself befuddled by the culture and language? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. People travel for many reasons; from the desire to learn more about a culture, expanding their knowledge on gastronomy or classifying themselves as an avid traveler. Whatever the reason may be, the first thing one should do before traveling is to do a thorough research on the destination prior to visiting.
This is important as to abide by the basic etiquette followed by the locals to avoid getting odd stares or worse come to worst, going viral on social media for the wrong reasons!
So you’re planning on traveling to Korea for the first time but is unfamiliar with the culture, food and K-pop scene? Let us provide you with the best things to do and look out for when visiting Korea for first-timers.
One tip before visiting Korea is to learn some basic Korean. Though some may be intimidated by the idea, the Korean language is as easy as A-B-C. Whether you are a hardcore K-pop fan or just want to immerse in the Korean culture, the Korean alphabet, Hangul is the simplest way to grasp the language.
We recommend picking up important questions like where is the toilet and how much is…?
Transportation is efficient & affordable
One may not know this but getting around in Korea is affordable and easily accessible thanks to its efficient public transportation system. The extensive public transportation makes it convenient for travelers to travel from province to province, city to countryside as the network includes railways, bus routes, ferry services and highways.
Getting a T-Money card allows one to use public buses to get from one city to the next without going through the hassle of a single journey ticket.
Tipping is not mandatory
To put it simply, the tipping culture is not practiced in Korea. Koreans are hospitable people in general and they will go above and beyond to make you feel right at home especially when it comes to eating. Thank them at the end of the meal before you leave the restaurant with a “kamsahamnida” which translates to “thank you” and that would suffice.
The café culture in Korea is a prominent scene as it is very much centered on the culture’s social life. A few reasons cafes are often visited is due to the lack of space and privacy at home. Unlike the rest of the world, cafes in Korea not only refer to a coffee shop selling pastries and coffee but also those selling a variety of Korean pastries, bingsu – flavored shaved ice of your choice with fresh fruit and aesthetically pleasing desserts that will intrigue.
Street food galore
Food lovers describe Korean food as spicy, flavorful and diverse. Korean food has been well-loved by people from around the world with kimchi as the most prominent staple. The Korean food in general has so much to offer ranging from the famous Korean fried chicken, Korean barbecue to a plethora of street food. From foods on a skewer, stews to sweet and savory pancakes called hotteok, one will be spoilt for choice!
How much Soju is too much Soju?
Soju can be ordered in almost every restaurant in Korea, specifically ones that offer Korean barbecue and street food. This colorless distilled alcoholic drink which can sometimes be disguised as water is often enjoyed in its natural form or mixed with other alcohols like beer. With a variety of flavors to choose from; it is no wonder this drink is appreciated by Koreans and even movie stars like Ryan Reynolds!
Avoid black cabs
If you do plan to use cabs to get around in the city, beware of which ones you flag down as the black cabs are known as Korea’s “premium taxis”. These black cabs tend to charge more than the average silver/orange taxis and by the end of the ride, one will be billed a large amount. Therefore to avoid this occurrence, stay alert and be on the lookout…or just take the trains ☺
It is noticeable that in the Asian culture respecting your elders is demonstrated through language and gestures. The Korean culture is no different in the sense, when sitting at the table with the elders present, anyone younger is obliged to fill the glass of their elders. Additionally, they are also to turn away from their elders when taking a sip of their beverage and hold it with both hands. Howbeit, this tradition may not be practiced by each individual today as it depends on the preference of the elders.
We hope that this will give you a little insight to the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of the local culture and practices when traveling to Korea once the borders have opened up for international travel. Remember to stay safe as Sedunia Travel in collaboration with Korea Tourism Organisation is ready to assist you with your future travel plans!
For more information on the Korea packages they offer, please visit their website at www.sedunia.com.my or call us at 03-21420222 and one of their well-versed travel consultants will be able to help with any questions or queries you may have. You can also get inspiration and travel updates from KTO to get an idea on where to go and start when borders reopen.