8 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Seoul

Get ready to dive into the electric heartbeat of South Korea – Seoul! This city isn’t just a capital, it’s a full-blown adventure waiting to be unleashed. Picture this: a dynamic blend of time-honored traditions and the latest trends all wrapped up in one vibrant metropolis. If you’re a first-timer gearing up to take on the K-pop kingdom, then hold onto your hats because these tips are about to take your Seoul escapade to a whole new level! 

1. Incheon International Airport

Incheon International Airport, the airport you’ll probably arrive when travelling to South Korea is located on an island quite far from Seoul city. This means you need transportation to get to the centre first when arriving. One of the convenient options (next to taking a taxi) is taking the Express Train. This train brings you to Seoul Station in half an hour and is cheaper than a taxi. From there you can take a metro/bus to your hotel.

If you’re on a budget and have time you can also take a bus. Be aware that there is no public transportation (including the Express Train) at night. So take this in mind when planning your trip.

2. Currency

Korean Won is the currency in South-Korea. The best we can advise is to withdraw some cash when you arrive. You can mostly pay with card but you will need some cash for street food, some restaurants, and to buy and recharge your transportation card.

Just like in any other country, it’s better to withdraw one big amount instead of a smaller amount multiple times as you have to pay a fee for every transaction. We use the app Currency+ to quickly convert to our own currency.

3. Transportation

Public transport in Seoul is top-notch. You can get anywhere in the city and beyond with buses, metro lines and trains. You’ll never be waiting for your bus or metro, they are always on time.

For easy navigation, you can use the app KakaoMap. This app tells you where to go and what bus or metro to take at what time. It even shows what the journey will cost and when you should get out.

4. T-Money Card

For all this public transportation there is one prepaid card, the T-Money Card. You can purchase a card at most stations (mostly cash only) or at a 7Eleven store (cash or card). After purchase you can upload money on the card at a charging station you can find at almost all metro stations.

With this T-Money Card, you can also pay in stores such as 7Eleven or for your taxi, super convenient!

5. No Google Maps

In South Korea, Google Maps works but it’s not updated. That means you can use the app to see where you are, but it’s not ideal for navigating. Download the KakaoMap app, which works just like Google Maps. This app works perfectly for navigating and as described above for planning a bus, metro, or train. 

What’s also very handy with this app is that you can save locations and organise them in little folders. You can give the locations you want to see a colour. When you’ve been at one of your sights, you can change the colour and have a nice overview of everywhere you’ve been so far. We did this and this is so appealing!

6. Public WiFi

Almost everywhere in the city is public WiFi available. So you don’t need to buy a sim card or data for your trip unless you go outside of the city or stay for a longer period.

Is there a moment you don’t find public WiFi? Go to a Starbucks to enjoy their free WiFi! Because you know, there are more Starbucks in this city than in any other city around the world.

7. K-ETA

For entering South Korea, you currently don’t need a visa (EU residents). What you do need is a K-ETA. This is an Electronic Travel Authorization and can be simply done on this site at the cost of €8,75 per person. Do this around 3 days before entering the country and it will save you a lot of time and stress at the airport!

When we travelled, we also had to fill in the Q-Code. This was a covid health questionnaire and was obligated before entering the country. Doing this beforehand online also saved us lots of time at the airport! While everyone else was still filling in their Q-code and KETA, we easily showed the QR codes we received and walked through all the security without any issues in mere minutes. Check if this still applies to you! 

8. Clean Drinking Water

Another great thing about Seoul is that the tap water is drinkable! So don’t forget to bring your reusable bottle. The water is potable almost everywhere and you can refill it at lots of different tourist locations. There is free drinking water in the restaurants and even at some street food stands!

The best time to visit Seoul

As Seoul is a city, we personally don’t think there is a bad time to visit, as there is always plenty to do! That being said, the best time to visit is from the end of March until June and from September until the beginning of November if you prefer sunny and dry weather.

When you want to see nature bloom, then visit in spring (between April and June). If you love to experience the leaves coloured red and yellow, go in autumn (end of October and November).