Visiting South Korea, a country blending modernity and tradition, offers an enriching experience when cultural norms are respected. English, alongside Korean, is widely spoken, facilitating communication. The country’s currency, the Korean won, is crucial for transactions, with cash often preferred over cards. South Korea’s diverse weather patterns, influenced by monsoon seasons, present a varied climate, with the best travel times being spring and autumn. Transportation options abound, from efficient public transit in cities like Seoul to extensive train networks, offering a convenient way to navigate the country. Visitors should be mindful of local customs, such as removing shoes indoors, respecting the elderly, and adhering to recycling practices. Modest dress is appreciated, and public displays of affection are generally avoided. The country’s cuisine, with staples like kimchi and bulgogi, reflects its rich cultural heritage. While South Korea is largely safe, areas near the North Korean border and certain districts in Seoul should be approached with caution. Embracing these insights will enhance the travel experience in this fascinating country.
South Korea is a blend of contemporary and traditional values. Regardless of
this mix, there are some shared cultural expectations to be aware of while
visiting. For the most enjoyable and stress-free trip, here is everything you
need to keep in mind while visiting South Korea.
The Do’s while Traveling in South Korea
Do take your shoes off before going inside someone’s home. This rule applies
to some restaurants and establishments.
Do give up your seat for the elderly. There is a great deal of Confucian
influence in South Korea, so respect for the elderly is important. On
subways and public transportation, seats are labeled as “priority,”
indicating they are reserved for the elderly.
Do recycle. Recycling is an expected part of society. Toss your waste in the
correct bins when you are in public.
- Do note that some public toilets are unisex.
- Do take advantage of the WIFI; there are no data limits.
- To receive and offer a gift using both hands.
- Do slurp your noodles as a sign of appreciation.
Do avoid being loud in public. Koreans place importance on “saving face” or
keeping a civil reputation by avoiding confrontation.
- Do slightly bow to be polite when meeting someone.
- Do keep in mind that tipping is seen as an act of arrogance.
Do wear pants instead of shorts. Both sexes are expected to dress modestly.
- Do take off your shoes in establishments, sacred sites, and homes.
Do be loud in restaurants. Yelling is common, especially to get a server’s
Do use Korean chopsticks or a spoon. Forks are seen as a violent way to eat.
Do feel free to bargain. Sellers like to upcharge, so barter until you reach
a price that feels acceptable.
What Not to Do while in South Korea
- Do not blow your nose in public.
- Do not open a gift in front of the person who gave it to you.
Do not start eating a family meal before the oldest person has sat down.
- Do not serve yourself alcohol. Let a server or guest help you.
Do not ask for help in English. Koreans feel that asking for help in English
- Do not drink alcohol or eat on the subway.
- Do not wear any tops or shirts that expose your shoulders or back.
- Do not kiss or show public displays of affection.
Languages Spoken in South Korea
Other languages spoken in the country are English, Chinese, Russian, and
Japanese. English is the most popular second language spoken by over 80% of
The Currency of South Korea
The Korean won (KRW) is the official currency of South Korea. 1 Korean won is
equal to 0.00086 USD.
Hotels and Travel Times
The best time to travel is between March and May, and from September to
November. The weather stays within the mid-70s during these periods, and it is
cheaper to travel. The high season is between January and December. You can
find the cheapest flights out of the year in April. The average hotel price
for a couple in Seoul is $102. You can even find double rooms in Seoul for as
low as $10 per night. The average cost for a double room, however, is around
The Weather in South Korea
South Korea’s weather is impacted by the Asian monsoon seasons. Warm and moist
air covers the region in the summer, and cold air masses flow into the
atmosphere during the winter. The dry season is in the winter, and the
rainiest season is in the summer. Typhoons may also occur in the summer and at
the start of fall. Spring and fall offer the mildest, most temperate weather
conditions. Winter is frigid because of the winds that come in from Siberia.
The Elevation of South Korea
The highest peak rests at 6,398 feet above sea level, near the now extinct,
Mount Halla, a volcano. The average elevation in South Korea is 925 feet.
Transportation and Traffic in South Korea
Public transportation is efficient in South Korea with an extensive system of
railways, buses, railways, and air routes that across the nation. South Korea
also utilizes a commercial maglev train, which is only used in two other
countries. There are a total of nine subway lines in Seoul and trains come in
every five minutes. Bikes are another way to beat the hectic weekday traffic.
Choose only licensed taxis for transportation. The best way to travel in South
Korea is by train, so purchase a train pass so you can get from place to
Illegal Acts in South Korea
- The making, selling, and consumption of pornography.
- Getting a tattoo
- Smoking in public
- Government lobbying
- See-through tops
- Street vending
- Teaching night classes
Things to Take with You
If you are a US citizen, you do not need a visa if you plan on staying in
South Korea for less than 90 days. However, the K-ETA will be needed for
entry. You do, however, need a valid passport to enter. You should also bring
a dust mask with you as South Korea periodically endures high dust levels.
Areas to Avoid
The area located between the South and North Korean border is extremely
dangerous and should always be avoided. Most murders occur in Gangseo District
and Yeongdeungpo District, so stay out of these areas as well.
Korean Culture Basics
Confucian principles influence Korean culture. Group harmony, elderly respect,
and the value of family are essential elements. The food in South Korean
cuisine relies on staples like rice, seafood, and vegetables for most of their
meals. Some popular dishes include Bulgogi, Korean stew, and Korean fried
chicken. The national dish of South Korea is kimchi, which is a fermented
vegetable product that aids in digestive health. Kimchi is available at almost
From wild cherry trees to a reverse-Mediterranean climate, South Korea is an
intriguing destination for travelers looking for a unique place to explore.
Follow the tips in this article to plan your trip and enjoy your visit!