Foreign nationals entering the Republic of Korea are generally required to have a valid passport and a Korean visa. However, many are permitted visa-free entry for a limited time under certain conditions following the "Citizens of the Countries under the Visa Exemption Agreement"
For further detail information on this, please refer to www.mofa.go.kr (Korean, English)
Designated Countries & Regions Granted Visa-Free Entry to Korea
Allowed to stay in Korea for 30 days only (unless otherwise specified below) for the purpose of tourism and visitation only.
Duty Free Allowance
1 bottle (not over 1 liter, US$600 or less in foreign currency) of alcoholic beverages and 200 cigarettes (50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco) and 2 ounces of perfume (About 60㎖)
For alcoholic beverages over 1 liter, imposition of duty shall be made on the basis of the total purchasing price without deducting 1 liter. For example, a 2-liter bottle is subject to tax imposition upon 2 liters, not 1 liter. (Liquor and cigarettes are only permitted for those over 19 years of age.)
Passengers entering Korea who are carrying foreign or Korean currency valued at over US $10,000 must declare it to a customs official.
Korea's official momentary unit is the won. the Korean currency consists of a fifty thousand, ten thousand, five thousand, and one thousand won note, and five hundred, one hundred, fifty and ten won coins.
Exchanging Foreign Currency
One US dollar is roughly equivalent to 1,100 Won (as of Sep. 2016). US dollars are easily exchanged throughout Korea and other currencies such as Euro, Japanese Yen can generally be exchanged in airport, local banks, hotels or an authorized exchange service centers in metropolitan cities such as Seoul and Busan. It is recommended that the majority of money be exchanged in cash whilst in Seoul as it can be inconvenient to use traveler’s check or ATM during your stay in Korea.
Please note that exchange rates fluctuate daily and it is recommended to check rates before exchanging your foreign currency into Korean won.
- Bank : 9 am - 4 pm (Closed on Saturdays, Sunday and public holidays)
- Exchange service center : 9:30 am - 10 pm, everyday
- Authorized exchange : 24 hours in hotels, and 09:00 am - 5:00 pm at other places
Cards with the Plus and Cirrus logos are the easiest to use and most widely accepted in Korea.
Banks as well as other sites have ATMs where customers can make withdrawals, deposits, and fund transfers. However, as all ATM transactions require an account with a Korean bank, ATMs are not particularly convenient for international travelers except for getting cash advances on a credit card.
Some ATM/CD machines operate 24 hours a day, while others are opened from 8am to 12am.
Most of the businesses in Korea widely use and accept payment by credit cards, including at major hotels, department stores, large restaurants and stores. Visa, MasterCard, American Express and other credit cards can be used; however check the service availability before making purchases as some stores may not be subject to this service.
Traveler's checks can be exchanged for cash at banks or exchange booths. A number of stores still accept the checks instead cash. Nonetheless, the forms of credit cards and debit cards have become a more preferred means of payment by travelers. Thus trading checks is hardly observed nowadays as there is seemingly a decreasing number of stores that offer this service.
The standard voltage in Korea is 220 volts (and 60 Hertz, or cycles), and the outlet has two round holes. If you do not have a multi-voltage travel adapter, you can borrow one from your hotel's front desk for free of charge (however, some establishment may request a minimal fee as deposit,
covering for possible loss). If you would like to purchase one in Korea, you can find them at the airport, any of the retail stores, major duty-free shops, convenience stores or even stationery stores.
Time in Korea is GMT+9. No daylight saving time.
We recommend you to buy bottled water although tap water is safe and clean to drink in Korea. The average price is 900 won for 0.5L bottle and it can be easily purchased at conveniences stores, street kiosks and resting areas during your journey to provincial areas.
Weather & Clothing
Korea’s climate is typically temperate with four distinct seasons.
*The most pleasant season to visit Korea is during spring(April-June)and autumn months(September-November).
During this time, the country experience warm weather and blue skies with beautiful scenery.
Spring is warm with various flowers including the picturesque cherry blossom, over the nation's mountains and fields during this time.
Average temperatures in spring range between 7.1℃ and 17.8℃.
The weather remains chilly in March due to the last cold snaps, but begins warming up at the end of the month.
Still, even in April and May, temperatures may drop after sunset. Therefore, light outerwear is essential in spring.
Popular spring fashion items include long-sleeved shirts/pants, cardigans, jackets, scarves, hats and sunglasses.
Summer is a hottest season of the year.
The weather begins heating up, with temperatures rising up to anywhere between 30℃ and 33℃ during daytime in late June to mid August.
Light clothing, often made with “cooling” fabric, becomes essential for preventing overheating.
Popular summer fashion items include light and/or short pants, short-sleeved or sleeveless shirts, light jumper, and sunglasses.
Applying sunscreen is also highly recommended.
Fall is mild and is considered the best season to travel to Korea.
The weather in early September is warm, still hot during day.
Then, it turns colder and drier starting late-September, contributing to the changing of colors of leaves throughout October.
An outerwear is essential in fall. Popular fall fashion items include long-sleeved shirts/pants, cardigans, jackets and scarves.
Winter is the coldest season. It can be bitterly cold during this time due to the influx of cold Siberian air.
Heavy snow in the northern and eastern parts of Korea makes for favorable skiing conditions.
Warm clothing is essential in winter.
Popular winter fashion items include winter coats, sweaters, scarves, shawls, beanies, gloves, and boots.
Subway systems offer a convenient way of exploring metropolitan cities in Korea.
Station names, ticket counters, and transfer signs are all clearly marked in English as well as Korean, the different lines are color-coded,
and all trains have announced in English and Korea.
The subways themselves are clean, efficient, air-conditioned, and have automatic ticket dispensers.
Subway fares slightly differ by age/distance Single Journey Transportations Cards are most suitable for one-time, one-way trips,
while Multiple Journey Transportation Cards are most suitable for long-term visitors/residents who make multiple journeys.
In Seoul, buses are one of the most convenient and readily available forms of transportation.
Buses in Seoul are classified by color according to travelling distance.
Many roads in Seoul have a designated bus lane to promote and ensure efficient use of public transportation.
In Korea, Taxis are plentiful, clean, safe, and above all inexpensive.
They can be found at taxi stands in most busy city areas or hailed on the streets.
There are also certain taxis that can be requested by phone.
However, the fare is slightly higher than the taxis you flag down on the street.
While most taxis operating in the Seoul area accept credit cards or even pre-paid public transportation cards,
the ones in small province cities and other regions may take cash only.
Keep this in mind and make sure to have some cash (in KRW) with you if you plan to use a cab in provincial cities.
Basic fares can slightly vary from region to region. The taxi fare is calculated by distance and time.
Passengers trains operated by the Korean National Railroad are reasonably fast, reliable, and very inexpensive by world standards,
The trains run on a strict schedule and are not affected by traffic congestion during the holiday seasons.
An extensive network covers almost every part of the nation.
Korean trains are classified based on their speed and the amenities offered onboard.
The classifications are: KTX express trains, the non-express Saemaeul, Mugunghwa, Nuriro and tourism trains.
Ticket prices depend on the classification of the train and distance traveled.
Phone & Internet
As the distribution of cell phones, smart phones and related mobile gears increases in Korea,
public phone booths are rarely seen on streets and public facilities today.
However, there are still some public phone booths at popular sites, bus stops, and subway stations.
Korean public phones generally provide local and international call services alike with payment by coins or phone cards.
Telephone cards can usually be purchased at convenience stands or stores near the telephone booths,
and the remaining balance cannot be exchanged for cash.
Most of these cards are valid for a period up to three years;
however, some may have different validity period so make sure to double check the information before making a purchase.
1) How to make an international call to Korea
When you make a phone call to Korea from abroad, first dial 82 (country code for Korea),
then the area code (except for the first number 0). Finally, dial the phone number you wish to call.
For example: Calling Seoul (area code 02) with 777-7777 as the phone number, dial +82-2-777-7777.
2) How to make an international call from Korea
a.First, dial any of the following international call company numbers, and then the country code, area code and finally the number you are calling.
b. International Phone Call Carriers: 001, 002, 008, 00365, 00700 and more.
c. Pre-paid Phone Cards: Pre-paid phone cards are available at convenience stores, major drug store chains, bookstores and newspaper stands.
Mobile Phone Rentals and Roaming Service
As soon as visitors arrive at Korea's major airports, including Incheon, Gimpo, Gimhae and Jeju international airports,
you can proceed to 'roaming center' desks and get your mobile devices connected immediately with local network service provider
after a simple registration.
In addition to roaming services, SIM Card purchase, Wi-Fi egg rentals and even smart phone or other mobile gears are available.
More information about fees, location of roaming desks and other details are found from the websites listed below.
*Korea’s representative roaming service carriers
1) KT Roaming Center
Website : (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
2) SK TELECOM Roaming Center
Website : www.sktroaming.com (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
3) LG U+ Roaming Center
Website : www.uplus.co.kr (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
SIM Card Purchase (Korea SIM card)
Travelers can purchase SIM cards from the major retail stores and convenience stores.
More often than not, this service is cheaper than roaming phones,
therefore preferred communication service by a large number of business travelers.
Internet service is often provided in public places such as airports, train stations, and bus terminals in Korea.
PC rooms and internet cafes are also great places to go for and they are mostly 24 hours in operation.
In addition, many of popular tourist sites are equipped with free Wi-Fi connections as well help international visitors
to stay connected with friends and families back at home.
Largely based on rice, noodles, tofu, vegetables and meat, Korean cuisine is delicious.
Traditionally with main meals a quantity of side dishes are served known as banchan, the most popular of these being Kimchi.
Kimchi is a traditional fermented dish made with vegetables, typically cabbage, radish, onions or cucumbers and flavored with salt, garlic ginger, red pepper power.
One of the best known Korean cuisine exports is the Korean barbecue.
This usually involves grilling of beef, pork or chicken.
The grilled dishes are typically prepared at the diner’s table on a gas or charcoal grill built into the centre of the table or on a portable grill if built in barbecues are not available. One of the most popular dishes served is galbi, beef short ribs, often marinated in spices before grilling.
In a specialized restaurants the diner will request from a menu the types of meat they would like, these are bought to the table and the diner cooks them to their liking.
For those diners that are new to Korean barbecue the waiter can be on hand to offer help, though typically it is only every foreigner that needs help.
Meal price varies depending on the menu and it ranges about KRW8,000 ~ 15,000 per person for light lunch depending on menu - noodle soup, Bibimbap, bean curd soup, grilled fish, pork BBQ, etc.
For dinner, please consider KRW15,000 ~ 25,000 for grilled pork, beef, chicken, etc.
At most restaurants, beer is about KRW4,000 ~ 5,000 per bottle, soft drink such as coke, Fanta is KRW3,000 ~ 4,000 per bottle.
1.Restaurants : Not required
2.Tour guide and driver : Although tipping is not compulsory, tipping can be customarily given as a token of gratitude.
Tipping & Gratuity
Considered a shopper’s paradise, great deals can be had in Korea on shoes, clothes, leather goods, silk, antiques, handbags, suitcases and so much more. Clothes can be tailor-made and range in quality depending on the amount of money you are willing to part with.
Most department stores have fixed prices.
The major open air markets such as Namdaemun Market or Dongdaemun Market in Seoul offer everything you can imagine.
Those shopping for arts, crafts, jewellery, antiques or souvenirs, should head to the wonderful markets and shops of Insadong street.
photo (c) korea tourism organization
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