With the increasing attention Pyeongchang is getting, Seoul is now on more people’s radar than ever before. The city offers some of the best accommodations and infrastructure, a great transit system, somewhat affordable cost of living, and tons of attractions to choose from. However, before you decide to book your flight, there are a few things you have to take into consideration first. Here are four things everybody should know before visiting Seoul.
Forget Google Maps
If you’re used to getting around with Google maps, then you might struggle with how it works in Korea. You see, Korean laws have huge restrictions on what can be shown on Google maps, so you may be limited on what you can do.
Yes, you can still use Google maps in some settings, but don’t rely on it to give you walking or driving directions. Running a search for an itinerary will only give you a straight line from point A to point B and will not take the city’s layout into consideration, so be prepared for that.
That’s why it’s essential that you look up what attractions you were thinking of seeing and getting accommodation nearby. Going for accommodation outside of the city could turn into a logistical nightmare. If you are thinking of going to the COEX mall, for instance, it would be wise to look for hotels near COEX Seoul, instead of trying to save by lodging somewhere more remote. Any savings you might make will be negated by the huge headaches you’ll be causing yourself, so make sure that you’re well aware of the location at all times when making choices.
The Subway System is Easy to Navigate
As hard it is to find your way through the city with Google maps, the subway system in Seoul is extremely efficient and very easy to get around. It’s also very clean, safe, and affordable. All signs are written in two types of Korean and English and the lines are all marked with clear colors too. Exits are marked with bright yellow colors and are nearly impossible to miss.
While tipping is customary in the US, it could actually be seen as an insult in Korea, so be aware of that. That means no tipping bartenders, drivers, bellhops or any type of personnel you would tip back home.
Adapting to Local Cuisine
Korea has one of the most unique culinary cultures and their cuisine is quite different from both their East and South Asian neighbors. However, if you can’t handle spice, then you’ll have to be careful when eating in Korea since it tends to be very spicy, even painfully so at times, so be aware of that. If you’re not sure about any dish, a good rule would be to stay away from anything bright red or orange; you can thank us later.
Now that you know a little bit more about the city and what to expect, you’ll be better prepared for your next trip. Make sure that you keep these points in mind on your visit to make sure you’ll enjoy Seoul to the fullest.