Republic of Korea (South Korea): detailed travel guide

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Republic of Korea (South Korea): detailed travel guide

The Republic of Korea, or unofficially South Korea, is a country located in East Asia, in the south of the Korean Peninsula, with its capital in Seoul.

South Korea shares a border in the north with North Korea – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The so-called demilitarized zone runs along this land border. On all other sides, South Korea is surrounded by the sea (the length of the coastline is 2,413 km): the Yellow Sea in the west, the East China Sea in the south, and the Japanese Sea in the east.

Woljeongsa Temple, Odesan Park in Gangwon Province

Woljeongsa Temple, Odesan Park in Gangwon Province

People on the territory of Korea settled already in the Neolithic era. At the beginning of our era, three rival kingdoms – Goguryeo, Silla, and Baekje – were developing on the Korean Peninsula. The largest and most powerful kingdom was the Goguryeo kingdom, which was in a state of permanent war with the Chinese Song and Tang dynasties. In the 5th-7th centuries, the kingdom of Silla gained influence, which seized the entire territory of the Korean Peninsula, forcing the remnants of the troops of the kingdom of Goguryeo to take refuge in the territory of the current Chinese province of Jilin in Manchuria, where they founded the state of Parhe in 698, destroyed by the Chinese in 926. All three kingdoms were united during the Goryeo dynasty, which came to power in 918. Founded in 1392, the Joseon Dynasty ruled Korea until 1910. Between 1592 and 1598, Japan tried to conquer Korea, and in the 1620s, Manchuria, which was soon conquered by the Chinese Ming Dynasty in turn. After that, the Joseon dynasty came under the rule of the Chinese Qing dynasty.

In 1876, Japan forced Korea to open up to foreign trade. Japan has always sought to suppress Korean national identity, and in 1910 Korea signed an annexation treaty with the Land of the Rising Sun. After Japan’s defeat in 1945, according to the UN plan, the northern part of Korea was given to the control of the USSR, and the United States got the southern zone of influence, which led to the emergence of two separate states on the Korean Peninsula – North and South Korea.

This was followed by a period of military conflicts, coups and revolutions – the so-called period of the six republics, which ended with the victory of democratic forces in South Korea: in 1987, democratic elections were held in the country, and in 1992 the first civilian president was elected.

Today South Korea is a state with a fairly developed economy, becoming an interesting new tourist destination, and attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world from year to year. The country is famous for its protected areas that are suitable for ecotourists; ancient Buddhist buildings, interesting for lovers of cultural tourism; sandy beaches of Jeju Island, which attract fans of beach holidays, diving and surfing.

How to get to South Korea

Aircraft

In the vast majority of cases, tourists arrive by plane in Seoul. The capital of South Korea is served by two airports – Incheon and Gimpo, international flights arrive on the first.

Ferry

Seoul

Seoul

The Russian company “Storm Marine – Vladivostok”, which is a branch of the Korean ferry company DBS Ferry / Eastern Dream, operates a flight Vladivostok (Russia) – Donghe (South Korea), then continues to Sakaiminato (Japan). The ferry leaves Vladivostok on Wednesdays at 14:00, and arrives at 9:00 in Donghae on Thursdays. The ferry departs from Donghae at 14:00 on Sundays and arrives in Vladivostok at 15:00 on Tuesday. One-way ticket costs from 150 euros. Due to seasonal changes in ferry schedules, please check the links above.

The Incheon International Ferry Terminal has ferry connections to the following cities in China: Weihai, Dandong, Qingdao and Tianjin. From the Korean port of Busan, you can get to Japan by ferries that run several times a day.

Climate and weather in South Korea

The climate of South Korea is monsoon, summers are hot and humid, winters are long, cold and dry.

The southern part of the country is characterized by a subtropical monsoon climate. The mountainous areas to the east experience more severe weather conditions. The hottest month of the year is August, the coldest is January.

Nature in South Korea

Nature in South Korea

In the mountains in summer, the daytime temperature rises to +25°C – +27°C, dropping at night to +13°C – +15°C. In winter, temperatures are observed here from 0 degrees during the day to -10°C – -8°C at night. On the plains of the northwestern part of Korea, daytime summer temperatures reach +30°С, and nighttime temperatures – +22°С. In winter, air temperatures here are +2°С – +4°С during the day and -4°С – -6°С at night. The climate of the southern part of the country is milder: daytime summer temperatures are +28°С – +30°С, nighttime – +23°С – + 25°С, in winter there are daytime temperatures of +8°С – +10°С and night -1°С – +1°С.

Annual precipitation ranges from 1370 to 2000 mm, on the east coast – up to 1500 mm. The rainy season is in the summer months (June – September). Pacific typhoons may occur in coastal areas in autumn. The most suitable season to visit the country is the period from June to October.

Cities and regions

South Korea is administratively divided into 9 provinces (1 of them autonomous), 1 city of special status and 6 metropolitan cities. These units, in turn, are subdivided into a number of smaller entities: cities, counties, municipal districts, townships, volosts, urban areas and villages.

Seoul

Seoul is the capital of South Korea, founded on the site of a late 14th century settlement called Hanyang. The settlement, which housed the royal palace of Kyung-bok, was soon fortified. In 1910 – 1942 the city was called Gyeongsong, and its current name – Seoul (from Korean – “capital”), received in 1945. Since 1948, Seoul has been the official capital of the Republic of Korea and its main economic, political and cultural center.

Incheon

Incheon is a large metropolitan city (the third most populous in Korea) and a port on the Yellow Sea coast. Incheon, with its large port, is the “gateway to Seoul,” and to some extent belongs to Greater Seoul. The transport systems of Seoul and Incheon (in particular – the subway lines) are interconnected. Incheon has a free economic zone established in 2003.

People settled in the territory of Incheon already in the Neolithic era. From the end of the 4th century, the city turned into a major trade center in Korea, and remained so throughout the Middle Ages. In 1883, the port of Chemulpho was founded in the city, which was one of the first to open for trade with foreigners. The harbor of Incheon is known for the fact that the Russian-Japanese war began in it in 1904 – here the Japanese squadron attacked the Russian cruiser Varyag, which was sunk, but did not surrender to the enemy. In 1950, Incheon was also the landing site for American troops, which was a turning point in the Korean War.

Incheon includes Yeongjong, Wolmi and Mui Islands. Yeongjong Island attracts tourists with Mount Bagun-san with Yeonggun-sa monastery and mineral springs with a spa complex.

Gwangju

Gwangju is the capital of South Jeolla province, a metropolitan city located in central Korea, surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes. Gwangju is a renowned cultural and scientific center of the country. The city was founded in 57 BC. e. Since 370 the city, then called Hanam Wireson, has been the capital of the Baekje state. The name Gwangju was adopted in 940.

One of the suburbs of Gwangju, Punwonni, is a ceramics production center known since the 15th century, it is here that most of the Korean white porcelain has always been produced.

Recently, Gwangju is a modern metropolis with a developed infrastructure. It still remains a major center for the Korean ceramics industry. The city is home to many attractions, including the Chongjinam Christian Temple (18th century), Namhanson Fort (1626), the State Museum with an extensive archaeological and ceramic collection.

Among the activities of Gwangju are the Tomato Festival with fairs and competitions, the World Ceramics Exhibition and the annual September White Ceramics Festival.

Busan

Busan is the second largest city in the country, with the status of a metropolitan city, located on the southern coast of Korea. Busan is home to a large city port, which ranks fourth in the world in terms of cargo turnover.

In the X-XIV centuries, Busan was called Pusanpo (from the cor. – “a mountain in the shape of a cauldron in the bay”). Since the 15th century, the city has successfully developed trade between Korea and Japan, and has become a very prosperous port, which it still is.

Busan attracts tourists with many attractions, including the Gwang-nan Bridge (7420 m long), which connects the Nam and Haeundae districts; Buddhist temple Pomo-sa (678) with a fortress wall; The 9-storey fish market in the Chacalchi area is the largest in the country; Park – Yeongdu-san Botanical Garden, covering an area of ​​69,000 sq. m; Busan Tower (height 120 m) with an observation deck.

Also in the Busan area there are many beaches that are clean and comfortable, and the thermal complex at the Donne springs.

Daegu

Daegu is the fourth largest city in South Korea (after Seoul, Busan and Incheon), the capital of Gyeongsangbuk-do province. Administratively, it is a city of direct subordination. Throughout its history, Daegu has been a major transportation hub on the route from Seoul to Busan.

Daegu Temple

Daegu Temple

People have been settling in the territory of Daegu since 1500-3000. BC e. The city was founded in 261. According to chronicles, during the time of the Three Kingdoms, Daegu was called Delgubel, and was part of the Kingdom of Silla. The city received its modern name – Daegu – in 757. Market trade developed in Daegu from the 15th century. The most famous of the ancient markets is Yannyonsi, a herbal market that is still active today.

Daegu attracts tourists with the following attractions: Apsan Park with Buddhist temples and the Korean War Museum; Phalgonsan Park with many monasteries; Talson Park, located in an ancient fortress; amusement park Turyu.

Gyeongju

Gyeongju is a large Korean city located in the southeastern part of Gyeongsangbuk-do province on the coast of the Sea of ​​Japan. Due to its cultural and historical heritage, Gyeongju has been a recognized tourist center of Korea for many years, is included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List, and attracts many tourists.

Waterfalls in Namsan Park, Seoul

Waterfalls in Namsan Park, Seoul

The first documentary evidence of the existence of a city on the site of today’s Gyeongju dates back to the beginning of our era. The city was probably founded in 57 BC. e. In the 4th – 10th centuries, the city was the capital of the state of Silla, and from the 7th century it was a recognized cultural center of the country. In 940, Gyeongju received its current name, and soon lost its meaning. Until the 20th century, when archaeological research began in the city, Gyeongju’s historical sites were repeatedly destroyed and plundered. The city received a new development as an industrial and tourist center only in the 1970s.

Today, tourists visiting Gyeongju experience the cultural heritage of Silla at the Gyeongju National Museum, famous for its rich collection of archaeological items. In addition, among the local attractions stand out the grotto, the ruins of the once large temple of Hwannen-sa with the surrounding sculptures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and the remains of the Bunkhwang-sa monastery (7th century); the royal necropolis of Kerim in the city center, the old observatory Chomseongdae (647). In addition, in the city it is worth visiting the Sokku-ram cave temple (8th century) and the ancient Bulguk-sa monastery (528) rebuilt on the Toham-san hill (528), as well as several fortresses from the times of the state of Silla.

Jeju Island

Jeju is the largest island in Korea and at the same time the smallest province of the country with the administrative center of the same name in the city of Jeju. The island is located in the Korea Strait, 100 km from the southern coast of the country, and is considered one of the best resorts in Korea. The island is home to the legendary haenyo, who dive down to 10m.

Naksansa Temple, Sokcho

Naksansa Temple, Sokcho

Jeju Island was formed as a result of the eruption of the Halla-san volcano (height 1950 m), which is now considered extinct. Solidified lava flows have formed bizarre reliefs in the form of grottoes, caves, tunnels and pillars on the slopes of the volcano. A National Park was formed here, which is home to about 2000 plant species and 4000 animal species. For its uniqueness, the island was included in the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List.

Until 662, Jeju, then called Thamna, was a separate state, after which it was conquered by Silla. In 938, after the fall of Silla, the island came under the rule of Koryo. During the Japanese protectorate in 1910, Jeju was renamed Saishu (for the convenience of pronunciation by the Japanese), and after the liberation of Korea from the Japanese, became part of it. In the second half of the 20th century, Jeju Island began to develop as a major tourist center.

The island, which has a holiday season from July to September, is famous for its beaches. There are beaches with both white fine sand and black volcanic sand. The coastal waters are teeming with a wealth of flora and fauna, making the island a center of attraction for diving enthusiasts. In addition to diving in the coastal waters of Jeju Island, windsurfing, snorkeling and fishing are popular.

On the southern coast of the island, there is a fairly large city of Sogipo, surrounded by tangerine plantations. It is worth visiting the Mandarin Museum and Chonban Falls, the only waterfall in Asia that pours water into the ocean. Another resort on the island – Chunmun – is famous for its beaches and the nearby volcanic columns of Chusan Cholli-de. Near the Gimnyeong resort, it is worth seeing the Monchang-gul cave – a lava cave that is the longest in the world: its length is 13,422 m, and its height is about 10 m.

Sights of South Korea

Garden of Morning Calm, Gapyeong

Garden of Morning Calm, Gapyeong

Attractions in Korea can be found in abundance throughout its territory. Of particular interest among tourists are UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites.

  • Changdeokgung palace
  • Megalithic structures – dolmens
  • Haeinsa monastery
  • Hwaseong Fortress (Diamond Fortress)
  • Jongmyo shrine
  • Royal Tombs of the Joseon Dynasty
  • Seokguram Cave Temple and Bulguksa Temple Complex
  • Chomseongdae Observatory
  • Kyoju State Museum
  • Kerim forest
  • Demilitarized Zone and Panmunjon Peace Village

What to do in South Korea

South korea beaches

Due to its geographic location, Korea is a recognized Asian beach destination. The most interesting beaches in South Korea are listed below, following the links you can get detailed information – location, photos, infrastructure and other nuances.

  • Sokcho beach
  • Naksan Beach
  • Yrvanni beach
  • Daecheon Beach
  • Byeongsan Beach
  • Gyeongpo Beach
  • Jungmun Beach
  • Hepcheo Beach
  • Haeundae Beach
  • Sanju Beach

Alpine skiing in South Korea

Alpine skiing is a very popular active pastime in Korea. There are more than ten famous ski resorts in the mountains, all of which are located near Seoul. The ski season in the country lasts from December to March, but during the rest of the year the ski resorts are also crowded with summer activities such as golf courses and amusement parks. The main ski resorts in South Korea are listed below, follow the links for more information.

  • Yongpyeong
  • Phoenix Park
  • Yangzhi Pine
  • Star Hill
  • Jisan Forest
  • Tamune Vivaldi Park
  • Muju
  • Hyundai Songgu

Wellness in South Korea

Korea is famous for its thermal springs, next to which spa and wellness centers are open. In total, there are about 70 health centers in the country and about 100 traditional Korean bath complexes “chimchilban”.

Below is a list of some of the popular thermal spas in South Korea, the links provide more information – location, description, sites, and so on.

  • Greenland
  • Asan spavis
  • Icheon Termeden

Treatment in South Korea

In addition, Korea is becoming a recognized destination for medical tourism in Asia, the popularity of which is determined by two main factors: the tourist attractiveness of the country as a whole and the high quality of the medical services offered.

South Korean medical centers:

  • Center for Eastern Medicine at Sanzhi University
  • Keng Hee University East-West Medical Center
  • Dongguk University Ilsan Medical Center
  • Gannun Asan Medical Center
  • ASAN Medical Center
  • Clinic “Gangnam Severance”

Diving in South Korea

Diving in South Korea is best developed on Jeju Island. The main dive sites are around the small islands off the southern coast of Jeju, located in the sea 15-20 minutes by boat from Seogwipo City. Depths from 40 to 70 m are observed here.

The coastal waters of Jeju at the junction of the Yellow Sea, the Sea of ​​Japan and the East China Sea form a unique hydrodynamic complex characterized by a huge variety of underwater fauna (lionfish, triggerfish, tetradon, silver tuna, butterfly and angelfish, orange starfish) and wealth flora (soft corals, anemones, sponges).

The best diving season is from June to December. The water temperature in summer is + 24 – + 26 ° С, in some cases warming up to + 28.8 ° С, in winter and autumn – + 19 – + 23 ° С. January and February bring coolness with them, and many dive centers are closing.

In addition to diving, snorkelling is popular in the coastal waters of the southern part of Jeju Island.

Getting around South Korea

Inland, you can get around by plane, bus, train, or a rented car.

Aircraft

Seoul airport

Seoul airport

All major cities in South Korea are connected by airlines. Within the country, two Korean airlines – Korean Air and Asiana Airlines – operate flights between 14 cities in the country, including Seoul, Busan, Jeju, Daegu, Gwangju, Wonju, Ulsan.

Trains

You can also get around South Korea on the trains of the Korean Railway Company. The railway network covers almost the entire country.

There are four types of trains in Korea: KTH (Korea Train Express) – bullet trains (two bullet train lines that connect Seoul with Busan and Mokpo, comfortable trains reach speeds of up to 300km/h), Semaul express trains, Mugunkhwa fast trains (quite comfortable) and Tongil passenger trains (slow and not very comfortable). There are cars of I and II classes, the cost of tickets depends on the class and distance. On all trains, except for express trains, passengers are allowed to travel while standing if there are no seats. Tickets are sold at the train station ticket offices.

At all the main railway stations there are special ticket offices that sell uniform travel tickets for foreigners – KR Pass. They give the right to travel any distance on all types of trains without restrictions on the number of trips. Tickets come in different lengths – 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 days. You can check the current cost and book KR Pass tickets on this website.

After the online purchase of the KR Pass, the tourist is sent a voucher, which should be exchanged for a ticket upon arrival in Korea at the ticket offices of the train stations.

Buses

Bus in South Korea

Bus in South Korea

You can also get around Korea by buses – the country has a well-established intercity bus service. All buses, regardless of class, are very comfortable.

Buses are divided into regular (“ilban”) and first class (“udyn”), while the difference in ticket prices for them is unreasonably large, given the small difference in comfort.

Intercity buses leave from Seoul to other cities in the country from three major bus stations:

  • Bus station “Tonsoul”
  • Gangnam Central Bus Terminal
  • Bus station “Nambu”

Intercity buses leave the country at intervals of 15 – 20 minutes. The fare for buses depends on the distance of the trip. For up-to-date information on bus timetables and fares, please visit the Express Bus Line Association website.

Inside cities, you can travel by city buses. They vary in comfort, the routes are marked with numbers, but the information is written only in Korean. The fare is usually 600-1300 won and does not depend on the distance of the trip. The fare is paid in cash or with a transport card, which is also valid in the metro.

Underground

There are subways in Korea in four cities – Seoul, Busan, Daegu and Gwangju. The Seoul Metro is large enough to connect the capital with the suburbs. Subway tickets can be purchased at subway ticket offices, ticket machines that accept 10, 50, 100 and 500 won coins and 1,000 won bills. In the Korean subway, station names and all basic information are duplicated in English.

Auto

To travel around the country, you can rent a car. The quality of roads in Korea is at the highest level. To rent a car, a driver must be over 21 years old, have driving experience for more than 1 year, and have an international passport and driving license with you. Rental offices can be found at airports and hotels.

Taxi

Taxi in South Korea

Taxi in South Korea

Tourists often take a taxi within Korean cities. Taxis can be ordered by phone or found on the street. There are many taxi cars in Korea, they are very safe, comfortable and inexpensive. Many taxi drivers speak English. A free taxi is marked with a yellow or blue light on the roof.

Taxis are standard and deluxe. Cars with Kind Call Taxi and KT Powertel signs are equipped with simultaneous translation devices from Korean, meters and navigators.

The fare for a regular taxi is calculated as follows: payment for boarding and the first 2 km – 1,600 won, then for every 150 meters – 100 won. If the car has covered less than 14.75 km in an hour, an additional 100 won will be added to the total for every 41 seconds of travel. The cost of a night trip (24:00 – 4:00) becomes 20% higher.

Deluxe taxis are usually black cars with a yellow stripe on the side, a yellow roof sign and the corresponding Deluxe Taxi logo. The fare is calculated as 4,000 won for the first 3 kilometers and 200 won for every next 205 meters or 50 seconds (if the speed drops below 15 kilometers per hour). The fare does not increase at night. Drivers issue a check when paying for the fare.

All taxis run within the city limits, and when traveling to the suburbs, the cost can double. Therefore, it is worth informing the driver of the destination address before starting the trip.

Water transport

South Korea has several hundred islands connected by ferry lines. A large number of ferries connect Jeju Island with the ports of Mokpo, Yoso and Incheon, Ulleung Island with the ports of Pohang and Sokhkcho, Pennyeong and Daecheon Islands with Mncheon.

Korean food

Korean cuisine, which is very reminiscent of Chinese and Japanese, is diverse, it contains dishes from meat, fish, seafood, eggs, rice, soy, vegetables.

Korean food

Korean food

Korean cuisine is distinguished by the abundance of used spices. So, Korean food is very spicy – red peppers, garlic and onions are present in most dishes. The pungency of dishes seasoned with pepper has developed historically: the country has a hot and humid climate that does not contribute to the safety of food. Among the sauces used to season dishes, the soy sauce, traditional for Asia, stands out.

The main place on the Korean table is occupied by rice, which is used to prepare pabi porridge, chkhaltok rice cakes, spicy rice pilaf with bibimbap vegetables, and kimpap rice rolls. Rice must be accompanied by dishes under the general name “kimchi” – all sorts of pickles and spicy vegetable snacks, marinated meat and seafood.

Fish and seafood, the richness of which is due to the geographic location of Korea, is also very often present on the menu of the country’s residents. Here, as in Japan, they eat raw fish – “hwe”. There are many dishes made from fish such as cod, pollock, flounder, shellfish, squid, shrimp, oysters, trepangs, octopus, seaweed, etc. Traditional Korean dishes are fried fish “senson gooi”, stew from the seafood “hemul chongol”, cakes with seafood and green onions “phajon”, seaweed salads, squid (“ojino”) and octopus (“nakji”) dishes.

One of the main dishes in Korea is kuksu noodles, which are made from wheat, buckwheat, corn and even potato flour. The noodles are served with stewed, fried or marinated meat, poured with hot or cold broth.

In Korean cooking, there are first courses, in particular, soups. They are eaten for both breakfast and dinner. There are a huge variety of soups: hodgepodge, meat, fish, vegetable soups. Soups are often seasoned with soy sauce. Among the most popular soups are soup from beef ribs “Kalbi Than”, soy soup with egg and shellfish “Sundubu chige”, spicy seafood soup “Hemul Than”, spicy ukha “maeunthan”, sprouted soy soup “Khonnamulguk” etc.

Among the meat dishes on the Korean table, it is worth mentioning first of all “bulgogi” – finely chopped beef marinated in soy sauce and sesame oil, and then fried in a wok. Other popular dishes are Calbi grilled beef ribs, Kalbichim pork or beef ribs ragout, Takkalbi chicken stew, Mandu dumplings, etc.

An ambiguous reaction of tourists is caused by dog ​​meat dishes, which are occasionally (contrary to the established opinion of foreigners) present on the Korean table. In particular, we are talking about the soup from dog meat “posintan” (bosintang – “stewed dog meat with spices”, as well as “soup that strengthens the body”). In this light, it should be said that in Korea, dog meat is not considered a product for the preparation of everyday food – it is, rather, a dietary and medicinal food. In addition, in Korea, a dog is not perceived as a “man’s friend”, it is not assigned any role in society that is different from other animals. Following the lead of Western public opinion, today the Korean authorities have introduced a number of legislative measures, which, if they do not fully prohibit the use of dog meat in cooking, then largely regulate this process.

Among the vegetable dishes on the menu of Koreans, the leading place is taken by dishes from legumes. Legumes are presented in a variety: soybeans, peas, beans, green beans “noctu”, red – “patch”, etc. Often sprouted soybeans are a substitute in meat dishes. Soy milk, cottage cheese, soy sauce and pasta are made from the same soybeans.

Desserts and sweets are also on the Korean table. The most popular of them are “quadula” – a dessert made from rice dough, jelly from acorns “tothorimuk”, “hangwa” cookies, “tasik” – sweets made from honey, chestnuts, beans, sesame seeds and medicinal herbs. Among fruits, persimmons and tangerines are actively consumed.

Koreans, as a rule, end their meal with sweet rice water “sikhe” or a decoction of cinnamon and persimmon “sujongkwa”, herbal teas, coffee. Alcoholic drinks in Korea are mainly represented by the results of rice processing – rice wine “makkori” or “nonju”, rice beer, rice vodka.

Table etiquette

Residents of Korea do not often arrange a feast at home, mainly inviting guests to restaurants. In a Korean restaurant, they usually eat while sitting on the floor on pillows. The floor is heated in winter. Shoes are left at the entrance.

The traditional rules of behavior at the table, the order of serving dishes, methods and dosages of alcohol consumption have developed several centuries ago. The rules for eating and table setting are worth a separate mention.

So, for example, Koreans eat not only with chopsticks, but also with spoons (for liquid dishes), which are a symbol of life (they say about the deceased that he “put down his spoon”, about the number of eaters – as about the number of spoons, not mouths, as in Russian). Unlike other cultures that used chopsticks for eating, Koreans have been using a spoon since the 5th century. Sticks (“chotjarak”, “jeotgarak”) and a small spoon with a long handle (“sutjarak”, “sutgarak”) together make up the table set “sujo” (“sujeo”, short for “sutgarak” and “jeotgarak”), they are made stainless steel or silver. According to Korean etiquette, using chopsticks, a spoon is placed on the edge of a bowl with a liquid dish, and using a spoon, the chopsticks are simply placed on the table.

There are no personal plates on the Korean table. The entire surface of the table, in the center of which the main dish of meat or fish rises, is lined with small bowls with salads and sauces. Participants in the meal eat from all plates at once. It is impolite to ask a neighbor to serve something on the table, you need to try to reach the desired dish yourself. Cutlery that has fallen to the floor should never be lifted – you need to ask the waiter to bring new ones.

When it comes to alcohol consumption, Koreans have a lot in common with Russians: they drink a lot at the Korean table; you can not refuse to drink (this can offend the person pouring and the owner of the table); you cannot pour yourself (this is also considered an insult to the owner – he will not be able to show you his respect), etc. You need to drink with a glass in your right hand.

The restaurant bill includes only the main course and alcoholic drinks, everything else (soups, salads, sauces) is free. The bill also includes service, so there is no need to tip.

Shopping in South Korea

Tourists visiting South Korea cannot help but pay attention to shopping. The best shopping opportunities open up in Seoul and other large cities: there are many large shopping centers, supermarkets, department stores, boutiques, shops, markets.

Large department stores are open daily 10:00 – 20:00, shops – 9:00 – 22:00, large supermarkets, shopping centers and markets – often around the clock and every day.

Namdaemun Market, Seoul

Namdaemun Market, Seoul

Especially convenient for tourists is that there are duty-free shops in Seoul and Busan (they are marked with tax free shopping signs). They can be used to pay in foreign currency and VAT of 10% on purchases over 30,000 won can be returned at the airport. The only caveat: to make purchases in such stores, you need to show the sellers your return ticket. In addition, some types of selected and paid goods (alcohol, perfumes, cigarettes) are not handed over to the buyer, but carefully packed and transported to the airport exactly at the time of the flight.

It is worth bringing from Korea, first of all, products from ginseng, since the country is one of the world leaders in the cultivation and processing of this magic root. So, you can buy ginseng concentrate, tincture of ginseng root, ginseng tea, cosmetics based on it.

Other traditional souvenirs from Korea are lacquerware decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay – boxes, powder boxes, business card holders; fine quality porcelain, ceramics, embroidery, macrame. Korean textiles and leather goods are also famous – outerwear, bags and haberdashery. Everyone also has heard of Korean electronics, and, undoubtedly, it is worth buying in the country – everything except mobile phones that support standards incompatible with Russian ones. Collectors and fans of ethnicity should pay attention to the traditional Korean hanbok costume, which can be bought in souvenir shops and markets.

Discounts and sales

Large discounts on various groups of goods are observed in Korea during shopping festivals. The most important shopping festivals are as follows:

  • Seoul Big Summer Sale
  • Busan Shopping Festival
  • Korean shopping festival

Seoul Markets & Malls

  • Shopping complex COEX
  • Yeoju Premium Outlet
  • Paju Premium Outlets
  • Galleria Department Store
  • Doosan Tower Shopping Center
  • Migliore Shopping Center
  • Shinsegae Department Store
  • Mario outlet
  • Namdaemun Market
  • Dongdaemun Market
  • Yongsan Electronics Market

Communication in South Korea

To make a call in South Korea, you can, first of all, with the help of public telephones, in many cities located on the streets. The machines work with special telephone cards, credit cards or coins. Telephone cards can be bought in shops, shops, tobacco and newsstands, in hotels. Almost all public telephones can be used to make calls to other countries.

To make a call from South Korea to Russia, you need to dial 001 (002 or 008) – 7 – area code – the subscriber’s phone number.

To call from Russia to Korea, you need to dial 8 – 10 – 82 (Korea code) – region code – subscriber number.

Codes of some Korean cities: Seoul – 02, Incheon – 032, Daejeon – 042, Busan – 051, Jeju – 064.

Please be aware that GSM mobile phones do not work in South Korea. In this case, tourists can be advised to temporarily exchange their phones at the airport for local CDMA and IMT2000 models. The average cost of renting a Korean phone with your own phone on deposit averages 3,000-4,000 won per day.

Useful phone numbers

  • Police 112
  • Fire Department 119
  • Ambulance 119
  • Ambulance for foreigners (02) 790-7561
  • Tourist Information 1330

Tourists in Korea will have no problems with the Internet. Internet access points are everywhere. Back in 2010, South Korea took the honorable first place in the Ranking of the World Countries by the Quality of Internet Access (according to scientists from the University of Oviedo and the University of Oxford). Free wi-fi is available in all city centers, on the territory of large shopping centers, in hotels, cafes, restaurants, in tourist areas.

Safety

Police in South Korea, Seoul

Police in South Korea, Seoul

South Korea is one of the safest Asian countries for tourism, but one should not forget about the basic safety rules. Tourists are advised to leave cash and valuables in hotel safes, to carefully monitor their personal belongings in crowded and tourist places.

Some of the local traditions that tourists should remember are:

  • locals do not like to be photographed too much: before photographing them, you must definitely ask permission;
  • when entering a Korean temple and house, you need to take off your shoes, while socks must be present on your feet;
  • on the beaches of the country it is indecent to sunbathe topless.

Where to stay

Hotels

In South Korea, the following hotel classification is adopted: super-luxury (correspond to 5 *), luxury (correspond to 5 *), first class (correspond to 4 *), second class (correspond to 3 *) and third class (correspond to 2 *). Prices for hotel accommodation depend on the season and their location. On our website you can book a hotel in Korea. Don’t forget that by booking a hotel on Booking.com using the links above, you are taking part in a great prize raffle!

  • Hotels in Seoul
  • Hotels in Busan
  • Hotels in Jeju

Motels

Motels are one of the most affordable types of accommodation in South Korea. Most motels are located near bus and train stations. The cost of living in them is not high, but you should not expect a high level of service.

Yeokwang is a kind of traditional Korean motel, usually with an “ondol” warm floor, on which a sleeping place is located directly without a bed. Yegwans come with a bed, but this must be clarified in advance. Room rates range from KRW 25,000 to 50,000.

Hostels and guest houses

In South Korea, you can also find guest houses, which are an inexpensive accommodation option. Most of the guest houses are converted from ordinary residential apartments, so a shared bathroom is most often offered for several rooms. They are usually located in the city center and close to tourist attractions. The price for one night stay is around 15,000–40,000 won.

Apartments and condominiums

Condominiums are ordinary apartments, self-catering apartments located in large complexes with swimming pools, laundry facilities, restaurants. Condominiums are most often located in ski resorts, near national parks and beach resorts. The cost of living in a condominium depends on the season, length of stay, level of service, and is approximately 30,000 – 100,000 won per night. On our website you can rent an apartment in South Korea, it may be convenient for some categories of tourists – families with several children who prefer to cook for themselves, and so on.

Residence

Another type of residence in Korea is residence. This type of housing is most suitable for foreigners who have arrived in the country on a working visit, because it is a room for living and working at the same time, with a kitchen and an office. Residence complexes typically have a gym, laundry facilities, lounges and conference rooms, restaurants, cafes, etc.