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What I Wish I Knew BEFORE Landing in South Korea

What I wish I knew, and what you need to know ahead of your trip to South Korea. A quick and in no way complete guide.

As always, by the time you get the hang of a new country or city, it's time to leave. The following will help you acclimatise quicker, and with less stress.


Download These Apps At Home

Or wherever you feel like downloading a couple of apps...


This is essentially South Korea's Google Maps. The country has blocked Google Maps features, like mapping out a walking route, so you'll need to use NAVER Map instead. And sign up to Naver so you can actually use the thing.

You'll see Kakao Map on travel blogs. It's a piece of shit compared to NAVER Map.

On other blogs, you'll also see Kakao Subway (pointless if you have NAVER Map) and KakaoTalk (like WhatsApp, but never used it. Might be handy if you're spending a chunk of time in Korea)

Get Cash Out

South Korea might be the future, but cash Won wins

For 7 days in Seoul, you can probably get by with approx. $200 AUD in cash (or 200,000 won-ish), That's if you have a credit card etc. And it seems that you cannot get cash out at any ATM, even if you know your debit card works internationally. My QANTAS Money card wasn't accepted, and my ING card was only accepted at Woori Bank.

Once you've left immigration and are free to roam, go to the first ATM you see. There's one next to a money exchange operator. The ATM has an English option and will work provided you have a card that's accepted everywhere (like ING). I saw someone use a Commbank card, which didn't work. Hard to say if that was user error. A lot of people had an issue.

The cash-out situation isn't localised to the airport, I tried a couple of other bank brands in the wild, and as above, Woori Bank was the only bank that accepted my card.

So why do you need cash out? The transport card (T-card) machines only accepts cash.

Catching the train from Incheon Airport

Get cash out and buy a T-card

If you plan on catching the train from Incheon into Seoul, you'll need some Korean Won - see above about where to withdraw Won.

It seems as though news agencies/convenience stores sell the physical card. There's a store just out of Incheon immigration.

Take your cash and your T-card and wonder to the train station. Merge the two with the T-card top-up machine. 10,000 won ($10) will last you a couple of days depending on how much you punish it.

Once your card is topped up, you are good to go! You can take the express, but stopping all stations is fine and will take you about 30 mins to reach Seoul Station.

Take note of how much the trip costs you. It's the most expensive part of the journey, and you'll pay the same amount on your return to the airport. It'll cost you about 4,000 won.

Learn a little Korean

You'll get by with English, smiling and pointing, but try to make an effort

Best to hear how everything's said. I ran my pronunciation past the guy at hotel reception. I assume I was way off and he was too polite to tell me otherwise.

Hello: an-nyong hass-e'yo

Thank you: ko-map-sum-ni-da

Yes: neh

No: a-ni-yo

Apparently you can learn the Korea characters in about 2 hours. I reckon it's doable if you're committed.



I've got plenty to share. If you'd like me to touch on something, send a request via the contact page!

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