South Korea

Capital City: Seoul
Timezone: UTC+9
Country Calling Code: +82
Currency: KRW

1 CNY = 180.45 KRW

1 USD = 1127.81 KRW

1 EUR = 1388.08 KRW

1 GBP = 1640.45 KRW

1 AUD = 1127.81 KRW

These rates were valid at time of writing.
Please check www.xe.com for exact exchange rates.

Weather & When to Visit

 

South Korea’s climate is temperate with four distinct seasons. Spring is generally quite short (late March through April) and mild with pleasant temperature. Summer arrives in late April, is hot and humid with the hottest and rainy period between July and August. Autumn passes through the peninsula from late September to October with winter coming in sooner in northern areas such as Seoul. For the southern cities such as Busan, autumn lasts longer. Winter is harsh with temperatures dropping sub-zero and icy winds blowing in from Siberia especially from December to February, known as the coldest period. Mountainous areas and the northern areas of the country experience some snowfall while the southern parts and costal regions experience little snowfall. Any season can be fine to visit South Korea with appropriate clothes. Spring and autumn is mild and is generally considered the best time to visit. For skiing though, winter is the best season.

Events & Festivals

 

A large variety of events and festivals are held throughout the year in South Korea. However, the Kimchi Festival, is one of the most popular events in the country, generally held for four days around the second week of October. It offers dishes of pickled and spiced vegetables. During this time, participants can learn how to make various dishes with different kinds of kimchi and take part in fun folk music performances as well as other games and activities.

The Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul is another treasured and important festival in South Korea. It is generally a celebration of Buddhism in a country where around 25 percent of the population practices Buddhism. The lotus flower is one of the most recognizable symbols of the Buddhist faith and represents the progression of the human soul toward enlightenment. Of all South Korean events, this is one of the most beautiful as the lotus flower is prominently featured in much of the regalia and ornamentation surrounding the festival.

There is a Buddhist street festival, a lantern parade, and a celebration of the Buddha’s birthday, along with many other events that take place every year in the middle of May.

Another important festival is the Dano festival celebrated between late May and early June. It features dancing, sacred liquor, ceremonies, and mask performances. As with Jongmyo Daeje, this festival has UNESCO heritage status and is well worth seeing.

Lotus Lantern Festival is a beautiful ceremony held in early May with colorful lanterns filled in streets and courtyard all over the country, but is most spectacular in Seoul. For more information, please visit http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_6.jsp?cid=957144

Visas

 

Generally, most nations do not require visas for entry and can stay for up to 90 days. However please check before traveling. For countries that require a visa to visit South Korea, application is USD30 and requires a passport that is valid for at least 6 months. For more information, please visit: http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/GK/GK_EN_2_1_1.jsp

Airports

 

Incheon International Airport ICN is located 30 miles (50km) from central Seoul. You can take Airport Railroad Express (journey time: 45 minutes; fare: KRW 8,000), bus and taxi (journey time: 50 minutes; fare: from KRW 45,000) to/from the airport. It has two terminals in a single complex connected by the Airport Transportation Center. Flights to Seoul Incheon International Airport are available from destinations all over the world.

Gimhae International Airport PUS is another airport located on the western end of Busan, which is South Korea's second largest metropolis after Seoul. Gimhae Interational Airport has two terminals consisting of the International Terminal and Domestic Terminal with free shuttle bus transfer between terminals.

Things to Consider

 

  • Tipping is not customary in South Korea, but do so if you've received extraordinary service. In most tourist hotels, a 10% service charge is added to your bill (on top of the VAT). In some major restaurants, a 3% to 10% service charge may be added to your bill. When you're riding a taxi, it's not necessary to tip the driver, but do let him keep the change.
  • Check the weather before you go sightseeing. During summer time, from late June to late August, is the monsoon season, when the country receives some 60% of its annual rainfall. It is followed by unpleasantly hot and humid weather, and there is also the chance of a typhoon or two.
  • Don't wear shorts, jeans or sandals when visiting Panmunjeom as you will be barred from entering. "Unkempt or shaggy hair" is also forbidden so tie it up or cover it.
  • When you are at the Freedom Pavilion, don't wave at or point to or attempt to communicate in any way with North Korean border guards.
  • Generally it’s preferred that smart casual dress is worn in all areas where respect should be shown.
  • For most locals, English is sorely lacking. Taxi drivers also only speak little English, although some might want to practice their English on you. Have your destination written in Korean if possible, and get in the car instead of asking through the window. Crossing town shouldn't cost more than 25,000 Korean won (about $23 USD), unless there's some serious traffic.
  • Don't write a Korean's name in red ink. This indicates that the person is deceased.
  • Pour drinks for others and allow them to pour for you - it's impolite to pour your own drink.
  • Don't forget to remove shoes prior to entering private homes or even your own hotel room if you're staying in a traditional lodging.
  • Don't leave your camera or anything else that's heat-sensitive on the floor if you're staying in traditional housing or hotels with floor heating. Koreans heat their buildings via pipes embedded in the concrete floor and some major meltdown might occur if you are not standing by.
  • Be cautious if what you're eating is covered with bits of green peppers. Some of the peppers are so hot they will make your insides burn for hours if you are not used to them.
  • Take a small gift when invited into a Korean home.
  • Follow the local news for demonstrations, especially near US Military bases. Demonstrations do tend to be violent.
  • A lot of businesses in South Korea are closed on Monday because of the 'mom-and-pop' variety. A few places close on Sunday instead, leaving Monday an excellent day to go exploring.

 

Important Note:
Whilst Classic Travel does our best to keep information updated, it is always advisable for you to double-check details for your specific trip as information can change without notice, particularly in regards to arrival & departure airport terminals, visa requirements and airport/port fees.