8 Check List before you come to Korea
What should you prepare/check before coming to Korea?
1. Check your passport!
Every country has different requirements and regulations for visa or passport validity. For example, passport holders from the United States need at least three months of validity left before flying to South Korea. Make sure to check the details of your passport, especially its validity period, and file for a passport renewal if it’s about to expire!
2. Pack for the season.
Only bring what’s needed (not your entire closet!), regardless of whether you’re traveling for a short stay or longer periods. South Korea is a country with four seasons, and during winter, the temperature can go down to -15°C (5°F). It’s wise to check the weather in Korea beforehand and pack your clothes according to the present weather conditions. Usually, Koreans look forward to spring or autumn, when the temperature is just optimum and refreshing breezes blow from time to time.
Don’t worry if you run out of clothes, as shopping is common here in South Korea. Head over to Myeongdong for cosmetics, Namdaemun for bulk purchases at wholesale prices, and Gangnam for the latest fashion trends!
3. Secure general items.
Pack an electrical adapter or go to the nearest convenience store to buy one. Note that the general voltage here in South Korea is 220V. International adapters work fine here too!
4. Consider getting an International Driving License (IDP) or convert your driver’s license to a Korean license if you’re here for the long term.
Driving a private vehicle allows you to get around with ease, and it’s way more comfortable than public transport. Remote areas have limited public transport access, and intervals can be very long. Driving around these areas with a rental car will be more convenient.
5. Book your accommodations in advance.
Find a place to stay before getting on a plane to Korea. Several sites offer accommodation services—be it a hotel, share house, or guesthouse! Reach out to the host directly, and book the place in advance. Research your travel zones to find the most convenient locations with direct access to all your desired travel spots! You can also reach out to us here at ROOMKOR (https://www.roomnkorea.com/), as we provide accommodation services as well!
6. Print out all your essential info.
Consider making hard copies of every important document. Traveling abroad does not always guarantee stable Internet connections, and accessing digital copies can be challenging! As such, having hard copies on hand in the Korean language (if available) and romanized version could save you from a lot of trouble. For example, if you can’t communicate with the taxi driver, you can show them the Korean address on the paper! It’s good to keep copies in your baggage and wallet.
7. Exchange some Korean money.
Korea uses the currency “won” (원), and KRW 1,000 is roughly USD 1. There are KRW 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, and 50,000 paper notes and KRW 500, 100, 50, and 10 coins.
You can use your credit card almost anywhere in the country, but smaller establishments might prefer cash, such as when you’re at the market. Most convenience stores, except the small ones, would have an ATM where you can use a foreign card, but we recommend you go to the bank because it’s a more secure and safe method. They collect lesser fees compared to the ATMs on the street.
8. Get a USIM Card.
Honestly speaking, it depends! You probably won’t need one if you’re a good planner and can speak fluent Korean. Otherwise, it’s best for you to get one, especially if it’s your first time in Korea and you can’t speak the language so well. You can stay connected through the SIM card when using an online translator, checking the map, or browsing through social media during long bus rides. If you do not have USIM yet, you can go to ENKOR (https://www.enkor.kr/usim/) to purchase a cheap sim card.