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GETTING AROUND KOREA
From the Airport (Incheon or Gimpo):
Getting to Seoul~
Subway|AREX– Cheapest route.
Directions: Take the metro to Gimpo Airport and transfer to Seoul.
As of 2011, a metro will operate direct between Seoul Station and Incheon Airport.
Transit time: hour and a half.
Airport shuttle bus
Costs anywhere from 10,000W-16,000W.
Getting to other major cities~
Airport Express bus:
There’s long-distance buses going from Incheon Airport to other cities. Visit the Tourist Information desk on the bottom floor of the airport or check out : kobus.co.kr
i.e. Dongdaegu (Daegu) to Incheon Airport: Cost: Approx 37,000W, Travel time: 4hrs 40 min
Buying KTX or Express buses tickets:
KTX- Korail and Express bus -Kobus- are the *best* ways to get around Korea. If you’re a foreigner, booking a reservation and purchasing a ticket must be done IN PERSON. You can’t use your own country credit card to book reservations.
ENGLISH-SPEAKING TOURIST HOTLINE:
(*any questions about transportation or time schedules)
1330 for Seoul.
Outside of Seoul, just add a city code in front of 1330. Below are the city codes for the major cities:
051 for Busan,
053 for Daegu,
042 for Daejeon, and so on.
in front of 1330
Airport Tourist Information desk
Located on the bottom floor of Incheon Airport. They can provide you with any time of information you need.
Mobile phone rentals
Korea runs on a CDMA phone network, so GSM phones don’t work. You may want to consider a mobile phone rental. Korea offers them for cheap and you can pick them up at major airports like Incheon, Busan. My favorite is SK Telecomm. There’s a cheap daily rate and you’re charged per minute or per text. You have the option for standard phones, smartphone and hotspot.
Best Website on Korea:
For tourists: Official Korea Tourism Organization website
For foreigners moving to Korea: Korea4expats.
Teaching/ Finding English Jobs in Korea: Dave’s ESL Cafe
Learning Korean Online: Learn Korean
K-blogger list: Check my Travel Links section for a list.
Consulates & Embassies:
Korean Consulate Information
Embassies in Korea
Apostille offices in the U.S.
Please be sure to call the Apostille office in your district to find out what type of criminal check they will approve, as this sometimes varies by state.
CITY TOURS :
Korea has hop-on/hop-off buses in main cities and they’re made for tourists. These take you to all the main tourist points in that city and it’s generally under 10,000Won for the entire day. Generally, the Information Desk at the Bus or Train station would know the schedule and boarding location and it’ll be close to the station.
Under $10, The best way to see major city sites in a day (Seoul, Daegu, Busan, Daejeon, Ulsan, Incheon Gyeonju, Samcheok)
* You pay their transportation, entrance fees and meals and they show you the places you want to go. They’ll share history and some local insight. Very helpful and full of information.
Long distance buses: Kobus.co.kr
Local transportation: Metros, Local Buses, Taxis
For Seoul and large cities like Daegu and Busan, there are metro cards with buying power- you can use them to pay for taxis, buses and metros.In Seoul, you can buy per ride passes and this is economical as there’s a return/refund card machine to collect your used cards. The T-money cards are loadable at recharge stations in the metro; however, you will pay a non-refundable fee of something like 5,000Won.
Taxis in Korea can feel cheaper than many countries. Taxis are metered. Some taxis in Seoul have English translation taxis. The ones to avoid are the black taxis. They tend to be a little more pricy.
There are two ways to move long distance: express bus, KTX train and ferry.
KTX trains: KR Pass 3-10 day pass offers unlimited KTX train rides. It offers a real bargain if you’re doing heavy cross-country traveling. Read: How to get the best deals on the Bullet Train (Chosun Ilbo) If you choose to forego the pass and want to pay point-to-point, there are 3 types of train: the fast, medium and slow (Mungunghwa). The fast train runs at peak times and you’ll pay more to get there in a short time. The slow train is the cheapest but may take as long as the Express Bus. Website : korail.co.kr
Express buses Take a little longer than the KTX. But they’re cheaper and still comfortable. They always stop at a rest stop midway for a food/bathroom break. Seats can be comfortable and you’ll get to see more of the countryside. Like KTX trains, you can only purchase in person. Website : www.kobus.co.kr
Ferry transportation are generally recommended when you’re visiting one of Korea’s many little islands or if you’d like to travel to Japan.
Travel Train or Ferry to & Within South Korea (Seat61) * to China & Japan
Busan Ferry Schedule from Busan to Japan (Sparkling Korea)
*Japan destinations: Osaka-16.30hr, Shimonseki 8.30hts, Fukuoka-3hrs, Isuzuhara- 2.40hr, Hitakatsu- 1hr
* Island destinations from Busan Ferry Terminal: Jeju-do / Geoje-do / Tongyeong
Busan Port & Ferry Information
Ferry terminals in Busan
Ferry to Russia (from Incheon)* Vladivostok, Zarubino, Sokcho (Korea)
Beetle Ferry from Japan to Korea
Transportation in Korea- Maps
Jjimjilbangs (read my posts about my favorite one)
* 24-hour sauna, bathhouse and overnight facility.
Sleeping accomodations are simple- you get a smock, key for a locker to store your bag, a towel for bathing, a blanket and a wooden block for sleeping.
Where do you sleep? Mostly, amongst others on the wooden ondol floor.
Love Motels (read about them)
*Cheaper than a hotel and sometimes, if you dig well enough… better and nicer!
Other places I’ve stayed at~
PJ Hotel (Under $100)
Type: Boutique Hotel
Location: Myeongdong area, Seoul (Read my review)
Hong Guesthouse $15+
Location: Hongdae/Hongik University, Seoul.
A standard house with 3 floors of rooms (basement included). Lockers are small, front desk isn’t always great with tourist information and facilities not fabulous. Avoid the basement dorm ! Great if you’re looking for a party house but not if you want a peaceful night.
LIVING IN KOREA
KEB, Daegu Bank, Citibank are banks which have online account access and management for foreigners. I had a KEB, Daegu Bank and Nonghyup Bank (the latter is what the EPIK program set us up with), but KEB is the best for foreigners. They have a low fee to send money home. They also have a PC and Mac computer program where you can access your money and do transfers wherever you’re at. NH has been helpful; they issue a debit card which acts as an ATM card and allows me to make store purchases like a credit card; KEB is similar. Daegu Bank has the most limitation. More great information for expats on banking here.
Transferring money overseas (back home):
NH charges 15,500 for under approx $5,000 bank transfers; 18,000W for under $10,000 transfers. This is slightly cheaper than DB which charges 23,000W for approximately $2,000-5,000 bank transfers and 28,000W for approx $5,000,000-10,000,000 W transfers.
*You will need to take your bank routing number, checking account, home bank address and contact details. Also take your passport, ARC and proof of work contract at your school.
Mobile carrier services
KT/ SK Telecom/ LG (read my blog on “Getting a Korean phone…“)
NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES (by AIRPORT CODE):
From SEL: China (PEK, Shanghai), TPE, Japan (OSA, TYO, NRT), SIN, KUL, BKK, MNL, GUM, Bali, DEL
Alt Airports: PUS, TAE
FOOD: VEGAN/ VEGETARIAN
iherb.com (order online and have groceries shipped to you)
Loving Hut (chain of vegan restaurants)
Ashleys Restaurant Buffet: Not vegan but can sometimes offer a wealth of vegetarian and western options.
Korea has really cheap and good health care and it’s making its way to being one of the key countries for medical tourism, dental and plastic surgery.
Medical Tourism Promotion Center – Tel: +82-2-1330
Operating Hours: 09:00 – 18:00 (365 days)
Daegu Directory of English speaking Medical practices
Daegu’s Transportation Information- Bus, Metro, Express Bus, etc..
More on Daegu’s Transportation Information (* decodes some of the bus terminals)
Jeonjagwan (전자관) plaza- electronics plaza similar to Yongsan electronics mall in Seoul. It is located just down from EXCO and Costco. Take a train to Dongdaegu Station and catch a cab from there.
English speaking Travel Agents in Korea:
Xanadu Travel: 02-795-7771
Shoe String Travel: 02-333-4151
Zenith Travel: XXX has had problems with cheating it’s customers (see comment and article link below)
Tour Joy: 02-776-9871
Note: some expats will even book at E-Mart & Homeplus travel agencies.