9 Things You Must Know Before Your Korea Trip

Korea is a beautiful and interesting place to visit. There are a lot of tourist attractions and activities that you can do while you are there. If you are planning a trip to Korea anytime soon, we have prepared a list of things which is important for you to know before you start traveling.

Some of these things include knowing about food, the Korean culture, and more. Below are the 9 things you must know before your Korea trip.

1. Spiced based dishes

Korean Food

One thing to remember before traveling to Korea is that most of their dishes are spicy. Some of the most popular dishes are Kimchi (Fermented Vegetable), Bibimbap (Mixed Rice), Bulgogi (Marinated Beef Barbecue), Japchae (Stir Fried Noodles), Hoeddeok (Sweet Syrupy Pancakes), Ddukbokkie (Spicy Rice Cake).

What these dishes have in common, is that all of them are based on spices. Kimchi, for example, is one of Korea’s oldest dish. It is spicy and sour at the same time, and its main ingredient is cabbage.

2. Roadside Stalls aren’t always your cheapest option

Korean Street Food

A quick snack may be cheaper than a whole meal if you buy it at different roadside stalls in Korea. However, if you plan on eating out these roadside stalls aren’t as cheap as they look. Even though the Korean government has been trying to close most of these stalls because of hygiene and health reasons, there are still many functioning in Korea.

If you plan on eating a full meal in one of these roadside stalls, the price may be pretty high. It is pretty much the same as eating at a restaurant, and in most cases even more expensive.

It is a pretty good experience to eat once or twice, but keep in mind that you might not want to spend all of your money on roadside stalls.

3. Koreans have some specific table manners

Korean Table Manners

When eating with Koreans or at a Korean restaurant, there are a few table manners that would be good to know before your trip to Korea. For example:

  • You shouldn’t blow your nose at the dinner table
  • You shouldn’t pick up your rice bowl when you are eating. Even though this is common in Chinese and Vietnamese culture, Koreans are slightly more different.
  • When eating with chopsticks, do not leave them sticking outside of your rice bowl.
  • Before eating other dishes, you must firstly drink soup.
  • You should not leave any food on your spoon while you are eating.

4. The bill is usually at your table already

When eating at a Korean restaurant, be sure to know that you probably have the bill at your table.

In most cases, the bill will be attached on the side or underneath the table, so you don’t need to ask for the bill to be brought to you after you have finished your meal.

But you also need to consider that you need to pay in cash up front rather than at your table. This is slightly more different than in other countries.

5. Tipping isn’t mandatory

Tipping

Giving someone money as a way of thanking and rewarding them for their great services is quite popular in many places around the world.

While tipping is required in many states, and especially in the US, Korea is a no-tipping state.

Tipping isn’t part of their culture. Taxi drivers and restaurant or hotel staff don’t expect any reward for their services. They will gladly accept a praise of their good services, but they don’t specifically expect you to tip them.

This can also help in saving money during your trip so you can spend it on other things.

6. The terrain is a little tricky to walk on

Korean Walking

If you’re planning to travel to Korea, you need to know that its terrain isn’t as easy to walk on as it is in other countries.

Korea has a lot of steep hills and natural slopes, and it is a good idea for you to take comfortable shoes if you plan to walk a lot. Seoul and Busan, two cities in Korea, have huge transportation systems.

You also need to walk up and down a lot of stairs to move in their underground subway. Even though they have installed elevators, it is sometimes quicker to walk from train to train.

In most cities of Korea, you can travel to a lot of places via their public transport. However, if you plan to go shopping, it is advised to wear comfortable clothes and shoes because you will have to walk quite a lot from place to place.

7. People drive on the right-hand side of the road

Another fact to know about Korea before you visit is that people drive on the right-hand of the road.

This is because of the deep American influences that Korea has. Depending on where you come from, this might be a little strange for you if you are used to driving on the left-hand side.

8. The palaces of Korea are closed on Mondays

Korean Palace

The palaces of Korea are an exceptional tourist attraction. Some of the most famous palaces are Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Changgyeong Palace and Gyeonghui Palace.

If you do not intend to visit these magnificent attractions with a tour group, think about the opening and closing hours of these Palaces. They are usually closed on every Monday. So when planning your trip to Korea, do some double-checking and schedule your itinerary so that you don’t waste a few hours just to find out that one of the palaces is closed.

9. You need to check in at the airport 2 hours earlier

Incheon Airport

The queue at the International Airport is almost always very long. The airport requires passengers to check in 2 hours before departure.

Arriving only half an hour late may result in you missing your flight. If possible, come to the airport earlier. You also have to acknowledge that there are queues for the tax refund process.

Another problem you may encounter is having your flight at a far gate. You probably need to take the airport train all the way to the gate. So be sure to arrive extra early to the airport to complete the necessary procedures in time for your flight.

Conclusion

Whenever you plan your next trip to Korea, you should acknowledge that Koreans have some cultural rules which are different from other countries.

With the help of these 10 tips, you can prepare your trip ahead and know what to expect. It is important to respect these rules and be well informed about Korea’s culture so that you can have a great experience with fewer problems.
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