3 things to know before going to Korea, you never known, not to mess your travel

You may learn about Korea through dramas, movies and musics. They are interesting enough to bring you to Korea, but Korea still has plenty of mystery to most people outside Korea. In this post, I’d like to let you know 3 things to know before going to Korea. Let’s start!

3 things to know before going to Korea

1. Cash is may not usable.

Cashless store sign on the wall.
A coffee shop posts a sign that indicates they’re cashless store.

Yes, I know, it’s shocking start for you. But it’s true and getting worse. Because of high labor costs.

Kiosks are literally everywhere now, it’s not strange to be faced machines instead of people first at shops. Kiosk is not a vending machine, mostly accept only cards or mobile payment methods. And there’s no contactless support, there must be an IC chip or magnetic reader on your card.

Shops recently built are pursuing no-cash policy, so cash will be unusable on these places. In fact, most young generations(20yrs-30yrs old) use only cards. Trending shops at hot place must have high turnover, cash may interrupt their workflows. Additionally, customers of trending shops are mostly young generations, businesses found a good excuse for reducing their labor costs.

Don’t be disappointing, cash is still usable for most shops. At old markets such as Gwangjang Market, they much prefer cash, you can get discount or good service with that.

You know what? All shops has walls and roof must accept cards in Korea unless illegal. There are only few exceptions, but probably not your case. Taxis also accept, subway ticket too.

2. Hot like Africa, Cold like North Pole.

What? Is it sounds terrible? That’s true.

Korea isn’t that extreme last decades, but getting hotter and colder as earth now. In summer, 37~40 celsius degree is not rare while -15~-20 celsius degree in winter. Fortunately, rain and snow are not that often. Koreans need huge closets for strongly colored four seasons.

If you are not familiar extreme climates, should be ready for it. Reduce walking in your plans, keep attention on your health. Prepare shoe spikes and padded coats for November – February, cool clothes and handy fans if needed for June – August. Get rid of something to wait in a line from your itinerary, it isn’t recommended for those months.

Additionally, most part of Korea isn’t good air quality. Air quality is best in summer, others are mostly unhealthy. Of course, sight isn’t clear too. South and east of Korea are better for air quality. Busan and Gangneung is easiest to breathe in Korea.

If you have any breathing problem or a health problem, I recommend you to not walking too long, keep distance from the driveway. Especially in Seoul.

You can check the air quality of Seoul and another part of Korea in this link.


3. Expensive than your expectation.

Korea grew rapidly, so still some people think Korea is cheap, budget travel destination.

Korea costs most likely Singapore and Hong Kong now. On the internet, most informations are outdated by COVID and wars. Cost in Korea is almost 50% increased in several years compare present to 2018, real estate isn’t exception.

$10 isn’t enough for a lunch, however fortunately we don’t have gratuities, tips. If you planned small budget travel, you should carefully redesign your plans. We locals also surprised by prices everyday.

Tteokbokki – $4 <
Bibimbap – $8 <
Samgyeopsal – $10 <

Most Korean dishes costs $8 or more for a person. About street foods, locals don’t buy foods from them. It’s too overpriced, feels like doubled price for its quality.

If you don’t want to get ripped off, franchised shops are best choice. their price are monitored and managed by the government, it can be considered reasonable. Trending shops and small shops, quality may not be satisfied for its price. Locals consider Myeongdong, Insadong, Samcheongdong as expensive tourist places.

These <3 things to know before going to Korea> are quite new, probably you couldn’t found in other articles. The world is changing fast, don’t let old articles mess your trip!