Hi an American, here!
I speak Korean well enough for people to think I live there @.@.
I also went this Summer and have a lot to say cuz… well foreigners and non-foreigners are different. A lot friends and relatives they had NO IDEA cuz they’re nationals.
Check your embassy to see if they have things they require of you. If the tourism bureau fails you, you can prolly use your country’s embassy for help. BTW. If you commit a crime or end up in anything that warrants a police station visit, be prepared for them to make you go to your country’s embassy.
You need to download:
Smarter subway- yes the app is in Korean, but it tells you how to go anywhere via the public transit system and how much it costs.
Don’t exchange your money at the airport.
Go to the Chosun Bank in Seoul Station. Try to get a Korean to do it for you cuz… I’m not sure if they’ll want to rip you off (common theme in Korea). I know they have the best exchange rates for foreign currency.
Cell phones. You can’t buy a sim card in Korea. But just incase do unlock your phone.
Korea like Turkey uses a white-list system. Which means phone numbers have to be given permission to be active. To fill up a sim card, one needs to be a Korean citizen (where a Korean friend could be handy).
That’s the cheapest way. The only alternative if you don’t have a Korean friend is for you to rent a phone at the airport. It could cost you an arm and a leg.
Don’t get your cellphone service activated at the airport though because they can’t give you complementary wifi from KT. you need to go to a KT store and ASK for the wifi. wait till you get to Seoul from Incheon.
You need to buy a transit card, called “T-money.” You can buy them if you ask where.
Do not use your Korean to ask for directions! I asked where’s the main road and they stared at me like I had three heads with the look of why don’t you know?! cuz I don’t live here that’s why! Use English to ask for directions.
Hospitals. If you have a condition, check out which hospitals can treat you. Carry a card with the instructions emergency personnel need to help you. if you can’t find them ask your super specialist. Check your insurance policy. For example there’s only three adult congenital heart disease centers in Korea and I happened to go when there were MERS (didn’t go to Kangnam cuz MERS was the rage). So I could only go to one hospital in Seoul. The other one was in Sejong City. Look into this. It’s important.
Do install Blue Ribbon, again unfortunately it’s in Korean, but any Korean can tell you what it says.
It’s basically yelp. Naver and google unfortunately are useless in the restaurant dept (unless you’re looking at non-Korean reviews) because the restaurants pay off bloggers to rave about their places.
If you go to the tourism website there’s a toll free number that you can call if you’re stuck. The speaker on the telephone works for the gov’t bureau for tourism and can translate/get you what you need. In general if you need help just ask these people. They’re paid to help you.
Don’t! Order strange things in Myungdong unless the restaurant specializes in it. There’s been articles about how they make a killing scalping tourists (e.g. only eat pork dishes in the restaurant specializing in pork. don’t order your kimbob there. It will taste terrible and is overpriced on purpose just for tourists).
Do go to Jayeon Byulgok. It is a traditional Korean-style buffet directly managed by CJ group (yes the same parent corporation as CJ Ent.). Go on weekdays cuz it’s cheaper. It was like 9,900 won per person. The food is so good!!! I think it’s 17,000 won per person on weekends.
Ask your Korean-French friends about Korea as much as possible. I guess it would be ideal if I was Korean-French, but I’m Korean-American sorry
They’ll be your best bet because their comparisons and expectations ratings etc. would be similar to yours and will def give you more relatable advice.
Free wifi in Korea is a lie because only Olleh (KT) customers can use it. @.@ You can use free wifi if it’s complementary to customers or if it’s starbucks your hotel etc. But the free wifi you always see? NOPE for Olleh customers only same for trains. Olleh wifi in trains.
Seoul Metro and buses don’t run past 10:30 pm. Plan accordingly.
In addition, taxis have a high likelihood of scamming you so check out an app to check the rates.
Do go to the Duty-Free Lotte Store at the Shinsegae Mall in Myungdong.
Myungdong also has a lot of cute cat cafe’s etc. Myungdong will be crowded always. but even more so on weekends. Avoid!!
Idk about French customs, but US customs don’t check for anything.
Look into that if you’re interested in taking things that aren’t exactly legal.