Traveling is on everyone’s bucket list right now. For the financial savvy people, they probably even have a savings account tucked away for just this specific purpose.
Under all that glamour and selfies and photo shoots and what have yous, lies the nitty gritty but also exciting part of traveling – planning. No matter how much you plan or not plan, you will inevitably encounter something frustrating when visiting a different country especially one where you don’t know anyone. You may experience being trapped in a language barrier, getting lost in their intricate transportation systems, losing valuable items (hope not!), etcetera.
Well I and my friends are here to guide you through some of the twists and turns we’ve experienced in Korea. It’s a beautiful and lovely country and we had so much fun there! Will make a post highlighting everything good in Korea but let me tell you the things we wished we knew before going to Seoul, Korea. These tips could have saved us some time and money but don’t worry folks, we’ve charged it to experience so you don’t have to.
1. Learn and PRACTICE speaking and writing some Korean words (or learn Mandarin as well)
Every site about travel must have suggested downloading a good Korean-English phrase app or get a good phrase book but nothing will prepare you to the real world if you don’t practice it at home. Simple things such as learning the Korean words for the different kinds of food, calling the attention of the waiter, asking for directions are a must because, hardly no one speaks English in Korea and they have the oddest subway signs. It is a PAIN to get lost and also ordering food because either you look like an idiot to them because you don’t know the difference of grilling skirt meat and pork belly or you look ridiculous to yourself. So yes, bringing the app and practicing Korean before you leave, IS A MUST. Also do download GOOGLE TRANSLATE. It saved our lives when we had to translate pictures with words on them.
Some useful phrases:
Cho-gi-yo = Call Attention to the waiter
Kam-saham-ni-da = Great thanks!
Why learn Mandarin? Because the Chinese tourists are taking over everywhere! Salesladies in beauty shops already know how to speak Mandarin so conversing with them was pretty okay despite not speaking English.
2. Note the difference between ITX and Korail (IMPORTANT FOR NAMI ISLAND TRANSPORTATION)
Download the app SUBWAY for a good map of the Korean subway system.
We learned this the hard way when we went to Nami Island. After researching how to go there, we knew that it required 2 transfers of trains. We just didn’t realize that the last transfer was moving to a different provincial train line and required separate and different tickets. What we also didn’t know is you had to purchase these tickets prior to boarding (we actually sat in the train before realizing we had to buy tickets. You could just go in the trains without swiping a card or ticket) and you had to tap your T-money on a specific side of the machine that will prompt your card that you have disembarked the Korail.