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Travel Information

KOREA
 

National Holidays in Korea

Korea officially follows the Gregorian calendar, even though there are still few holidays that are based on the lunar calendar. During the official holidays, offices and banks are closed but palaces, museums, most restaurants, department stores, and amusement facilities are open.

Timezone

The table below shows the time differences between Korea and Major U.S. Cities. Korea does not participate in Daylight Savings, so there is no time change within Korea,

Traditions

HANOK

Hanok refers to houses built in the traditional Korean style. While tile-roofed and thatch-roofed hanoks were equally common, the former were typically noblemen residences while the latter were mostly houses of the commoners in the past. These days, most traditional hanok that are still used for housing have modern facilities installed within.

HANSIK

Hansik refers to traditional Korean food, centered on rice, served alongside a bowl of soup and a variety of side dishes. Most dishes use meat and vegetables as the main ingredients, and are boiled or steamed in brine or water rather than fried in oil, making hansik very healthy. More than anything else, hansik's most outstanding feature is the amount of fermented foods. The most well-known are kimchi (fermented cabbage), ganjang (soy sauce), doenjang (soybean paste), and gochujang (Korean chili paste).

HANBOK

Hanbok is the traditional attire of the Korean people. Worn daily up until just 100 years ago, hanbok comes in various shapes and colors, reflecting the culture and lifestyle of the its time. Nowadays, it is only worn on special occasions or anniversaries. It is a formal wear and many Koreans keep a hanbok for such occasions.

Seasons

Korea has four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. The changing of seasons also means changing of attires. With temperatures varying greatly by season, it is important to dress for the weather. Here are the essential items for each season.

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Spring

March to May

Summer

June to August

Autumn

September to November

Winter

December to February

When is the best time to visit Korea?

The best time of year to visit South Korea is generally considered to be the spring months of April, May & June, and the autumn months of September, October & November. During these two seasons days are typically sunny and dry with comfortable average temperatures.

Travel Visa

Visitors entering the Republic of Korea (South Korea) must hold a valid passport and visa to enter the country. Nationals of visa waiver or visa-free countries may enter the country without a visa for tourism purposes only. Nationals of non-visa waiver countries must apply for visas at the nearest Korean embassy or consulate prior to entering the Republic of Korea.

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Currency

Korea’s currency is the won (₩).

There are Four types of Paper money, comes in denominations of 1,000; 5,000; 10,000; and 50,000 won bills.

Six types of Coins come in 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, and 500 won.

☆ 1 and 5 won coins are not widely circulated.

Currency Exchange

Most banks offer currency exchange services. Government-certified currency exchange booths also offer exchange outside of regular banking hours, and are usually located in areas frequented by international visitors. Certified booths have a sign with the word “Certified” and currency symbols. Visitors should avoid exchanging money at uncertified booths.

Global Tax-Free

In Korea, a 10 percent VAT is added on to the price of many purchases. At stores displaying a “Tax Free” sign, foreigners are eligible for a tax refund on purchases greater than 30,000 won.

1. Purchase merchandise of total value greater than 30,000 won at stores displaying the “Tax Free” sign.

2. Show your passport and ask for a refund check when paying.

3. Present your passport, refund check, receipt, and unopened merchandise at airport customs when leaving the country.

4. Receive your cash, check, or credit card refund at the refund counter located near the departure gates.

Connectivity

Internet Access

Internet access is widely available throughout Seoul. Airports, hotels, public facilities such as subway and railway stations, and many restaurants and cafés have Wi-Fi, LAN Internet access, or both. You can even connect to the Internet on KTX trains. You can also go to an Internet café, called a "PC bang,” or PC room, which are found in most commercial and residential areas of the city.

WiFi

Wireless Internet is widely available in Seoul, which boasts nearly 10,000 free Wi-Fi hot spots. Public service centers and institutions such as transit centers, airports, libraries, hospitals, universities, and even many tourist spots offer free public access. Most hotels, stores, cafés, restaurants, and even taxis offer complimentary Wi-Fi access, although you may have to ask for the password or log in to their system.

Etiquette

General Etiquette

1) Take your shoes off at the door when entering any residence, temple, or guesthouse.

2) Greet people you meet with a short bow—essentially a nod—and soft handshake using both hands.

3) Give and receive any object using both hands.

4) Tipping is not customary in Korea, however, some people may receive it while some may refuse. Just go with the flow!

Dining Etiquette

1) Start your meal once the eldest at the table begins eating.

2) Avoid touching food with your fingers, except when wrapping food in lettuce/cabbage.

3) Refrain from leaving your chopsticks or spoon sticking up from your bowl of rice, and use a spoon to eat rice. 4) Place chopsticks and spoon back in their original position at the end of the meal.

Traveler Support / Emergency Contact

1330 Korea Travel Hotline

Knowledgeable and helpful staff provide assistance in Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, or Malay to ensure each caller has a worry-free travel experience. The KTO's 1330 Korea Travel Hotline provides information and services for most regions of Korea as well as interpretation services.

Tourist Complaint Center

Did you experience any inconveniences while travelling in Korea? The Korea Tourism Organization is here to help you. Please let them know about any inconveniences, suggestions or compliments you had during your stay in Korea.

Medical Emergencies

In the event of an accident or a medical emergency Contact the police at 112 or emergency medical help at 119. If you ask for an ambulance in English, one will be sent to your location. If you have travel accident insurance coverage, contact your insurance provider.

Help Me 119 Service

You can dial 119 from anywhere in Korea, and your location will be automatically identified. Hours of operation : 24 hours/day, 365 days/year Available in 16 languages, including English, Chinese, and Japanese.

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