July 21, 2016 Danny Bamboat

8 Things You Need to Know When Travelling to Korea

After taking an awesome tour with BAMtravels, I was shocked at how different the culture in South Korea was. It was my first time travelling to Asia and I didn’t know what to expect. Here are 8 things you need to know when travelling to Korea.

1. Shopping as a foreigner

Woman wearing gray shirt and black pants standing in busy shopping street in Seoul

Shopping in the lively streets of Hongdae.

Shopping in Hongdae, Seoul is perfect for all your gift and personal shopping because they have everything! And its cheap! The only thing is there is only ONE SIZE called “free size” as the majority of Koreans are petite. So if you have slight curves or any other body type, good luck trying to find anything that’ll fit. I even experienced workers tell me I cannot try on clothes, some would even put the items back on the shelf. LOL!

2. The friendly people & safety

South Koreans are very friendly people. At times, they tend to keep to themselves and pay you no attention. So, you can walk through Seoul alone after a night out partying and you feel safe because no one will try to approach you. Zero creepy vibes!

3. Nature, scenery, and beaches?!

Secluded waterfall pouring into clear blue water in forest

Beautiful secluded waterfall on Jeju Island.

When we left the city, I was not expecting the amount of nature surrounding Seoul. There are huge mountains, valleys, rice fields, and rivers. This made it perfect for outdoor activities such as bike riding, hiking, and ATV-ing. Also, we visited Jeju Island where we swam in the China Sea and dipped into an icy waterfall. Who knew Korea had this much to offer?

4. Clean environment

Clean streets and sidewalks with trees lining them in Seoul

The clean streets of Yeonnam-dong in Seoul.

Despite the smog, Seoul is a clean city. I have never felt less grossed out by public washrooms until I used the ones in Korea. The stalls feel like your own private bathroom, fully equipped with plastic around the toilet rim and a bidet (to keep you extra clean). Although there is a lack of garbage cans, there is surprisingly no litter and the subways feel clean.

5. Food – cafes, bars, restaurants

Cup of cappuccino on wooden table

Cappuccino at Cafe Ronin

I never thought I’d ever say this, but Korea by far has the best coffee ever! There are so many different cafes serving the most delicious coffees, hot or iced. Also, there are tons of different themed bars. If you’re not feeling the Korean cuisine, you can still have pizza, mexican, jerk chicken and more. Let’s not forget, there is no ‘last call’ at bars and public drinking is the norm.

6. Beauty standards

If you’re an ethnic foreigner, don’t bother entering make-up stores. You’ll only find extremely light shades from foundation, eye shadow, lipstick, and blush. Koreans consider light skin to be beautiful. Girls casually walk down the street with bandaged faces is not surprising as plastic surgery is popular.

7. Pollution

Girl with white tank top and shorts standing in front of Korean traditional palace

Hazy mountains in the background.

I was shocked when I landed as I was flying in clear blue skies and landed in a cloudy city. The pollution mainly comes from China and at times you can barely see anything around you. Sometimes I forgot that there were huge mountains in the distance as the smog covered them. However, it doesn’t affect how amazing Korea is.

8. Convenience stores

Colorful packages of noodles in Korean convenience store

So many choices!

Hence the name ‘convenience store,’ the ones in Korea offer the coolest things for on-the-go. They sell coffee in bags that you pour over a cup of ice. You can also get ramen noodles in cups that you can make and eat on the spot. I tried ice cream in a pouch so your hands don’t get all sticky as well. Also, their unique snack flavours are endless!

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