Here are 5 things that I would have liked to know before traveling to Seoul, Korea. I hope these little tidbits of advice will help you out!
1. T-Money Card
If you know that you are going to be using the subway or bus for the majority of your stay in Seoul, I would recommend buying a T-money card.
Not only will having one save you the hassle of buying a single journey subway/bus ticket for every single ride you take, but you will also be charged less when using the card.
These cards can be found in convenience stores (starting from around ₩2,500) – and you can find some in the airport as well! So, once you get to the airport, you can purchase a T-money card before going to your first destination.
You will be able to “charge” (i.e., put money into) your T-money card at subway stations, and I believe also at convenience stores. Although, I am not a 100% sure about the latter as I always charged my card at the subway stations.
2. There are washrooms EVERYWHERE
“Why is this important Iman?” “Why would you even care?”
Well… I know that whenever I go to European countries I find myself stressing over the fact that I have to pay to go to bathrooms (and so, I try not to drink liquids and try to schedule my day around my bathroom breaks – silly, I know).
However, not only are there an abundance of free bathrooms in Seoul, but they are also so well taken care of! I can’t think of a time where I went into a public bathroom and it was not clean.
3. There is a lack of garbage cans
Know ahead of time that if you have to throw something out (e.g., a container that your take-out food was in), you may have a harder time finding a garbage can than if you were in another country.
In Canada, there is an abundance of garbage cans all around. You don’t need to worry about having to carry your garbage around with you because you will find a garbage can every few minutes.
However, the opposite is the case in Seoul. I did see some garbage cans in the subway stations, and I did see one or two in the streets – but in my opinion, they are so uncommon!
HOWEVER – this in no way means that the streets of Seoul are filthy. In all the countries that I have visited, there is no doubt in my mind that Seoul has been one of the cleanest.
4. Easy to navigate
In Seoul, I would say that 99.9% of signs also have English written on them. Not only that, but the subways also announce each station in English (and Japanese, and Chinese).
So, don’t worry about not being able to find your destination. (However, I would also recommend that you try learning the Korean alphabet before going on your trip – it is simple to learn and will help you very much when you do see subway stop names written in Korean)
The subway and bus system in Seoul is also magical. You can literally get wherever you want in a decent amount of time with the least amount of hassle.
5. People will help
Okay, so say you do get lost – what do you do?
The people, although they may not be able to communicate with you (if you don’t know Korean that is), will help you.
Everyone I asked for help was so amazing. Even though I only knew very few words in Korean (and had horrible pronunciation of the words I did know), they still tried to help me get to my destination. One lady even got off at the bus stop I was wanting to get off at and walked me to the subway station I was looking for!
I hope these five tips/facts were helpful! Let me know if there’s anything else you would like to add to this list!