How Do I Prepare for a Trip to South Korea

how to prepare for south korea

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, South Korea was blossoming into one of the next great tourist destinations in Asia. In 2009, the country received just over seven million international visitors. Just a decade later, in 2019, that number leaped to over 17 million.

Travelling to South Korea During the Coronavirus

The upward trend was expected to continue, so much so that South Korean tourism officials set in motion the revamping of their visa application system by beginning the process of implementing an online e-Visa, aiming for a launch sometime towards the end of 2021. The application will include a variety of documents required for a South Korean visa, including filling out an application form and having a valid passport. Fortunately, many travellers who will be required to apply for the e-Visa when it rolls out currently are not required to apply for a visa before entering South Korea. With that in mind, the following preparations should be considered by anyone who would like to visit South Korea.

South Korea’s initial reaction to COVID-19

As is the case with every country in the world at the moment, South Korea is still engaged in dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus. For a number of months, officials took the precautionary measures of shutting down the borders for international travel so they could focus on stamping out the virus that already existed inside of the country. When borders were re-opened to receive international visitors, it was done so on a strictly limited basis. There was no proverbial opening of the floodgates as government health officials didn’t wish to hinder the progress that the country had initially made.

What happens to travellers now that the border is open?

To best protect its citizens, the South Korean government implemented a strict policy for travellers who are entering the country. Every traveller that enters South Korea must quarantine for fourteen days. This is crucial to factor in for any decision-making process for people preparing for a South Korean trip. Any person who is travelling to South Korea and does not have documented proof of residency (be it their own or a familiar home) to carry out their quarantine, they will immediately be shuttled from the airport to a government facility for the two weeks that they are required to keep to themselves.

Further Preparations for South Korean Travel

Travelling during the pandemic is challenging. The preparations that visitors to South Korea should make are the same ones that they should already be taking in their day to day lives. The best way to avoid contracting the disease is to not be exposed to other people, something that is nearly impossible while flying. Still, the typical precautions of vigorously and frequently washing your hands, using antibacterial liquid gel, and utilizing a facemask will greatly reduce the risk of getting the coronavirus both en route to South Korea and once there. For the latest information on what the current situation is in South Korea, plus all of the government guidelines and restrictions, you can visit this page here.

Understanding South Korean Culture

South Korea, with its enormous population, has a tremendously strong culture. Outsiders may be surprised by some of the customs, but it is important to familiarize yourself with as many of the customs as possible before travelling. For example, it is customary to remove your shoes when entering a home. While many Koreans are familiar with the way Westerners keep their shoes on, it is best to always make an effort to adapt to your surroundings. It may be shocking for some visitors to see Koreans using their middle finger as Westerners use their index finger. Fear not, this is not an insult, it is simply a different way of indicating. Overall, Korean culture is marked by being respectful and traditional.

Eating in South Korea

South Korean food is revered around the world. However, people from Western countries who are not familiar with the cuisine may be surprised by what is offered. Here are a few common foods a traveller can expect to find:

  • Kimchi is typically thought of as being fermented cabbage with sweet and spicy flavours. In reality, kimchi is a way of fermentation that can be applied to myriad vegetables. It is often an accompaniment;
  • Bibimbap is a bowl that offers a complete meal. Anything can be added to bibimbap, but the dish is typically comprised of beef, vegetables, and rice;
  • Koreans love barbecue. One of their favourite dishes to cook is bulgogi, which is grilled marinated beef;
  • Hoeddeok can be thought of as a Korean pancake. It is popular during the colder winter months and can be found on the streets sold by vendors. It has a slightly crunchier outside but the inside will remind Westerners of their favourite memories of fluffy pancakes.

Author Bio: Abhirup Banerjee is an experienced content writer. He is associated with many renowned travel blogs as a guest author where he shares his valuable travel tips with the audience.

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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