South Korea Tours & Travel | Intrepid Travel US (2022)

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Re-appearing on the world's travel radars, South Korea has emerged from history as a dynamic destination full of spirit and surprises.

Enchanting travelers with temples full of mystique, markets brimming with divine handicrafts and some of the most underrated cuisine in the world - isn't it about time you surrendered to South Korea's charms?

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South Korea travel highlights

South Korea holiday information

At a glance
Capital city:Seoul
Population:48.6 million
Language:Korean
Currency:KRW
Time zone:(GMT+09:00) Seoul
Electricity:Type C (European 2-pin) Type E (French 2-pin, female earth) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
Dialing code:+82

Best time to visit South Korea

South Korea Tours & Travel | Intrepid Travel US (9)

Autumn and spring are considered the optimal times to visit South Korea, as the extreme temperatures that are present during summer and winter can make travel uncomfortable at times. During autumn and spring expect moderate temperatures, a mild climate and less rain and humidity than at other times.

Geography and environment

South Korea Tours & Travel | Intrepid Travel US (10)

South Korea is located at the south end of the Korean Peninsula, between the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea. Separated from Japan by the Korea Strait and demarcated from the state of North Korea by Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), South Korea's terrain is a mix of flat lowlands and forested mountains. The coasts of South Korea are rocky and jagged, with thousands of islands (mostly inhabitable) scattered off the coastline.

(Video) 30 Things to Do and Know about Seoul - South Korea Travel Guide

Top 5 Culinary Delicacies of Korea

South Korea Tours & Travel | Intrepid Travel US (11)

1. Bibimbap

As one of Korea's standout dishes, bibimbap is a tasty concoction of meat, vegetables, egg and rice. Soy sauce, chili paste, garlic and sesame oil all add flavor to this amazingly colorful dish found everywhere in Korea.

2. Kimchi

Kimchi is hailed as a nutritional powerhouse - packing a healthy punch of nutrients, vitamins and beneficial bacteria that makes it one of the world's healthiest superfoods. But most people don't eat these fermented vegetables for health reasons - it's the uniquely, tasty flavor and versatility that makes kimchi so popular in Korean cooking.

3. Jeon

These delicious, savory pancakes are a standard of Korean cuisine. With hundreds of different varieties, jeon can be served with red meat, chicken, seafood, vegetables, tofu and even edible flowers.

4. Gimbap

Similar to sushi, these highly popular rice-based morsels feature fish, beef or crab, wrapped in seaweed with pickled or fresh vegetables. Available all over Korea, they are the perfect snack on the run or quick, cheap lunch to enjoy between sightseeing.

5. Mandu

Arriving in Korea by the way of Mongolia, mandu are essentially boiled, steamed or pan fried dumplings. A cheap, street food favorite, mandu can be filled with everything from pheasant to tofu, cucumber, beef and beyond.

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travelers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travelers check with their government or national travel advisory organization for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to:http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From Canada?

Go to:https://travel.gc.ca/

From UK?

Go to:http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

From New Zealand?

Go to:http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From US?

Go to:http://travel.state.gov/

The World Health Organization

also provides useful health information:
Go to:http://www.who.int/en/

Further reading
TitleAuthor
The Calligrapher's DaughterEugenia Kim
Everlasting EmpireYi In-hwa
Peace Under HeavenChae Man-Sik
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North KoreaBarbara Demick
To the Last RoundAndrew Salmon
(Video) S. Korea to no longer require pre-travel COVID-19 tests for inbound travelers starting Saturday

South Korea travel FAQs

Do I need a COVID-19 vaccine to join a trip in South Korea?

Everyone traveling on an Intrepid trip must befullyvaccinatedagainst COVID-19as a condition of carriage. 

All travelersare required to produce:

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination
  • All childrenaged 5to 17 years oldmust provide proof of vaccination(if eligible), proof of recovery or anegative COVID-19 test.
  • If youare unableto be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional. 

In all cases, youmust be fully inoculated. This means you must receive the full dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine and allow enough time for immunity to take effect.Each COVID-19 vaccine has different dosages and timeframes for inoculation, so please check the relevant medical advice associated with your vaccine.

Learn more about Intrepid's COVID-19 proof of vaccination policy

Do I need a visa to travel to South Korea?

SOUTH KOREA
Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: No - not required
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into South Korea. Most travelers do not need visas for Korea for stays of up to 30 days. You must also have an onward or return ticket.

If you are a male of Korean origin whose name appears on the Korean family register, you may be liable for military service even if you are traveling on your foreign passport.

Is tipping customary in South Korea?

Tipping in some establishments (particularly more traditional ones) is considered impolite, and is sometimes indicated with a 'no tipping' sign! Western-style, tourist-orientated places, however, usually welcome and receive tips. Use your discretion.

What is the internet access like in South Korea?

With one of the most developed internet infrastructures in the world, accessing the internet is easy is South Korea. Wi-Fi hot spots and cyber cafes are easily found in the cities, although when traveling in remote areas please be aware that internet access may be harder to find.

Can I use my cell phone while in South Korea?

Travelers should be able to use their cell phones in South Korea's cities and urban areas, as coverage is good. As in other countries, rural and mountainous areas may have less cell phone receptivity. Ensure global roaming is activated with your service provider before leaving home.

What are the toilets like in South Korea?

South Korea has a combination of squat toilets and western-style flushable toilets. It's a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer or soap as these are rarely provided in public toilets.

(Video) South Korea Vacation Travel Video Guide

What will it cost for a…?

Can of soft drink = 2,000 Won
Bottle of local beer = 3,000 Won
Street food meal = 2000-4000 Won
Basic restaurant meal (soup, noodles etc.) = 6000-10,000 Won
Bottle of mid-range wine = 15,000 Won
Sit-down dinner at a nice restaurant = 20,000-40,000 Won

Can I drink the water in South Korea?

Tap water is considered safe to drink in many parts of South Korea unless otherwise marked. Ask your leader for guidance if you are unsure whether to drink tap water in the area you are traveling in.

Are credit cards accepted widely in South Korea?

Credit cards are usually accepted by hotels and large retailers. Smaller shops and restaurants may not accept credit cards, so always carry enough money to cover purchases, as paying with a credit card may not always be an option in South Korea.

What is ATM access like in South Korea?

ATMs are plentiful in large cities and urban centers, although not all ATMs accept foreign cards. Look for Global or Citbank ATMs, which usually accept cards from other countries.

Do I need to purchase travel insurance before traveling in South Korea?

Absolutely. All passengers traveling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to:Travel Insurance

What public holidays are celebrated in South Korea?

1 Jan New Year's Day
27 Jan Seollal
28 Jan Seollal
29 Jan Seollal
1 Mar March 1st Movement / Independence Movement Day
3 May Buddha's Birthday
5 May Children's Day
6 Jun Memorial Day
15 Aug Liberation Day
3 Oct Chuseok / Korean Thanksgiving
3 Oct National Foundation Day (Gaecheonjeol)
4 Oct Chuseok / Korean Thanksgiving
5 Oct Chuseok / Korean Thanksgiving
9 Oct Hangeul Day
25 Dec Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2022. For a current list of public holidays in South Korea go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/south-korea/public-holidays

Responsible Travel

Intrepid is committed to traveling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behavior, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while traveling.

South Korea Tours & Travel | Intrepid Travel US (12)

(Video) Korea Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia

How we're giving back

InSouth Korea, accommodationincluding guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally-run restaurants and markets where travelers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.

FAQs

Can US tourist travel to South Korea? ›

Starting September 1, 2021, U.S. citizens traveling to Korea must have a valid visa or an approved Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) to enter Korea.

How much does Korea tour cost? ›

The cost of a South Korea tour depends upon various factors, such as trip duration, places & attractions covered in your itinerary, transfers, meals, and more. An ideal 6 days holiday to South Korea would cost you between INR 60,000 to INR 65,000 per person.

How many days is enough for South Korea? ›

Even though there's no such thing as the perfect itinerary for Korea, the country is small enough that two weeks is enough time to adjust to the culture change and still have time to enjoy most everything. But if you only have 10 days in Korea (or even fewer), then I highly suggest you start in Seoul.

What is the cheapest time to go to South Korea? ›

High season is considered to be June and July. The cheapest month to fly to South Korea is November. Enter your preferred departure airport and travel dates into the search form above to unlock the latest South Korea flight deals.

Do US citizens need visa for South Korea? ›

For travel after September 1, 2021, you must have a valid U.S. passport and a visa or an approved Korea Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) to enter Korea. Most U.S. passport holders traveling to Korea for tourism or business purposes for less than 90 days can obtain a K-ETA.

Is South Korea tourist visa Open 2022? ›

The PVT visas was reestablished from March 15th 2022, and the eligibility for applicants was extended from 30 to 32 years old. Short-term travel visas (C3) and e-visas (visas issued online for foreigners with excellent talents or group tourists) were also open for applications from June 1st, 2022.

What is the best time to visit South 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.

Is Korea expensive to travel to? ›

Price of Accommodation in South Korea. We're going to let you in on a secret – South Korea is a very inexpensive destination! Accommodation in South Korea is not expensive (unlike Japan, which it is often conflated with).

What clothes to wear in Korea in November? ›

Pack for the weather

The weather in spring (March, April and May), and Fall (September, October and November) is cooler, so long-sleeved shirts, pants and a sweater or jacket will work well.

How long is a flight to Korea from USA? ›

Flying time from United States to South Korea

The total flight duration from United States to South Korea is 13 hours, 35 minutes. This assumes an average flight speed for a commercial airliner of 500 mph, which is equivalent to 805 km/h or 434 knots. It also adds an extra 30 minutes for take-off and landing.

How much money do you need for a month in Korea? ›

You should plan to spend around ₩118,323 ($83) per day on your vacation in South Korea, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, ₩30,541 ($21) on meals for one day and ₩17,227 ($12) on local transportation.

How long is a flight to Korea from New York? ›

How long does it take to fly from New York to Seoul? 14 hours and 45 minutes is the average flight time from New York to Seoul.

Is food in Korea expensive? ›

Fortunately, the food price in Korea is exceptionally low (and the food is delicious), making the cost of traveling in South Korea a pretty good deal.

How can I get Korean tourist visa? ›

They have to:
  1. Complete the online South Korea Visa application form.
  2. Pay the fee.
  3. Attach the required documents for the South Korea visa (depending on the reason for your visit)
  4. Wait for the Confirmation of South Korea Visa Issuance. If the application is confirmed:
  5. Print the Confirmation and send it to you.

How much does food cost in Korea? ›

Cost of living in South Korea is, on average, 12.90% lower than in United States.
...
Cost of Living in South Korea.
RestaurantsEdit
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant8,000.00₩
Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant, Three-course50,000.00₩
McMeal at McDonalds (or Equivalent Combo Meal)7,000.00₩
Domestic Beer (1 pint draught)4,000.00₩
62 more rows

Do they speak English in South Korea? ›

People in South Korea generally understand more English than they speak. Even though English is taught in schools, Koreans, by and large, don't get enough opportunities to speak English. Still, Koreans are friendly and helpful, and you should be able to get around, even in less populated areas.

How much bank balance is required for Korean visa? ›

The Embassy doesn't set any minimum balance requirement for visa applications. But ideally, the current balance in your bank account should be commensurate with the length of your stay in Korea. The estimated daily expense for a trip to Korea is Php 10,000 (which already includes airfare and accommodations).

Which countries can enter South Korea without visa? ›

Where Can South Koreans Travel Without a Visa?
CountryAllowed Stay
Switzerland90 days
Taiwan90 days
Thailand30 days
Trinidad and Tobago90 days
53 more rows

How long it takes to get a South Korea visa? ›

You may either submit your visa application in-person at our office during normal business hours or you may submit your application via mail. Processing time. Normally, it takes 2 weeks to process a visa after the application submission.

How long can foreigners stay in Korea? ›

Foreigners can stay in Korea within the limit of status and duration that the visa allows. Foreigners who stay for more than 90 days after their arrival in the Republic of Korea must get registered.

What month is cherry blossom in Korea? ›

See the Cherry Blossoms

The best time to see cherry blossoms in South Korea is during the spring months from the end of March to mid-April.

What is the hottest month in South Korea? ›

The hottest month of the year in Seoul is August, with an average high of 84°F and low of 73°F. The cold season lasts for 3.0 months, from December 1 to February 28, with an average daily high temperature below 44°F.

How many days spend in Seoul? ›

3 days ( 72 hours in Seoul) is a good amount of time to visit the highlights of the city. 4 to 7 days will give you the time to go hiking, to visit more of the beaten path attractions or to take a few day trips from Seoul.

How far does the US dollar go in South Korea? ›

The local currency, the South Korean won (₩) is worth around US$0.0008, which means that for each US dollar, a visitor can obtain around ₩1200. This guide outlines the average costs of hotels, restaurants, and transport options to help visitors work out how much money they need to travel to South Korea.

Is South Korea a good tourist destination? ›

South Korea has become one of the top destinations for travelers to Asia in the last decade or so. It's not as expensive as, say, Japan, but it's also not somewhere you can live on a few pennies each day. It's great for solo travelers and its size means you can see a lot in a relatively short stay.

Can you show your shoulders in Korea? ›

Even though modern Korean fashion is accepting of revealing shoulders, we are more likely to find tops and blouses revealing only one shoulder than both. Shoulders are off-limits still when exposing upper body skin. If we decide to wear a one-shoulder top, we might consider bringing a cardigan or jacket to cover up.

Do Koreans wear leggings? ›

Years later today, leggings and bicycle shorts are now the new hot point of contention as a relatively new fashion trend in Korea, and also perhaps because it is more glaringly noticeable than not wearing a bra.

How do people dress in Korea? ›

Hanbok is the traditional attire of the Korean people. Nowadays, it is only worn on special occasions or anniversaries. It is a formal wear and many Koreans keep a hanbok for such occasions. While the traditional hanbok was beautiful in its own right, the design has changed slowly but surely over the generations.

Why can't Americans go to North Korea? ›

Do not travel to North Korea due to the continuing serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals. Exercise increased caution to North Korea due to the critical threat of wrongful detention.

Which countries can enter South Korea without visa? ›

Where Can South Koreans Travel Without a Visa?
CountryAllowed Stay
Switzerland90 days
Taiwan90 days
Thailand30 days
Trinidad and Tobago90 days
53 more rows

Is South Korea part of NATO? ›

South Korea is not a member of NATO but was invited to the summit along with Japan, Australia and New Zealand as the organisation's Asia-Pacific partners. China has opposed Asia-Pacific nations, including South Korea, attending the NATO gathering.

How much does PCR test cost in Korea? ›

Test Cost for Departure
CategoryPCR Test
WeekdaysWeekends (Weekdays 7AM~9AM / Holidays)
KoreansKRW 96,000KRW 100,000
ForeignersKRW 104,000KRW 110,000

Where are Americans not allowed to travel? ›

North Korea. Chonji lake or 'Heaven lake' is located in the crater of Mount Paektu, which is considered the spiritual birthplace of the Korean nation. Coastal plains crumple into rocky peaks in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the only country on earth the American government forbids US citizens from visiting ...

Do any Americans live in North Korea? ›

Americans in North Korea consist mainly of defectors and prisoners of war during and after the Korean War, as well as their locally born descendants. Additionally, there are occasional tours and group travel which consists of Americans via train or plane from China, some with temporal lodging and stay.

Do North Koreans have Internet? ›

The total number of Internet users is estimated at no more than a few thousand. People who can access the global Internet without limits are claimed to be high-ranking officials, members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government ambassadors. Some access is allowed in North Korea's academic institutions.

How much is visa fee to South Korea? ›

Visa and Service Fees
NationalityUp to 90 days - Single entryOver 90 days - Single entry
USDUSD
German4060
French4060
British130200

How much bank balance is required for Korean visa? ›

The Embassy doesn't set any minimum balance requirement for visa applications. But ideally, the current balance in your bank account should be commensurate with the length of your stay in Korea. The estimated daily expense for a trip to Korea is Php 10,000 (which already includes airfare and accommodations).

How can I get Korean visa from USA? ›

They have to:
  1. Complete the online South Korea Visa application form.
  2. Pay the fee.
  3. Attach the required documents for the South Korea visa (depending on the reason for your visit)
  4. Wait for the Confirmation of South Korea Visa Issuance. If the application is confirmed:
  5. Print the Confirmation and send it to you.

Is South Korea allies with Russia? ›

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, South Korea and Russia established diplomatic ties in 1991. On November 20, 1992 Russia and South Korea signed a protocol providing for regular visits of defence officials and naval vessels between the two countries.

Is South Korea a US ally? ›

South Korea has a long military alliance with the United States, aiding the U.S. in every war since the Vietnam War, and most recently during the Iraq War. At the 2009 G20 London summit, U.S. President Barack Obama called South Korea "one of America's closest allies and greatest friends."

Is South Korea a good place to live? ›

With an easy way of life, bustling city culture mixed with laidback countryside, and a reasonable cost of living, The Land of the Morning Calm is a popular destination for foreigners from across the globe. When moving to South Korea, there are many practicalities to consider.

Do you still need PCR for Korea? ›

With effect from 01 October 2022, the on-arrival PCR test requirement will be lifted. All travellers are still required to register for Q-code on Q-code website (click) prior to entry into Korea. ※ APEC card holders may enter Korea without K-ETA or Visa.

Are masks required in South Korea? ›

Face masks are compulsory indoors and on public transport. Failure to wear a mask can result in a fine of up to 100,000 Korean Won (£62).

Do I need to take a VTL flight to Korea? ›

With effect from 15 November 2021, fully vaccinated travellers will be able to use the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) to travel between Changi Airport and Incheon International Airport without the need to serve quarantine or a Stay Home Notice.

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