BasicsTime: GMT +9
Electricity: Electric current is 220 volts, 60Hz. Two-pin, round plugs are standard.
Money: The official currency is the South Korean Won (KRW). Currency can be exchanged at most banks and at casinos. Most merchants in the cities accept major credit cards but Koreans traditionally prefer cash. ATMs at banks are usually accessible only during banking hours and instructions on the machines are generally only in Korean. Most public ATMs at convenience stores and subway stations are available 24 hours. Dollars are accepted in a limited number of major locations and hotels.
Currency Exchange Rates
Language: The official language is Korean.
Entry requirements for Americans: A valid passport is required for entry. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days.
Entry requirements for UK nationals: A valid passport is required for entry. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days.
Entry requirements for Canadians: A valid passport is required for entry. A visa is not required for stays of up to six months.
Entry requirements for Australians: A valid passport is required. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days.
Entry requirements for South Africans: A valid passport is required. A visa is not required for stays of up to 30 days.
Entry requirements for New Zealand nationals: A valid passport is required. A visa is not required for stays of up to 90 days.
Passport/Visa Note: All visitors require a valid passport, a return or onward ticket, sufficient funds, all documents for the next destination and a contact address in South Korea. Those requiring a visa should obtain one from a Korean Embassy or Consulate before entering the country or, if they qualify, apply for an e-visa and carry their Electronic Visa Issuance Confirmation. Visas are not required for passengers holding APEC Business Travel Cards, provided the back of the card states validity for travel to South Korea. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
Travel Health: There are no required vaccinations for entry to South Korea and standards of medical care are high. Payment for treatment is usually expected in advance. Travel insurance with provision for repatriation is recommended. Typhoid inoculations are recommended for those who plan to spend prolonged periods in rural areas. There is a small risk of malaria is rural areas. Tap water is chlorinated but may cause stomach upsets, therefore it is preferable to drink bottled water.
Tipping: Tipping is not customary in Korea. Sometimes, expensive restaurants and luxury hotels may add a service charge of 10 percent. Taxi drivers are usually tipped small amounts if they assist with baggage.
Climate: Seoul is classed as having a humid continental/subtropical transitional climate with four distinct seasons. Temperature differences between the hottest part of summer and the depths of winter are extreme. Summer (June to August) brings hot, humid weather with average high temperatures soaring as high as 85°F (29°C) on occasion; in winter (December to February) average low temperatures drop as low as 21°F (-6°C). The most pleasant seasons in the city are spring and autumn, when blue skies and comfortable temperatures are a sure bet. The city experiences heavy rainfall, but most of it falls in the summer monsoon period between June and September.
Safety Information: Most visits to South Korea are trouble-free. The crime rate against foreigners is low, but it is still advisable to use sensible precautions, particularly in safeguarding passports, money and credit cards in crowded areas, and travellers should be cautious, particularly at night, travelling only in legitimate taxis or public transport. The political situation is generally stable but since the Korean peninsula was divided by a demilitarised zone in 1953, tensions have risen and fallen on occasion. It is wise to be informed about current conditions. You should carry some form of identification at all times.
Local Customs: English is not widely spoken or understood, so if you plan to use taxis or other local services it is wise to have instructions written down in Korean. It is advisable to carry some form of identification at all times. Social harmony is crucial, and public anger or criticism that causes an individual to 'lose face' or dignity is a serious breach of etiquette. Koreans will go out of their way to maintain a comfortable situation.
Business: The increase in trade with Western countries has meant that Koreans do not expect visitors to understand all the nuances of their culture; however, attempts to respect traditions are appreciated. Koreans dress conservatively and formally and it is important to do the same. Koreans like to do business with people whom they know and often introductions via a third known party are necessary. Greetings often consist of a bow, followed by a handshake. Introductions are very important and ascertain the hierarchy, often according to age, which is to be observed and respected. Usually the most important person will be introduced first. Greetings and pleasantries in Korean will be appreciated, including 'an-yong-ha-say-yo' (hello), and 'kam-sa-ham-ni-da' (thank you). Business card etiquette is vital: cards should be given and received with both hands, with the details translated from English into Korean or Chinese on the alternate side, and must be treated with the utmost respect. Each one is to be read carefully and the name acknowledged. It is important, when issuing cards, not to stack them or keep them in one's wallet or purse. Koreans are referred to by their surnames or family names first and then their given names second and it is best to ask in advance how to address the person. The giving of gifts is appreciated and often reciprocated. Business hours are generally 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
Communications: The international dialling code for South Korea is +82. Telecommunications are well developed.
Duty free: Travellers (over the age of 19) arriving in South Korea may bring in the following items free of customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco products; 57g perfume; 1 litre of alcohol (only those over 20 years old); and gifts valued at not more than 400,000 won. Products from communist countries are prohibited, as are fruit, seeds and any published or recorded material deemed to be subversive or obscene.
Travel Guide powered by Word Travels, copyright © 2020 Globe Media Ltd. All rights reserved. By its very nature much of the information in this guide is subject to change at short notice and travellers are urged to verify information on which they're relying with the relevant authorities. Neither Globe Media nor The Global Travel Group can accept any responsibility for any loss or inconvenience to any person as a result of information contained above.