I wouldn’t call myself a pro, but I definitely am pretty good in saving $$. so as you read, you’d probably wanna jot down some notes ;).
it’s always better to book earlier online. 3 months in advance would be cool.
and the website that would be handy will be www.booking.com. the greatest advantage..? it’s not only for Korea. but basically for EVERYWHERE around the globe.
if you’re looking forward to live in guesthouses, I would recommend you to google or search through tripadvisor to read about the comments.
normally, guesthouses in Korea are clean but aren’t exactly too comfortable and are also very very small. I stayed in Namsan Guesthouse which costs me 45,000won per night for a double.
a city filled with glorious food, you’d probably have to get used to the healthy kimchi. what happens would be.. you’d probably stop yourself at a beautiful restaurant with prices even more beautiful.
I’ll have to say, it’s not so advisable. it’s awesome if you could find decent looking restaurants serving typical Korean food like Kimchi Jjigae (kimchi stew), Bibimbap (mixed rice), Dalggalbi (marinated chicken) just to name a few.
price ranges from 4000won-6000won usually. but if you REALLY want to save more. you should find Kimbab Kingdom (a kimbab fast food chain) and order takeaway kimbab (seaweed rolls) which are usually 1500won for take away. ramen would cost around the same too. so no point eating it there when you could get them here.
there’s also an 8000won BBQ buffet in Sinchon! read my post here.
as for my muslim friends : Halal restaurants are really expensive and I also heard that it sucks. so just become a vegan for a few days =S. there are plenty of vegan stores! and is very delicious too according to what I heard!
T MONEY CARD is a MUST BUY. it’s like our Touch and Go. sold in various forms and it can usually be found at all convenience stores or at the subway itself. you can use it for subways and buses; saving you at least 100won per trip.
the most precious thing being overseas would be TIME. so having this, it really saves you A LOT OF TIME.
buses in Korea are pretty complicating as it’s in Korean most of the time so it’s either you learn how to read Korean/print out Korean alphabets if not, just take the subway where English is widely used for the convenience of foreigners.
LANGUAGE BARRIER :
so far, I’ve walked around alone countless times even in Japan where I know nothing about their language. it isn’t that scary, really.
normally, Koreans do not speak English AT ALL. they might understand simple English better when typed though. so for your own safety, it’s a MUST to carry the address of where you’re staying where ever you go. as for shopping in places where prices are not stated, do bring a calculator or so for them to key the prices in for you.
here’s a list of words you SHOULD memorise as a form of respect to them :
Hello : an-nyeong ha-se-yo
Thank You : gam-sa-ham-ni-da
How much? : ol-ma-ye-yo?
Bye : bbai-bbai << they’d understand =).
Yes : ne/ye
No : a-ni-yo
Toilet : hwa-jang-sil (incredulously important)
Left : when-jjok
Right : o-reun-jjok
Straight : i-jjok
speaking about toilets, there are very very very little public toilets in outdoor shopping areas. so just go to any fast food store, head up to the 2nd floor(where it usually is) and use their toilet. any building is fine =). so the best is that you settle your business at the subways. =D.
you’d probably already know the usual Asian etiquette of not wearing shoes into homes, never eat before an elder etc. but in Korea, there are really a few where you have to pay attention to.
DO NOT :
1. wear shorts which are quite short (esp when it ain’t summer), you’d find people talking about you around =S.
2. take your own sweet time in taking pictures. always do it fast. taking more than a few shots and the ajumma’s (aunties) will start to grumble.
3. you hold your chopsticks with your right hand. but you also hold your spoon with your right hand. get what I mean?
4. share food in commercialised places like Itaewon, Insadong etc. (means order a set for every person) they might probably slam your food onto the table and spoil your mood.
5. order one person’s BBQ meat because the usual minimum is TWO person.
6. pour your own drink if you’re not alone.
7. drink facing somebody elder. always turn to the side.
8. take photographs of artsy stuff which are for sale. do it secretly =X.
9. laugh at a Korean’s English. they are pretty sensitive on that. always respect them as they are trying very hard.
practice some Korean phrases as they’d be very happy to hear you speak their language =D.
Summer (June-Aug) – a lot of cheap shopping for summer clothes! incredulously hot and it rains quite often so please carry an umbrella with you
Autumn (Sept-Nov) – peak season for the pretty autumn maple leaves will usually be at late October to mid November. no summer clothes for sale. best season for photography. seldom rains. pretty cold.
Winter (Dec-Feb) – snows. skiing is the best activity. beautiful but very cold. many spots might not be available. not recommended for the old.
Spring (Mar-May) – good season for photography. awesome season to visit Jeju Island. Sakura Season on early April. not too hot. just right =).
I’ll answer (and add them into this post) any questions you have so please leave it on the comment box =D.
please proceed to my Travel page to view the other topics on Korea. =)