12 Tips to Help Travel & Explore Korea

Written by on June 7, 2011 in Travel, Worldwide Korea Bloggers

* This post is written by Asif Q, one of the Korea Blog’s Worldwide Korea Bloggers.

Just thought I should share with people the various ways there are to research and plan events in Korea that I’ve been using

1) Facebook Groups.
There are numerous groups that organize trips you can join, and can give you useful information about tours. I join all these groups to get on their mailing lists but dont actually go on the tours. Often they start out from Seoul, so this causes a problem for me living south in Daegu. What you can do is read their itinerary, learn about different regions/events, and do it on your own at a later time.

Groups
– Seoul Hiking Group
– Discover Korea
– Daegu Events & Tours
– Korea Tourism Organization
– Korea Clickers
– Seoulite
– Busan Daytrippers

The first two on the list have something going on pretty much every weekend.

Rough Guide South Korea

Rough Guide South Korea

2) Visit Korea Page
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto
This is the official Korean Tourism Website.
Under ‘Attractions’ > ‘Events’ you can search festivals by month to plan ahead. They might not always have the most up to date information, sometimes they post last years details, so a good idea is to check the events actual webpage (often in korean)

3) Korail – Korean Rail System
http://info.korail.com/2007/eng/eng_index.jsp
Here you can look up train times, book tickets, and see prices for the High Speed KTX trains, or local commuter Munganghwa and Saemaul Trains. Large train stations have automatic ticket kiosks in english so you dont need to try buying tickets at the counter if you dont speak korean.

4) Kobus – Korean Bus System
http://www.kobus.co.kr/web/eng/index.jsp
Here you can look up bus times from most bus stations across the country. Its not entirely accurate, some bus stations are not shown, some routes, and bus times are missing. But it can give you a general idea of journey times and fare prices.

Tourst Helpline - Call 1330

Tourst Helpline – Call 1330

It will tell you how many seats are remaining on the bus. There is a way to book online but I dont know about it yet, and I dont think there’s an english option.

5) Blogs
http://blog.korea.net/
This is TheKoreaBlog run by KOCIS of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Sports, of which I am a contributing writer. They reprint the best blog items from their contributing writers (http://blog.korea.net/?p=2188).
Read your friends blogs, and google other people blogs to see if they have been to events/places you want to goto.

6) Facebook Friends
When your friends in Korea upload albums take a look to see where they went, whether it looks interesting, and decide if you want to go. Your friend can always tell you how to get there and what to look for.
Also on your ‘newsfeed’ take a look at what events they’ve just selected as ‘attending’. Facebook wants you to be nosing around in everyones business!

7) Google Images
http://images.google.com/
This is a good way to see more images of a place/event and what to look for.

8 ) Travel Books
I have two books : Insight South Korea & Rough Guide To South Korea

1) http://www.amazon.ca/South-Korea-Insight-Guide-Langenscheidt/dp/9812586903/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303105531&sr=1-1
2) http://www.amazon.ca/Rough-Guide-Korea-Martin-Zatzo/dp/1843538105/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1303105591&sr=1-2

I’ve found there is way too much more not even covered in these books.

Electronic Train Ticket Kiosks

Electronic Train Ticket Kiosks

They barely mention festivals, only the biggest ones like the Andong Mask Festival, and Korea has so many interesting temples they cant talk about them all.

9) Tourist Information Helpline – 1330
http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/ena/GK/GK_EN_2_7_1.jsp
This is a useful 24/7 english helpline that has come in handy a few times. You can use it to tell a cab driver where to go, order in a restaurant, or any other general tourist information inquiries such as bus numbers and museum entrance times/fees. I even used it when I was having problems with a bank atm. The main number is 1330 but some towns have their own sub numbers :

National 1330 from a landline or 02-1330 from a cellphone
Seoul 02-1330 (landline)
Gyeongju 054-1330 (landline)

10) Word of mouth
Talk to your friends or other travellers you meet and find out about other interesting destinations, how to get there, when to go, and what to do. Ask your tour guides what other trips they organize and what else is in the region.

 Tourist Information Office outside Daegu Stn

Tourist Information Office outside Daegu Stn

11) Websites & Other Media
Wikipedia, Wikitravel, Tripadvisor, Virtualtourist, World66, to name a few sites
If you are in korea you might see other print, television, billboard ads for various events, or places on tv that look interesting. Provinces, Counties, and Cities all have their own webpages, often in english, with a Tourism section.

12) Tourist Information Offices & Brochures
http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/ena/GK/GK_EN_2_7_1_2.jsp
Big cities will have one in train stations or airports. I always grab a bunch of things to read over later and see if I find anything new I didnt know about. Festivals also hand out stuff promoting the region so take them and see if there are other interesting things nearby to check out another time.

I’ve read about ‘Goodwill Guides’ that will accompany you for free but I’ve never seen them
http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/ena/GK/GK_EN_2_7_3_1.jsp

I also came across this competition recently. Expedia is holding a win a trip to korea contest thru facebook, by ‘liking’ the page and inviting your friends to join
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/FU/FU_EN_15.jsp?cid=1256840

Remember, Korea is “Festival Obsessed” so make sure to do your research so you dont miss out on something unique and exciting!!!

I’ll do a write up on different kinds of accomodation at some point.

* The original piece can be read at HERE

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The Worldwide Korea Bloggers (WKB) is a gathering of people from different parts of the world, all having affection for Korea. Currently, there are 50 bloggers from 17 different countries and they share their own precious experiences with Korea and its culture on Korea Blog.