Hi, Dreamers! After the preparation post I wrote about going to Japan, I’m finally back with another one: what I prepared before going to South Korea. This time I went to Seoul and Busan, and actually Incheon too. Okay, I won't say too much, let's just get it started!
Yeah, of course the first thing to do is always booking the flight. Either you want to hunt for cheap ticket or just going whenever you want, it’s up to you. My friend and I didn’t look for promo/ cheap ticket but we somehow managed to get cheaper price for our flight. My friend’s intuition was too good lol. We get Garuda Indonesia round trip ticket for only IDR 4.8mio while it’s usually around IDR 6mio, such a good deal right?
Second important thing to do is to book accommodation, be it guest house, hostel, or hotel. We booked ours via booking.com- it's called Kimchee Guest House, located in Hongdae. It's quite popular among tourists/ backpacker. There are two in Seoul, one in Hongdae and another one in Downtown area. The one in Hongdae has easier transportation access, but the house condition is not at its best, fyi. We also stayed at Kimchee Guest House in Busan and it's much much more comfortable there.
Fixed itinerary is not really my thing- especially for this trip. I went to South Korea with my friend who is fluent in Korean + had gone there a few times so I was like just throwing anything to her, following anywhere she suggested (with some of my own place-to-visit). But! I think you need to know the rough plan tho. You need to know where to go in a day so you can spend your time effectively. I can't provide the perfect itinerary, but you can find some inspiration from the internet and plan your own ;)
Guys, this is so important! I personally can't handle hot weather well, but I went there in summer. I don't say it's a mistake but I know I'd enjoy it better in another season/ cooler weather. I was kinda worried and asked my friend if it's okay to go there in summer? I was afraid it'd be too hot to handle. Turned out, IT'S REALLY TOO HOT! Everyone was complaining about how hot the day was, you want to know how bad it was? Imagine yourself in sauna, like literally. I, finally got to experience something they called "hot wave" in Korea, lol. I'm gonna write a post about how to survive the hot summer in Korea, okay? I think it's better to visit in Spring/ Autumn, at least you won't be walking with drenching sweat. Every season has its own beauty, tho.
We had to book the KTX ticket because we were going to Busan. Another reason you need (rough) itinerary is to know when to buy the transportation ticket, especially when you need to book it first. We can buy the ticket at least one month before the departure date from Korail website and payment can be done with credit card. Make sure to bring your credit card with you when you're going to Korea.
You can't get into South Korea without visa, can you? It's the most important thing to do after booking the ticket. I applied my visa 2 weeks before the departure date by myself, didn't use any travel agent to help me. Because I'm going for the first time, I applied for single visa that costed me IDR 544.000. Before applying visa, we must pay via Hana Bank first (located inside the embassy area). You can read all the information you need about the visa application here. Prepare all the documents needed and pray to pass, hahaha.
Who can live without internet connection nowadays, huh? You actually have some options for this, either rent a WiFi router or buy sim card from destination's local provider. Both has its own benefits, but for this trip I decided to buy sim card because it's more convenient. Reasons why I chose sim card: I don't need to charge it everyday, it's affordable with strong connection, I can go anywhere by myself. If you rent a WiFi router for you and your friends (or family/ group), you can't go separated way and it's pretty inconvenient for me. We booked our sim card from Jakarta, but you can actually buy it on the spot at Incheon International Airport. We bought the 10 days plan for 34.000 won.
I went to the money changer called Valuta Artha Mas in ITC Kuningan, which is popular with its cheaper rate. I didn't change much money because my friend and I planned to just withdraw the money directly from Korean bank. We used Kookmin Bank (KB) because it has better rate than others, just make sure your card has Visa logo on it. FYI, most stores also accept credit card as payment.
Choose clothes that's suitable with the season when you're traveling. Because I went there in summer, I could just bring anything I usually wear in Indonesia because it's basically hot all the time. And I also didn't bring too much clothes because I planned to just buy clothes there.
T-money can be used for any transportations in South Korea such as bus, subway, even vending machine. I bought mine from machine at the airport that costed me 4.000 won, but we need to top up first before using it. There are top up machines right beside it. In case you forget to buy it at the airport/ lose it, T-money can be easily found at convenience store like 7 Eleven, CU, GS, etc.
FYI, Google Maps doesn't work well in South Korea, unlike Japan. With Kakao Maps, you can make sure that you're going to the right direction. It's basically the same with Google Maps, but in Korean. I was kinda confused at first, but adjusted after awhile. It can be used for riding the bus, subway, or walking.
Seriously, South Korea- especially Seoul- is shopping paradise! From beauty, fashion, even food is so buy-able (is this even a word??!) there, lol. We got 30kg each for the baggage so I decided to bring extra luggage so I could buy more things. It's optional tho, if you think it will be too troublesome/ you won't shop too much then don't.
Okay, those are some preparations I did before my Korea trip, I hope this post can help you preparing yours! Feel free to ask me by leaving comment or just hit me via Instagram ;) See ya on the next post! Jaa ne~