After living and working in South Korea for two years, I enjoyed so many cultural experiences and interesting people during my time abroad. With the upcoming Olympics I thought I would highlight the 10 things I love about South Korea.
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Seoul has an outstanding public transportation system. There are plenty of English apps that make traveling within Seoul or other areas very easy even if you don’t know Korean. If you are going to be staying in South Korea for some time then definitely learn the Korean alphabet or Hangul. It is so easy and will help you sound out food orders and places. Another plus is that the subway system announces the subway stops in Korean, English, and Mandarin. South Korea is a small country so its very easy to take a train, KTX (express train), or a bus to the opposite side of the country within just a few hours. This gives you the chance to experience the country’s rich culture and natural beauty.
2. Korean Food:
I have never lived in a place where there were so many different types of food to try. Eating food at a restaurant is very affordable in South Korea. Personally, I found it was cheaper to eat at a restaurant in comparison to making food at home. Not to mention, the food in South Korea is absolutely delicious! My personal favorites are tteokbokki (spicy rice cake) and sundubu jjigae (spicy tofu soup).
3. Friendly People
In my experience Koreans are very warm and welcoming. When you go there as a foreigner many people may be curious about you. Please recognize this as genuine curiosity and not odd behavior. When I first got there I even caught some people snapping pictures of me. Given that I was new to Korea and still learning the culture and language, I was overcome by the patience and kindness that locals showed me as I stumbled through my food orders at restaurants or tried to find my way in the busy streets of Seoul. I am forever grateful for their kindness.
4. Free Wifi
South Korea is a technological hub that has the fastest internet in the world. It is very rare to be without a free internet source while you are out and about, but you can easily rent a wifi source at the airport through Klook. This was perfect as I was constantly uploading pictures and YouTube videos. In Seoul uploading took mere minutes compared to in the United States where it can take hours.
5. Unique Cafes
South Korea is well known for their quaint coffee shops. Personally, my favorites were the small, family-run coffee shops that were as charming as they were eclectic. Of course, I enjoyed the typical chain restaurants on occasion such as the Coffee Prince Cafe or the Hello Kitty Cafe, but these didn’t come close to the charm of the privately owned coffee shops.
6. Natural Beauty
When you think of South Korea you might imagine a vast metropolis, but in reality there is far more to South Korea than the cityscape. South Korea has a gorgeous country-side and coastal areas. Even their architecture is stunning both historical and modern. Everyone will get to see South Korea in all its glory for the 2018 Winter Olympics that are being held in Gangwon province.
Living in a city like Seoul everything is at your fingertips at all hours. You do not have to walk far to find markets, shopping centers, restaurants, cafes, and more. In some districts you may have to take public transport to get to the more popular areas, but transportation is very accessible. South Korea is a 24 hours lifestyle with a very active nightlife, however note that with the exception of subway line 2, you will have to take a taxi after most of the subway lines close at midnight or stay out until the trains resume at 5:30 am. This is very doable if you simply go to a jimjibang or Korean overnight spa where you can relax until the morning.
No place is entirely safe. However, in comparison with other places I have visited, South Korea is a very safe place to live. Now I know what you are thinking, what about North Korea? Let me let you in on the local feelings toward North Korea, no one really takes them seriously.
In terms of wandering around at night, I rarely felt unsafe walking home. Crimes are mostly limited to petty theft and drunken fights. Guns are also banned in South Korea. A few of my western friends experienced people trying to follow them home, but usually it was just silly curiosity rather than sinister intentions. Just travel with a buddy if you feel unsafe.
If you are ever alone and feel unsafe you can go to one of the many convenience stores and use the free Get Home Safe service (information). All you have to do is dial 120 and someone will come and escort you home. If you are in the countryside then try to alert someone to your situation and call a friend. This may all sound scary, but it’s very unlikely you will experience this. Better safe than sorry though!
10. Outdoor Activities
South Korea has some incredible hiking spots along with many other outdoor activities. I’ve hiked up Dobongsan Mountain, gone white water rafting in Gangwon-do, and have kayaked across the ocean alongside Namhae Island. There are plenty of activities for you to enjoy.
Overall, living in South Korea was the best thing I ever did. Yes, I experienced some things that were not my cup of tea, but for every bad experience I had a hundred good ones. South Korea will forever feel like a second home to me and I very much look forward to visiting my friends soon. I highly recommend that you travel to South Korea!
Prepare for your trip to South Korea:
- Eccolo Travel Passport Cover Case with Storage Pocket (Marble)
- Learn Hangul (Korean alphabet) in an hour!
- Talk to Me in Korean Level 1 Workbook
Have you ever been to South Korea?
Hello everyone! I am a blogger that loves all things travel and lifestyle. You can usually find me taking pictures, traveling with my friends and family, teaching ESL online, or pinning to Pinterest. Let’s connect to stay in touch.