Visitors from Singapore are flocking to Seoul thanks to the draw of K-pop, Korean fashion and skincare, and an insatiable love for kimchi.
While Seoul is a remarkably safe and easy place to visit, here is a guide for newbies that will make your stay even easier and more fuss-free.
Take the Airport Express (AREX) or all-stop train from the airport to the city
There are several ways to get from the airport to the city, but the most value-for-money way is to take the Airport Railroad Express (AREX).
This express train gets you from the airport to the city center of Seoul in 43 minutes and costs 9,000 won (10.82 SGD) for adults and 7,000 won (8.41 SGD) for kids, excluding a refundable deposit of 500 won (0.60 SGD). Groups of 3 or more people get a discount and pay only 7,500 won (9.01 SGD).
If you want a cheap way to get to the city, you can take the all-stop train. This train stops at every station and so takes longer to get you to your destination, at 59 to 66 minutes, but costs almost half the price of the AREX train.
There is also an airport bus but tickets cost about the same as taking the AREX and the ride is longer. And of course, taxis are more expensive than all of the above options and might even be slower.
Purchase a T-Money Card
The T-Money Card is Seoul’s answer to Singapore’s own EZ-link card. While you also have the option of buying a Korea Tour Card, if you are staying for more than one or two days it is probably best to get a T-Money Card.
T-Money Cards can be purchased at convenience stores or machines at subway stations and typically cost 2,500 won (3 SGD). There are discounted cards for children and teenagers under 18.
At Incheon Airport, you can buy a T-Money Card at 7-11, CU or GS25 convenience store outlets.
Download a Korea metro app
Seoul’s subway system is quite dense, and you might find yourself peering in confusion at the map on the train and trying to figure out where you need to change lines.
Whether you or not you have mobile data, it’s a good idea to download the Subway Korea or Seoul Subway app. The app will let you consult the metro map wherever you are and plan your journeys more efficiently.
Bargain when shopping at markets and in certain shopping malls
Bargaining is acceptable in South Korea not only at markets but also at certain shopping malls such as Migliore in Myeongdong. In general, if a shop looks like an independent one with non-brand name products without prices displayed, you can try bargaining.
Bargaining is a civilized affair in Korea, so there is no need to use aggressive tactics or play mind games. Simply counter the seller’s offer with your desired price, and they will let you know whether or not it is acceptable to them.
If they are not agreeable to your price, they usually just refuse good-naturedly, so there is no need to feel pressured to buy.