Why you should add Korea to your Indie/RTW trip
- You like to eat. From street food to traditional Korean BBQ to Korean fusion, whether you're a foodie or a budget eater, you'll find it in Korea - and with kimchee on the side.
- Korea is foreigner-friendly. Post-war Korea has had close ties to the States. Combine that with the plethora of ESL teachers, and this sets up a fairly accommodating network & infrastructure for travelers.
- From big-city Seoul, to the mountains, to Busan (Korea's beach town), you can find a little bit of everything.
- Korea is modern and fast-paced, but be prepared for a few off the beaten path type experiences still (you will encounter the occasional squat toilet, you will encounter people who can't speak your language, you probably won't be able to read the menu in most restaurants, especially after you get outside of Seoul).
- The future is here, especially in the high-tech center of Seoul - and wifi on the subway!
Indie Travel Tips
- Many ATMs in Korea won't accept foreign cards. Large banks often have one ATM with an "Outside of Korea" option. Ask your hostel or the TI for the closest one.
- Korea has a rail pass, but it may not save you a bundle on transport like the Japan Rail pass does -- do the math first.
- Visit a Korean grocery store - a great way to stock up on Korean snacks and for people-watching.
- Shopping in Korea is probably midrange in price and value compared to other options in Asia.
- If you get good vibes from your hostel/hosts, ask them for food recommendations, especially with family-style dining and Korean BBQ, having the names written down of a couple food items will take you a long way.
- If you're taking a wifi-enabled phone, be sure to search for 'Seoul' in apps and download subway apps for major Korean cities.
- In Seoul, buy a T-Money card for the subway, you can load money on it for transportation and even use it at convenience stores.
- Korea has seasons, so be prepared to layer if you're going in late fall through early spring. Read: Teaching English in South Korea.