Seoul – tips and guide

First, if you are on a budget, you may want to do some research to get the best flight deals.
You may want to look at travel tips for starters.

A overall guide on Korea from Visit Korea.

Transportation

You will need a T-Money card which is available in any Seven Eleven stores, other convenient stores such as Family Mart and GS5 and also at the subway stations. It can be used and is widely accepted in buses, subway trains, taxi, convenient stores, retail shops and at public telephone booths.

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T-Money comes in different designs.
I paid 5000 won for my standard card form with a minimum top up of 10 000 won.
The mini fanciful card which can double up as a mobile accessory cost slightly more.
Unused credits will be refunded at 80% of balance value. (been there, done that as at 2012)

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Seoul Metro is a good subway guide available in English.
Here is a direct link that shows the fares, duration of ride and timings of last train around Seoul.

A note when taking taxis, price of fare varies by coloured taxi.
White (regular) and Orange (for english speaking tourist) are recommended.
Black, is considered to have a premium service and therefore premium price.
It would be best if the driver went by meter instead of quoting you the price in Seoul as some of my schoolmates were charged up to a S$100 for a ride from the airport to dongdemum.

Communication

Pay phones, mobile phone rentals, SIM cards and
internet are some of the possible communication ways.

You may rent a phone at the airport with either KT or SK as they are one of the major telecommunication companies in Korea and have branches all over Seoul so its easy to get help. Online reservations will also give you discounts.

International calling cards or prepaid SIM cards are available if you do not wish to rent a separate phone in Korea. Visit Korea does a fine job of updating their website to provide timely information of where to get these cards or rent a phone.

If you need to contact people frequently OUT of Korea, i would recommend getting an international calling card with SIMCardKorea at the airport. It cost about 60 000 won with a 10 euro airtime included and top up can be done anytime on your own with a credit card.

If you need to contact people frequently WITHIN Korea, it is the safest to get a
SIM card from KT Olleh Square at Gwang Hwa Mun Station,
the same stop where you can find Gyeongbokgung Palace (line 5, exit 2).

You may have read from a few blogs in 2010 and in 2012 that SIM cards are available and its true!
At first i was skeptical as not many travelers blog about it, the blog post seems similar to me or a copy and paste job and some links such as the Korea Media rules have been changed could not be accessed.
But fear not, when i was in Korea, at least 10 to 20 Singaporeans i know managed to get their SIM Cards, called and texted each other and whatsapp me about their whereabouts using that Sim card when we were all in Seoul.

Money

1 SGD to 900 WON (as of June 2012)
Do bring extra USD with you as not all money changers accept SGD.
or bring along Citibank cards as they are widely accepted in Korea.
Do also check out the Korea tourism book for more deals.
You can collect them at the Korea Plaza in Singapore or any information center in Korea.
I found one just outside Good Morning City near Dongdemun Station.

Entertainment

Most of the clubs can be found at Hongdae (Hongik University), Gangnam and Itaewon.
Clubs in Hongdae such as Cocoon and Naked would serve the younger crowd while clubs in Itaewon are popular among the foreigners.

There is also a club day where you get to club hop and pay the price of one ticket but unfortunately it only happens on the last Friday of the month.

Most who stay far from the nightlife area will choose to go to a bathhouse also known as a Jijimbang to spend the night while waiting for the next subway train. These jijimbangs have various massages, themed saunas, pools to dip in and various jijimbang etiquette should be followed. Showers in the saunas are open concept, so do not be surprised to see naked bodies waltzing around.

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