Traveling to a foreign country is exciting. It could also be nerve-racking. For me, it was especially the case when I visit non-English speaking countries. I would be extremely terrified when no one understands what I said or being lost in the foreign land. That’s why I always try my best to plan our routes ahead and make sure I know the city inside out. One month prior to our Seoul trip, I started my research. Below are seven websites and tools that are incredibly valuable in assisting me in putting together my itinerary. Hopefully it will help you plan you visit 🙂
- SMRT Subway Trip Planner (Cyber Station): Seoul Metropolitan Subway system is very complicated. There are so many different routes you can take to get from one station to another. If that perplexes you, leave it to the technology. Available in Korean, English and Chinese, the website calculates the fastest way to get to your destination. Moreover, you will be able to retrieve useful information including estimated journey time, transfer station, ticket fare and time table for the train.
- Subway Korea App: Have the Subway Korea App downloaded onto your phone will save your life! Similar to Cyber Station, this handy app helps you plan your trips. In addition to displaying the fastest and shortest possible routes, estimated journey time, transfer station, ticket fare and time table, it also has useful “station info” available! You can find out if the station allows opposite crossing on the platform, if there’s elevator or restroom, and which side to exit the train. What I liked most of this app is that it has live update on where the train is currently at!
- Naver Map & App: If you need to find where a specific location is with a Korean address, use Naver Map. Google Map is not helpful at all in Korea. Although Naver Map does not have an English or Chinese version, it is pretty self-explanatory to use. Follow the instructions in the pic below and you’re be able to find your way around Korea!
- Visit Korea Website & App: Visit Korea is maintained by the Official Korea Tourism Organization. Massive resources and tips are available to the public, including weather, time differences, electricity voltage, exchange rates, event calendar…etc. I liked to use it to check attractions in different regions that worth a visit and themed travel that matches my interest! Don’t forget the special offers – sometimes they have coupons for certain attractions! (I prefer using the app, which has a simpler interface to navigate)
- Visit Seoul: If you’re planning to tour around Seoul, Visit Seoul is your saver! This is an official site maintained by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, introducing foreigners to places where they can eat, stay and shop as well as must-see’s and must-do’s in Seoul. Before you dive into all the other content, I would recommend checking out the Maps & Guides section first. Those guidebooks might help you narrow down what you are interested in seeing . Not to mention that those maps are super beneficial to independent travels to cruise around the city!
- Konest 韓巢: For Mandarin speakers who are more comfortable with Chinese, Konest is all you need. It has EVERYTHING you need to know about visiting Korea. From the basics (exchange rates, travel visa, transportation, tax refund procedure) to hotel booking and restaurant recommendation (with prices and Chinese menu available), you have all you need in one site! Also, can you believe that they have a Chinese map navigation platform in Chinese?? That’s craaaazy!! As a foodie, I liked to check out restaurants in advance and see what previous visitors said about the food. Sometimes, they have coupons for specific restaurants or stores!
- Seoulistics: This is a culture and travel site organized by Seoul locals, sharing cultural tips, travel tips, places to eat, things to do and various other information. I would go on this site for “insider tips.” Those I found useful include 6 Seoul Subway Shortcuts to Tourist Attractions, Best Bibimbap Restaurants in Seoul, and Beginner’s Guide to Korean Street Food.
Of course, there are plenty other resources you would find as you plan your trip, but those are the basic ones I would begin with. Before we conclude, I would strongly recommend you rent a WiFi router in Korea. It’s true that many coffee shops and stores have free WiFi you can connect to, but not every place has it. Spend a few bucks to save you all the hassle. A few telecom companies offer wifi router rental services (KT Olleh, SK Telecom). I booked mine 2 weeks before my trip with Pocket Wifi Korea. Easy, non-expensive, and smooth internet connection!