Official trip to south Korea? important things to take care

Last month I got an opportunity to visit South Korea on an official visit so sharing my experience on all the topics which someone needs to know before visiting there.

When we get opportunity to visit overseas it always brings an exciting and pleasant feeling. A lot of things need to be taken care while leaving our country. We have to be well equipped with everything which we are going to use or can be useful in the visiting country.
I was staying in Incheon so some of the points can be specific to this city but most of the things are applicable for entire south Korea.
Below are the topics on which I will be sharing my experience and suggesting you to have.

  1. Things you need to carry with you
  2. Food availability
  3. Food option for vegetarian
  4. Food option for non-vegetarian
  5. Food option for Hindu vegetarian
  6. Communication or language concerns
  7. Liquor (whisky and beer) availability and price
  8. Precautions you need to take
  9. Amazing facts about south Korea
  10. Things I like about Korea
  11. What to do and what not to do in South Korea
  12. 5 Beautiful places and sightseeing in Incheon

Things you need to carry with you

Power plug adapter or voltage converter for the power sockets

This is the topmost priority thing which you need to have if you are visiting overseas on official visit. Laptops and other electrical devices like mobile phone are completely dependent on it. In south Korea, Type F or 2 pins power plug adapter is used. Type C is commonly used in Europe, South America & Asia. Type F adapter is compatible with C and E types which are almost same. If you forgot to carry the adapter with you then check with your hotel, they can arrange for you.

Power adapter used in south korea

Money or currency
This is the second highest in the list of priority. I am keeping it in second position because when you travel on behalf of your organization then almost all the expenses are taken care by the organisation. Flight tickets, hotel accommodation and local travel expenses all are sponsored by the organisation so you are least bothered about the availability of the money. Despite of the money availability with you, you have to be familiar with the currency exchange rates and mode of payment in the visiting country. Now a day’s travel card is being used frequently and organisations prefer to handover travel card to their employees while travelling abroad but you have to check the acceptability of this card.

There are a lot of places where payment through the travel card may not possible. For example, in most of the countries, travel card is not accepted by taxi and small shops. So you must have the cash in hand. South Korea currency name is WON and it has a very low value in comparison of Indian rupee.

1 Indian Rupee = 16 won
1 USD = 1169 won

Do not dependent on travel card. Keep cash with you for any contingency 

Exchange the money from banks (if possible) because banks conversion rates are higher than forex available in airports.

South korean currency

Cloths and other consumable items

Purchase power of the peoples decides the pricing of the consumable products. If purchase power is high, then consumable products will be available in a low or reasonable price otherwise will have a high price.

In South Korea, I have found the consumable products with high price. So while calculating your money requirements keep in mind that things are very expensive in south Korea and you need to keep enough money with you. I have bought Jack Daniel's 500 ML bottle in a price of 33 USD which is too costly. However, beers are available in reasonable price.

South Korea is expensive country so keep in mind while calculating the money requirement for your visit
Carry clothes with you which are required during the stay so that you do not need to buy there.

Food availability 

South Korean peoples have very good food habits. Their food contains vegetables and non-vegetables both. In vegetables they use full leaf of leafy vegetables and in non-leafy vegetables like radish, carrot etc. they mix the spices specially chilli paste and then serve. In non-vegetable food south Korean peoples used to have Fish, all type of sea food, pork, chicken, lamb and beef.

South Korean people use chopsticks like chines and Japanese and spoon. While eat vegetables they have a unique style. They take the full leaf (cabbage or any other similar vegetable which has long leaves), spread it and put the spicy food like sea food, chicken etc. on it   and then fold the leaf from the corner to cover the spicy food inside the leaf and then put this all in the mouth. I had tried to do the same but not able to push the stuffed leaf inside my mouth (my mouth size was not so big to accept it :-))

I have seen Korean peoples visiting Indian restaurants and they eat Indian Roti or Naan in the same way as they eat their stuffed leaf. They take roti or naan, spread it and then put spicy food on it and fold it and then put into the mouth.
I have enjoyed the Korean food during my stay and found it balanced and good for health.

Vegetables and non-vegetables both types of food are available

Vegetable means – fresh and uncooked. In some cases, chilly or other type of spices are sprinkled or mixed.

Non-vegetables – all type of sea food, chicken, pork, lamb and beef. Spices are mixed in cooked food. 

Soups are main component of south Korean food. In each meal, soup is must to have. Soup is made of almost all non-vegetables items like chicken, sea food, fish etc.

Octopus ,chicken and sea food soup

Veg food available in south Korea

Food option for vegetarian

Vegetarian food is available in south Korea but you have to be very careful while ordering the the countries like India if you are vegetarian then it means you are not health cautious but following a rule to not even touch the non-vegetarian food. This can be self-made rule or religious rule to follow. In south Korea, if you ask for a vegetarian food then it means to them is, you like vegetable food more than the non-veg food so they keep less quantity of non-veg food in your plate.

Even the veg food is easily available but the other food which is taken with this veg food will always be a non-vegetarian. If you go to any restaurant, then almost all the food items will have non-veg an essential part of it. 

Food option of Hindu vegetarian

During my stay, I found 3 Indian restaurants in Incheon. All Indian restaurants have good and pure vegetarian food. However, there are some changes in cooking style but still good to have.

Food option for non-vegetarian

I am non-vegetarian so there was no problem with me and since I am fond of sea food so it was a great time for me to enjoy the sea food. Plenty of options are available in sea food, pork, chicken and beef.  If you have concern for beef like me then ask them if it contains the beef or not.

For almost all type of food, soup is the necessary part of it and it always prepared with non-veg. I had chicken, sea food and fish soups in a lot of variety and found them delicious.  

Communication or language Concerns

South Korean people are not good in English so language is the major concern you can face there. When ordering the food in a restaurant, it was very tough to make them understand that what I was talking about. After 2 days, I got an idea to communicate them which made my life easy in Incheon.

I used my smartphone and through google translator, translated English to Korean language and then showed the translated text to them. Since in south Korea, free Wi-Fi is available in all the public places so you can use your smartphone to connect to internet. 

your smartphone can be your best friend. since WI-FI is free and easily available so use it for communication

Liquor (whisky and beer) availability and price

Liquor is easily available in all the shopping places. Beer is available in restaurants so you can enjoy the beer with the meal. 
Whisky and wine prices are too high but beer prices are reasonable. Almost all types of whisky, wine and beer are available. Budweiser, Heineken, Carlsberg and other type of international brand beer are available in reasonable price.  As I mentioned above, whisky prices are too high, I had bought 500 ML of Jack Daniel’s in a price of 33 USD so you can now get an idea of the liquor prices.

If you are a non-vegetarian and like to have whisky or beer, then you do not have to be worried about the food. A lot of options and food variety is available for you. Just pick beer bottles and fried chicken or cooked sea food or fish from the nearest shopping mall and enjoy.

Precautions you need to take

Although south Korea is a safe country and peoples are very civilised and well-mannered but still you are not in your country so you have to be careful and take care of some common things.

  1. South Korea is left hand driving country so if you have international driving license and planning to self-drive there then it could be difficult for you. Although left hand driving is not a big issue but the traffic signals and taking U turn is something which can take some time to adjust and familiar. I found it quite confusing to take U turn.
  2. South Korean peoples are very disciplined and they strictly follow the traffic rules. For pedestrian, crossing the roads, signal lights are there and have to follow.
  3. Food is available to order in restaurant’s till 9 PM so take care of timing. South Korean people have a good habit of taking dinner around 6 to 6:30 PM.
  4. Use your smartphone for will help you a lot. Translate your language to Korean language through google or any other translator and then show it whenever you need to do a communication.

Amazing facts about south Korea

Some interesting and amazing facts about south Korean peoples are:

  1. South Korean peoples do not like number 4. They avoid anything to have which number is 4.
  2. A very few peoples are fatty. This can be due to their habit of taking dinner early so that they get 3-4 hours before going to bed.
  3. Each man has to serve army for 2 years. This can be another reason to be fit and slim.
  4. South Korean peoples brush their teeth after having each meal. That means they brush after having breakfast, after having lunch and after having dinner. They keep brush with them to their workplaces.
  5. Bicycle on rent is available and stationed after every 300 meters approximately. These bicycle have a barcode just above the lock. If you need to get the bicycle, then through smartphone app request for it and pay the rent and then scan the barcode printed on the bicycle and after scanning the bicycle will be unlocked to use. After travelling with it, leave the bicycle at the nearest station marked for it.

Things I like about Korea

Peoples are well mannered and love their country products.

Free Wi-Fi is available in almost all the public places like restaurant’s, shopping malls, banks etc. so it’s a great advantage for foreigners.

Dinner time starts from 05:30 PM and ends around 8 PM. This is a good time to have the dinner.
Bicycle stands are available at a fair distance and available on rent. The bicycles are automated means the rent is paid through mobile app and unlocked with barcode scanning.

Incheon is a neat and clean city and Seoul is much cleaner and beautiful than it so I guess entire south Korea will be clean and beautiful.

Food is balanced and have a lot of variety. Unlike European countries where there are no vegetables to eat, here in south Korea veg and non-veg are equally available and included in the food. I like the soup which is the essential part of the meal.

Electrical commode and electrical car seats are very useful in winter season. water spray is available on a button press after using the toilet. In most of the European countries only toilet paper is used for cleaning after defecation.

What to do and what not to do in South Korea

  1. Do not forget to say thank you when someone is helping you. Better if you learn the Korean words of thank you.
  2. Korea is not so open like European countries so avoid doing anything in public places which can look bulgur or unsocial to them. 
  3. Do some little research about local transportation after reaching there? Metro train and bus routes are well connected. Public transportation will help you if you are going to have a long duration stay.
  4. While crossing the roads through zebra lines, do not forget to see the pedestrians signal lights. Walk ahead only when green signal is there.

5 Beautiful places and sightseeing in Incheon

I have visited these 5 beautiful places in Incheon and hope if you are staying in Incheon then this list can be useful for you.

Songdo central park – This is the beautiful place located in the centre of Incheon city. It was at a walking distance from my hotel so went multiple times there. This is a very good place to enjoy for 3 to 4 hours. 
A very big lake is in the centre of the park and around this lake beautiful park and sky crappers with unique style and designs takes you in a beautiful world. You can enjoy boating in the lake.

Songdo central park

Our Korean friend suggested us to have a view of Incheon city from a 32 story building which is specially designed to show the Incheon beautiful view. Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) building is freely available for visitor to view the beauty from its 32 floors. A very beautiful and exciting look of Incheon city and Incheon bridge will amaze you.

Incheon bridge – if you are landing in day time then through your aircraft window you can view this long bridge over the sea. This bridge is beautifully designed and connects songdo and Incheon international airport with a 6 lane expressway. This is a great experience to drive on this bridge and have a great show of engineering.

Incheon bridge

Chinatown – if you love to know about tradition or culture then Chinatown is a great place to know the culture of china and taste the food of china. Beautiful red colour buildings and aroma of Chinese food will take you to the Chinese culture. However, if you do not love so much cultural activity still I suggest to have a visit of this place.

China town

Songwol-dong Fairy Tale Village – a great place to enjoy with family specially if you kids. This is the first and topmost priority place to visit if you have kids. Korean government has transformed the old houses and changed it in a village of dreams where all the cartoon characters’ lives. Walking to this place is like walking in to a village of real living cartoon characters. A wonderful land of wonders all I would say.

Wolmi-Do island - this is the best place to enjoy different type of activity and for all age groups. This is not the island but a chill out place with a lot of fun activities and relaxing time. The below activities can be enjoyed.

  • Cultural street – this is the pedestrian street on which one side is sea and other sides are shops, restaurants and market to shop. 
  • Fishing – enjoy the sea fishing. You can join other fisherman who are fishing for fun too.
  • Wolmi Theme Park – a carnival park where different types of riding, games, foods etc. can be enjoyed.
  • Wolmi Park – A park with lot of greenery and traditional Korean structures. If you love the nature and searching a peaceful land to have a walk, then this is the place for you.  

Wolmi Park

i have uploaded a video which will take you to the Incheon tour. You can see some glimpses of Incheon , South Korea in the below video.

This is all based on my personal experience. Let me know what i have missed in south Korea if you already have been there or citizen of South Korea. 

Authored By Pankaj Lakhchaura

Images used are taken from


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