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Travel Information - Basics

Below you will find the basic information for preparing for your trip to Korea.

Airports

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Incheon International Airport (ICN)
Opened in March 2001, is the largest airport in Korea and serves as the main gateway hub. It is located west of Seoul about an hour drive away. It currently offers flights to a total of 185 cities in 55 countries operated by 84 airlines.

Gimpo International Airport (GMP)
Gimpo International Airport handles cargos in addition to providing international and domestic flights. Available international flights include nearby regions such as Haneda and Osaka in Japan, Beijing and Shanghai in China, and Taipei in Taiwan. Domestic flights are available to Jeju, Gwangju, and Gimhae.

Gimhae International Airport (PUS)
Gimhae International Airport operates transportation services to Shanghai, Osaka, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hanoi, Guam and many other regions. It also offers domestic flights to Gimpo International Airport as well as Jeju Airport.

Jeju International Airport (CJU)
Located on the largest island in Korea, Jeju International Airport is the second-most frequently visited airport in Korea after Incheon International Airport. It also has the second-highest number of international flights operating in Korea. Jeju International Airport's location at the center of Northeast Asia puts it in a very convenient location for flights to China, Japan and Southeast Asia countries. The airport also runs domestic flights to several regions in Korea.

Best Time to Travel

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Best month to visit: mid April to early June, September to October (avoiding Chuseok, Korean Thanksgiving holiday that usually falls in September)

Public Holidays
Korea officially follows the Gregorian calendar, even though there are a few holidays that are based on the lunar calendar. During the official holidays, offices and banks are closed but palaces, museums, most restaurants, department stores, and amusement facilities are open. Seollal (Lunar New Year's Day) and Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) are the most important traditional holidays for Koreans, so millions of people visit their hometowns to celebrate with their families during these times.

New Year's Day (January 1)
As in other countries, the first day of the New Year is celebrated. Many Koreans visit the coast or the mountains to watch the first sunrise of the year.

Seollal (February 15-18)
Lunar New Year's Day (Seollal) is one of the most important traditional holidays of the year; the holiday is much more significant than January 1st. Most businesses are closed, and people take several days off from work to visit their hometowns to be with their family. On the day of Seollal, everyone gets up early, puts on their best clothes, and bows to their elders as a reaffirmation of family ties. Feasts are held with specially prepared food such as tteokguk (rice cake soup) and mandu guk (dumpling soup). People play traditional games, fly kites, or spin tops.

Independence Movement Day (March 1)
This day commemorates the Declaration of Independence proclaimed on March 1, 1919, while under Japanese colonization.

Children's Day (May 5, substitute holiday May 7)
This day celebrates children and their parents' hopes for them to grow healthy and become good citizens. On this day, parents take their little ones to children's parks, amusement parks, zoos, or to the cinema for a full day of fun and games.

Buddha's Birthday (May 22)
Falling on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, elaborate and solemn rituals are held at many Buddhist temples across the country and lanterns are hung along streets leading to temples.

Memorial Day (June 6)
Memorial Day is set aside to honor the soldiers and civilians who have given their lives for their country. The largest ceremony is held at the National Cemetery in Seoul.

Local Election Day (June 13)
On this day, citizens throughout the nation will vote for the election of officials at the local government level. Held once every four years, the day is an official holiday so all citizens can exercise their democratic right to vote.

Liberation Day (August 15)
This day commemorates Japan's acceptance of the Allies' terms of surrender in 1945 and the resulting liberation of Korea.

Chuseok (September 23-25, substitute holiday September 26)
Chuseok is one of the year’s most important traditional holidays. It is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Chuseok is often referred to as Korean Thanksgiving Day. It’s a celebration of the harvest and thanksgiving for the bounty of the earth. Family members come from all over the country for memorial rituals, called charye, at the graves of their ancestors.

National Foundation Day (October 3)
This day commemorates the founding of the Korean nation by the legendary god-king Dangun. A simple ceremony is held at Chamseongdan Altar on top of Manisan Mountain on Ganghwado Island.

Hangeul Day (October 9)
Hangeul Day is a commemoration held to remember the creation of Hangeul, the country's native alphabet as proclaimed by the publication of Hunminjeongeum on this day in 1446.

Christmas (December 25)
Christmas is observed as a national holiday in Korea as in many other countries. To celebrate the festive season, Christmas trees and lights can be seen all over Korea.

Clothing

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No restriction on clothing but a strict dress code exists for visiting the DMZ and modest clothing is expected when entering Buddhist temples. Shoes must be removed when entering someone’s house and some restaurants.

Currency

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Exchange Rate - please check with your travel expert for the most up to date exchange rate.

Major credit cards are widely accepted except at small shops or traditional markets.

Currency Exchange
Conveniently located at the airport or at banks throughout cities.

Cash can be withdrawn at ATM machines throughout the country

Language

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Korean is the official language of Korea. English is widely spoken in major cities throughout the country.

Medical

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1330 Korea Travel Hotline available 24/7
In order to assist travelers with immigration, safety and medical needs, tourist complaints, simply dialing 1330 can connect visitors to 119 Emergency Rescue Service, KTO Complaint Center. Languages offered: Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, and Malay.

Speak to your travel expert about Travel Insurance.

Tap water is safe to drink in Korea

Streets, parks, public areas/facilities and many restaurants are non-smoking.

Tipping

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Tipping is not customary in Korea but is customary and often accepted by hotel staff and tour guides.

VAT/Tax Refund
Stores with a “Tax Refund” or “Tax Free” sign offer tax refund on purchases over 30,000 won ($25 USD). Tax refund desks are available at Incheon International Airport and at designated locations throughout the city.

Transportation

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Flights
Korea is home to 8 international airports and 7 domestic airports. Many of them connect directly to cities in Asia. From the U.S. direct flights available from these 11 cities: Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Honolulu, Las Vegas, LA, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, DC. These direct flights are serviced by American Airlines, Asiana Airlines, Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines.

Ferries
As a peninsula, there are many ferry services to ports around Korea as well as to China, Japan and Russia.

Cruise Ports
Korea has five cruise ports in Busan, Incheon, Jeju, Sokcho, and Yeosu. Major international cruise lines make calls throughout the year.

Trains
AREX(Airport Railroad Express) connects Incheon International Airport to downtown Seoul.

KTX
Korea’s high speed train that connects major parts of the country within a 3- hour window.

Buses
Korea boasts a an extensive network of express buses and intercity buses connecting the entire country.

Subways
Operated in Seoul and four other cities including Busan, Daejeon, Daegu and Gwangju. Subways are clean, modern and inexpensive.

Taxis
Taxis are available 24/7, safe, clean and inexpensive. Translation services available in some brands of taxis.

Rental Cars
All major international brands of rental car companies are available in Korea

Visa Info

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U.S. Passport holders require no visa to enter South Korea for up to 90 days.

Weather

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Four seasons
Spring(warm and sunny, 50°F - 68°F), Summer (hot and humid with short monsoon season in June, 80°F - 90s°F), Fall (dry and breezy, 45°F - 75s°F), Winter (dry and snowy, 20°F - 40s°F).

Time Difference
Time Zone: GMT +9