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Somewhere in between booking your ticket to South Korea and packing your bags, you find yourself planning what to do on your trip, maybe thinking you’ve got it covered with your normal apps and sites you use. Or if you’re in the process of moving there, maybe you’re wondering what apps and websites would be helpful for day-to-day life.
But let me help you out a bit. As a traveler, I use Google Maps often; in South Korea, it doesn’t work as well. At home, I like having the convenience of Amazon and use it from time to time; but that can get expensive really fast if you’re shipping to South Korea.
Here, I’ve laid out some useful websites and apps to solve those issues and give you one less thing to stress about.
KakaoTalk is the messaging app that everyone uses in South Korea. Even as young as the students in my elementary school to the older ladies in my Zumba class! With the cutest emojis and Kakao Friends characters, like the ever popular Ryan (who is not a bear, but a lion without a mane), you’ll be just as hooked on using it as everyone else.
Naver Map is the Google Maps of Korea. In my first couple of years living there, I believe it was only in Korean, but to prepare for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, a thorough English version was released. Before that, I used multiple apps to look up subway routes, bus routes, and directions. After it was released, it was the only one I used for all three!
Kakao T is needed because there is no Uber, Lyft, or Grab in Korea; there are only taxis. Of course you can always just flag down a taxi, but if there aren’t any around, Kakao T is the way to go. You can even choose to pay in the app if you hook up your Korean debit card to it, or pay the driver in cash/credit card upon completion of your ride.
Korail (KTX) & SRT are the high-speed rail companies for traveling on the train throughout Korea. The SRT is slightly faster than the KTX in getting from Seoul to Busan, but there are more destinations on the KTX. While you can book tickets in person, both companies have functional English websites for booking tickets in advance.
Also, don’t forget to buy a T-money card at the airport or any convenience store to easily get around on the subway and bus. You can even use it for taxi rides and to buy things at the convenience stores as well; just top up as you go!
If you’re short on time while traveling in Korea or you live there and want to take a day/weekend trip but don’t want to DIY, there are several travel groups that host trips and events for foreigners. These companies create day/weekend itineraries for the year-round festivals that occur as well as other various trips throughout the year.
WinK Travels, Goh Travel Korea, and Good Times ROK are three companies I’ve used in the past and would definitely recommend. Their Facebook pages offer the most up-to-date information on their trips with detailed information.
Trazy is another company you should check out for information on Korean tourism and discounted tickets for tours or attractions.
The ever-popular Klook site is also a great place to check out discounted tickets for tours or attractions in South Korea and even the rest of Asia as well. Use my link to get a small discount when you sign up!
Yogiyo is a delivery app that makes getting food from pretty much anywhere in Korea easily accessible. The food delivery game in Korea is on another level; seriously – you can get fried chicken and beer delivered to the beach! But, this app is all in Korean.
Not fluent in Korean, I got by using Yogiyo because I knew how to read Hangul and also used Papago or Google Translate by screenshotting everything LOL!
Happy Point & CJ ONE are rewards cards for those living in South Korea. Certain stores and restaurants offer Happy Points or CJ ONE points per purchase. Initially, you’ll get a card that you have to register on the website, then going forward you can use the app.
Scan when you buy something, get rewards points, and use points as Korean won for future purchases. I got many free ice creams from Baskin Robbins and movie tickets from CGV this way.
Coupang & Gmarket are basically South Korea’s version of Amazon. If you are living there, these two sites are extremely helpful. Coupang doesn’t have an English site, but works well with Google Translate. What it does have is Rocket Shipping, which is next day delivery for free if you order 19,800 KRW or more as well as Rocket Fresh for grocery delivery the next morning. For international items, I believe if you order 29,800 KRW or more, shipping is free and takes only ~5 days.
To my experience, Gmarket carries more international/foreign items, and while still fairly quick with shipping, it doesn’t have a feature like Rocket Shipping. You might need help setting it up on your first order if you aren’t fluent in Korean (and because you need to hook up your phone number and other complicated stuff), but once you get the hang of it, it’ll make your life so much easier!
That rounds up my list. Hopefully you feel better equipped for your trip or life in South Korea with this list of websites and apps. Wishing you happy travels when it’s finally safe to do so!
With wanderlust & ‘til next time,