This is by far the most expensive way to learn about Korea that there will be for most people who read this blog. It will also be what many would consider the most desirable method to learn about Korea. This article will look at 1 pro and 1 con when it comes to visiting the Republic of Korea to learn about Korean language and culture. You probably already know what they are, but let’s examine them anyway.
Pro: You Are in Korea
The biggest pro to going to Korea is the fact that it is the center of any and all things Korean. Television programs, music, games and all things Korean, for the most part, comes from South Korea. You will get to see Korean life from an actual Korean perspective. You can see the culture for yourself. The food is not full of fillers or MSG, but is the way it is supposed to be. Changes in Korean language happen in Korea, then spread out to other places. So being in Korea will allow you to learn the changes to the language before people will learn them in other parts of the world. Being in Korea will also allow you to see places that are not normally talked about. You can learn history in the countryside of Korea, experience island life in Jeju or even taste the fresh seafood off of the boats in Busan. Being in Korea will give you a complete experience that you would not get anywhere else.
Con: The Expense
The biggest con to visiting South Korea for many is what it will cost in a person in the way of time and money. If you are married and/or have children, it will cost you even more. And if you are trying to travel “Gangnam Style”, you will pay even more. Spending a week or two in Korea usually is not enough for most people. Yes, you can do some tourist things in that time, buy most do not get to soak up as much of the culture as they may need or want to. For most people, 90 days is the longest they can legally stay in the Republic of Korea via a passport. If you cannot stay that long, see if you can stay for at least a month. Here are some tips on how you can save some money on your trip to Korea.
Travel During Non Peak Seasons
Often times, tickets to Korea can be cheaper during the winter since most people don’t want to travel to Korea during that time. Late fall and early spring are also times when you can save some money as well.
Look For Flight Deals
You may have your favorite airline, but maybe a different airline can offer you a better rate to Seoul than your current airline. If so, it may be worth taking a look at using them. The cheapest I’ve seen airline tickets to Seoul were deals from San Francisco to Seoul for under $600.00 USD round trip. It may help if you fly to one city using one airline and using a different one to get to Seoul and back. However, if you have a favorite airline, check if they have a credit card you can apply for. Travel cards usually don’t charge a foreign transaction fee, and can earn you bonus miles for booking a flight with that airline using their credit card. This will take you even closer to being able to travel, at least one way, for free in the future.
Staying at a hostile instead of a hotel can save you money as well. In fact, you can stay at some for free. How? Many hostiles need workers to help with cleaning. If you look carefully, you can find some that will offer you a free stay, some food and maybe an extra perk or two if you help them with some work for a few hours a day. If you don’t like this option, you can always look for Airbnb‘s and other rentals that may be cheaper than staying in a hotel.
Eat Street Food
Street food is Korean food, but often times will fill you up for a fraction of the price that eating at a restaurant will cost you. The food is prepared right there, so you can have a hot meal or a cool treat whenever you want. You also tend to have a wide variety of choices when it comes to eating out if you are in the right areas.
Use Public Transportation
You may be used to renting a car when you travel, and it may be the best way for you to get around without having to wait for anyone else, but renting a car in Korea could prove to be very expensive. Not only will you have to pay for the car and gas, but you will need to have insurance that covers you when you are in a foreign country. Some have been able to get around Seoul on less than 5000 Won, less than $5 USD, a day using buses and subway lines. It may be crowded, but it can be a time, money and stress saver.
Going to South Korea is not easy for everyone. But overall, it is the best way to learn about Korean language, like and culture. If you can go, even for just a week or two, I highly recommend it. If you do go for a short period of time, do not spend all of your time in tourist areas. Go out to where the Korean people are. See what they see, do what they do and eat what they eat. If so, you will build up a better appreciation for Korea and all things Korean.