Money and General Travel Advice

Money and General Travel Advice

We offer general useful information in terms of travel advice, money and preemptive measure prior to travelling to South Korea.

Make sure you exchange money to get some local currency- the South Korean Won - prior to travelling. Oh can still do it in South Korea unless you're trying to change Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes. There are places, such as food vendors on the street, that do not accept credit cards. Although there are ATMs scattered all over the major cities, they do not always accept foreign cards. Keep an eye out for those displaying a sign saying "Global", as they normally accept foreign cards and they might be your last resource at some point.

You might also want to prepare yourself for a natural disaster, such as a typhoon, particularly from June to November. Make sure you monitor the progress of an impending storm on the Korean Meteorological Administration website and follow any advice given by the local authorities.

For any other emergency you face abroad, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need help immediately because something has happened to a friend or relative while they were abroad, contact the Foreign and Conmonwealth Office (FCO) in London.

The British Government website offers a foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you are overseas.

"The FCO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can't provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you're concerned about whether or not it's safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you're travelling to, together with information from other sources you've identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it's safe for you to travel.

"When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we'll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel.

"Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Although in some cases it might not be possible or it might be too late, if you wish to cancel or change your holiday, your travel company is the one you should contact.

"The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can't offer a refund to their customers."

You should visit the Citizen's Advice Bureau website if you wish to get more information about your rights. If you have problems with a flight booking, the website of the Civil Aviation Authority is the place to visit. "For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you're not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

If you are a British National and you need more information about travelling abroad that isn't covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry on their official website. Although they are not able to provide tailored service for specific trips, they are a wealth of information.

Entry requirements and health

Entry requirements and health

You wouldn't want to make it all the way to South Korea and then find out you are not allowed to enter or you don't have all that's necessary to be allowed past the border. You also want to stay safe, get all your jabs beforehand as the body takes time to build immunity to certain viruses. Here are some guidelines and recommendations by the UK government to make your trip as smooth as possible.

This information shows "the UK government's understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen' passport.

"The authorities in the country or territory you're travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you're unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you'll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you're travelling to."

It is also worth checking with your passport provider or travel company just to double check that your passport and other travel documents comply with South Korean government's requirements.

When it comes to visas, it really depends on where you are from. "If you have a British Citizen passport you can enter South Korea as a tourist for up to 90 days without a visa. You must also have an onward or return ticket. It's illegal to work on a tourist visa, whether as a teacher or in any other capacity.

"If you have a different type of British nationality, or are travelling for any purpose other than tourism, you should check visa requirements with the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, London."

Some other piece of information that is important to keep in mind is that your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into South Korea. "UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from South Korea."

Always check the website of the Korea Customs Service before travelling just to check on restricted or prohibited items that may not be brought into the country. "If you are in any doubt about the legality of any items - including medications -you should declare them on entry."

This is important information to bear in mind before travelling if you are a British male of Korean origin whose name appears on the Korean family register: you may be liable for military service even if you are travelling on your British passport.

To get a visa to teach English in South Korea you must have a 3-year university degree. A TEFL qualification alone is not sufficient. "British nationals teaching English in South Korea have sometimes found living and working conditions to be below expectations, and have encountered difficulties getting the correct visas and residence permits. There have also been complaints of breach of contract, confiscation of passports, payment being withheld and inadequate or no medical insurance. Check all terms and conditions of your employment carefully and if possible speak to other teachers from the place where you plan to work before accepting any offer. For those in possession of a work visa all employment changes must be authorised by Korean Immigration."

It is important to visit your GP a month or six weeks before travelling to check if you need any jabs and for the vaccinations to take effect, and also for other preventive measures. "Check the latest country-specific information and advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNac) on the Travel Health Pro website or from NHS (Scotland) on the fitfortravel website. Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website."

Although medical and dental care in South Korea is, in general, really good, it is often expensive. To top it all up, there's a good chance that staff may not speak English. That is why you need to make sure you have the right travel health insurance and enough funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation. "If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 119 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment."

Beware that there's a risk of tick-borne disease across Korea in spring. If you are taking part in leisure activities that involve grass, make sure you wear long sleeved shirt/tops and trousers.

UK government Safety tips

UK government Safety tips

Most of the 140,000 British nationals who visit South Korea every year do so trouble-free, but then there is that small fraction of tourists who encounter some kind of mishap. To minimize the consequences of these mishaps, the UK government has compiled a few guidelines to help travellers make the most of their trip. First of you all, if you are a British citizen abroad, they advise you to contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission if you need help from the UK government.

They start by giving some historical context and a summary of current events in terms of relations with North Korea to warn travellers. "From the start of 2018, there has been a renewal of direct contact between the North and South Korean governments, as well as between North Korea and the United States. Under the Panmunjom Declaration signed at the inter-Korean summit on 27 April, South Korea and North Korea pledged to agree a peace treaty formally to end the Korean War, alongside a number of other commitments to build inter-Korean ties and reduce military tensions. On 12 June, US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. In a joint statement, North Korea reaffirmed its previous commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula."

Although North Korea announced a halt to nuclear testing back in April 2018, "the level of tension on the Korean peninsula can change with little notice. Tensions increased after the sinking of the South Korean Navy Ship Cheonan and an artillery attack against Yeonpyeong Island in 2010; when the DPRK carried out 2 missile tests in 2012; and after nuclear tests in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Tensions can also rise during South Korean-US military exercises, which take place throughout the year. You should keep in touch with news broadcast, follow the advice of the local authorities and check this travel advice for any updates."

In times of tension, you should not only follow local procedures, but have your own contingency plan and make sure you have your passport at hand as well as other important documents, such as nationality documents and birth and marriage certificates, and medication.

In the event of civil emergencies, the South Korean government has developed a smartphone application with civil emergency advice, which comprise shelter locations, different types of alarms, medical facilities and emergency services. The way to look for it is by searching "emergency ready app" on Android or Apple app stores.

Although it is not common to get robbed in South Korea, take special care of passports, credit cards and money when you find yourself in crowded areas as well as in areas that attract foreigners, such as Itaewon. "Take care when travelling alone at night and only use legitimate taxis or public transport. For emergency assistance, or to report a crime, call 112 for police (a 24 hour interpretation service is available) and 119 for ambulance and fire."

If you are thinking of hitting the road of South Korea, you'll need an International Driving Permit, and you better have fully comprehensive insurance. "Car and motorbike drivers are presumed to be at fault in accidents involving motorcycles or pedestrians. Criminal charges and heavy penalties are common when accidents result in injury, even if guilt is not proved. Watch out for motorcycles travelling at speed on pavements."

If you'd rather not rent a car, beware taxi drivers here tend to speak little or no English, but translation services are available. To make your trip easier, make sure you have your destination written in Korean, if possible with a map.

Before you travel, make sure you know the local laws and customs, as a serious violation may lead to a jail or death sentence. "Penalties for possession, use and trafficking of illegal drugs can result in long jail sentences and heavy fines. This applies even to personal use of small amounts of marijuana. British nationals have been detained solely on the basis of drug tests."

If you are not going to incur in any crime, just make sure you are a practical traveller. "Carry some form of identification at all times and make sure your next-of-kin details have been entered into the back of your passport."

Useful information before travelling to Korea

Useful information before travelling to Korea

As exciting as it may be to explore a new place, it is important to do some research prior to travelling in order to make the most of your travelling experience. Before you start packing, here is some useful information:


First of all, the duration of your trip determines what you are going to do there, your budget and so on, so you might want to know how long you need to see the country. The duration of your trip depends on what you are doing there. Whether you are shopping, sightseeing or having other experiences, one week should be enough to get a feel of the place, unless you want to explore places off the beaten path.


Although you might be able to get away with speaking in English, some vendors speak Korean only; they might still understand you if you speak Chinese. Otherwise, you better be good at hand language or at using Google translate.

Money matters

Although most places accept credit cards, it's worth having some cash for vendors and to try street food. It's also safer to have some cash on you. Although South Korea is safer than Thailand and it's less likely that you'll get mugged, have a backup travel card that you can keep separate from the card you normally use.

Public transport

South Korean public transport is very reliable, and trains are usually on time. You can save a bit of money if you buy the Korea T-money card; just don't forget to tap in and out of the gantries when you hop on the train.

Although cabs in South Korea are relatively cheap compared to the Western World, black cabs can be quite expensive. Take orange/silver ones instead in order to save a bit of money.

Public toilets

Much like the West, South Korea houses enough public toilets to satisfy the demand. Fortunately, they are clean and equipped with toilet roll.


If you don't mind the heat, the hottest period in South Korea takes place from late July to early August. Otherwise, your best bet is to schedule your visit in spring or autumn. If this is not possible, and you are stuck with the merciless sun of the summer, make sure you wear a cap and sun cream.

Drinking water

Great news for thrifty travellers: tap water here is drinkable. Just carry a plastic bottle and refill it with water from the tap. If you still don't feel it's safe enough, you can buy bottles of water from convenience stores and vending machines.


Is it worth discovering the city with tour? Definitely yes. At least you can get your bearings with the help of a professional before you venture and discover the city on your own terms. Besides, there are many areas of South Korea you won't get to see unless you are in a tour.

Travel apps

Train maps can be very confusing and overwhelming if you don't know the area. That is why having a train line app - such as Seoul Metro and Busan metro - that knows everything and makes your travel by metro easier is your best bet.

Tax claims and duty free shops

To claim taxes, you have to spend more than KRW30,000 at the beauty stores in Myeong Dong, which is one of the famous shopping districts in Seoul Korea. The place to claim your taxes is at the airport, but it can be quite complicated and troublesome, apart from being slow process as it is very busy, so it might not be worth your time.


Although South Koreans are known for being very friendly, this is not an infallible rule for everyone. Be warned that some locals, the older generation in particular, can be quite obnoxious. Just beware and don't take it personally or be shocked if you get elbowed on the train.