Updated: Apr 11, 2019
Reposted with permission from Expat and the City, please visit the website for more tips!
In today’s age, we all carry around a rectangular device to help us stay connected to our friends, family and followers. Some of us carry around more than one device (I am one of those people). When you travel to a foreign place, it’s even more imperative that your precious device is with you so that you can easily find your way around.
Streets of Busan, South Korea.
The internet speed in Korea is amazingly fast! If you don’t have a Korean phone, you can purchase a SIM card at the airport or a local phone shop (there’s one on every corner!). Or you can purchase a pocket WiFi (a popular one is the Olleh Egg) so you can stay connected on the street. Most cafés and restaurants have free WiFi that you can use (as long as you purchase something). Even the subway system has free WiFi!
I’ve compiled a list of smartphone apps, and important websites worth bookmarking, that will help you survive whilst traveling and living in Korea — all in English I may add!
KakaoTalk is the epitome of communication in Korea. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e uses it. It’s a great app to use with other foreigners and expats you meet along your travels to make plans and be in the know (I was in a bunch of chat groups with my fellow teachers). You can even order food, send money and go shopping on the app!
Love the cute Kakao characters, too!
Never get lost down alley ways to find your favourite bbq place again with KakaoMap. What I like about this map in particular is that there’s an English version that turns the street names from Hanguel to English, which makes it easier to pronounce the street names if you’re not familiar with the language. The app gives you driving directions, bus stops and recommendations of restaurants in the area you are navigating.
KakaoMap helps to navigate the small streets of Korea.
Any traveler that looks at the Seoul subway map will probably have their head spinning in five seconds. Enter the Subway app that is a godsend when hopping on the super fast (and reliable) subway system in the major cities of Korea. This app has both a Korean and English version and gives a real-time update of each subway line in Seoul, Busan, Daejeon and Daegu. The interface is simple and very easy to understand. No more staring at the map and figuring out transfers from one line to the other!
The landlady that owns my building is the sweetest and friendliest lady in the world. Although not speaking a word of English, we somehow communicate and understand each other through body language. But thank goodness for Google translate that helps me out in a pinch when body language just doesn’t cut it. Although it doesn’t directly translate word-for-word, you can get the gist by turning on the speaking option and having the Korean speaker talk directly into the app.
TRAVELER TIP: Use the camera function to hover over menus when you need direct translation fast!
Ask Ajumma is a time (and life) saver for living in Korea. If you have any question – from ordering food to sending a package home to delivering groceries – Ask Ajumma Wonderful is that personal assistant you’ve always wanted!
One of the downsides of living in Korea is the air pollution, also known as “yellow dust” that often blows over from China. Koreans take this very seriously and when you see locals wearing masks, you know the air quality is baaaad.
Yongsang-gu. Photo by Lucien Tan via Flickr CC.
You can prepare for this by downloading the Air Quality app, which will tell you the current AQI (air quality index) number. It’s coloured-coded so if it’s in the green, you know it’s clean! AQI can change throughout the day so make sure you carry a mask with you in case you need it!
Asia definitely knows what’s up with glorious McDelivery! When I first arrived in Korea, I noticed the number of motorbikes on the road (and sidewalks!) – the majority of them yellow with the golden arches on the back. You can order McDonald’s 24/7 and within 30-60 minutes, you’ve got someone knocking at your door. Talk about a happy meal!
McDonalds. Photo by Daniel Wendell via Flickr CC.
If you’re tired of fast food and you want some Korean cuisine, YoGiYo can deliver just about anything to your door. Oh, and when you do order Korean food, they’ll deliver real plates and cutlery. When you’re finished eating, simply wrap your food up in the garbage bag provided, and leave it outside your door. Someone will come back and pick up your dirty dishes!
There are some items that are difficult to find in Korea – such as health supplements and vegetarian/vegan products – so ordering from iherb.com is the way to go! However, according to Korean customs, you can only import up to 6 bottles of vitamins/supplements per order. But the good news is, turn around time is fast!
Want to get 5% off your order? Use my link to receive your discount, HERE!
You can get just about anything on Gmarket – both that are sold in stores as well as items that are hard to find. You can even order groceries and have them sent to you!
You might also find these links useful: