Traveling to foreign countries you can see a lot of new interesting things, check in in many awesome locations, meet new great people, enjoy new kind of food and gain a lot of new experiences. That‘s why I really love traveling. But before you get to the destination of your trip, you need to organise many other things, too, e.g. apply for a visa, think about how to get cash, purchasing a sim card, take a cab, etc.
In this post, I’m gonna share with you some good things to know upon your arrival, that might be helpful for you first visit to South-Korea.
1. Visa for Korea
You may need a visa, maybe not to enter South-Korea depending on your nationality, purpose and length of stay. The best information about that is available on the official page of Visa Korea Portal .
Please check it before you plan to come.
2. Immigration and Customs 👮🏼
2.1 Filling the forms
So, now everything is booked and you’re on the airplane ✈️ to Korea. Before landing, you may receive an Arrival card as well as a Traveler declaration form (one per group) from the flight attendants. They both need to be filled out and handed to officers when you pass the immigration.
In case you don’t, you can grab one before you enter the passports control or pass the customs with your luggages.
The forms are available in English and quite easy to understand. In my experience, it would be quicker for you if you have your own pen 🖊, so take one with you. Also make sure that all information is correct and consistent, e.g. your purpose of visit should match to your visa type, etc.
2.2 Passport controll
When you arrive, you will see two queues leading to the passport control, one for Korean citizens, the other for foreigners. The officers will check your passport, in case necessary other documents, take fingerprints and decide whether you can enter the country or not. However, there‘s nothing to be worry about if you are not a criminal and only come as a tourist for a short period.
Once you pass the passport control, you’ll receive a piece of paper as “Entry Confirmation”, instead of a stamp. You will sometimes need this paper for example when you want to make a rental or internet contract. Hence, keep it carefully.
And now, you’re officially in South-Korea!
2.3 Tax declaration
After getting your luggages, you’ll have to pass the customs. In case you bring any thing above the allowance or products to sell in Korea, you may need to declare. So be aware and prepare all required documents in English, such as description, purposes, bill, etc.
In case you don’t have anything to declare, you can use the “Nothing to declare” lane. Sometimes they’ll send you to the x-ray to check once more. But if you follow the rules written on the back of the declaration from, there’s nothing to worry about. 😌
Details can be found on the Korea customs service homepage
3. Other things to be managed at the airport
3.1 Credit cards and ₩ 💳💶
Prior to your trip you may need to check with your bank, whether your credit cards can be used in Korea and how much the fee for using the card abroad would be. If it does and the fee is acceptable, you can use credit cards to pay almost everywhere in Korea. If not, maybe it would be better to exchange some money in advance.
However it’s advisable to have some cash as well in case you wanna by some street food 😊. There are some ATM and currency exchange booths right behind the customs exit that provides global services from where you can get cash easily. Remember that pin code is required for ATM cash withdraw and some banks will charge you withdraw fee.
If you’re in the city and need cash from your foreign account, I recommend to use the global ATM of Hanabank (KEB), which supports foreign cards. I was trying to get cash from different ATMs, but none worked, except KEB‘s.
2.2 Rent a wifi transmitter or buy SIM Card
They say that free wifi is available everywhere in Korea, but it’s not really stable and fast. At the airport, you can rent wifi (transmitter) or buy SIM card to use within 30 days.
A friend showed me last time the service of kkday.com, through which you can order SIM card before you arrive and pick it up at the airport. I’ve never tried this, but that sounds good, too, doesn’t it.
I’ve tried to buy a pre-paid SIM card in the city but was not really sucessful, since not many stores sell it. But lately I’ve heard from a friend, that he could buy one from a KT store. So if you need to, give it a try and pass by KT.
2.3 Buy and load T-Money card
T-Money card is a RFID transportation card that you can load the money and use for subway, buses and taxi. It costs only ₩2.500 (~$2,5), can be used everywhere in the country and even give you discount to enter some tourist attractions. Moreover, it can be recharged at any subway station, that’s why I prefer it than Cash bee 🐝 .
You can buy and load it from the convenient stores at the airport too.
4. Transportation to your hotel from Incheon Airport
There are many ways to leave the airport: by bus, Airport express (train), Taxi or rental car. When you’re online with your smartphone, you can simply use Naver or Kakao Map to find the way to your hotel. All you need is to type in your address and search for it. Then just follow the signposts to get to your station.
4.1 Airport express bus 🚌
There are a lot of buses from Incheon or Gimpo International Airport to different destinations. From Incheon International Airport to Seoul center it takes approximately 1-1,5h and costs around ₩15.000 (~$15) per person. Tickets are available at the bus ticket counters.
If you already know which bus you should take and have the T-Money card loaded, you can directly go to the bus platform and pay the fee by T-Money card when enter the bus. Your luggages will be numbered and kept in the luggage storage during the drive. You’ll get it back at your station.
4.2 Airport Railroad Express (AREX) 🚊
The AREX is the fastest option if you want to reach Seoul Station from Incheon International Airport. It only takes about 50 minutes to travel this 63km-long distance and costs only ₩9.000 (~9$).
You can buy tickets from the ticket counter or use the T-Money card.
4.3 Taxi 🚕
Taxi is a bit more expensive than Bus and AREX, but more convenient if you have a lot of luggages or your destination is difficult to reach by public transportation.
There are two kinds of Taxi in Seoul: the normal one with orange color and luxury one in black (also called black taxi), which is more expensive but has better seat and free wifi.
From the Incheon Airport to Seoul Center it may cost around ₩50.000 (~50$) with normal taxi, plus toll.
4.4 Rental car 🚙
With an international drivers License you’re allowed to drive car in Korea. Through car rental companies such as Sixt, Avis, etc. you can rent and pick up a car directly from the Airport.
However, it’s still a very expensive option if you stay in Seoul because of traffic jam, fuel costs and high parking fee.
Leave a comment or contact me if you want to know more…
Have a safe trip!