Why it’s great to be a foreign traveler in Korea

Special sales, free shuttles and specialized rides — these perks make it fun to be foreign.

As published on CNN Travel

With so many foreign travelers visiting Korea on shopping sprees, it seems Korea has been busy devising ways to say “visit often” and “thank you” at the same time.

There is so much special treatment for foreign travelers, we wonder why Koreans aren’t more envious.

Here are five benefits of being a foreign traveler in Korea.

Awesome foreigner discounts

If you’re a foreign traveler in Korea, just think of your passport as one giant coupon.

As part of the Visit Korea Year campaign, Korea is offering a wealth of discounts exclusively to foreigners throughout 2012.

Coupons are offered on everything from amusement parks, cosmetics, restaurants, cafés, multi shops, performances, and short-term rental phone services.

Discounts up to 30 percent are also available for KTX travel, Korea’s high-speed rail system, which runs between Seoul and such cities as Busan, Daejeon, Ullsan and Gwangju.

Another offer by Visit Korea Year includes the “One More Night Promotion.” Stay at any of the participating hotels for more than three nights and get an extra night free.

The majority of participating hotels are five-star accommodations such as the Sheraton Grande Walkerhill, Ritz-Carlton and Shilla hotels.

Room rates and promotional periods differ at each hotel.

(To participate in these programs you will have to present legal documentation of your foreign residency, such as an original passport or ID card)

Free Travel Services

It’s funny how our favorite word never gets stale.

Two shuttle bus routes will be provided for foreigners, free of charge, until the end of 2012.

The first route is from Seoul to Jeonju, while the second route is from Seoul to Busan, Korea’s second largest city after Seoul, located on the southeast coast.

Boarding locations and times are available on the website. However, reservations must be made in advance and confirmed via email. It’s recommended you book about three weeks prior your trip, or earlier if possible.

+82 1577 2507

Guides in various languages

Scared about visiting a country where you don’t know anyone and don’t speak the language?

Enter the Goodwill Guide, a Korean guide who speaks your language, accompanies you on your explorations, and helps you communicate regarding expenses, food, and transportation, as well as showing you around famous sites and landmarks.

The best part — it’s free, courtesy of Korea Tourism Organization. But you are expected to pay for your Korean counterpart’s admission tickets, food, accommodation, transportation.

To apply, fill out the online application.

If the Goodwill Guide is not at hand, the BBB (Before Babel Brigade) offers a 24-hour volunteer interpretation service in 17 languages.

If foreigners encounter any communication problems — whether figuring out how much something costs or trying to tell taxi driver where to go — all they have to do is dial 1588 5644 from anywhere inside Korea, select the language preference and wait for someone to pick up and assist.

The call costs about 30 for three minutes from a landline and about 40 from a mobile phone depending on your service provider.


Another 24-hour travelers’ help line is also available for travelers who need English, Chinese or Japanese language assistance for travel information on restaurants, hotels, tourist sites, transportation and traffic information.

Just dial the appropriate area code of your inquiry along with 1330. South Korea area codes can be found here.

A similar service is also available through the Dasan Call Center, which employs translators in English, Chinese and Japanese as well, but also includes Vietnamese and Mongolian. For this service dial 02-120 anywhere inside Korea.

International Taxis

Korean international taxi drivers specialize in three foreign languages — English, Chinese and Japanese.

Unlike regular taxis they provide three fare options. A flat rate fare is usually the cheapest option for airport transportation, hourly/daily rentals for tours around Seoul and regular meter fares.

There are three types of international taxis: the five-seater medium taxi, the five-seater luxury taxi and the nine-seater luxury taxi.

Rates vary depending on taxi types, distances and times. Reservations must be made in advance online or by telephone. For more information click here.

Korea Smart Card, 10/F, Seoul City Tower Building, 581 Namdaemunno 5-GA, Jung-gu; +82-1644-2255