Neon lights, karaoke and plenty of delicious food. You're thinking Japan, right? Wrong! Welcome to the Land of the Morning Calm.

The People’s Republic of Korea has certainly come a long way since the 1950s. Today there’s 24-hour cities made of glass and neon, chaotic markets where everything is for sale, and a thriving kimchi-stained food scene that the world is just starting to discover. And all of this is delicately balanced with a reverence for Old Korea – the temples, slate-roof houses and royal palaces that reflect a proud history dating back 5,000 years! It doesn’t matter whether you want to ramble across South Korea’s mountains and beaches, or eat your way through the streets of Seoul – you just need to make sure you get there, pronto!

South Korea travel highlights

Our South Korea trips

Articles on South Korea

South Korea holiday information

South Korea facts

Geography & environment

South Korea festival calendar

Food & drink in South Korea

Further reading

Best time to visit South Korea

Health & Safety

Useful links

South Korea travel FAQs

Australia: No - not required
Belgium: No - not required
Canada: No - not required
Germany: No - not required
Ireland: No - not required
Netherlands: No - not required
New Zealand: No - not required
South Africa: No - not required
Switzerland: No - not required
United Kingdom: No - not required
USA: No - not required

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into South Korea. . Most travellers do not need visas for Korea for stays of up to 30 days. You must also have an onward or return ticket.

If you are a 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 foreign passport.

Tipping in some establishments (particularly more traditional ones) is considered impolite, and is sometimes indicated with a 'no tipping' sign! Western-style, tourist-orientated places, however, usually welcome and receive tips. Use your discretion.

With one of the most developed internet infrastructures in the world, accessing the internet is easy is South Korea. Wi-Fi hot spots and cyber cafes are easily found in the cities, although when travelling in remote areas please be aware that internet access may be harder to find.

Travellers should be able to use their mobile phones in South Korea's cities and urban areas, as coverage is good. As in other countries, rural and mountainous areas may have less mobile phone receptivity. Ensure global roaming is activated with your service provider before leaving home.

South Korea has a combination of squat toilets and western-style flushable toilets. It's a good idea to carry your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer or soap as these are rarely provided in public toilets.

Can of soft drink = USD 2
Bottle of local beer = USD 3
Street food meal = USD 2 - USD 4
Basic restaurant meal (soup, noodles etc.) = USD 5 - USD 9
Bottle of mid-range wine = USD 13
Sit-down dinner at a nice restaurant = USD 17 - USD 35

Tap water is considered safe to drink in many parts of South Korea unless otherwise marked. Ask your leader for guidance if you are unsure whether to drink tap water in the area you are travelling in.

Credit cards are usually accepted by hotels and large retailers. Smaller shops and restaurants may not accept credit cards, so always carry enough money to cover purchases, as paying with a credit card may not always be an option in South Korea.

ATMs are plentiful in large cities and urban centres, although not all ATMs accept foreign cards. Look for Global or Citbank ATMs, which usually accept cards from other countries.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance

1 Jan New Year's Day
27 Jan Seollal
28 Jan Seollal
29 Jan Seollal
1 Mar March 1st Movement / Independence Movement Day
3 May Buddha's Birthday
5 May Children's Day 
6 Jun Memorial Day
15 Aug Liberation Day
3 Oct Chuseok / Korean Thanksgiving
3 Oct National Foundation Day (Gaecheonjeol)
4 Oct Chuseok / Korean Thanksgiving
5 Oct Chuseok / Korean Thanksgiving
9 Oct Hangeul Day
25 Dec Christmas Day

Please note these dates are for 2017. For a current list of public holidays in South Korea go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/south-korea/public-holidays