Travel to South Korea is on the rise, with over 13 million international tourists arriving in 2015. Most of those travelers take the short flight from neighboring Japan, China, and other places in East Asia. Western travelers who aren’t in country for military service, business, or to teach English are still somewhat of a novelty.
Traveling in South Korea can be a unique and rewarding experience that feels removed from the usual stops along the Banana Pancake Trail in Asia.
If you’re already on your way to one of the well-trodden places on the trail, many of the cheapest flights to Southeast Asia from the United States pass through Seoul. With a little planning, it’s easy enough to tack on an interesting stopover in a new country! Chances are, you’ll enjoy what you see and want to come back.
What to Expect When Traveling to South Korea
- Great Food: Korean bibimbap with some spicy kimchi is one of those “different” tastes that you’ll miss — and crave — usually when it’s the most inaccessible.
- A Tech-Savvy Culture: South Korea boasts the world’s fastest internet speeds. There are more mobile phones than people, a cyberwar is continuously being waged with North Korea, and yes, robots are a thing.
- Crowds: South Korea’s population density is high, with roughly 1,113 people per square mile. As of 2016, Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan area were home to over 25 million people with nearly 10 million in the city proper. Don’t expect a lot of privacy or elbow room in Seoul.