Seoul, South Korea’s capital and the powerhouse of Asia’s third-largest economy, is an attraction all by itself!
This city that never sleeps is a heaven for those yearning to experience some adventure in contemporary Asian surroundings.
On every corner you can find flawlessly reconstructed palaces that stand side by side with glowing night markets and latest technological wonders.
Seoul is, hands down, South Korea’s largest city and one of East Asia’s financial and cultural epicenters.
This city is a true mix of ancient traditions and jaw-dropping digital technology, a blend of the unblendable, where you can find street food vendors and vast nightlife districts co-existing with an overwhelmingly progressive educational system.
It’s a place where serene Buddhist temples standing side by side with a trend-setting youth culture venues.
Warnings & Dangers in Seoul
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Seoul is overall, very safe and you will probably encounter no problems when traveling there. Still, do not let your guard down and be vigilant at all times.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Tourists are exposed to risk whenever crossing the street, since in Seoul risky behavior is common when it comes to traffic. The Republic of Korea has one of the highest rates of traffic deaths for a developed country. Check the road twice before crossing the street. Also, watch out for taxi drivers trying to overcharge you: it is recommended to refrain from using unofficial taxes.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Since Seoul is a somewhat popular tourist destination, it is expected that pickpockets operate in the city center. Petty theft is the most common form of crime in Seoul, but following basic precaution rules should take care of this issue.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : HIGH
When it comes to natural disasters, Seoul has had history with earthquakes, but most of them caused little damage. Another issue when it comes to natural disasters are typhoons that may occur in August and September, as well as tsunamis.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
Seoul is safe when it comes to mugging or kidnapping, though precaution is still advised. Avoid poorly lit streets and areas, and people offering you free drinks.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Even though there haven't been any terrorist attacks in Seoul's recent history, there is a heightened tension between South and North Korea, so precaution is recommended.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
There is a risk of someone scamming you in Seoul, since there are a lot of scammers and con artists on the streets of this country. The most notable among them is the Teahouse scam with girls saying to tourists that they want to practice conversing in English, which usually ends in a teahouse with a huge bill. Other forms of scams are mostly overcharging in cafes and restaurants, with a separate menu just for tourists.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Seoul is a safe destination for women traveling solo, but it is still advised that unaccompanied women take extra precaution measures, avoid poorly lit and secluded areas, etc.
So... How Safe Is Seoul Really?
Seoul is a very safe city to visit. Its crime rates are much lower than in the US cities and on par with most European ones.
This mostly means that, for tourists and anyone else, it is perfectly safe to walk around at night. Violent crime is also rare.
Only foreigners and tourists looking for trouble could end up in one, and this usually applies to drunker or intoxicated visitors, provoking fights in bars.
However, if you do find yourself in a situation concerning anything police can help you with, they are mostly at every corner, and even though they don’t speak English, they have interpreters on-call that can help you.
Another issue in Seoul is the problems that Korean motorists cause to its traffic. They sometimes speed through pedestrian crossings, go through red lights and have no problem passing within a hair-width distance from pedestrians and other cars.
Generally, the streets of Seoul and their traffic culture is not too safe, and it is safer to use underground passageways.
Also, keep in mind that even though a peace was established between North and South Korea in the 1950’s, these two countries are, officially, still at war.
In the light of recent events that made the tension between them very high, tourists are advised to get informed on current events in the region before traveling there.
- Visas - Regulations and conditions concerning visa and entry into the state of South Korea regularly change, so it is best to get informed at the moment of planning a trip to this country. Foreigners are finger-printed upon arrival in the Republic of Korea. Make sure your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your intended date of departure from South Korea. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - South Korean Won is the official currency of Seoul. It may not be the best idea to exchange money in the street exchange offices. Your best bet when exchanging money is either an official bank office or withdrawing money from an ATM.
- Weather - Seoul has a temperate climate characterized by four distinct seasons. Winters are usually long, cold and dry, summers are very short and hot, with lots of humidity, and spring is actually the most pleasant time to visit Seoul. Autumn is also pleasant but like spring and summer, short in duration.
- Airports - Incheon International Airport is the largest airport in South Korea and also one of the largest and busiest airports in the world. It is located west of Incheon's city center, on an artificially created piece of land between Yeongjong and Yongyu Islands.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Seoul, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.