One American to Another: Helpful Korea Travel Tips
Avoid Buses at All Costs
Unless you travel frequently on foreign language buses, or are a fluent speaker in Korean, stay away from the buses.
I’m not doubting your public transportation abilities, but the buses in Korea are a completely different story. First off, it is a popular method of commute for city dwellers which means that you cannot walk onto a bus and expect the people riding to help you get to your destination; they need to go to work or school or whatever their daily routine requires. They don’t have the time or energy to meddle in others’ problems. Secondly, from what I remember from my past vacations, the only language broadcasted on the signs as well as announced through the loudspeakers is Korean, so knowing which stop you are near is basically impossible if you don’t speak the language.
But don’t fret, for there are other effective means for transportation. Taxis as well the subway are some of the best options to get around the city. Korea has an extensive subway system with a station every block or so on the street, so this keeps the unnecessary walking to a minimum and allows tourists to view the subway shops and vendors for stationery and keychains (Korea sells them way cheaper than America). Taxis are also a fun way to travel. If you get paired with the right driver, they can give tips on which restaurants are the best or which parts of the city to avoid; however, the downside of taxis is that fees do pile up and it's quite bothersome splitting the bill when traveling in large groups.
So, I advise all foreign travelers to avoid the buses… unless you enjoy feeling out of place in which case you’ll fit right in.
Only Buy from the Underground Markets
Underground, beneath the hustle and bustle of the city, lies a treasure for foreign shoppers just waiting to be discovered.
In Korea, the greatest steals lie in the subway markets, not because the clothes themselves are high quality or at an incredibly low price. No, these wouldn’t grab the attention of the citizens; it’s their ridiculously accurate rip offs that draw crowds.
Last year, I went to visit my cousins in South Korea and they took me to the subway station GOTO terminal. At the time, I didn’t know why it was famous just that it was. It overall pretty shabby, though there was a mall just next door that had obviously been remodeled recently and may have caused my judgment to be harsher. My family and I browsed for a little while until we came upon that brand with the heart eyes selling only for around $2. It was at that point that we realized that all the clothes that we had just seen were ripoffs of high-end brands. For example, I saw a T-shirt that had evidently copied one of the designs of the “Adidas” brand, but had included a subtle removing of one of the “d” so that it spelled “Adias” instead. The funniest part was that a couple steps away within the mall was an actual Adidas store. The shopkeepers were stealing Adidas’s business right at their front door.
Before we left, my sister purchased two of the heart shirts, one black and one white, for only $4 for memory’s sake and we still have these shirts in perfect condition. If not to buy, a visit to browse some of the underground stores is choice well made.