Travelling to Korea? Korea and Singapore are pretty much similar to Asian countries but there are definitely things that are different and have to be taken note of. This is so as to pre-empt potential inconvenience or faux pas that may happen due to the incognisance.
1. Return your tray and clear the table before you leave
In Korea, you have to clear your own tables after you have finished your meals at fast-food restaurants or food courts. At food courts, you have to return your tray and plates to the respective stalls. This is considered basic social etiquette and hence you may attract unsolicited glares from Koreans if your table is left unattended after a meal.
2. Tissues and water are free in all restaurants.
Unlike Singapore, tissues and water are free of charge at restaurants in Korea. The waitress/waiters may serve them for you. However, in some restaurants, you will see “물은self” posters. This Konglish term means that you have to help yourSELF to water (and tissues). Don’t tell them to serve them for you! FYI, there is no service charge in Korea. Moreover, Korean restaurants hardly ever serve tap water. All drinking water is either purified by water dispensers or is brewed as barley tea. Free and good water is already great service and you will be happy to take it by yourself.
Besides the restaurants, free water is easily accessible in offices, clinics, shopping malls and etc. Hence, it is not as necessary to carry around water bottles in Korea as in Singapore where there is no free water.
3. Money exchanger is not commonly accessible
Money exchangers are not scattered fairly across Korea, unlike Singapore.
Foreigners are concentrated in particular areas like Namdaemun, Myeongdong, Jongno and Insadong. Hence, it may not be easy to find money exchangers beyond these limited places.
It is better to change plenty of money in Singapore at Chinatown or Raffles Place before going to Korea. Or if you happen to be short of cash in Korea, you can use your tourist credit card which is mostly accepted.
4. Buy a prepaid phone at the Incheon Airport
It is easy to find telecommunication shops where you can buy a prepaid phone for a temporary stay but not outside the airport. Indeed, there are many telecommunication retail shops all around the nation but they are mostly catered to the locals who have long-term contracts, unlike tourists that need short-term services. So remember to purchase your SIM card or temporary data plans when you are at the airport!
These are some of the “good-to-know” for Singaporeans before going to Korea. It is better to be aware of the difference between the two countries before visiting. We will update this post whenever we come across other useful information. Have a safe, enjoyable, trouble-free trip in Korea!
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