South Korea is a country in Asia according to internetsailors. At the latest in 2002, when thousands of fans dressed in red enthusiastically cheered their national team on TV at the World Cup, the world realized that you can actually have a lot of fun in South Korea. The Republic of Korea, as South Korea is officially called, offers a colorful mixture of breathtaking cities, friendly people and a beautiful, mysterious landscape. South Korea is home to a variety of forts, temples and palaces, most of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Another attraction is the geography of the country. The peninsula that South Korea shares with North Korea is one of the most mountainous regions in the entire world, but there are also a number of beaches on the coast. The silhouette of the capital of South Korea, Seoul, which lies on the Han River, is defined by futuristic skyscrapers. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Seoul is an important stopover point on trips to and from Asia and a good base for touring Korea, China and Japan.
Arriving by plane
The national airline Korean Air (KE) flies non-stop from Frankfurt am Main, Munich, Vienna and Zurich to Seoul. Asiana Airlines (OZ), another South Korean airline, also offers non-stop flights from Frankfurt/M. to Seoul, with possible connecting flights to Busan. Lufthansa (LH) flies non-stop from Frankfurt/M. and Munich to Seoul. Austrian Airlines (OS) connects Vienna in cooperation with Korean Air (KE) via Prague with Seoul and Swiss (LX) Zurich in cooperation with Lufthansa (LH) via Frankfurt/M. Air France (AF) flies from Paris, Finnair (AY) from Helsinki and British Airways (BA), Korean Air (KE) and Asiana Airlines (OZ) fly non-stop from London to Seoul.
Frankfurt/M. – Seoul: 10 hrs 20 mins; Munich – Seoul: 10 hrs 25 mins; Vienna – Seoul: 10 hrs 10 mins; Zurich – Seoul: 10 hrs 50 hrs (non-stop flights). Frankfurt/M. – Busan: from 13 hrs 40 mins (with stopover).
There are no airport taxes.
Arrival by car
Entry from North Korea, the only neighboring country accessible by car, is not possible. Tolls: There are tolls on the highways and the Incheon Bridge. Payment can be made both via prepaid cards and electronically (Hi-Pass). Documents: The international driver’s license must be carried along in addition to the national driver’s license.
Note on arrival by car
Vehicles registered in Germany may not be driven and must be left behind at the port of entry if they enter the country by ship.
Arrival by train
There are currently no train connections to South Korea.
Note on arrival by train
The Korean-Japanese Through ticket allows trains and ferries to be used in South Korea and Japan.
Arrival by ship
International ports are Busan in the southeast, Mokpo in the southwest, Incheon in the northwest and Donghae in the northeast. South Korea is served by cruise ships from Europe, Asia, America and Australia.
Shipping companies such as MSC, Phoenix and Costa also dock in South Korea on their cruises departing from European ports (including France, Italy and Spain).
The Beetle ferry company connects South Korea with Japan several times a week on the Busan – Hakata (journey time: 3 hrs 5 mins) and Busan – Tsushima (journey time: 1 hr 10 mins) routes. Panstar Cruise ferries operate between Busan and Osaka in Japan (journey time: 18 hrs 30 mins). Ferries operated by DBS Cruise Ferry connect Donghae with Vladivostok in Russia (journey time: 20 hours). Weidong Ferry operates between South Korea and China on the Incheon – Qingdao route.
Traveling by plane
Korean Air (KE) and Asiana Airlines (OZ) regularly connect Seoul with all major cities in the country as well as Jeju Island. Jeju Air (7C) flies non-stop from Seoul to Busan and Jeju-do, among others.
Traveling by car/bus
The South Korean road network is approximately 100,400 km long, of which approximately 65,000 km are paved. About 2,000 km of the entire network are motorways. The main highway route is from Seoul to Busan. Street signs are mostly also in English. Tolls: There are tolls on the highways and the Incheon Bridge. Payment can be made both via prepaid cards and electronically (Hi-Pass). Gas stations can be found everywhere, even in remote places.
Right-hand traffic/left-hand traffic
Condition of the roads
The big cities are connected by excellently developed and maintained motorways. However, secondary roads and country roads are often in poor condition.
Highways in South Korea are marked in red and blue with white lettering. Gyeongbu Expressway is number 1. Main routes are marked with two-digit numbers; Odd-numbered north-south routes and even-numbered east-west routes. Secondary routes are marked with three digits, with the first two numbers corresponding to those of the main route.
Rental cars are available at airports and in cities. Due to the different traffic rules, driving in Korea is a matter of practice; Cars with a driver are recommended for starters.
There are taxi ranks in every major city. Taxis can also be hailed on the street. Although more and more taxi drivers speak English, travelers should ask the hotel to write down the destination of their taxi ride in Korean for a better understanding.
Bicycles and scooters can be rented in Seoul and Busan, among others. Seoul also has a government bike rental service, with over 800 stations throughout the city.
South Korea has a very well developed bus network. Intercity and express buses connect Seoul to all major cities in the country several times a day. Major cities are approached every 15 minutes. Regional bus lines operate between smaller towns and villages. Tour bus companies such as K-Shuttle offer guided bus tours in luxury limousine buses with English-speaking guides.
Traffic regulations: – alcohol limit: 0.5 ‰; – Children may only be transported with a seat belt or in a child seat; – Telephoning at the wheel is only permitted with a hands-free system; – Motorcycling is not allowed on motorways. Speed limits: – in built-up areas: 60 km/h; – on dual carriageways: 80 km/h; – on motorways: 90-110 km/h (observe the signs!).
The ADAC partner club in South Korea is the Korea Automobile Association (KAA) in Seoul, Tel. +82 (2)5 65 70 01.
The international driver’s license must be carried along in addition to the national driver’s license.
Traveling in the city
Seoul has a very well developed subway network, suburban trains, an extensive bus network and water taxis that take tourists to the sights. Subway stations and ticket offices are also labeled in English, and announcements are multilingual. Taxis are also available. Daegu also has a subway and an extensive bus network.
Locally on the way by train
The trains of the Korean State Railway Company Korail connect all major towns. Train information in English is available from the Korail telephone hotline (+82) 15 99 77 77, daily from 08:00 – 22:00. The Korea Train eXpress (KTX) bullet train travels the Gyeongbu Line from Seoul et al via Daejeon to Busan in the south in just 2 hours 40 minutes. On the Honam route, it runs from Seoul via Nonsan to Mokpo in the southwest (journey time: 2 hours 58 minutes). An hourly bullet train runs between Seoul and Chuncheon, and the journey takes 54 minutes. In Seoul, the route is directly connected to the subway network. Super express trains connect Seoul to Mokpo, Busan, Chongju-Yosu, Inchon and Onyang. Some trains have dining cars and air conditioning. DMZ trains run between Seoul and Dorasan at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border with North Korea. The signage at train stations is mostly also in English; Timetables are also available in English. Tourist Trains: The Central Inland Region Tour Train (O-Train) is a tourist train that connects the three provinces of Chungcheongbuk-do, Gangwon-do and Gyeongsangbuk-do on a circular route. The O-Train runs several times a day in just under five hours from Seoul to Jecheon, Yeongju, Taebaek and back. The V-Train, operates the route from Buncheon to Cheolam (journey time: 1 hr 10 min).
With the Korail Pass, tourists from abroad can travel by train on 2 or 4 freely selectable days or 3 or 5 consecutive days throughout South Korea. There are adult passes (age 13+), child passes (age 6-12) and passes for groups of 2-5 people. Children under the age of 6 travel free when accompanied by an adult.
Traveling by ship
MS Ferry connects Busan and Jeju several times a week (journey time: 12 hours). Hanil Express runs regular ferry services between Jeju and Wando (journey time: 4 hours), Chuja (journey time: 1 hour and 30 minutes), and Yeosu (journey time: 5 hours and 10 minutes). Seaworld Express connects Mokpo and Jeju with regular ferry services (journey time: 4 hrs 30 mins). Excursions are available on the Hangang River, which bisects Seoul.