3 reasons you need local friends when traveling to Korea.

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

Important things in Korea travel.

What do you think makes your travel plentiful and special?

According to the Korean tourism statistics, inbound tourists have doubled over the past 10 years. It shows more than 17 million tourists came into Korea in 2019.

Inbound tourists into Korea by Korea Tourism Organization

In accordance with this phenomenon, there has been growing options the tourists will have to choose. Then, what choices make your travel special?

There are many attractions which are already known well. In addition, there are famous foods, activities and so on. As you are surfing on SNS, you can easily get tons of information. But even though you encounter so much information, it’s totally different from indirect experiences to watch and experience something real on the spot. While you are traveling on the basis of information you’ve got from the internet, have you ever thought all the attractions you are visiting are what locals really visit and enjoy? And you may feel something lacking from it.

I think making up for the deficiency and solving the curiosity is the ‘people’. Especially, the people who are accustomed to culture and custom of their countries. Yes. Those are ‘locals’. Locals are the ones who can make your travel more plentiful and special.

Well, of course, living in other countries for more than one year would be the best bet to understand their culture and custom if you have enough time. If not, understanding their culture and custom through the locals could be the best way.

So then, let me look over the merits in traveling with local friends.

1. Can experience local places.

Famous touristic places such as gallery, museum, and park are always crowded with tourists. But other places also have many great attractions such as a movie studio and deserted amusement park.

KOFIC Namyangju Studio(Prison camp)

Yongma Land

Like this, there are lots of wonderful spots in the environs of residential area where you can have special experiences. Those are probably sometimes located in a hidden alley or a town whose information doesn’t flow on the internet.

Plus, you can taste a hole in the wall. There is a trend in Korea that some factories in the industrial complex are being converted into restaurants, cafes and bars, which have their unique atmosphere in them. That’s why they are becoming the most hip places the locals visit so often. You know? There’s a funny thing that among those shops, a few of them don’t have their signs. So, how can you find out them? If you are with local friends, they will guide you to the right places easily.

A cafe in Mullae-dong

A Mullae-dong street

A bar entrance in Euljiro

2. Can understand local culture easily, precisely and quickly.

If you have experienced drinking with Korean friends, there probably was a time you were embarrassed and it must be from a drinking culture. One of my friends who has worked with Korean has asked me to teach him a Korean drinking culture right. He told me he saw someone drinking with his body turned around and thought he wasn’t in comfort when he was at a staff dinner. A Korean drinking culture is that when you drink with elderly people you should get a drink with your body tilted around and with a glass held up by two hands. Plus, when the elderly’s glasses are empty, you should pour the drinks into the glasses and shouldn’t let them drink alone so you need to keep up the pace with them. They all are out of courtesy. But no worries! This courtesy doesn’t apply to friends’ meeting.^^

In my opinion, practicing good manners are good but making a rule in the drinking places where people should be chilling out and relaxing is not a good idea. How do foreigners know this culture? So there is another reason you need local friends, which is a great way to understand and adapt to their cultures naturally.

3. Can make you feel relaxed.

I think this is the most important reason. Why are you afraid when you are going to travel? This could sound so normal. Well, yes, a new environment makes you nervous. When I travel abroad first I got afraid of everything. Everything was missions. Passing thorough immigration, finding a way to go to a city center out of an airport, using transportation and the money were all my fears.

What if there was a local friend? Your anxiety would be disappearing shortly now that he or she might be checking all the details. Because you already had a big supporter, which makes you so relaxed that you could enjoy entirely without worries.

So, I have pointed at some good reasons in traveling with the locals. There are also many good points on solo trip. Doing something on your own and realizing something new can be so much fun while you are traveling alone. In addition, you have enough time to appreciate cultures in deep. But I believe that if you don’t have enough time for travel, your local friends will be the biggest supporter and you can feel the local vibes in a proper way!

And then, Bye bye!

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