Welcome to Korea!

Let me take a moment to brag on Incheon International Airport in Seoul. If I could have it my way, I would depart and arrive at Incheon every time I flew. If I could choose the airline, it would be Korean Air. But I digress, let’s talk about Incheon.

It’s big, it’s spacious, it’s clean, the lines move quickly, the workers are nice and attentive, the security is tight and you generally enter and leave a happy traveler. It seems a difficult task, but Incheon pulls it off.

Now to be fair, Incheon doesn’t get the traffic that an O’Hare, JFK or a Hartsfield International gets, but I feel quite sure they would be able to pull it off if they did. Koreans get things done and they usually get it done in an efficient manner.

BUT arriving in Incheon as a foreigner can seem daunting. Most workers speak English, but some don’t. You can ask most anyone for help, but if you are just too nervous or unable to mime what you need, here are some helpful tips to get you through Incheon on your own.

1. Write down you destination in Hangul. Before you arrive be sure to google the city, town or specific destination in Seoul. You can show this to anyone and they should be able to point you in the right direction. The signs for the bus, taxis and the train are easy to find and in English so you shouldn’t have trouble finding your way to your transport of choice, but getting your destination right could be tricky if you don’t know how to say it.

2. Ask a Korean for help. Okay I said these were for those who didn’t want to ask for help, but you really should. You can ask an airport employee but if you ask someone random then there is a 75% chance they will see you through to the very end. They will lend you their phone make sure you buy the right ticket and they might walk you onto the bus and wave to you as you drive off. It has happened. However, the airport employees are extremely helpful and most speak English.

3. If you have a connection at Gimpo, don’t worry. Getting to Gimpo is easy. Just see the links above about bus, taxis or the train. The bus is the cheapest, but all are good options. But beware of spending a lot of money on a cab. Airport taxis have higher rates than regular cabs. I wouldn’t suggest it unless you are a high-roller.

4. Don’t be intimidated. Get involved in Korea right away. It can feel intimidating, but right away, even in the airport, you can get the feel for Korean hospitality.

Check out the Incheon website: http://www.airport.kr/eng/airport/

2 thoughts on “Welcome to Korea!

  1. dagallant2007 says:

    I will attest to how friendly and helpful Koreans were when we visited in June. All we had to do was look lost while reading our Lonely Planet guidebook and trying to find the correct bus to take from the airport. A young girl helped us and even called the hotel to find out the exact stop where we should get off in Soeul. Before leaving the bus herself, she let the driver know where we needed to go and another passenger made sure we exited when and where we should. I wouldn't hesitate to travel there again.

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  2. Tamz says:

    Between your advice before I left and the books I read, I knew that getting help was just a matter of being brave enough to start a conversation. I'm approaching 2 months in Korea and there's been maybe 2 grumpy old men who waved me away. Everyone else stays with you and does everything they can to help. And miming, drawing, and trying every means of expression you can is great practice for teaching anyway. If I tried to look suave in Korea, I'd be very unhappy and quite insane by now. And the airport is great! 2 different people approached to help with my bags, a man reassured me of my bus ticket, and the whole process was pretty streamlined (which doesn't mean “not overwhelming”, haha).

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