Best Apps for Seoul: Introduction

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WordPress.com has now officially implemented their paid plans – which means I have only 3GB of space for images on the free plan. What a bad time to be uploading image-heavy app posts!

In any case, all the apps pictured above are apps that I found immensely useful in Korea. I’ll be doing a quick introduction of Airbnb, Accuweather, XE Currency and Skyscanner in another post, but since they’re in English they should be simple to navigate. Daum Maps, Subway, and Yogiyo are apps that are in Korean, so I’ll be going into detail in the hopes that you’ll be able to use the app!

PS: Keeping the images on the post to a minimal to save space for the three Korean apps which will need more explanation! Bear with me.

 

App for Flight Tickets: Skyscanner

For those flying on a budget – try Skyscanner. They compare prices across various airlines simultaneously for you once you pick your dates and destination. I find it incredibly useful that they allow for multi-airline journeys for maximum mileage on your budget. I haven’t tried a multi-airline journey, but while you’re booking, do keep a keen eye on the finer details, like layover durations (I’ve seen 27 hour layover trips, God forbid someone books that by accident), flight timings if you’re the blur type, and baggage allowance. Skyscanner redirects you to the airline page for booking after you select the price of your choice, so you can be assured that the transaction isn’t made through a third party, unless you choose to book through Skiddoo or some other merchant.

I also use this to keep an eye on flight prices and motivate myself to plan that next journey. 🙂

App for Accommodation: Airbnb

Airbnb needs no introduction, right, right?! It’s one of my favourite apps of all time (can I just add a thumbs-up for their lovely UI?) and I use it all the time, even when I’m not travelling. Creating wishlists for travel locations does help to scratch the wanderlust itch. There are weekly and monthly discounts available with some hosts, so that’s good to look out for if your trip is longer than a week. Do also check the proximity of the property from the nearest subways, check-in times, and have a really close look at the pictures. From experience, most Airbnb places do look exactly as depicted. I am also incredibly detailed when going through reviews, as in, I read every single one. You might have 10 tourists who leave generic reviews like “Nice place, great host.” but you could chance upon just one that says, “The hot water didn’t work as expected.” Ah-hah. Pay it forward by being detailed and honest in your own reviews.

In Seoul, there is a lot of walking to be done. Which is no problem, unless you’re lugging a 30kg luggage in the dead of a five-degree night. I didn’t know how important it would be to figure out how to go to your accommodation before actually reaching Incheon but I struck it lucky because the Airport Limousine bus-stop was just one street away from my building. Trust Chelsea to wing it and only start searching for directions to the Airbnb upon reaching the bus-stop. The Airport Limousine (language toggle on the top bar) mostly caters to city areas so please ask your host before you book, and prepare cash on hand to take the bus. The bus driver will help you load your luggage and all so it really makes your journey that much less of a worry.

I stayed in two different apartments in Seoul, but I’ll only be reviewing one later because I loved that place. The other one was a great apartment but probably only for short term travel. I might also review my parent’s lodging, which was a lovely apartment owned by the same host from the first place I had. Meanwhile, I’ve hotlinked these three apartments so feel free to browse!

App for Currency Conversion: XE Currency

This one goes out to all numbers idiots out there – I feel your pain, I really do. Korea’s currency is by no means easy to navigate because there’s just so many zeros. It helps if you know the Chinese counting system which uses 万 / 萬 / 만 as well, but if you don’t, it takes a bit of getting used to.

Quick breakdown of the Korean currency and what they will get you
For Singaporeans, it might be easier to liken these to 1-cent, 5-cents, 10-cents and 50-cents.
Coins
₩10: Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
₩50: Not much, maybe some really cheap sweets? Occasionally if you see an additional 50 won on your bill at the convenience store, you’ll find yourself rushing to clear stock.
₩100: A few of these could get you a small pack of candy.
₩500: A few of these could get you a bun?
Notes
This is like S$1, S$5, S$10, S$50 – slightly more depending on your currency exchange rate.
₩1,000: SOCKS. This gets you a pair of socks. Gangnam Underground Arcade, Myeongdong. Don’t say good stuff never share. PS: Innisfree masks are ₩950, Aritaum masks are ₩1,000. Now you know where all my spare change went.
₩5,000: A decent, bare dinner for myself – cheese kimbap (₩3,000) and a cup of hot mocha (₩3,500) was the usual fare.
₩10,000: 20 facial masks from Aritaum/Innisfree on a 10+10 event 😛 Or a really decent 도시락 lunchbox (~₩6,500) with a drink and sorbet from Paris Baguette.
₩50,000: Lots of things. Decent-quality bag, lots of cosmetics from Myeongdong, two tickets to the aquariums, etc. 

The quick way to convert your currency is: take the price in Korean won / 820 (this depends on your currency exchange rate). Or you could just depend on XE Currency but it could differ slightly from your currency exchange rate. I like the app because it converts simultaneously into a bunch of different currencies so I can compare at one glance.

For budgeting, if this helps –
Food: ₩10,000 if you’re not scrimping
Coffee: ₩3,000 is the market rate for Americanos, ₩5,500 for mochas and the fancier drinks
Socks: ₩1,000 I CANNOT STOP RAVING ABOUT THIS. But more often you’ll see 7 for ₩10,000 or 2 for ₩3,000.
T-shirts/Basics: ₩5,000 – ₩10,000 Cheap, because most of their fashion is very dependent on basics.
Trenchcoats, jackets: ₩25,000 – ₩39,000 is the market rate, but of course can go up really high
Masks: ₩950 (Innisfree) – ₩6,500
Makeup: ₩6,500 – ₩25,000 (majority of the roadshop brands are in this price range, brands like PeriPera, Banila Co., the SAEM, Face Shop, Missha, Innisfree, Aritaum, Tony Moly, etc.)
Cushions: ₩20,000 – ₩80,000 (on a range from Innisfree to Sulwhasoo because I’m in love with these two brands <3)

After a while you’ll start to notice the common numbers, like
₩1,000 is about S$1.20
₩10,000 is about S$12.00
₩25,000 is about S$29.00
₩39,000 is about S$45.00

An additional useful video for those who might be interested:

App for Weather: Accuweather

As I mentioned in my earlier posts, I went to Seoul completely unprepared for the cold. For Seoulites, it was ‘warm’. Of course, I reckon if you’ve just emerged from a -18°C winter, 5°C might be pretty toasty. I went from 32°C straight down to 5°C and I basically shivered all the time in the first fortnight. I did get used to the chill after, but I became a little reliant on Accuweather to forecast the weather for the day. It helped with deciding what to wear out, because if I was going to be out the whole day, I’d better have something warm to cover up with at night.

App for Chat: Kakaotalk

Korea is almost exclusively on Kakaotalk, save for a small group that uses LINE. Kakaotalk is their official chat app and all exchange students I know all use that as well. Create a Kakaotalk account with an ID so that even if you don’t have a local phone number, your Korean friends can search for you by ID. Do note your Kakaotalk ID cannot be changed once you set it! There are a lot of businesses that use Kakaotalk as a real-time assistance tool, so ask for that if you need help. Most times, English is better understood written than spoken.

One of Korea’s many tour organizing groups, Trazy (Facebook/Website/Kakao) was very responsive to me on Kakao, as was one of the medical clinics that we sought help from when Jasmine was here. A note though, I really don’t recommend talking to your host on Kakao – try to keep correspondences on Airbnb as far as possible so that their awesome team can mediate if, touch wood, any issues arise.

My Kakaotalk ID is @chelseasj – add me if you need to clarify anything on these posts. 🙂 Alternatively, reach me on Telegram.

That concludes the long introductory writeup for the first few apps! Looking forward to sharing more on the Korean apps with you guys. 🙂

 

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