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South Korea

Getting there & away

Travel documents


There are no restrictions when it comes to citizens of foreign countries entering Korea. Most visitors don’t need a visa, but if your country is not on the visa-free list, you will need one.


Be sure you research all the options carefully to make sure you get the deal that best suits your circumstances and requirements. The internet is a useful resource for researching airline prices.

Automated online ticket sales work well if you’re doing a simple one-way or return trip on specified dates, but are no substitute for a travel agent with the low-down on special deals, strategies for avoiding layovers and other useful advice.

Paying by credit card offers some protection if you unwittingly end up dealing with a rogue fly-by-night travel agency, as most card issuers provide refunds if you can prove you didn’t receive what you paid for. Alternatively, buy a ticket from a bonded agent, such as one covered by the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL; www.atol.org.uk) scheme in the UK. If you have doubts about the service provider, at the very least call the airline and confirm that your booking has been made.

The following websites can search for air fares to Korea when booking online or researching prices prior to visiting your travel agent:

www.airbrokers.com American round-the-world ticket specialists who can include Korea.

www.cheapestflights.co.uk Cheap worldwide flights from the UK.

www.cheapflight.com Excellent American site with fast access to fares to Korea.

www.expedia.com Microsoft’s travel site with access to worldwide fares.

www.travelocity.com Search fares quickly and easily from virtually anywhere to anywhere.

Korean airport departure taxes are included in the ticket price.

Ticket prices vary widely and change often, depending on the airline, the season, the amount of competition, the level of demand and so on. Ever-increasing security, fuel and other surcharges add another element of uncertainty. Prices of flights from Korea can increase 50% in July and August, and special offers are less common during holiday periods. The peak of the peak for outbound flights is August, when it can be difficult or even impossible to find a seat.

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International ferries are worth considering if you’re travelling around North Asia. You can catch a ferry to Incheon in South Korea from a number of Chinese ports, travel around South Korea, and then leave on a fast ferry from Busan to Japan. Another ferry option is travelling to or from Russia via Sokcho in Gang·won-do.

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Having North Korea as a hostile neighbour for over 50 years has turned South Korea into a virtual island. However, if North Korea does ever relax its isolationist policies, the South could quickly be linked by road and rail through North Korea to China, Russia and beyond. It’s an exciting prospect but unlikely to happen any time soon.

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Airports & airlines

Most international flights leave from Incheon International Airport, which is at least an hour from Seoul by bus, and there are six regional airports that provide international flights, mainly to China and Japan. The two major ones are Gimhae International Airport (which serves Busan, Korea’s second-largest city) and Jejudo International Airport on Korea’s southern holiday island. View www.airport.co.kr for information on all the airports. Eight flights a day travel between the small international terminal at Seoul’s Gimpo airport and Haneda airport in Tokyo (both airports are nearer their respective cities’ downtown areas than Incheon and Narita).

Korea’s own carriers are Korean Air and Asiana Airlines. Many airlines serve Korea including:

Aeroflot (airline code SU; 02-551 0321, airport 032-744 8672; www.aeroflot.com) Hub Moscow.

Air Canada (airline code AC; 02-3788 0100, airport 032-744 0898; www.aircanada.ca) Hub Pearson International Airport, Toronto.

Air China (airline code CA; 02-774 6886, airport 032-744 3256; www.air-china.com) Hub Beijing.

Air France (airline code AF; 02-3483 1033, airport 032-744 4900; www.airfrance.com) Hub Charles de Gaulle International Airport, Paris.

All Nippon Airways (airline code NH; 02-752 5500, airport 032-744 3200; www.fly-ana.com) Hub Narita Airport, Tokyo.

Asiana Airlines (airline code OZ; 1588 8000, airport 032-744 2134; www.flyasiana.com) Hub Incheon International Airport, Seoul.

Cathay Pacific Airways (airline code CX; 02-311 2800, airport 032-744 6777; www.cathaypacific.com) Hub Hong Kong International Airport.

China Eastern Airlines (airline code MU; 02-518 0330, airport 032-744 3780; www.ce-air.com) Hub Shanghai.

China Southern Airlines (airline code CZ; 02-3455 1600, airport 032-744 3270; www.cs-air.com) Hub Guangzhou.

Garuda Indonesia Airways (airline code GA; 02-773 2092, airport 032-744 1990; www.garuda-indonesia.com) Hub Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Jakarta.

Japan Airlines (airline code JL; 02-757 1711, airport 032-744 3601; www.japanair.com) Hub Narita Airport, Tokyo.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (airline code KL; 02-2011 5500, airport 032-744 6700; www.klm.nl) Hub Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam.

Korean Air (airline code KE; 1588 2001, airport 032-744 5132; www.koreanair.com) Hub Incheon International Airport, Seoul.

Lufthansa Airlines (airline code LH; 02-3420 0400, airport 032-744 3400; www.lufthansa.com) Hub Frankfurt Airport.

Malaysia Airlines (airline code MH; 02-777 7761, airport 032-744 3501; www.malaysiaairlines.com) Hub Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Northwest Airlines (airline code NW; 02-732 1700, airport 032-744 6300; www.nwa.com) Hub Detroit Metro Airport.

Philippine Airlines (airline code PR; 02-744 3581, airport 032-744 3720; www.philippineair.com) Hub Manila Airport.

Qantas Airways (airline code QF; 02-777 6871, airport 032-744 3283; www.qantas.com.au) Hub Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney.

Singapore Airlines (airline code SQ; 02-755 1226, airport 032-744 6500; www.singaporeairlines.com) Hub Changi International Airport.

Thai Airways International (airline code TG; 02-3707 0011, airport 032-744 3571; www.thaiair.com) Hub Bangkok International Airport.

United Airlines (airline code UA; 02-757 1691, airport 032-744 6666; www.ual.com) Hub Los Angeles International Airport.

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