Just a few years ago, finding your way through the subway in Seoul was a chore if you couldn’t read Korean. But now, there are multiple signs written in English, Japanese, and Chinese not to mention multiple language settings for local apps. Korea is more tourist friendly than ever, but it still helps to have the right tools to make your trip a great one.
That’s why we’ve put together a short list of the most helpful apps you can have when traveling South Korea.
Naver Map is pretty much the king of directions and navigation in Korea. It also has accurate map “questing” so you’ll be able to find the quickest and easiest routes to get to your destination. If nothing else, Naver Map is the most important travel app for anyone visiting or living in Korea.
Naver also allows for reservations directly through the Naver and the Naver Map apps. This can be for restaurants, salons, or even museum exhibitions. Just be sure to make an account so you can take advantage of all its features.
While you may not think a Korean messenger app is necessary, a lot of restaurants and bars have you input your phone number so they can text you through KakaoTalk. You can also make reservations ahead of time for doctors, salons, restaurants and bars. Not to mention to keep in touch with any friends you might make. But more importantly, you’ll need an account to use…
Even with the surcharge, KakaoTaxi is a must-have if you’re visiting Korea. Taxi scams are ever-present and KakaoTaxi just cuts them off at the knees. KakaoTaxi gives you to access Kakao’s own taxi cabs as well as regular taxi cabs. You can use your KakaoTalk account to use KakaoTaxi once you’ve registered a card to your account.
Not as abundant but still useful is the Uber app. Uber’s legal issues in Korea are well behind them and their app will automatically allow you to access Uber drivers as well as Korean taxis. Truthfully, there are more Kakao taxis than Uber drivers in Korea so it’s still worthwhile to have KakaoTaxi installed.
Honestly, I haven’t used a subway map in years (this one included). But if you’re a tourist, you’ll need a map installed to help navigate the rails. Luckily earlier this year, The Seoul Metropolitan Government released their first-ever official subway travel app exclusive for foreigners.
In addition to navigation, you can use the app to find locker locations, fare prices, restrooms, cash machines and all sorts of useful info pertaining to the subway stations. Naver Map will help you get around the city and Seoul Subway will keep you on the rails.
NOTE: While the Seoul City government say s there is an iOS app available, we couldn’t find it. So we’ve linked another useful app below.
Google has really upped their game with Google Translate. Their live translation feature works REALLY well on menus, road signs, etc. Most public transportation hubs have signs in English, but having Google Translate ready to go helps immensely.
While Google Translate is great for translating the world around you, Papago is really good at interpreting you for Korean audiences. It comes in handy especially when you’re shopping and you need different sizes or anything else. In a pinch, Google Translate works but Papago is just better at the language.
Coupang Eats covers 99% of all your food delivery needs while you’re in Korea and it’s available in English. There are other options, but Coupang Eats has an easy interface and widespread adoption. You may not think you need a food delivery app, but we’ll see how you feel after 20,000 steps a day. Oh and did I mention you can have food delivered to a park for the ultimate no fuss picnic.