The climate of Korea is characterized by four distinct seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. The contrast between winter and summer is striking. Summer lasts from June to early September and is a hot and humid time of the year. The Island of Jeju, off the southern coast of Korea, enjoys warm marine climate. In September, the average temperature is about 20-24℃.
CURRENCY & EXCHANGE
The unit of currency in Korea is the Korean Won (KRW). Various notes and coins are used. Notes occur in 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 50,000 won denominations, while coins occur in 10, 50, 100, and 500 won denominations. As of July 2019, the exchange rate is KRW 1,178 to USD 1 and KRW 1,324 to EUR 1. Foreign bank notes and traveler’s checks can be converted into the Korean won at foreign exchange banks and other authorized money exchange outlets. The exchange rate is subject to market fluctuations.
*Real-time Exchange Rate VIEW
Standard Time in Korea is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+9).
BANKING & ATM
There are plenty of places in Korea to change currencies, including banks, authorized currency exchanges and major hotels. ATM machines are ubiquitous, although not all offer services for foreign cards. Cards with the Plus and Cirrus logos are the easiest to use and most widely accepted in Korea. Banks are open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Mondays to Fridays.
Although appreciated, tipping is not a customary practice in Korea.
Government office hours are usually from 9:00 to 18:00 on weekdays and are closed on weekends. Most stores are open every day from 10:30 to 20:00, including Sundays.
TAX & VAT
Foreign tourists can receive nearly 10 percent VAT refunds for purchases at duty free shopping outlets. Goods must be taken out of Korea within three months of purchase to be eligible for a tax refund. A Value-Added Tax (VAT) is levied on most goods and services at a standard rate of 10% and is included in the retail price. At hotels, a 10% VAT is applied to rooms, meals and other services and is included in the bill.
The standard electricity supply is 220-volts AC at 60Hz. Most hotels may provide outlet converters for 110 and 220 volts. It is advised that you check with the hotel beforehand.
Koreans speak Korean in their everyday lives, and knowing a few words of the language will come in very handy. Unfortunately, the language is drastically different from any Western language in grammar, and pronunciation is rather difficult for foreign visitors. Though the official language in Korea is standard Korean based on the Seoul dialect, various dialects are spoken in different parts of the country. Among them, the Jeju dialect spoken on Jeju Island is known for being almost incomprehensible to speakers of standard Korean.
BBB (Before Babel Brigade): Volunteer Interpretation Service
Whenever and wherever you encounter communication problems with Koreans, just call 1588-5644 and press a number for your preferred language. Your call will be quickly connected to a BBB volunteer's mobile phone through an automated switchboard, and you will soon receive interpretation service. ※ BBB volunteer services are available in 16 languages ※ For more information, please refer to BBB Korea official webpage (http://www.bbbkorea.org).
USEFUL PHONE NUMBERS
Police 112 Fire and Ambulance 119 Telephone Directory Service 00794 (English) International Telephone Call Operator 00799 (English) Tourist Information Center 1330 (English, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese) Medical Referral Service 1339 (English, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese)