Flying to Korea on my first international trip. Advice?
August 8, 2011 6:54 PM Subscribe
I'm flying to South Korea (JFK to PEK to ICN) in two weeks for my first international trip in years. I need some advice on preparation, the flight, and the subsequent two months I'll spend in Korea.
posted by jykmf to travel & transportation around South Korea (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm flying (alone) to South Korea via Air China in two weeks. I would rather use a different airline, but the tickets were cheap. Being cheap tickets, there's an overnight layover in Beijing, for which the airline has already offered me a hotel room (though I won't find out which hotel it is until I get to the airport). Once in Korea, I'll be staying there for two months.
1. First of all, is there any basic information anyone would like to share about flying internationally? I know I need to whip out my passport frequently and I've flown domestically, but I'm a little nervous about flying to a different country.
2. Is there anything specific I should try to pack? And is there a brand of luggage that you can vouch for? I'll also note that I'm taking a big tub (5 lbs.) of protein powder in my checked luggage, which research tells me should be alright with the TSA. I also considered taking my guitar with me, but I've decided it'll be easier to just buy one in Korea and sell it before I leave (or give it to someone, etc.).
3. Once I'm in Beijing, is there anything close to the airport I might enjoy? I'm a laid back guy. I don't mind sitting or walking around aimlessly so long as the atmosphere is interesting (and I don't want to spend much money). I've also heard some bad things from my Chinese friends, including one anecdote about taxi drivers stealing your organs, and a recommendation to stay away from the water. I'm not worried about anything, but if there's something I should be aware of please let me know.
4. Any general advice on staying in Korea? I'll be staying with some family and close friends all over the country (though I'll probably spend the majority of my time around Seoul), and I can read and speak Korean moderately well. This is a vacation so I'll be completely free for the entire two months, unless someone wants to take me somewhere. I can drink legally there, but I don't plan on partying much. I might go to some clubs and similar venues to see what they're like, but that's not really my style.
5. I'd like to go to a gym in maybe twice a week. I can find out about this when I get there, but if someone has firsthand experience that'd be great.
6. One of my major concerns is being able to play music. I'll check out Hongdae, but is it possible to find people to jam with? Koreans, expats, doesn't matter. I play guitar and I can also play bass and some drums. I'm just interested in feeding my musical needs while I'm there.
7. How can I get a phone there? I asked someone about this and they said it's difficult for a non-resident. Would a pre-paid phone be the best option?
8. Where are the good shopping districts (for clothes)? If I want to get a suit, what's a good direction to go?
9. Is there anything in Korea that's substantially cheaper than in the US? Electronics? I already plan on taking advantage of the incredibly fast internet speeds there.
10. Anything I should be aware of, culturally? I don't look Korean, for starters.
If you can answer any of these questions I'd be very grateful. I don't mind going in blind, but this is my first big trip alone and I'm feeling nervous. If you can give me any advice I'd feel much more at ease.
As always, thanks for your time.