South Korea is probably on every traveller's bucket list. And even more so for Muslim travellers now, as the popular destination is becoming more Muslim-friendly!
To prepare you for the ultimate trip to Korea, we've got you covered with 10 tips, from Muslim-friendly food to tips only experienced Korean travellers will know?
#HHWT Tip: Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) is offering a new Discover Korea Your Way 2017 coupon booklet specially for Malaysian travellers to enjoy Korea to the fullest! This way, you can save more and earn more?
1. Muslim-friendly food
The one thing many travellers look forward to in Korea is local food, and Muslim travellers are not left out with the increasing number of Muslim-friendly eateries which serve authentic and delicious Korean fare ?
Note: KTO has established official classifications for 136 appointed Muslim-Friendly restaurants in across Korea. Find out more!
- A must-visit in Seoul is EID Restaurant located in Itaewon! This is the first Korean Restaurant in Seoul to receive the certification from the Korea Muslim Federation (KMF). You'll be sure to taste the most authentic halal Korean dishes you can find as the eatery is owned by Korean Muslims. Don't miss their Samgyetang, a popular dish especially in the summer.
Credit: EID - 이드 Halal Korean Food on Facebook
- The reasonably priced and delicious authentic Korean food of Makan Halal Restaurant makes it one of the favourite go-to restaurant for Muslims. Just like Eid, it’s located near the mosque too!
Psst...Been to any of these eateries? Share your dining experience by leaving a review on our website- you'll be helping other Muslim travellers plan their Seoul adventure too!
- Asian Family Restaurant Dongmoon, Nami Island is another Halal-certified restaurant in Korea. This restaurant serves an extensive menu of Asian dishes ranging from Vietnamese pho and halal Korean food?
- Serving an unusual combination of Indian and Lebanese cuisine, Hello India Al- Waha is not a place to be missed! We recommend their Lebanese menu loaded with lamb and chicken kebabs, barbecued meat platters, hummus and fresh salads.
Credit: @_yoonmi_ on Instagram
- If Lebanese food is not for you, make a stop at Namaste – one of the most popular Indian cuisine restaurants around Haeundae Beach. Meat lovers have to try their lamb vindaloo and tandoori chicken! Alternatively, their palek paneer (cottage cheese in creamy spinach sauce) will definitely leave you craving for more?
Credit: @blancheezeon Instagram
- For a more traditional spread of Korean food, head over to Mulmaegol - famous for its yeoipbap (lotus leaf rice). This restaurant offers delicious vegetarian food such as rice wrapped cookies, pancakes, tofu and kimichi. If you've never been a fan of vegetarian food, this will definitely change your mind ?
Credit: @magnum357design on Instagram
2. Prayer spaces
You might visit Korea with the perception that you'd have to find an obscure corner to pray at, or even resort to praying only when you're in your accommodation. But you don't have to do that! Not when there are plenty of prayer spaces around Korea for you to comfortably pray at☺️
Here are some of the prayer spaces:
- Incheon International Airport
- Address: 272 Gonghang-ro, Jung-gu, Incheon, South Korea
- Location: Passenger boarding terminal - Gate 24 on the 4th floor of the Airport
- Opening hours: 24 hours
Credit: Budget Korea on Facebook
- K-Style Hub
- This newly-renovated room (separated spaces for males and females) comes complete with wudu' facilities.
- Address: 40 Cheonggyecheon-ro, Da-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Location: 2nd floor of the KTO Seoul Center
- Opening hours: 9.00am to 8.00pm
- Lotte World
- Address: 240 Olympic-ro, Jamsil 3(sam)-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Location: Third floor of Lotte World. To access the prayer room, press the call button.
- Opening hours: 9.30am – 10pm
- Address: 199 Everland-ro, Pogog-eup, Cheoin-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea
- Location: Prayer room is located in the same building as Mystery Mansion
- #HHWT Tip: This is a shared prayer room between males and females. And there is only a sink in the room so it's advisable to bring along your own small spray bottle to take your wudu'.
- Address: 513 Yeongdong-daero, Samseong 1(il)-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Location: Third floor (nearby Hall E)
- Opening Hours: 3.00am – 10pm
- Al-Falah Masjid/Al-Falah Mosque
- Address: 5 Yeongsin-ro 19-gil, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
- Opening Hours: 9am to 8pm
- Prayer rooms are also available at major hospitals such as:
- Samsung Medical Center
- Address: 81 Irwon-ro, Irwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Location: B1 of Proton Treatments Center
- Opening Hours: 24 hours
- Seoul National University Hospital
- Address: 28 Yeongeon-dong, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea
- Location: First floor of the Biomedical Research Institute Building
- Opening Hours: 24 hours
- Seoul Asan Medical Center
- Address: South Korea, Seoul, Songpa-gu, Pungnap 2(i)-dong, 올림픽로 43길 88
- Location: Ward 155
- Opening Hours: 24 hours
3. Muslim-friendly communities
The Seoul Central Masjid (Mosque) is the first Islamic mosque in Korea! This is where the Muslim community - not just travellers, but locals alike - gather?
#HHWT Tip: The road to the mosque requires a bit of uphill walking but you'll pass by rows of Muslim-friendly bakeries, restaurants and shops. Bet you'd be too engrossed in discovering the shops that you won't realise the slightly challenging road up?
#HHWT Tip: Apart from this mosque, Korea has a few other mosques; Mosque Busan, Masjid Gwangju, Mosque Jeolla-do, Masjid Ansan, Masjid Anyang, Bupyeong Masjid and Masjid Gyeonggi / Paju. That's plenty of mosques for you to visit!
4. Getting around
Korea is highly connected via its public transport system - and we're not just talking about Seoul! In fact, it extends throughout the whole of Korea so you can save those extra dollars you might spend on taxi fare for shopping ?
If you're dragging your luggage, the AREX is your best option to get to Seoul station as it has designated storage spaces to put your luggage! The seats are also more comfortable, perfect for those who have just endured a long flight. Plus, it only takes 43 minutes to get to Seoul station!
#HHWT Tip: Good news for Malaysian travellers! Get a discount coupon for the AREX with the DKYW Coupon Booklet ?
Once you've entered the heart of Seoul, travel around the city via the subway, which is really fast and clean!
Credit: @alex_trubin on Instagram
You can easily access the tourist spots in Busan via public transportation, mainly subway (Busan Metro) and a cool alternative is the Busan City Tour Bus (BUTI Bus)! These gorgeous double decker buses have an open roof so you can enjoy Busan's cityscape while enjoying the cool breeze? We highly recommend a ride on this bus as you'd be able to see a lot of the city, including its busy ports and also experience the magnificent infrastructure of Busan's bridges and highways!
Credit: @love_busan_kr on Instagram
With Jeju being 3 times the size of Seoul, it's still amazing how well-connected the public transport system is! However, do note that the scheduled bus timings vary anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour so we recommend renting a car to travel around or hiring a local driver.
#HHWT Tip: To drive in Korea, you are required to have an “International Driving Permit”. Alternatively, you may charter a taxi or guide to bring you around. It is definitely useful, particularly to overcome the language barrier!
5. Getting around from city to city
It's not hard to travel from city to city in Korea, especially when there are many different modes of transportation you can choose from!
Seoul to Busan
It takes a mere 3 hours to travel from Seoul to Busan via the KTX (high-speed train). The trains depart from Seoul Station so this one’s a really convenient and comfortable way of travelling?
#HHWT Tip: Malaysian travellers can enjoy up to 30% off tickets on all KTX routes by using the coupon in the DKYW Booklet!
Seoul to Jeju
Here's a romantic way to get from Seoul to Jeju - onboard a ferry? It's ideal if you have extra time on your hands as ferry rides may take up to half a day, depending on which port(s) you depart from.
But if your schedule is tight and packed, the 45-minutes flight from Gimpo Airport is your answer to spending more time at Jeju Island!
#HHWT Tip: We recommend to buffer in an hour of travelling time between Gimpo Airport and Incheon Airport. Head to the basement upon arrival at Incheon airport and look out for signs to “Airport Railroad”. Take the commuter train instead of the express one that goes straight to Seoul station. Alternatively, you can reach it via the airport limousine.
If you’re hoping to explore more than these 2 cities, we recommend 2 KTX routes:
- Seoul – Daegue – Gyeongju – Busan
- Seoul – Jeonju – Yeosu Expo Station
6. Must-visit places (by season!)
Regardless of the season you visit Korea in, it's definitely an experience to remember as the different monuments and places here look stunningly different in each season - bringing out the best in ☺️
There are many local festivals in the summer - perfect for you to soak in the local culture and atmosphere. But note that your travel expenses during this season might be higher due to the array of activities held in this beautiful country!
If you're looking for a more affordable season to visit, autumn is perfect for you as hotel rates and airfares are generally lower! Experience the majestic blend of trees and leaves during this season, which will transport you to another world altogether?
Need somewhere near to escape this blazing heat? This is just the place for you! The best part is that while escaping the heat, you witness Korea's monuments in its most still and stunning form.
Ah, spring. There's one thing that comes to mind when you put spring and Korea together...that's right! Cherry blossoms? The beautiful backdrop of flowers creates the perfect setting for selfies or even your wedding photoshoot?
#HHWT Tip: Do your research beforehand and book early as spring is a popular season to visit Korea!
7. Must-have experiences
Korea is known for its shopping and has a diverse range of shops and products you can check out, regardless of which city you visit!
The best place to shop in Korea has to be in Myeongdong (Seoul). Don't forget to add Korean skincare products to your list of must-buys, because you’ll find endless skincare stores!
#HHWT Tip: Be sure to get a tax refund for your purchases before you fly back. Remember to bring along the passport when you shop because you’ll be able to enjoy Immediate Tax Refund at certain stores in Myeongdong too!
If you're a fan of late night shopping, head over to Dongdaemun! The shops at Dongdaemun market open at night till the wee hours so it's a perfect place for the night owls and shopaholics? Do note that as many of the shops are wholesale, you might need to buy a minimum number of products from them.
Credit: @likiwisa on Instagram
- N Seoul Tower
When in Seoul, you must visit this iconic tower! Perched 480 meters above sea level, its observatory offers stunning views of Seoul's sprawling cityscape with night light displays and a digital observatory. This is the best place to get a bird's eye view of Seoul?
- Gyeongbukgung Palace
Before visiting this gorgeous palace, check out the changing of guards right in front of the palace. We also highly recommend the free walking tour of the palace!
- Bukchon Hanok Village
When in Korea, you have to try wearing the hanbok. It's an experience that is unique to Korea and one of the best places to experience this is at Bukchon Hanok Village - an actual traditional residential area which holds the traditional culture of Seoul!
#HHWT Tip: If you’re a Goblin (K-drama) fan, you’d be glad to know that your favourite drama was filmed here and at Common Ground, Lotte World Tower and Samcheongdong?
Credit: @supersu5u on Instagram
Psst...heading to Seoul soon? Find other top attractions, best dining spots and nearby prayer spaces- all on our website? Makes your travel planning easier, doesn't it!
In Busan, spend a few good hours chilling at Haeundae Beach. Go for a quick swim, build towering sandcastles or even fly a kite. The picturesque scenery here is a perfect backdrop for the quality time you spend with yourself and your loved ones?
If city views are not your thing, you have to head over to Seongsan Illchulbong Peak! We highly recommend timing your hike such that you'd be able to watch the beautiful sunrise and sunset?
8. Budget tips
The bulk of your expenses for your trip here will probably be your flights. So we highly recommend saving as much as you can on flights. Check out AirAsia X's special promotion for direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Seoul and Kuala Lumpur to Busan!
Get a DKYW Coupon Booklet
To save on public transport, tours, theme park tickets, shopping and even hotels, we recommend getting the Discover Korea Your Way booklet which will provide you with exciting coupon deals and free gifts in Korea! This booklet is exclusive to Malaysian travellers. Plus, it’s free and easy to redeem! Click here to get it now ?
And there you have it! All the insider tips you need for the best trip to Korea ever! Now, if you're heading to Seoul for your very first trip, don't forget to check out our website to find out more about top attractions, yummy food places and nearby prayer spaces, all in one space- on the HHWT website!
This article was brought to you by AirAsia X.