South Korea is a very different country and society compared to the western world, but that’s one of the things that makes it such an exciting place to travel to.
After arriving in the country, you’ll need to get accustomed to your new life if you’re staying there for a longer period of time.
Recommended Read: How to Order Delivery Food Online in South Korea
There are several things that I recommend that you do as one of the first things after you arrive in South Korea, which will make life much easier and more convenient. They are as follows:
- Sim card
- Essential Korean apps
- T-money card
- ARC application
- Korean bank account
These recommendations are based on my own experience of living in South Korea for more than 6 months in total and being an exchange student at a university in the country.
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First things to do after landing in South Korea
To give you the best start to your time in South Korea, there are several things that I recommend that you do as one of the first things after landing in the country.
Some of these things are not necessary depending on your current situation – I’ll go into more detail on each thing below.
Furthermore, if you’re only staying in South Korea for around a week or so for vacation, etc., several of these things might be irrelevant to you.
Here are the things that I recommend that you do after you arrive in South Korea, especially if you’re going to be living there for a longer period of time.
Getting a Korean sim card
Having a Korean phone number is absolutely essential when you’re staying in South Korea for a longer period of time.
Not only will you need it for your various documents, but you’ll also want to have it for communication, data on the go, and being able to sign up for services, including apps.
You can get a Korean sim card at the Incheon Airport if you order it beforehand online, or you can get one after you’ve arrived in South Korea, in which case you need to get it in Seoul, Busan, or through delivery.
Check out our complete guide on how to get a Korean sim card in South Korea here.
Apps that make life easier in South Korea
Many of the apps that you’re used to in your home country do not work well in South Korea, some because of laws in the country and others because they have their own alternative they prefer.
Nevertheless, these are the apps that I recommend that you install after arriving in South Korea, as you’ll either need them or will be of great convenience:
- Naver Maps & Kakao Maps
- Kakao T
- Korean bank account app (Optional)
- Trazy (Optional)
I personally used all of these apps while living in South Korea, first for 4 months as an exchange student and later for 2 months for regular traveling. If you’re not staying in South Korea for a longer period of time but only for vacation, then you won’t need all these apps.
For more information on each of these apps and why they’re useful for your time in South Korea, check out our guide on essential apps to have in South Korea.
Having a T-money card is an absolute necessity when you’re in South Korea, both if you’re living in the country for some time or just visiting for a week or so.
The T-money card is the travel card used for all public transportation in South Korea.
You can easily purchase one from any convenience store nearby by asking the cashier for one. Alternatively, you can purchase one from the T-money card machines located inside subway stations. Find more details on how to get a T-money card in South Korea here.
To recharge your T-money card, you can either use one of the Card Reload machines inside subway stations or visit a convenience store with cash.
New bed linen and sheets
For those who are staying in South Korea for a longer period of time, one of the things that can make your stay much more comfortable is to go out and purchase some fresh new bed linen and sheets.
Not only will you, for not a lot of money, be able to buy something that is of higher quality than what is probably in your accommodation, but you’ll also know that it’s fresh and new, which is important for many.
I personally did this as soon as I arrived at my accommodation when I was an exchange student, and it made a major difference for me.
Some of the stores where you can purchase bedding include:
- Zara Home
Emart and Homeplus also have convenience stores, and at those, you cannot buy bedding. Only at their regular large retail stores.
For more details, check out our full guide on where to buy bed linen and sheets in South Korea.
While you’re out buying new bed linen, you might want to pick up other essentials like toiletries and laundry detergent for washing clothes if you don’t have them at your accommodation already.
If you enter South Korea on a visa other than a tourist visa and are planning to stay there for more than 90 days, you need to apply for the Alien Registration Card.
For ease of mind, I recommend getting this out of the way as soon as possible. You’ll also get your ARC card earlier the sooner you submit your application.
Another benefit of getting your ARC application submitted early is that you can, in most cases, get a Korean bank account with just your ARC application.
I personally didn’t submit my ARC application before around a month after arriving in the country, but if I had to do it again, I would probably have done it a bit sooner to get a Korean bank account faster.
For your ARC application, you need to provide passport photos along with the required documents. If you didn’t bring any, you can learn how to get passport photos in South Korea here.
Korean bank account
In case you’re one of the people like myself whose payment card does not work in South Korea, opening a Korean bank account is a major convenience.
When you open a Korean bank account, you also get a Korean debit card, which works everywhere in the country, allowing you to no longer carry around chunks of cash to pay for things.
If you’re only in South Korea for a short period of time, there is no need to open a Korean bank account, and it will likely also be impossible for you to do.
Check out our guide on how to open a Korean bank account as a foreigner in South Korea if you’re interested in getting a Korean payment card.
Those are the things that I recommend that you do after arriving in South Korea!
Have any input or suggestions for this guide? Let us know in the comment section below.