The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Visit South Korea’s information kiosks and they’ll help with just about everything

Written By: herbrunbridge - Oct• 10•12

Friendly, informative, and helpful, Tourist Information specialists, like these experts at the Insadong Info Centre, are available at hundreds of kiosks all over Korea

 The modern, industrialized nation of South Korea is a wonderful place to visit for the westerner, with loads of historical places, museums, and geographical treasures. One challenge for the traveler is that many Koreans don’t speak English. This can present problems for westerners ranging from trying to find a particular business, to renting hotels and cars. The solution is the Tourist Information kiosk, and one or more are located in tourist areas in just about every city. The folks working there always speak English, and are happy to answer all questions, provide maps, make hotel bookings, you name it. They can tell you train and bus schedules, and will make telephone calls to find out everything they don’t have at their fingertips.

You will also see Tourist Information folks walking around in tandem, wearing red shirts and red cowboy hats with the “I” Tourist Information logo. They carry maps and phones, and speak English. More and more in Korea, we at WoWasis have used the Tourist Information service, and have grown to reply on them for even the most mundane questions. This week, for example, we’re in the city of Gyeongju, but want to go to Andong, a few dozen km north, because we’ve heard there’s a mask festival going on there. The Gyeongju kiosk folks called to confirm festival dates, booked our hotel in Andong, told us how to take Andong city transportation to the festival, and gave us train and bus schedules from Andong back to Seoul. And the team at the Insadong Info Centre booked us a reservation at the Korea Furniture Museum that had proved to be impossible to get any other way. That’s service!

As a westerner traveling on your own itinerary, you will be in situations where you’ll need basic answers. The government also provides a “1330” general translation telephone number you can call, but in our experience, it’s all too easy to get involved in a “he said-she said” situation. We recommend using the Tourist Information folks instead. They can make everything regarding travel, bookings, and translations in Korea a whole lot easier.

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