Things to do… On arrival to Korea
If you are coming from India then the first thing you need to do is that convert your Indian money to dollars. You cannot directly convert Rupees to Korean Won while in India. If you are carrying huge amount then you can carry travelers check which can be en-cashed in any of the Korean banks out here.
If you are coming during winters – Nov to April in Korea – then you need to carry some warm clothes. Carry some ready to cook food which will help you survive in the first few days till you get some time to get accustomed to Korea.
The day you land in Korea you need to do the following things:
1. Convert your dollars to Korean Won at the airport. (Not all, but just a few).
2. Keep some coins with you to make calls from a public phone.
3. Make sure someone is coming to receive you from your office.
4. If no one is coming then you can go to the bus terminal and take the bus to your destination. The executives at the bus terminal are very helpful (and they speak English). You get limousine and city buses to Seoul and other places in Korea. Avoid taking cab / taxi on all costs. They are very expensive. Check this link for the proper bus route you need to take – Korea Airport Bus Routes
5. On reaching you can buy a T-Money card. Go to 7-11 or any other Convenience Store and say “Yogiyo, T-Money Cardu Chuseyo”. It will cost you around 3000 won ($3) and you then need to recharge it by 10,000 won so you can use it for your day to day transit through Subway lines and Buses. T Money card can also be used for paying Taxi Fares, making calls from a public phone and buying things from convenience stores. You can recharge your T-Money card at any Subway Line station or any convenience store.
6. Make sure you apply for your Alien Card in the first week of your arriving to Korea. You will be able to open your bank account and procure a cell phone only if you have a registration card. For Alien Card Registration you’d require your office registration document – Mandatory and 2 passport size photographs.
7. Next you can purchase an International Calling Card to help you make calls back home. International Calling cards are available at all convenient stores. For India you need to ask that you need calling cards for Indo (India is referred to as Indo in Korea). Alternatively, there are Skype and other VOIP services available online that you can use.
8. Get a subway map from the tourist information center. It will be extremely helpful to you in the first few weeks in Korea.
9. Make sure you get a copy of Lonely Planet Phrasebook or any other phrasebook with basic phrases to help you communicate in Korea. People don’t speak English here. So it would be wise to invest in one of these phrasebooks available easily in at various bookshops.
10. If you are bringing your laptop from India then your 3-pin charger might not work. You’d need a 3-pin to 2-pin adapter for charging your laptop. For Americans, check this website – The Arrival Store for the various ‘must have’ arrival packages they offer to make your relocation easier.
11. Another thing which you could possibly look at investing in is a rice cooker. If you are planning to cook at home then it is a must. I am not talking about the pressure cooker from India, for cooking rice you would need an electronic rice cooker. And if you are a bachelor then you have to purchase one at all cost in Korea.
12. If the place you stay is in the walking distance from your office then acquaint yourself with the public transportation system in Korea by using the subway and bus.
13. If the accommodation is not provided by your company then you can find budget accommodation in a Goshiwon or Hasuk Jib. For budget hotels or accommodation in South Korea you can read our detailed post on – Cheap and Budget Accommodation in Korea.
14. Get in touch with members of your community. Make new friends. Learn Korean. Join Korean language classes on weekends. For details check the community and groups in Korea page.