Today we’ll be sharing 7 tourist friendly (and completely free) apps to download before visiting South Korea!
If you’ve taken a look at the app store you’ll know that there is an overwhelming amount of options available! That’s why we’ve compared all the top tourist apps for you to help you decide!
We’ll be covering the best apps for General Navigation, Subway Navigation, Ride Hailing, Translations, Tourist Info, and of course for finding the best eats in Seoul!
- Google Maps v. Naver Maps v. Kakao Maps
When you arrive in Korea you’ll probably be tempted to open up Google Maps first thing! Google Maps is definitely a great navigation tool, but it won’t give you walking directions in Korea! The Korean government requires map data to be stored in local servers since South Korea is technically still at war.
So, for the most accurate navigation, we highly recommend downloading a Korean Navigator such as Naver Maps or Kakao Maps. Between the two, Naver Maps is definitely more tourist-friendly and you can easily switch the language settings to English!
- Kakao Metro v. Subway Korea
Seoul is known for its amazing Metro system so make sure to take advantage of it during your stay! The Seoul Metropolitan Subway has a total of 23 lines in Seoul and nearby provinces. Some of the most popular apps include Kakao Metro and Subway Korea! They both work great, but we felt that Kakao Metro was more user-friendly and it works great offline!
Seoul’s impressive metro system has 4G service inside the subway, but you can always use the offline feature if you are coming to Seoul without a SIM card!
HINT: Also, if you prefer to travel by bus, like we did, try out the new Kakao Bus app!
- Uber v. Kakao Taxi
Seoul’s subway system is great, but if you are traveling somewhere late at night or really early in the morning, you might be looking to call an Uber or Lyft! Neither of these apps will work in Korea, so if you are looking for a taxi we recommend downloading Kakao Taxi before you visit!
- Google Translate v. Naver Dictionary and Translate
Navigating through Korea without knowing Korean is very possible, and having an online translation tool will always help! Google Translate is an American translation tool whereas Naver Dictionary and Translate is a Korean translation tool. Naver might be a little more precise, but we think that Google Translate is more user-friendly for international travelers!
One special feature on Google Translate is their instant camera translation! All you have to do is scan your phone over the text you want to translate and ta-da! This tool is especially handy when you’re at restaurants that do not have an English menu!
- Visit Korea v. iTour Seoul
Even if you come to Korea with a detailed itinerary, don’t be afraid to make some spontaneous decisions during your stay!
These two tourism apps are a great way to plan your trip before or during your stay! Visit Korea is the official tourism app from the Korean Tourism Organization while iTour Seoul is the official tourism app from the Seoul Tourism Organization!
If you know you will be in Seoul during the entire length of your trip, we would choose iTour Seoul out of the two.
With iTour Seoul you can receive location based tourist attraction recommendations as you explore! Take a ride on the popular Seoul City Tour Bus for a beautiful trip through the city, and this app will provide real time information during your course!
- Trip Advisor v. Mango Plate
There is so much food you’re going to want to try in Seoul, but finding it might be a challenge if you don’t have the right apps! You are probably already familiar with Tripadvisor, which will let you search by area then list results by rank. Most restaurants will have user-posted pictures of menus and most popular items, but often their map feature is difficult to use.
We recommend you try downloading Mango Plate, since it is a Korean application and will have a lot more local ratings. You can search by food, location, and rating, so you won’t miss Seoul’s best food spots and hidden gems! The app is also in English making it very foreigner friendly. However, if you are looking for a specific location, you will have to write the name in Hangul.
- Yogiyo v. Shuttle
Seoul is also famous for their world class delivery system, so you can order food from practically anywhere and it’ll usually arrive in minutes!
The most popular delivery app in Korea is Yogiyo, however it is only available in Korean. Use this app if you can read Hangul, but don’t worry if you can’t, Shuttle is another great app that is offered in English as well.
This is definitely an experience you won’t want to miss when you visit, so pack a picnic blanket and head to the Han river with one of these delivery apps!
We hope these apps will be helpful while you travel! Make sure to check out our Seoul Guide series for more blog posts, videos, and helpful tips!
Best of luck planning!