Learn Basic Korean for Travel

Today, South Korea is ranked around 12th in the world in terms of economic power, and it is also a cultural powerhouse, including K-pop and K-beauty. If you are interested in Korea or Korean culture, now is the perfect time to visit Korea, which has four distinct seasons and plenty of things to enjoy. However, it is essential to learn some basic Korean if you plan to visit Korea. Although today’s Korea, especially Seoul, has become globalized with many English signs, it is recommended to learn Korean if you want to ask for directions or visit more localized restaurants. Here are some simple Korean phrases for a happier and easier trip to Korea. Let’s learn Korean greetings and useful phrases for dining in Korean restaurants.

Korean For Travellers: Why It Matters

Learning Korean is essential for traveling in South Korea for several reasons. While English is commonly used in major cities, many locals, especially in smaller towns, may not speak it fluently. Knowing basic Korean phrases enhances communication, making it easier to ask for directions and interact with locals, leading to a more enjoyable and stress-free experience.

Additionally, understanding Korean allows you to immerse yourself more deeply in the culture, appreciating traditions and social norms better. This helps in navigating everyday situations such as ordering food, shopping, and using public transportation, where menus and signs are often in Korean. Overall, learning Korean enriches your travel experience by making it more seamless and immersive.

Essential Korean For Traveling: Phrases To Learn


  • 안녕/안녕하세요 (Annyeong / Annyeonghaseyo) – Hi

In Korean, greetings vary based on the level of formality. “안녕” (annyeong) is a casual way to say “hello” and is typically used among friends or people of the same age group. This is an example of 반말 (banmal), which is informal speech. On the other hand, “안녕하세요” (annyeonghaseyo) is the polite form of “hello,” used in more formal situations or when addressing someone older or of higher status. This is an example of 존댓말 (jondaemal), which is the honorific or polite speech form. Understanding when to use these forms is crucial in Korean culture to show respect and maintain proper etiquette.

  • 만나서 반갑습니다 (Mannaseo bangabseupnida) – Nice to meet you
  • 감사합니다 (Gamsahamida) – Thank you.
  • 실례합니다 (Silyehamida) – Excuse me
  • We also speak ㅂ니다(nida) as even more polite speech, not only 요(yo).

Shopping/ Restaurant

  • 이거 얼마예요? (igeo almayeyo?) – How much is this?
  • 그거 얼마예요? (geugeo almayeyo?) – How much is that?
  • 포장해주세요. (Pojang-hejuseyo) – Take away, please.
  • 먹고 갈게요. (Meokko galggeyo) – To eat in, please.


  • ‘___’ 어디에 있나요? (‘___’ Eodie innayo?) – Where is ‘___’?
  • ‘___’ 어떻게 가나요? (‘___’ Eotteoke ganayo?) – How can I get to ‘___’?
  • 왼쪽 (Wenjjock) – Left
  • 오른쪽 (Oreunjjok) – Right


  • 도와주세요! (Dowajuseyo) – Help!
  • 핸드폰 좀 빌려주세요. (Hand-pon jom bilyeojuseyo) – Please lend me a hand-phone(Mobile).

Book a Travel Survival trial lesson

Want to join a group class to learn with us, you can start with a trial lesson first.

Watch Free Korean Travel Survival Series

We have created a series Travel Survival language and tips for new Korea travellers. You can find them on Dear Asia London Instagram or TikTok account. Follow them to learn Korean for free.  

Best way to learn Korean Properly

If you’re planning to travel to Korea, learning Korean is crucial for fully immersing yourself in the culture and enhancing your travel experience. Beyond basic communication, mastering Korean allows you to deeply appreciate Korea’s rich cultural heritage, from understanding traditional customs like bowing and using honorifics to enjoying K-pop, K-dramas, and Korean cuisine more authentically. Being able to converse in Korean opens doors to forming genuine connections with locals, gaining insights into Korean history and literature, and navigating local markets, restaurants, and tourist attractions with ease. It enriches your travel by bridging cultural gaps, showing respect, and fostering a deeper appreciation for Korea’s dynamic society and warm hospitality. Whether exploring historic sites like Gyeongbokgung Palace or bustling cityscapes like Seoul, speaking Korean enhances every aspect of your journey, making it truly unforgettable.

If you wish to be even more prepared before your trip to Korea, take a Korean Travel Survival Class here where you will learn all the essential Korean and its culture to have a smooth journey.

More Korea Travel Tips For Smooth Experience.

Here are the updated tips for traveling to Korea from the UK, including details about popular street foods:

1. Carry cash: Cash is widely accepted in Korea, especially at smaller shops, markets, and local eateries where card payments may not be available or convenient.

2. Download KakaoTalk: KakaoTalk is the predominant messaging app in Korea. It’s used for communication, making reservations, and even ordering food delivery, offering convenience for staying connected locally.

3. Use internet on the subway: Unlike the UK, where internet access on the subway may be limited, Korea’s subway systems are equipped with reliable internet connections, allowing you to navigate, check schedules, and stay connected effortlessly.

4. Bow when greeting: In Korean culture, bowing is a sign of respect when greeting others. It shows politeness and acknowledgment of social hierarchy or age difference.

5. Enjoy street food: Korea is famous for its diverse and delicious street food. Be sure to try local treats like tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), hotteok (sweet pancakes), odeng (fish cakes), and twigim (fried snacks). Exploring local street stalls will immerse you in the vibrant culinary culture of Korea.

6. Download delivery apps: In Korea, popular delivery apps like ‘배달의 민족’ (Baedal Minjok) and ‘쿠팡’ (Coupang) are essential. Delivery services are highly efficient and widely available, ensuring speedy delivery of food, groceries, and various goods throughout the country.

Quick Korean Test

Take a 5 mins quick test to find out where you Korean level is!

Book a Korean travel trial lesson

Book a trial lesson to explore learning in our group class!

Learning basic Korean for travel not only eases your journey but also enriches your overall experience in Korea. The effort you put into learning these phrases will open doors to new friendships and deeper cultural insights. So, before you pack your bags, spend some time learning these essential phrases and get ready to explore Korea with confidence! It is will be more effective to take a Korean short crash course before you travel. Enjoy your trip in Korea!

Similar Posts