Getting to South Korea

Getting To South Korea

Allow us to state the obvious: if you’re going to South Korea, you’re going to want to fly. It is possible to fly directly from London airports to South Korea, though it often comes at a high cost, and is probably best reserved for those on quick-fire business trips. If you consider cash an important part of the trip, though, or you want an exotic stopover on the way (Dubai, for one), the best choice is to transfer. Flights, booked well in advance, can cost as little as £300 return, though if you’re going to work, many airlines only give you the choice of buying a more expensive open return, or setting a date that’s not quite far enough into the future to allow for the completion of your one year contract. There are a number of ways around this, including sucking up the rebooking fee (often the cheapest option, but check the small print for rebooking deadlines), or simply booking two one way tickets. Bear in mind that in many cases, schools paying for your return ticket might not cover all of these expenses.

Almost all long-distance international flights land in the beautiful Incheon international airport. While you can easily taxi into the city of Seoul from here (allow about £50), you’ll save a lot of money by taking a shuttle bus to a hotel near to your final destination, or by taking the subway. While the subway is easily the cheapest option and leaves directly from the airport, it is also by far the longest in terms of time taken. Of course, there’s a small chance you’ll land somewhere else – Busan or Seoul’s city (Gumpo) airport are both possibilities if you’re flying from a short distance away.

Now, about those transfers: generally, Emirates are the cheapest option, and also offer one of the most balanced flight schedules, breaking around halfway through in beautiful Dubai, where even just seeing the airport is an experience. There are fantastic stopover opportunities, and Emirates are one of the more generous companies when it comes to luggage allowance. Of course, it’s always worth shopping around, and plenty of other airlines offer useful routes through locations like Frankfurt and Abu Dhabi.

For the really adventurous, it’s worth noting that it’s impossible to travel to South Korea overland. At present, any trip through North Korea requires that you’re with a tour guide at all times, and the tour must start and end in the same location. While the South Korean border into North Korea has been open to foreigners as recently as 2007, you cannot pass through it having entered from China, even if it should reopen. Of course, you can always take a ship from China, and the trans Siberian is an attractive ‘most of the way there’ option that plenty use to get home, too. Don’t be afraid to do things the fun way!