Teen Travel to South Korea

My seventeen-year-old daughter will be graduating from high school in June and she and three of her friends are planning on traveling to South Korea for two weeks in July. They are planning on doing this trip without parents or chaperons of any sort. All four of them will be 18 at the time of travel so technically they are old enough to make such a decision (although I’m not so sure they can get a hotel room or rent a car at this age).

My concern is that I know so little about how safe it is (or isn’t) for young people to travel in Asia alone. Particularly young ladies. I would like to be supportive of this adventure since my daughter is doing all the legwork to plan the travel, work for the money to pay for the travel and seems to feel secure enough to do the travel. I want her to be safe and to not get into a scary situation that someone could have warned us about. So, to this end, I’m asking advice from others who may know more about South Korea and the pitfalls or matters that four 18-year-old young ladies have no ideas about. Either personal experiences or knowledge or ideas on where a Nervous Nelly Mom can find out more details.


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Hi there - I have not traveled to South Korea so am not commenting specifically on that country. But my family is from England and other parts of Europe and it is not merely common but in fact expected that young people will travel worldwide alone starting at about 17. Travel at 18 with no parents is very very common. You can definitely book hotel rooms and youth hostels! Literally all my relatives did this, as did all their friends at that age, taking what is known there as a "gap year" before uni. I myself traveled all over Europe when I was about 19, alone - not even with friends (and I am a woman born and raised in CA). I had a great time and learned a great deal about myself, with a few misadventures! I have also traveled very extensively alone in Asia from my mid 20s to 40s - and pretty much never had any issues. I experienced much more harassment in Europe and countries like Morocco and Turkey, even with a boyfriend or husband in tow. Asia is, in my opinion, much safer - at least from the locals. The only thing I'd flag is if they spend time in typical backpacker hangouts, they will meet some idiot fellow travelers who will behave badly in their host country, score drugs and do other unwise things. Tell her to make very good choices re who she spends time with, and don't be an offensive American behaving terribly and offending people in a fairly conservative culture, just because it feels like they're far from home and there'll be no parental consequences.



Having traveled to South Korea and elsewhere in Asia as a lone female grad student in her early 20s, I would venture to say it's generally very safe, almost certainly safer than it is here! SK is a very advanced country and very welcoming of visitors (lots of things in English). I think it would depend on your daughter and her friends' experiences with travel and just generally being aware of safety precautions and using common sense. If she is doing all the planning and financing for this trip, she sounds like she has a solid head on her shoulders.

They should easily be able to use a cell phone at all times from there, SK is more high tech than we are. You could keep in touch through imessage or WhatsApp.

That said, 18 is still young and I understand your concern as well. Feel free to message me if you have more questions.


I travelled to South Korea as an adult woman, with another adult woman and felt it was extremely safe. I am black, and had heard that racism could be an issue, but ended up having no negative experiences. I really enjoyed myself. A younger coworker of mine taught English in South Korea as a young woman (she travelled there alone) several years ago and she speaks very fondly of the experience. I think South Korea is one of the safest countries in Asia your daughter could travel to. The health care is excellent in case she ends of needing medical care, and it is easy and safe to travel around (language barrier aside).


South Korea is very safe. My wife and 10 year old went there last year and had a blast. The subway is excellent and super easy to use. I recommend cosmojin.com for tours. Must sees: DMZ/JSA, Gyeongju, and JeJe Island.