Visiting Korea

Parent Q&A

  • Teen Travel to South Korea

    (4 replies)

    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.


    RE: Teen Travel to South Korea ()

    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.

    RE: Teen Travel to South Korea ()


    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.

    RE: Teen Travel to South Korea ()

    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).

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Seoul, Korea with two young ones?

Jan 2009

Greetings, wonderful BPN community! My husband and I are thinking of visiting relatives in Seoul, South Korea this April for ten days to two weeks. I looked in the archives and did not find much information for Korea. We're thinking of renting an apartment or house for our stay. Does anyone have recent information about good rental agencies, convenient neighborhoods to stay with two young children (2.5 and 5 years old), fun things to do with the kids, etc. Advice on flights/airlines would also help (we're considering direct flights on either United or Singapore Airlines). Any and all advice would be much appreciated from recent visitors to Korea. Thanks in advance! bschi

I went to Korea back with a then 3 year old and again when he was 4 (my kid is 5 now). We flew direct both times. I would definitely recommend Singapore Air over United. Singapore is much roomier and has the video consoles at every seat, with a pretty good selection of kids movies, music and games - though my kid just liked playing with the remote control and the buttons far more than watching the movies. (Bring headphones from home though - the ones they give you are way too big for a kid). When we flew United, it was a really small aircraft - more like what you'd expect on a domestic flight. Tight spaces and no individual screens - though our experience may have been an anomaly.

Seoul has a good subway system and it's convenient to get around. That being said, though, I would try to limit my stay to somewhere that's walking distance to a subway stop, since the bus system is pretty complex. Apujung, Myeong Dong, Gang Nam, Yeouido, Bang Bae are the nicer parts of town.

We spent time at Lotte World, Everland; went to Pusan on the train; the country side on the bus. We also did the touristy things like the NamSan tower, the presidential home, NamDaeMun, Itaewon, the folk village.

One thing I found especially stressful going to Korea with a kid is that most parts of Seoul, especially, is very crowded and it's not unusual for people to bump and push into you. So, I preferred to avoid trying to push around a stroller and be freed up to keep eyes/hands on my kid whenever we're out.

Lastly, my kid got really sick the first time from the jet lag and being in a foreign country and having to meet lots of family all at once. I would plan on doing some slow activities for the first couple of days so that your kids have a chance to adjust to the time and environment.

And we stayed with family, so I have no advice on renting homes. Hope you have a great trip. dmom

March 2005

Re: Car seat laws in Korea, Hong Kong, China
There are no laws in South Korea regarding car seats. Many women simply hold their babies on their laps and older children either sit with their parents or by themselves. Although there are campaigns for seat belt use and, I think, the law is that the driver must wear a seatbelt, these are not used widely either.

If you will be driving your own car (one that you rent or borrow) then it will be worth taking a car seat with you and placing it in the car. But, if you will be depending on public transportation, then take the seat for the plane ride and leave it in the hotel the rest of the time. It will be too much of a pain to lug it around all over the place. When our daughter was 6 months, we went to Korea and we did not bring her car seat. When she was 2.5 years, we brought her car seat with us to Korea and it gave me some peace of mind (we were borrowing a family members' car the entire time we were there).

Just use your judgement. If you will be staying in Seoul, do take advantage of the wonderful subway system. It will take you anywhere you need to go. And, the buses there are quite convenient. Taxies are cheap and, generally, fast, but you're taking more of a risk. People drive pretty crazily. We rode in taxis without incident, but I preferred the subway. Plus, when she was a toddler, our daughter loved the subway.

Hope this helps. Happy travels! Hilary