As a foreigner, booking hotels in Korea is super easy. However, travelling comes with its own risks and you should always come prepared for when things don’t go to plan. Here is a guide to booking hotels in Korea, while keeping safe and scam-free.
There are many ways you can book a hotel room in South Korea. You can use websites to book in advance which guarantees a room waiting for you when you arrive. What’s more, this is the safest way to book, as many booking sites include buyer protection services. However, you may find that you have to pay a deposit in order to secure a reservation in advance. Alternatively, you can book a hotel room on the spot. This is quite risky as their may not be a room available at your desired hotel during peak seasons. As such, I definitely recommend booking advance. Furthermore, if you don’t want to book online, most hotels allow you to book via phone call and major hotels will likely have an English language service available.
There are many different sites available for finding and booking hotel rooms. Depending on the location and type of stay you’d like, some sites may be more suitable than others. The most commonly used sites are Hotels.com, Airbnb and Trivago. All 3 sites allow you to refine your search with ease and find the accommodation that suits you.
- How do the 3 sites compare? The Airbnb site requires identity verification before you can use the service. You should scan identity documents i.e. passport, driver’s license and they are verified manually by staff. Therefore, if you are planning to book your stay in the near future, Airbnb may not be suitable, as the verification process can take a few days. Whether you’re planning a trip now or not at all, it is useful to create an Airbnb account.
- Hotels.com do not require identity verification and so it is a good site to use if you need to book somewhere in a hurry. However, I personally think that Airbnb is a more trustworthy site to use, especially as a foreigner.
- Finally, Trivago is very similar to Hotels.com. It is probably the best to use for price comparison i.e. if you’d like to get a general overview of hotels in your desired area and compare features and prices. You can also book via Trivago, but I still think Airbnb is the most reliable overall.
Be Scam Aware
It is worth noting that even if you’ve found a room with a list of perfect amenities and gorgeous display photos, you shouldn’t just book straight away. Always remember to check the reviews! This is to prevent you being cat-fished or scammed by a hotel. Furthermore, scamming is a lot more common than you may think. Many people have reported that real rooms are completely different to the seemingly luxurious photos on the website. In some cases, rooms have been dirty and uninhabitable. However, it is nearly impossible for customers to claim a refund at this point. To avoid this situation, just check the reviews on sites like TripAdvisor and Booking.com
You may also wish to read the terms and conditions in depth before making your payment. Some hotels have a strict no-refund policy, which can leave you in a difficult situation if you dislike your room.
South Korea has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, so you don’t have to worry about your room being broken into during your stay. However, the country has one of the highest camera crime rates. The reason I have written about this is because hotel rooms are a key target for spy cam placement. Moreover, spy cam criminals are notoriously difficult to apprehend and reclaiming their images are too. Therefore, when you arrive at your hotel, be sure to check your room for cameras. Once you have checked the possible places for cameras, you can relax and enjoy your stay.