Korea is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world, thanks to the popularity of its pop culture (Hallyu). Almost everyone I know wants to visit, or live, in this country. However, once you’re here, traveling around can really add up – but it doesn’t have to. This is how you can travel around Korea for free.
Although I personally have a lot of complaints about living in Korea, there are some perks I have been enjoying as a foreigner. One of the perks is free travel. When I studied in Taiwan, I was so busy studying and working part-time, I did not travel to many places. It remains one of my biggest regrets. So, I promised myself I would travel as much as I could during my time here in Korea.
However, one problem persists: I have limited money and have no sugar daddy to pay for me (*jk). That’s why I diligently try to find ways to travel in a more affordable way in Korea.
Once you start living in Korea, make an Instagram account and post regularly on it. Do it even if you only post random stray cat photos. Instagram is the key to joining programs and getting free travel benefits as a foreigner in Korea.
Follow Government Accounts
After you’ve set up your Instagram, follow Korea’s official tourism accounts. From there, you can start ‘stalking’ which accounts and hashtags they usually tag in their posts. You can easily find programs that you can join using this method.
Global Seoul Mates
Visit Seoul picks Seoul tourism ambassadors every year through ‘Global Seoul Mates’. This is not to be mistaken with the language exchange bar of the same name. Through this program, you can tour around Seoul and promote its attractions for a year and get a monthly stipend.
Through programs like ‘Global Seoul Mates,’ I got to experience and visit places I would not want to go to by myself, such as Lotte World and Seoul Sky.
This is an annual supporter program for those residing in Korea. You must reside in Korea and be willing to participate in their programs for several months. Through this program, you can travel all over Korea for free! Usually, they will recruit supporters around March or April every year.
Follow Travel Agencies
Other accounts you must follow are the travel agencies that have tour programs for foreigners. They hold regular tours for foreigners at affordable prices. Sometimes they are even partially subsidized by tourism agencies in Korea so they’re super cheap! With these agents, you don’t need to be afraid of language barriers.
If you have not amassed followers, going on tour with these affordable programs can help you build your followers. The number of followers you have on Instagram is sometimes essential to register for a program. Normally, once you have 1,000 followers you will start getting more opportunities. Following travel accounts and programs will also help your Instagram set your algorithm to meet this preference.
List of Accounts
I will recommend some accounts as a starter. As a disclaimer, I am not affiliated with these accounts, this recommendation is based on my personal experience.
This kind of account is usually the official tourism account of a city or province. Just replace the X with a city or region in Korea.
They always offer numerous package tours for foreign visitors. You can always pick which package is affordable for you.
They provide affordable tours to the ‘hidden gems’ or lesser-known areas in Korea. Sometimes they recruit some ‘influencers’ to travel and promote certain places in Korea.
Nowadays, they do not hold as many tours as they used to. But, Funday Networks also does many events for foreigners and even has an additional account to help foreigners find a job in Korea.
I started to participate in these kinds of activities more actively in 2020. Even though there were some corona-related restrictions, Korea never forbid domestic travel.
In fact, it was the most comfortable period to travel around Korea because there were fewer international tourists!
Through my travels, I got to visit many cities outside of Seoul and know so many places that are not listed on the typical ‘foreigner travel bucket list.’
Some of the programs I participated in brought me to the rural areas in Korea where you can find the nicest scenery and people. These experiences were extremely invaluable for me.
As many of the free travel programs are aimed at promoting tourism in Korea, I was able to get a lot of insight into how tourism promotion works.
Some programs provided small seminars or classes about how SNS algorithms work, or how to edit your photos/videos. These classes contributed to my knowledge of filming, photography, and editing.
From looking at other participants’ photos and videos, I have also learned a lot about how to make good content for my SNS. Admittedly, I don’t intend to be an ‘influencer’, but I do enjoy taking photos and promoting the places I have been traveling to other people.
As someone who has finished my coursework and is now only focused on thesis writing, I no longer have friends at the university. Most of my friends either went back to their countries for good or were busy working. Joining these programs broadened my social circle at a time when I really needed it.
I have met many of my friends through these trips. Some of them became very good friends and we have ended up going on the same trips frequently. Actually, I even ended up marrying someone I met on one of these trips!
So what are you waiting for? Pack your bag and prepare to travel around Korea!
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