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What to avoid in Seoul?


Seoul is a bustling city with a lot of things to see and do. However, there are also things that you should avoid while in Seoul, especially if you are a first-time visitor or not familiar with the local culture. In this article, we will discuss some of the things that you should be aware of and avoid while in Seoul.

Avoiding tourist traps

While there are many tourist attractions in Seoul, it’s important to be aware of tourist traps that can be overpriced or not worth the hype. For example, some food markets or shopping areas may be popular with tourists, but locals know of better places to go. Do your research beforehand and ask locals for recommendations to avoid wasting time and money.

Being mindful of cultural differences

South Korea has a unique culture that visitors should respect and be mindful of. For example, it’s important to bow when greeting someone and remove your shoes before entering someone’s home or certain establishments. Avoid making loud noises or being disruptive in public places, as this can be seen as disrespectful.

Not crossing the street illegally

Seoul has busy streets, and it’s important to use crosswalks and obey traffic signals when crossing the street. Jaywalking or crossing at non-designated areas can result in fines or accidents, as drivers may not expect pedestrians.

Avoiding crowded areas during peak hours

Seoul can get very crowded during peak hours, such as rush hour or weekends. If you’re not a fan of crowds, avoid popular areas like Myeong-dong or Gangnam during these times. Instead, try visiting these areas during off-peak hours for a more relaxed experience.

Being cautious of scams and pickpocketing

As with any big city, there is a risk of scams and pickpocketing in Seoul. Be wary of strangers who approach you with offers that seem too good to be true, and keep an eye on your belongings when in crowded areas or on public transportation.

Avoiding disrespectful behavior

Seoul has a strong sense of community and respect for others. Avoid spitting, littering, or smoking in public areas, as this can be seen as disrespectful and offensive to locals.

Being careful with street food

Street food is a popular and delicious option in Seoul, but it’s important to be cautious when eating it. Make sure the food is cooked thoroughly and avoid eating from vendors who don’t follow proper hygiene practices.

Avoiding drinking too much

South Koreans enjoy drinking alcohol, but it’s important to know your limits and avoid drinking too much in public places. Being drunk in public can be seen as disrespectful and may lead to unwanted attention or trouble.

Not disrespecting religious sites

South Korea has many beautiful temples and religious sites that visitors can explore, but it’s important to respect these places. Dress modestly, remove your shoes before entering, and avoid taking photos during worship services.

Avoiding political discussions

South Korea has a complex political history, and it’s best to avoid discussing politics unless you are well-informed on the topic. Political discussions can be sensitive and may cause tension or offense.

Being mindful of personal space

South Koreans value personal space, so it’s important to be mindful of this when interacting with locals or using public transportation. Avoid standing too close or touching strangers without permission.


Seoul is a vibrant city with a lot to offer visitors. However, there are things that tourists should be aware of and avoid to have a safe and respectful experience. By being mindful of cultural differences, avoiding tourist traps, and respecting local customs, visitors can enjoy all that Seoul has to offer.

Are tattoos allowed in South Korea?

In South Korea, only medical professionals with licenses are allowed to open tattoo parlors, and those without medical qualifications are not permitted to do so. However, having a tattoo is not illegal except for members of the military, who are prohibited from having tattoos. Once they have completed their military service, individuals can get tattoos.

Can you show your shoulders in Korea?

While traveling to this country, it is important to note that it has a conservative culture. It is advisable to avoid wearing revealing clothing such as low-cut tops and instead cover your shoulders. If you are wearing a short skirt, follow the local women’s example by bringing along a pashmina or a wrap to cover your knees when sitting. In restaurants with floor-style seating, it is best to wear loose-fitting pants or a long skirt to maintain modesty.

What is the safest place in Seoul?

Hongdae is a highly popular neighborhood in Seoul, especially among the youth, and no trip to the South Korean capital would be complete without a visit to this area. It is an ideal location for students or young expats to discover the vibrant Korean nightlife and meet new people.

What are the don’ts in Korea?

It is important not to compare Korean culture or language to that of Japan, as Korea has its own unique characteristics and should be recognized as such among other East Asian cultures. Additionally, it is recommended to remain composed in situations of emotional tension and not display anger or distress through outbursts or heated expressions.

Can you wear tank tops in Korea?

When visiting South Korea, it’s important to keep in mind that the culture is more conservative compared to what you may be used to. It’s recommended to dress modestly, especially for women who should avoid wearing revealing clothing like low-cut tops or shoulder-baring tank tops. Short skirts are acceptable, but it’s best to bring a silk wrap to cover your legs when sitting down.

Can you walk around with tattoos in Korea?

In South Korea, only medical doctors are permitted by law to perform tattoos, and it is illegal for non-medical practitioners to do so. However, displaying tattoos in public is not against the law. Therefore, Kim argues that it is unreasonable to require people to cover their tattoos in multiuse facilities just because others may disapprove of them.

Respecting the elderly

In South Korea, respecting the elderly is highly valued. When encountering an elderly person, it’s important to show respect by using formal language and offering a bow. Additionally, giving up your seat on public transportation for an elderly person is seen as a kind gesture.

Avoiding public displays of affection

Public displays of affection, such as kissing or hugging, are not common in South Korea and can be seen as inappropriate or disrespectful. It’s best to avoid PDA in public places to avoid offending locals.

Being aware of dress codes

While Seoul is a modern city, there are still certain places where dress codes should be followed. For example, when visiting a temple or religious site, it’s important to dress modestly and cover your shoulders and legs. Additionally, some restaurants or nightclubs may have dress codes that should be followed.

Understanding the tipping culture

Unlike in some Western countries, tipping is not common in South Korea. In fact, leaving a tip may be seen as confusing or even insulting. Instead, focus on showing gratitude by saying “thank you” and being respectful to service staff.

Avoiding loud conversations on public transportation

South Koreans value quietness on public transportation, so it’s important to keep conversations and phone calls at a low volume. Additionally, playing music or watching videos without headphones is considered rude and disruptive.

Being cautious when using credit cards

Credit card fraud can be a problem in Seoul, so it’s important to be cautious when using your card. Stick to reputable businesses and ATMs, and keep an eye on your account activity to avoid any unauthorized charges.

Avoiding taking photos of strangers without permission

It’s important to respect people’s privacy and avoid taking photos of strangers without their permission. Additionally, taking photos in certain areas like military bases or government buildings is strictly prohibited and could result in legal trouble.

Respecting the environment

Seoul has made great strides in reducing pollution and promoting environmental sustainability. Visitors can contribute to this effort by avoiding littering, using public transportation, and conserving water and energy whenever possible.

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