Travel Guide

- 5 min reading time

Is Seoul safe to visit for female travelers?

July 14, 2023



July 14, 2023

South Korea is a captivating destination that entices female travelers with its breathtaking nature, ancient historical sites, and rich culture. There is so much to explore!

South Korea has gained international recognition for its music, movies, shopping, and delectable food. If you're a female traveler planning a trip to South Korea, it's important to prioritize safety precautions to enhance your travel experience.

Whenever you visit a new place, it's advisable to check for any safety concerns. As a lifelong resident of small and big cities both in South Korea, I have gathered all the important information you need to be aware of when traveling to the country. Here, you will find the ultimate guide for a safe and enjoyable first solo trip.

Is Seoul Safe to Travel?

Fortunately, Seoul, the vibrant capital of South Korea, is widely regarded as a safe and welcoming city for solo female travelers. With its clean streets, friendly atmosphere, and low crime rate, Seoul offers an enjoyable and secure experience for visitors from around the world. Here are some of the common questions frequently asked by female travelers about safety.

Is Seoul safe to walk around at night?

When you visit Seoul, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the abundance of restaurants and shops that remain open until midnight. The streets are bustling with people enjoying their time after work. In fact, you'll find more than 2-3 convenience stores on every block, operating 24 hours a day. Nightlife in Korea is a norm and doesn't end with just one activity. Typically, Koreans meet up with friends for a dinner of Korean barbecue, followed by grabbing some beer, and then heading to karaoke for a third round. Koreans truly know how to make the most of their evenings. If you stay in popular areas like Hongdae or Itaewon in the center of Seoul, you'll experience the vibrant nightlife and the lively atmosphere created by the crowd.

Gwangjang Market at night

Is pickpocketing common in Seoul?

Compared to other countries, pickpocketing is not common in South Korea. The country has a relatively low incidence of pickpocketing incidents, providing travelers with a sense of security when it comes to protecting their belongings.

For example, Koreans love to spend time in cafes, enjoying coffee, working, and chatting with friends. This is why there are so many cafes throughout the country. In a cafe, Koreans often leave their laptops and bags on the table when they go to the bathroom, and no one steals them. This is quite surprising when compared to cities like Paris or New York.

How is this possible? The basic mindset of Koreans is: "Why should I take something that doesn't belong to me?" Additionally, there are numerous CCTV cameras on the streets, in public transportation, and in restaurants all over Korea. If, by chance, you accidentally leave your cell phone in a public restroom for hours, there is a high possibility that it will still be there when you return.

The famous shopping area, Myeongdong.

Does catcalling happen in Seoul?

In Seoul, it's uncommon for people to whistle or yell at women, which is known as catcalling. When you walk on the streets, you'll notice that people pass by quickly without paying much attention to you. On the subway, it's usually calm, and most people are busy watching videos, browsing the internet, or playing games on their phones.

This behavior in South Korea can be influenced by their cultural values, where importance is placed on the group rather than the individual. Koreans tend to find their identity and belonging within a community, so they prioritize harmony over drawing attention to themselves.

There are many parks along the Han River.

The Regional Threat from North Korea

Some may have concerns about traveling to South Korea due to the tensions with its neighbor, North Korea. After World War II, the Korean peninsula was divided, resulting in the two countries being separated by a heavily fortified border known as the DMZ.

As a local resident who has lived here for over 30 years, I can confidently say that the threat from North Korea has never significantly affected my daily life or made me hesitant to leave my house. It has been over half a century since the division of Korea, and millions of Koreans continue to live their lives without constant worry about the threat of war. While it is important to stay informed and monitor news reports, it should not dictate your travel plans.

Seoul, the vibrant capital of South Korea, is generally considered a safe city for female travelers. However, it is always wise to take certain precautions, regardless of the destination's safety level. By exercising caution and being aware of your surroundings, you can ensure a worry-free and memorable trip to Seoul, or any other destination you choose to visit.

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On the way to N Seoul Tower

What to know before you visit Seoul

It's beneficial to have some key information about Korean culture and general tips in mind. This will help you navigate the city with ease, interact with locals, and make the most of your time in Seoul.

  1. In public transportation, such as the metro and buses, there are designated seats for the elderly, pregnant women, and those in need. It is important to be respectful and considerate by not occupying these seats if you don't fall into any of these categories. Instead, leave them available for those who require them.
  2. Korean food culture revolves around the concept of sharing and eating dishes together. For example, when Koreans eat McDonald's, it's common for them to pour their french fries onto a tray or plate and share them with others. Similarly, in restaurants, it's typical to order multiple dishes such as pasta, pizza, or rice dishes and enjoy them collectively. It may take some getting used to if you're not accustomed to this style of dining, but embracing the practice of sharing and enjoying food together can enhance your culinary experiences in Korea.
  3. Korean is the primary language used in everyday life in Korea. It's important to keep in mind that English may not be widely spoken or understood by everyone. So, it's not surprising if you encounter situations where English doesn't work as a means of communication. However, it's worth noting that English education is a significant part of the curriculum in schools, particularly for younger generations. This means that many young Koreans have some level of proficiency in English and can engage in basic conversations. Nonetheless, it's always helpful to learn a few basic Korean phrases and use simple gestures to facilitate communication and show respect for the local culture.
  4. To ensure your safety while crossing the street in South Korea, it's essential to check the road carefully not once, but twice. Driving in South Korea can be quite fast-paced, and it's important to note that pedestrians often need to wait until the cars have passed before crossing for their safety.
  5. Eating food is not allowed in the metro and bus in South Korea. This rule is in place to ensure cleanliness and prevent any accidental spills or odors that could bother other passengers in the enclosed space. It's important to respect this rule and refrain from eating while using public transportation. Additionally, it's considered impolite to talk loudly, so it's best to keep conversations at a moderate volume to maintain a respectful and considerate atmosphere for everyone.
  6. The best times to visit Seoul are spring (March-May) and fall (September-November). Spring has pleasant weather and beautiful cherry blossoms, while fall has vibrant autumn foliage. Summer in Seoul can be very hot and humid, with lots of rain. Winter in Korea can be quite cold, making it less suitable for outdoor activities.
Gyeongbokgung Palace

Emergency Numbers in South Korea

For safe travel in Korea, it's important to be aware of the emergency and medical hotlines available. I will introduce some helplines for foreigners in Korea. The best part is that all of these helplines provide services in English, making it easier for international visitors to seek assistance when needed.

1330 | Korea Tourism Organization’s Travel Helpline

This number could be one that you will use a lot when you need general help, tourism, and translation services. The service is available 24/7 and provides information on tourist sites, transportation, restaurants, and more.

112 | Police

It is the emergency hotline to call in South Korea for reporting life-threatening situations and emergencies that require law enforcement. This number provides immediate assistance and can be used to request help in critical situations

119 | Fire & Ambulance

If you have a health emergency or there's a fire, you can call 119 for help. They will connect you to the fire department or ambulance service. It's important to call 119 when you need immediate medical attention or if there's a fire that needs help. They are the right people to assist you in these situations.

So, Is it Safe for Solo Female Travelers to Visit South Korea?

In conclusion, Seoul is widely recognized as a safe city, making it an ideal destination for solo travelers. However, it's important to remember that even in safe cities like Seoul, it's always advisable to take certain precautions. Don't let safety concerns deter you from experiencing the incredible sights and culture of Seoul. Embrace the vibrant atmosphere, explore the beautiful places, and enjoy your journey. By keeping these safety tips in mind, you can have a worry-free and enjoyable trip.

More about NomadHer :

NomadHer is an app for female globetrotters to encourage solo travelling safely. NomadHer has a vision of empowering women through travelling.
To join the community of female globetrotters, you can download NomadHer App on IOS & Android. Follow NomadHer on Instagram: @nomad_her.

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