advertisement

American Express The main office in Seoul is in the Gwanghwamun Building, 15th Floor #64-8, 1-KA, Taepyeong-no, Jung-gu (tel. 02/399-2929). You may also need to contact authorizations (which operate 24 hr.) for emergency card replacement (tel. 02/1588-8300) or to contact the general service center (tel. 02/1588-8100).

Banks, Foreign Exchange & ATMs In Seoul, there are regular ATMs (automatic teller machines) and cash dispenser machines (CDs), which give out cash but don't accept deposits. The CDs in train stations, bus terminals, and department stores are the most foreigner-friendly. Some ATMs/CDs are available 24/7, but many operate from 8am to midnight on weekdays and nonholidays. If you have any trouble using an ATM/CD, call the Korea Travel Phone at tel. 1330 for assistance in English.

At banks in Seoul, you take a numbered ticket and wait until your number is called. If you want to exchange traveler's checks, make sure you have your passport. Banking hours in Seoul are from 9:30am to 4:30pm weekdays. Most bank employees speak some English.

Business Hours Government offices: 9am to 6pm weekdays (Nov-Feb, offices close at 5pm), 9am to 1pm Saturday. Major department stores: Daily from 10:30am to 7:30pm including Sunday. Smaller shops: Hours vary, but usually are about the same as those for department stores.

Currency Exchange You can exchange money at any currency exchange booth, high-end hotels, and most banks in the city. Many exchange desks are in banks such as Shinhan Bank (main office: 120 Taepyeongro 2-ga, Jung-gu), off exit #8 at City Hall Station when taking subway line 2) and Chohung Bank. Some places that exclusively exchange money are in Itaewon and downtown Seoul. There are also many places at Incheon International Airport, including the first (arrival) floor near the east and west greater halls, and on the third (departure) floor. Hard currency, such as U.S. dollars or British pounds, is easier to exchange than traveler's checks. Exchanging currency from Asian countries other than Japan is virtually impossible, so make sure to change your money back to dollars or pounds if you're arriving in South Korea from elsewhere in Asia. Tip: Hold onto your receipt, as it will help you secure a better deal when changing your money back before heading home.

Doctors & Dentists Most doctors and dentists speak some English, but for medical issues, it's always best to find one who is fairly fluent. You'll find English-speaking dentists at the College of Dentistry at Yonsei University, 134 Shinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul 120-752 (tel. 02/2228-8622); Kwanghwamun Ye Dental Clinic, 2nd Floor, Seoul Finance Center, 84 Taepyeong-no, Jung-gu (tel. 02/318-3601); Asan Medical Center, 388-1 Pungnap 2-dong, Songpa-gu (tel. 02/222-4384); or Seoul National University School of Dentistry, San 56-1, Sillim-dong, Gwanak-gu (tel. 02/760-3390). You can also visit dentists at international clinics, but they'll be more expensive. For English-speaking doctors, inquire at your hotel (higher-end places often have them on call).

Embassies & Consulates The following embassies are in Seoul: U.S., 32 Sejong-no, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-710 (tel. 02/397-4114; http://seoul.usembassy.gov); U.K., Taepyeong-no 40, 4 Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, 100-120 (tel. 02/3210-5500; http://ukinkorea.fco.gov.uk/en; take the subway to City Hall Station and take exit 3 or 12; open Mon-Fri 9:30am-noon for fee paying services, 2-4:30pm for general inquiries); Canadian, 16-1, Jeong-dong, Jung-gu, Seoul, 100-662 (tel. 02/3455-6000; www.korea.gc.ca; take the subway line 1 to City Hall Station and take exit 1; open Mon-Fri 8-11:45am and 12:45-4:30pm); and Australian, 11th Floor, Kyobo Building, 1 Jongno 1-ga, Jongno-gu, Seoul (tel. 02/2003-0100; http://www.southkorea.embassy.gov.au; open Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm, though various services have different operating hours).

Emergencies Dial tel. 112 for the police. Dial tel. 119 for the fire department and medical emergencies, also tel. 1339 for medical emergencies (operators can understand basic English, but you should find someone who can speak Korean for more complicated situations). Hotel staff can also arrange for a doctor or ambulance.

Hospitals International clinics charge more than regular hospitals, but you'll be sure to find a doctor who speaks English. The following is a list of hospitals with international clinics: Samsung Medical Center, Ilwon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 135-710 (tel. 02/3410-0200; http://english.samsunghospital.com); Sinchon Severance, 134 Sinchon-dong, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul (tel. 02/361-6540); Asan Medical Center, 388-1 Pungnap 2-dong, Songpa-gu (tel. 02/2224-3114); Hannam-dong International Medical Center, Hannam Building, 5F, 737-37, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu (tel. 02/790-0857); Seoul Foreign Medical Center (tel. 02/796-1871); Yeouido Catholic Medical Center, Yeouido-dong 62, Yeongdeungpo-gu (tel. 02/789-1114); CHA General Hospital, 650-9 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, 135-081 (tel. 02/558-1112); Soonchunhyang Hospital, 657, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu (tel. 02/709-9881); and Seoul National University Hospital, San 56-1, Sillim-dong, Gwanak-gu (tel. 02/760-2890).

Internet Access Internet service is offered in public places such as airports, train stations, and bus terminals in Seoul. Internet cafes and PC bahngs (which means "rooms") are easy to find throughout the city. These rooms are filled with computer terminals where you can rent an Internet-connected PC. Many PC bahngs are open 24 hours and are located on higher floors of buildings, where rents are cheaper. To find one, just head for a commercial area and look up.

Although Seoul leads the world in Wi-Fi connectivity, the city's hot spots aren't very traveler-friendly. Since the majority of Wi-Fi hot spots are owned by previously government-controlled Korea Telecom (KT), it's best to get a prepaid Wi-Fi card, available at the KT Plaza at Incheon Airport (in the middle of the second floor; daily 7am-8pm). Prepaid cards come in W3,000 and W12,000 denominations and expire after a few months. The former is good for 60 minutes of access within a 24-hour period, while the latter allows unlimited access. Most hotels and love motels offer free high-speed Internet access.

Lost & Found The police lost and found number is tel. 02/2299-1282; the train station lost and found is tel. 02/755-7108; the airport lost and found is tel. 032/741-3114.

Maps & Books The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), B1, KTO Building (T2 Tower), 40, Cheongyecheonno, Jung-gu, Seoul 100-180 (tel. 02/729-9497, ext. 499; http://english.tour2korea.com; daily 9am-8pm), publishes a variety of free brochures and maps, as well as providing transportation reservations and other traveler's assistance. They have tourist information booths at most major tourist areas throughout the city, including Namdaemun, Dongdaemun, Insadong, Myeongdong, and Itaewon.

The best selection of English-language books in Seoul can be found at the Bandi & Luni's bookstores or at one of the Kyobo Mungo bookstores. Unfortunately, there are no maps in English that show the streets of Seoul, and the ones available for purchase aren't very detailed. Your best bet is to pick up a map from one of the KTO locations.

Pharmacies Simple Western remedies are most likely to be found in the lobbies of international five-star hotels. There are no 24-hour pharmacies in the city, but you can generally find one or two pharmacies in any given neighborhood. Most display a large green cross symbol, but all of them have the Korean word for medicine on their windows.

Police Dial tel. 112 for the police. There are also police stations and booths throughout the city, clearly marked in English.

Post Office There are numerous post offices across the city, including the central one in Myeongdong. There is also one at the southeastern corner of the Gwanghwamun intersection and one in Itaewon, near the end of the main street. They're open Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm (until 5pm Nov-Feb). There are also several Federal Express/Kinko's locations throughout the city, including one in the COEX Mall and one near Seoul Station.

Visitor Information For tourist information in English anywhere in the city, just dial tel. 1330 and someone will help you. If you have a problem with your hotel, or anything else for that matter, you can also call the Tourist Complaint Center (tel. 02/735-0101).

Weather For daily weather forecasts, check www.weather.com, or tune your TV to KBS at 8:30am, noon, or 9pm. Although the news will be in Korean, it's easy to figure out the weather from the icons.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.