When you travel to a country, whether for studying or vacation, it’s good if you can find out what mobile applications (apps) the locals use. These apps will help make life a little smoother for you when you are there. These are my most frequently used apps that I had in my phone while I was living in Korea.
1. Naver Map
Definitely the most useful app I have in my phone! Naver Map is Korea’s version of Google Maps but with functions that even Google Maps does not have. It acts as a navigator, bus arrival time checker, the app to go to for Korean restaurants reviews and many more!
Since Google Maps does not function well in Korea, I would recommend using Naver Map instead. The only drawback is that the app is available only in Korean. If you are interested to learn how to use the app, read the full instructions here. All you need to do is to learn how to read the Korean characters (it’s a simple language to learn, promise!) and with the instructions, you will be able to navigate Korea with Naver.
This app is also a must-have when you are in Korea. It shows the map of 5 major cities in Korea: Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, Daegu and Gwangju. This app is in English so if you are only going for a short trip and you don’t have the time to learn Korean, this will definitely be a lifesaver!
To use it, simply indicate the station that you are departing from and the station you wish to go to and it will help you find the shortest and most efficient route to use. With Seoul’s complicated subway system, this app will proof to be very helpful. It can also show you what time the next train is coming in the station.
3. Google Translate
This isn’t a local Korean app obviously, but it is definitely very useful for travelers going to Korea! Although there is a web version that you can use to translate, the app has a feature that will be very useful especially for Korean or any other character language which is the camera translation feature! It also comes with offline translation in case you need it when you do not have wifi.
To use the camera translation feature, click the camera icon located below the text box in the app and then snap a photo of the text you want to translate. Swipe your fingers on the word you want to translate and the app will do its magic! This is perfect for restaurants with Korean-only menus or in places with only Korean instructions.
4. Kakao Taxi
Again this is a local app that was very helpful when I was in Korea, stuck in areas with no buses or taxis in sight to call for a ride. This app works like Uber but for Korean taxis. Unlike Grabtaxi in Southeast Asia, when you book a taxi on the app, they do not charge you with booking fees. There is also no credit card required. In fact, all transactions are done via cash directly with the taxi driver.
This app, like Naver Maps, is only available in Korean. Here’s a really good article on how to use this app for English speakers.
5. Kakao Talk
The last app is yet another one from Kakao. Kakao Talk is Korea’s version of Whatsapp and Line and is the number one app that Koreans use to message friends. They have cute stickers, video and voice call functions and even web search functions. If you are going to Korea to study, this is the app to download to make friends with the locals. If you are only going for holiday, then you do not need to download this app unless you want to connect with your Airbnb host more easily!
You are now ready to travel and make local friends in Korea, have fun!
PS: I know I haven’t been updating as frequently, sorry for the lack of posts, I have been caught up in exams and house shifting! I’m also currently working as a writer at tripzilla.com so be sure to check them out! Some of my recent articles there can be found here and here.