South Korea is surging the travel Industry with new visa-free entry policy for 103 countries, including USA, Thailand and Schengen Nations


Sunday, June 30, 2024

Reading Time: 12 minutes

Citizens from 103 countries can enter South Korea without a visa, enhancing its appeal as a premier destination for travel and tourism. For leisure travel enthusiasts, business travel, and corporate travel, South Korea offers visa-free entry to nationals from various regions, facilitating global travel and making it an accessible and welcoming country. Schengen countries such as Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland enjoy visa-free entry for up to 90 days. Additionally, citizens from other countries including Albania, Andorra, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei, Cyprus, Fiji, Guyana, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Micronesia, Monaco, Montenegro, Nauru, Oman, Palau, Paraguay, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Tonga, Tunisia, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom can enter South Korea without a visa for 30 days. Moreover, visitors from Lesotho and Russia can stay visa-free for 60 days, while those from Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Canada (for up to 6 months), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico (for up to 3 months), Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Qatar, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela can enjoy a 90-day visa-free stay. This extensive list of eligible countries not only promotes tourism but also facilitates seamless business travel and corporate travel, making South Korea a prime destination for international visitors. People will enjoy South Korea immensely due to its diverse tourist opportunities that cater to various interests, enhancing their travel and tourism experience. From the bustling city life of Seoul, with its blend of modern skyscrapers and historical palaces like Gyeongbokgung, to the serene landscapes of Jeju Island, South Korea offers something for everyone. Leisure travel enthusiasts can explore the traditional hanok villages in Bukchon, relax in the natural hot springs of Dogo, or hike in the picturesque mountains of Seoraksan National Park. Food lovers can indulge in authentic Korean cuisine, from street food in Myeongdong to exquisite dishes in top-tier restaurants. South Korea’s vibrant cultural scene, including K-pop concerts, traditional dance performances, and the globally renowned Boryeong Mud Festival, provides endless entertainment options. Moreover, business travelers will appreciate the country’s advanced infrastructure, modern conference facilities, and the dynamic economic hubs of Seoul and Busan, making South Korea a top destination for corporate travel. The efficient transportation system, including high-speed trains and convenient public transit, ensures easy access to all these attractions, enhancing the overall travel experience. With its rich cultural heritage, modern amenities, and welcoming atmosphere, South Korea is a must-visit destination for global travel enthusiasts seeking a mix of adventure, relaxation, and cultural immersion.

In the overall rankings of the Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021, Korea climbed four spots to 15th place with a score of 4.8 out of 117 nations, according to a report released by the World Economic Forum (WKF) last week. Japan was first on the list, then the US and Spain.

TTW Editor in Chief Mr. Anup Kumar Keshan said: “The implementation of Moldova visa-free policy for 103 countries, including Schengen nations, has been a transformative force for the tourism sector. This strategic move has not only simplified the entry process for millions but has also broadened our appeal across diverse travel sectors. Additionally, this policy has invigorated niche travel markets, such as culinary tourism, adventure travel, and wellness retreats, enriching the travel experience and fostering significant economic growth and cultural exchange.”

Schengen Countries (90 Days Unless Specified)

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Croatia
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Denmark
  7. Estonia
  8. Finland
  9. France
  10. Germany
  11. Greece
  12. Hungary
  13. Iceland
  14. Italy
  15. Latvia
  16. Liechtenstein
  17. Lithuania
  18. Luxembourg
  19. Malta
  20. Netherlands
  21. Norway
  22. Poland
  23. Portugal
  24. Romania
  25. Slovakia
  26. Slovenia
  27. Spain
  28. Sweden
  29. Switzerland

Rest of the Countries

30 Days

  1. Albania
  2. Andorra
  3. Bahrain
  4. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  5. Brunei
  6. Cyprus
  7. Fiji
  8. Guyana
  9. Honduras
  10. Kazakhstan
  11. Kiribati
  12. Marshall Islands
  13. Mauritius
  14. Micronesia
  15. Monaco
  16. Montenegro
  17. Nauru
  18. Oman
  19. Palau
  20. Paraguay
  21. Samoa
  22. San Marino
  23. Saudi Arabia
  24. Seychelles
  25. Solomon Islands
  26. South Africa
  27. Tonga
  28. Tunisia
  29. Tuvalu
  30. United Kingdom

60 Days

  1. Lesotho
  2. Russia

90 Days

  1. Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Argentina
  3. Australia
  4. Bahamas
  5. Barbados
  6. Brazil
  7. Canada (6 months)
  8. Chile
  9. Colombia
  10. Costa Rica
  11. Dominica
  12. Dominican Republic
  13. Ecuador
  14. El Salvador
  15. Grenada
  16. Guatemala
  17. Haiti
  18. Ireland
  19. Israel
  20. Jamaica
  21. Japan
  22. Kuwait
  23. Malaysia
  24. Mexico (3 months)
  25. Morocco
  26. New Zealand
  27. Nicaragua
  28. Panama
  29. Peru
  30. Qatar
  31. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  32. Saint Lucia
  33. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  34. Singapore
  35. Suriname
  36. Thailand
  37. Trinidad and Tobago
  38. Turkey
  39. United Arab Emirates
  40. United States
  41. Uruguay
  42. Venezuela

Airlines and Airports in South Korea

Major Airlines

  1. Korean Air
    • Description: Korean Air is South Korea’s flagship carrier and one of the largest airlines in Asia. It operates extensive domestic and international routes, offering premium services and modern fleets.
  2. Asiana Airlines
    • Description: Asiana Airlines is another major South Korean airline, known for its high-quality service and extensive network of domestic and international flights.
  3. Jeju Air
    • Description: Jeju Air is South Korea’s leading low-cost carrier, providing affordable flights to various domestic and international destinations.
  4. Jin Air
    • Description: Jin Air, a subsidiary of Korean Air, offers budget-friendly flights, primarily focusing on regional destinations in Asia.
  5. T’way Air
    • Description: T’way Air is a low-cost carrier that offers domestic flights as well as international services to nearby countries.
  6. Air Busan
    • Description: Air Busan operates as a regional airline, providing both domestic flights and services to international destinations primarily in East Asia.
  7. Eastar Jet
    • Description: Eastar Jet is a budget airline serving various domestic and international routes, known for its affordable prices.

Major Airports

  1. Incheon International Airport (ICN)
    • Location: Incheon, near Seoul
    • Description: Incheon International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in South Korea, serving as a major hub for international travel. It offers world-class facilities, shopping, dining, and entertainment options.
  2. Gimpo International Airport (GMP)
    • Location: Seoul
    • Description: Gimpo International Airport primarily handles domestic flights and some international routes to nearby countries. It is conveniently located close to downtown Seoul.
  3. Gimhae International Airport (PUS)
    • Location: Busan
    • Description: Gimhae International Airport serves the southeastern region of South Korea, with both domestic and international flights. It is a major gateway for travelers to and from Busan.
  4. Jeju International Airport (CJU)
    • Location: Jeju Island
    • Description: Jeju International Airport is the second busiest airport in South Korea, catering to a large number of tourists visiting Jeju Island. It offers numerous domestic flights and limited international services.
  5. Daegu International Airport (TAE)
    • Location: Daegu
    • Description: Daegu International Airport serves the city of Daegu and the surrounding region, providing both domestic flights and a few international routes.
  6. Cheongju International Airport (CJJ)
    • Location: Cheongju
    • Description: Cheongju International Airport primarily serves the central region of South Korea, with a mix of domestic and international flights.

Government Sources for Further Information

  1. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT)
  2. Korea Airports Corporation
  3. Incheon International Airport Corporation

These airlines and airports provide comprehensive services, ensuring efficient travel connections within South Korea and to international destinations, enhancing the country’s accessibility and attractiveness for travelers.

Top Destination Management Companies (DMCs) and MICE Travel Advisors in South Korea

1. KoreaMICE Bureau

  • Description: KoreaMICE Bureau, a division of the Korea Tourism Organization, specializes in promoting South Korea as a premier destination for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE). They provide comprehensive support and resources for organizing events.
  • Services: Event planning, venue selection, logistics support, promotional materials, and financial assistance programs.

2. HanaTour MICE

  • Description: HanaTour MICE is part of HanaTour, one of the largest travel companies in South Korea. They offer extensive MICE services, leveraging their vast network and resources.
  • Services: Event management, corporate meetings, incentive travel programs, exhibition planning, and on-site coordination.

3. Mode Tour Network

  • Description: Mode Tour Network is a leading travel agency in South Korea, providing a wide range of services, including MICE solutions. They are known for their attention to detail and customized event planning.
  • Services: Corporate travel, incentive programs, conference organization, exhibition services, and destination management.

4. MCI Korea

  • Description: MCI Korea is part of the global MCI Group, a leading provider of strategic engagement and activation solutions. They specialize in creating memorable MICE experiences.
  • Services: Strategic event planning, meeting and conference management, incentive travel, digital solutions, and creative design.

5. Korea Convention Service

  • Description: Korea Convention Service offers specialized services for organizing and managing conferences, exhibitions, and other corporate events. They have a reputation for delivering high-quality service.
  • Services: Conference planning, exhibition management, event logistics, and destination management.

6. Kim’s Travel

  • Description: Kim’s Travel provides comprehensive travel and MICE services, catering to both leisure and corporate clients. They are well-regarded for their personalized service and extensive local knowledge.
  • Services: Incentive travel, corporate meetings, event planning, transportation, and tour arrangements.

7. Global Tour

  • Description: Global Tour is a prominent travel agency offering MICE services, focusing on delivering customized solutions for corporate clients and international organizations.
  • Services: Corporate meetings, incentive travel, conference management, and exhibition services.
  1. Global Popularity: BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a major cultural phenomenon with a massive global following. Their music, choreography, and fashion have transcended borders, making them ambassadors of South Korean culture.
  2. Cultural Tours: Fans can visit locations associated with BTS, such as the Big Hit Entertainment building, the famous BT21 character stores, and locations from their music videos and reality shows. These tours provide a unique and personal way to connect with the group’s history and South Korean culture.
  3. Concerts and Events: Attending BTS concerts or events in South Korea is an exhilarating experience. Fans can immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere and witness the energy and passion that BTS brings to their performances.
  4. Merchandise and Memorabilia: Visitors can purchase official BTS merchandise, including albums, clothing, and accessories. These souvenirs serve as cherished keepsakes and tangible connections to the group.

Cultural Elements in South Korea

  1. K-pop Culture: Beyond BTS, South Korea is home to a vibrant K-pop scene. Visitors can explore music shows, entertainment districts like Gangnam, and K-pop academies where aspiring artists train.
  2. Historical Sites: South Korea offers a wealth of historical and cultural sites, such as Gyeongbokgung Palace, Changdeokgung Palace, and Bukchon Hanok Village. These sites provide insights into Korea’s rich history and traditional architecture.
  3. Traditional Markets: Visiting traditional markets like Namdaemun and Gwangjang Market allows tourists to experience local food, crafts, and daily life. These markets are excellent places to sample traditional Korean dishes such as kimchi, tteokbokki, and bibimbap.
  4. Hanbok Experience: Tourists can rent and wear hanbok, the traditional Korean attire, and take part in cultural activities or stroll through historic neighborhoods, enhancing their cultural immersion.
  5. Festivals and Events: South Korea hosts numerous festivals throughout the year, such as the Seoul Lantern Festival, the Boryeong Mud Festival, and the Andong Mask Dance Festival. These events celebrate Korea’s heritage, art, and community spirit.
  6. Modern Attractions: The cities of Seoul and Busan offer a mix of modern and traditional attractions, including cutting-edge technology hubs, contemporary art galleries, and vibrant nightlife scenes.

Where to Go:

  • Big Hit Entertainment Building: Visit the company’s old building in Gangnam and the new HYBE headquarters in Yongsan.
  • BT21 Stores: Located in popular shopping areas such as Myeongdong and Itaewon.
  • BTS Music Video Locations: Areas like the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul Forest, and the Iryeong Station.

K-pop, as a global cultural phenomenon, significantly influences the travel and tourism industry in South Korea. Fans from around the world visit South Korea not only for its mainstream attractions but also to explore locations associated with their favorite K-pop stars and immerse themselves in the broader cultural context that nurtures this vibrant music scene. Here’s how K-pop is related to the offbeat touristy destinations mentioned above:

1. Boseong Green Tea Fields

  • Relation to K-Pop: The picturesque Boseong Green Tea Fields have been featured in various K-pop music videos and photo shoots. Fans often visit to recreate scenes and enjoy the natural beauty showcased by their favorite idols.

2. Hahoe Folk Village (Andong)

  • Relation to K-Pop: Traditional settings like Hahoe Folk Village often serve as backdrops for K-pop music videos and TV shows, where idols participate in traditional Korean activities, attracting fans to these cultural sites.

3. Jindo Island

  • Relation to K-Pop: While Jindo is famous for its natural phenomenon, K-pop stars sometimes participate in cultural festivals here. Fans may visit during these times, hoping to catch a glimpse of their idols and experience local traditions.

4. Damyang Bamboo Forest

  • Relation to K-Pop: The serene beauty of the Damyang Bamboo Forest has been featured in K-dramas and variety shows with K-pop idols, inspiring fans to visit and walk the same paths as their favorite stars.

5. Gyeongju Yangdong Village

  • Relation to K-Pop: Historical sites like Yangdong Village are often used for period dramas and historical-themed music videos involving K-pop idols. Fans visit these locations to connect with the cultural heritage their idols portray.

6. Jeungdo Island

  • Relation to K-Pop: Eco-friendly and unique locations like Jeungdo Island are occasionally highlighted in travel programs featuring K-pop stars, encouraging fans to explore these off-the-beaten-path destinations.

7. Ulleungdo Island

  • Relation to K-Pop: The rugged and scenic landscapes of Ulleungdo Island have been the setting for various K-pop idol reality shows, where stars engage in activities like hiking and fishing, attracting their fan base to these remote areas.

8. Cheongsando Island

  • Relation to K-Pop: Known for its “slow city” designation, Cheongsando Island offers a tranquil retreat that K-pop stars sometimes highlight in their travel documentaries and social media posts, prompting fans to seek out this peaceful haven.

9. Gongju and Buyeo (Baekje Historic Areas)

  • Relation to K-Pop: The rich history and ancient sites of Gongju and Buyeo are frequently featured in historical K-dramas and music videos starring K-pop idols, drawing fans interested in the cultural history their idols engage with.

10. Tongyeong

  • Relation to K-Pop: Known as the “Naples of Korea,” Tongyeong’s scenic beauty and vibrant art scene are sometimes included in travel shows featuring K-pop idols, encouraging fans to explore its coastal charm and artistic heritage.

Cultural Elements in South Korea

How to Go:

  • Historical Sites: Use the Seoul subway system or city buses to reach major palaces and historical sites.
  • Traditional Markets: Easily accessible via Seoul’s public transportation network; many are centrally located.
  • Hanbok Experience: Hanbok rental shops are often found near major tourist sites and palaces.
  • Festivals and Events: Check the official tourism websites for dates and locations, and use public transport or book tour packages.
  • Modern Attractions: Utilize the comprehensive subway system in cities like Seoul and Busan to reach various modern and traditional attractions.

Where to Go:

  • Historical Sites:
    • Gyeongbokgung Palace: Central Seoul, accessible via Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3).
    • Changdeokgung Palace: Near Anguk Station (Line 3).
    • Bukchon Hanok Village: Walkable from Anguk Station (Line 3).
  • Traditional Markets:
    • Namdaemun Market: Near Hoehyeon Station (Line 4).
    • Gwangjang Market: Near Jongno 5-ga Station (Line 1).
  • Hanbok Experience:
    • Rental Shops: Near Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, and Insadong.
  • Festivals and Events:
    • Seoul Lantern Festival: Held along the Cheonggyecheon Stream.
    • Boryeong Mud Festival: Located in Boryeong, accessible by bus from Seoul.
    • Andong Mask Dance Festival: Held in Andong, reachable by train and bus from Seoul.
  • Modern Attractions:
    • Seoul: Areas like Gangnam, Itaewon, Hongdae, and Myeongdong for shopping and nightlife.
    • Busan: Visit Haeundae Beach, Gwangalli Beach, and the Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) Square.

By utilizing South Korea’s efficient public transportation system and pre-booking tours and experiences where possible, visitors can seamlessly explore the country’s rich cultural landscape and enjoy a wide range of activities related to BTS and traditional Korean heritage.

Railway Services in South Korea

South Korea has an extensive and efficient railway network that connects major cities and regions. The primary operator is Korail (Korea Railroad Corporation), which offers various types of train services including high-speed, express, and commuter trains.

Major Train Services:

  1. KTX (Korea Train Express)
    • Description: High-speed trains that connect major cities like Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, and more.
  2. ITX (Intercity Train Express)
    • Description: Express trains that serve regional routes, including the ITX-Cheongchun which connects Seoul with Chuncheon.
  3. Mugunghwa-ho
    • Description: Regular trains that connect smaller cities and towns with major urban centers.
  4. SRT (Super Rapid Train)
    • Description: Another high-speed train service that operates from Suseo Station in Seoul to destinations like Busan and Mokpo.

Itinerary for Visa-Free Countries Visiting South Korea

Day 1-2: Seoul

  • Arrival: Incheon International Airport (ICN)
  • Transport to City: Take AREX (Airport Railroad Express) to Seoul Station.
  • Activities:
    • Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace.
    • Explore Bukchon Hanok Village and Insadong.
    • Shop in Myeongdong and visit N Seoul Tower.

Day 3: Seoul to Busan

  • Travel: Take KTX from Seoul Station to Busan Station (approx. 2.5 hours).
  • Activities in Busan:
    • Visit Haeundae Beach and Busan Aquarium.
    • Explore Gamcheon Culture Village.
    • Walk through Jagalchi Fish Market.

Day 4: Busan

  • Activities:
    • Visit Beomeosa Temple.
    • Explore Gwangalli Beach.
    • Visit BIFF (Busan International Film Festival) Square and Nampo-dong.

Day 5: Busan to Gyeongju

  • Travel: Take KTX or SRT from Busan to Singyeongju Station (approx. 30 minutes).
  • Activities in Gyeongju:
    • Visit Bulguksa Temple and Seokguram Grotto.
    • Explore the Gyeongju National Museum and Anapji Pond.
    • Walk around Tumuli Park and see the ancient tombs.

Day 6: Gyeongju to Jeonju

  • Travel: Take KTX from Singyeongju Station to Jeonju Station (approx. 2 hours).
  • Activities in Jeonju:
    • Explore Jeonju Hanok Village.
    • Visit Gyeonggijeon Shrine.
    • Try traditional Korean food at local restaurants, especially Jeonju bibimbap.

Day 7: Jeonju to Seoul

  • Travel: Take KTX from Jeonju Station to Seoul Station (approx. 1.5 hours).
  • Activities in Seoul:
    • Visit Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
    • Explore the trendy Hongdae area.
    • Enjoy a night walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream.

South Korea offers a plethora of hidden gems and offbeat destinations that provide unique and memorable experiences away from the typical tourist trails. Here are some of the lesser-known but fascinating places to visit in South Korea:

1. Boseong Green Tea Fields

  • Description: Located in Jeollanam-do, the Boseong Green Tea Fields are famous for their lush green terraces. Visitors can enjoy tea tasting, walking trails, and stunning views of the tea plantations.
  • How to Reach: Take an intercity bus from Seoul to Boseong, then a local bus or taxi to the tea fields.

2. Hahoe Folk Village (Andong)

  • Description: A UNESCO World Heritage site, Hahoe Folk Village offers a glimpse into traditional Korean life with its well-preserved houses, Confucian academies, and cultural performances.
  • How to Reach: Take a train or bus from Seoul to Andong, then a local bus to the village.

3. Jindo Island

  • Description: Known for the “Moses Miracle,” a natural phenomenon where the sea parts and creates a temporary land bridge, Jindo Island also offers beautiful coastal scenery and cultural festivals.
  • How to Reach: Take a bus from Seoul to Jindo, then use local transport to explore the island.

4. Damyang Bamboo Forest

  • Description: The Damyang Bamboo Forest, also known as Juknokwon, is a serene escape with walking paths through towering bamboo groves. It’s perfect for a peaceful nature walk.
  • How to Reach: Take a bus from Seoul to Gwangju, then a local bus or taxi to Damyang.

5. Gyeongju Yangdong Village

  • Description: Another UNESCO World Heritage site, Yangdong Village is a traditional village showcasing Joseon Dynasty architecture and Confucian culture.
  • How to Reach: Take a train or bus to Gyeongju, then a local bus to the village.

6. Jeungdo Island

  • Description: Known for its salt fields and eco-friendly tourism, Jeungdo Island offers a unique experience with mudflats, scenic bike trails, and salt museum tours.
  • How to Reach: Take a bus from Seoul to Mokpo, then a ferry to Jeungdo.

7. Ulleungdo Island

  • Description: Ulleungdo Island, located in the East Sea, is known for its rugged landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and unique volcanic features. It’s perfect for hiking, fishing, and diving.
  • How to Reach: Take a bus from Seoul to Pohang or Gangneung, then a ferry to Ulleungdo.

8. Cheongsando Island

  • Description: Famous for its “slow city” designation, Cheongsando Island offers picturesque landscapes, walking paths, and terraced rice fields. It’s a great spot for a relaxing getaway.
  • How to Reach: Take a bus from Seoul to Wando, then a ferry to Cheongsando.

9. Gongju and Buyeo (Baekje Historic Areas)

  • Description: These historic towns are rich in Baekje Kingdom heritage, featuring ancient tombs, temples, and fortress ruins.
  • How to Reach: Take a train or bus from Seoul to Gongju or Buyeo.

10. Tongyeong

  • Description: Known as the “Naples of Korea,” Tongyeong offers beautiful coastal scenery, islands, and delicious seafood. Don’t miss the Dongpirang Village murals and the Hallyeosudo Viewing Ropeway.
  • How to Reach: Take a bus from Seoul to Tongyeong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *