15 South Korea Apps to Download for Your Travels to Seoul & Beyond

15 South Korea Apps to Download for Your Travels to The Land of The Morning Calm

Take your pick, from public transportation guides to easy language learning apps.

You know what they say these days: There’s an app for everything! Techie travellers, best believe that there are South Korea apps out there that will make your next K-holiday the best one yet.

South Korea apps for travel

Image credit: 7shifts

And with so many things to love about South Korea, it’s only natural that it receives throngs of eager tourists every year. In 2018, the country recorded a whopping 15.34 million tourist arrivals! Where to start? There’s Hallyu helmed by K-pop idols and K-drama goodness. Who can ever resist mouthwatering Korean dishes? Of course, the unmatched reputation of Korean beauty brands has skincare-hoarding tourists booking annual trips to Seoul’s shopping districts. 

Also read: Why Do Travellers Love South Korea? Let Us Count The Ways

The point is, we won’t be surprised if a South Korea trip is somewhere in your future. The Land of the Morning Calm awaits with countless wonders, and these South Korea apps make for a fuss-free getaway. Take note!

South Korea apps for tours

1. VisitKorea

Let’s start with an umbrella app that will cover the basics. VisitKorea, the official app of Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), is your all-in-one starter app for travelling around the country. It will show you everything you need to know at a glance, with only a few taps. Since it was developed by South Korea’s national tourism office, it should give you enough assurance that you’ll be receiving the latest travel news and guidelines. 

Need itinerary inspiration? VisitKorea provides users with popular destinations, festival schedules, and shopping centres that will enrich your K-holiday! A few of its more utilitarian features are its map, transportation guide, time difference tab, and currency and exchange info. It will even show you travel suggestions depending on the theme you choose: city tours, nightlife, ski and snow — you name it, they have it.

2. Odii

Among the South Korea apps on this list, Odii is the only one that’s mainly an audio guide and service. Like VisitKorea, it was also designed by the government’s national tourism arm; but this one focuses on narrating South Korea’s culture and heritage through its many tourist attractions.

Think of it as a smart tour service that you can keep in your pocket. It’s perfect for wanderers who prefer DIY tours in any destination! An award-winning app, Odii has several modes and itineraries to choose from: themed historical tours (Silla, Baekje, and Gaya), walking tour, city tour, and even a UNESCO tour — which takes you through South Korea’s UNESCO heritage sites. In case you’re wondering, this app is available in English, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese.

3. I Tour Seoul App

Since a lot of travellers venture around Seoul (and keep coming back to this very vibrant city), we decided to include this app created by the Seoul Metropolitan Government. Most travellers treat Seoul as their jump-off point to the rest of the country, too, so the i Tour Seoul is a handy addition to your arsenal.

It’s quite similar to the VisitKorea app as well, but with an emphasis on Seoul. Scratch that — it covers only Seoul but in fine detail. Keep updated about the weather and transportation information, plus highly recommended accommodations and restaurants in the city! The app also boasts of a smart function that gives you public transportation and tax refund tips depending on your location. Ain’t that neat?

South Korea apps for language learning & translation

4. Papago

If you want language support on-the-go, better bring this parrot with you. No, we don’t mean an actual parrot; bring Papago, the official mascot-logo of Naver’s Papago app. It’s a translation app, more than anything. It allows you to translate Hangul texts on products and photos to English, and trains you to pronounce words and phrases you’re more likely to utter during your travels. Other features you’ll find useful are offline translation, handwriting translation, website translation, and an in-app dictionary. 

Naver is a trusted developer when it comes to language apps. They also offer the Naver Korean Dictionary app, which is a digital dictionary designed especially for foreigners. Choose one, or download both!

5. LingoDeer

LingoDeer may not be a Korea-centric app, but it is one of the most popular apps for learning the Korean language in an easy and fun way. If Papago has a parrot, this language app features a cute deer who figures prominently in the app’s aesthetic and modules.

We know you’ll find similar apps online but users swear by the friendliness of this app, even to learners who have a difficult time memorising new words. You can thank LingoDeer’s review features for that, as you can always go back to previous lessons and tests that you’ve already taken. LingoDeer also boasts of a team of bilingual speakers, which makes it easier for the developer to come up with conversational yet correct translations. With LingoDeer, literacy is a tap away; each lesson will take less than five minutes a day.

Tip: Download LingoDeer months before your trip to South Korea. That way, you can build your word bank!

6. WayGo

WayGo is just like Papago, except that it wasn’t developed by a Korean platform like Naver. Nevertheless, it’s highly rated all over the world for Korean, Japanese, and Chinese languages. Using it is simple: Just grant the app access to your video camera and let it translate any Korean text in English! 

What’s more, WayGo doesn’t require Internet access, which is extra handy for times when WiFi or data fails you. You can also use it to work on your pronunciation, as you can listen to how a word is properly enunciated. Say goodbye to language barrier woes when ordering your favourite Korean food in a restaurant!

Also read: Personal Picks: Top 10 Korean Foods Everyone Must Try

South Korea apps for food & delivery

7. MangoPlate

“Honest reviews, trustworthy ratings”  — this is what the folks at MangoPlate stand by. It’s funny how this app-turned-website grew into what it is today. MangoPlate started when a group of friends with a passion for food created a spreadsheet of real restaurant recommendations for anyone and everyone interested. When the spreadsheet started to overflow with information in 2013, a basic app was coded, which in turn paved the way for the well-loved app that’s used by foodies all over.

What can you expect from MangoPlate? A reliable database of over 200,000 restaurants across South Korea. If you’re a wandering foodie exploring South Korea soon, then this restaurant discovery app is a goldmine for determining the best dining experiences in town.

8. Coupang Eats

Food delivery is a big thing in South Korea, with the app Yogiyo dominating the local scene. While it is South Korea’s #1 food delivery app, there’s a small setback for English speakers; it only comes in Korean. If you can read Hangul, then we highly recommend downloading Yogiyo for times when you just want to stay in your Airbnb and dine in. We won’t judge! It’s always a treat to live like a local in any place, and we understand how exhausting touring all day can get.

“English-only” travellers, don’t fret. Coupang Eats is here to save the day. It’s as user-friendly as Yogiyo, and you can watch your food as the rider makes his or her way to you. Do note that Coupang Eats normally requires a Korean debit card, so unless you’re working or travelling long-term in South Korea, or have a friend who can lend you his or her card, it may be deemed useless by stricter app protocols. Let’s hope Coupang Eats develops a cash-on-delivery system soon!

9. Foodiest: K-food Recipes

Want to learn how to whip up traditional and modern Korean dishes? Foodiest teaches exactly that and has some nifty health features, too! It boasts of a nutrition fact sheet for every dish, which allows those on a strict diet to keep track of what exactly they’re consuming with every meal. If your accommodation has a kitchen, this app could be a lot of fun! Plus, you can still use it back home.

Not sure what you want for the day? Foodiest will happily give you recommendations. Download it now and see what dish it will choose for you. The only thing we can assure you when using this in South Korea, though, is unlimited access to all the genuine and fresh Korean ingredients you’ll need.

South Korea apps for directions & transportation

10. KakaoMap

If you’ve ever been to the Land of the Morning Calm, you’ll know that Kakao Corp. is a huge brand that has developed some of the best South Korea apps for communication and transportation. KakaoMap is one such app. It gives users access to commute routes, driving routes, and even street views if you want to walk or bike around.

Think of it as Waze and Google Maps-in-one. But actually, KakaoMap does more than those two combined, because it also gives you real-time bus and traffic updates, as well as a subway map that’s easy to understand. The only drawback is some English-speaking users still have a hard time understanding the app even if it does have an English language feature. 

But here’s our two cents: It just takes some getting used to, and finding your way around someplace new is always a bit stressful for first-timers. In any case, you can always ask approachable Koreans to help you figure out the app. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even make new friends along the way!

Tip: If you like the Kakao interface, you might as well download the rest of its travel-friendly apps: KakaoTalk for messaging (especially if a tour guide or host prefers communicating through the app), KakaoBus if you’ll be boarding a lot of buses while in South Korea, and KakaoTaxi if you prefer getting around via private vehicle.

11. Naver Map

If you’re wondering why Naver sounds familiar, it’s because the same company developed the language app Papago. As is the case with Kakao Corp., Naver creates some pretty cool and reliable apps for hassle-free travels around South Korea. Its counterpart for KakaoMap is Naver Map, which offers the same features and services that zero in on directions and transportation. 

Its simplified search bar makes for easy navigation around the city and it also allows you to estimate travel time with its public transit time calculator. Both Naver and Kakao have English translations; it’s a matter of figuring out which app interface suits your preferences.

South Korea apps for lifestyle

12. Snow

Originally a selfie beautifier app, Snow took the digital world by storm thanks to social media users obsessed with Instagram and Snapchat. It was a hit with K-pop idols and K-drama stars, and now, more than 200 million people use it worldwide. If you haven’t tried it yet, then maybe your trip to South Korea is the perfect excuse to download it.

Locals would definitely find it amusing when they see your posts riddled with Snow-exclusive stickers and effects. Plus, the app has evolved into a video editing tool that’s great even for digital dummies. What’s more, you can improve the resolution of any image with just one click and add music to your stories. Snow will even recommend a song that pairs well with the scene you’re uploading. That will surely make it easier for you to spruce up your feed while travelling around South Korea! The best part is you’ll still get to play with the Snow app even when you’re back at home.

13. YesStyle

Although YesStyle’s home base is in Hong Kong, the beauty and fashion website spotlights top Asian beauty labels — with an emphasis on Korean brands. From a standalone website, YesStyle now offers an app, which gives users easy access to product reviews and recommendations. You can even conveniently shop through the app and enjoy perks exclusive to YesStyle!

While you can use this app anywhere anytime, we think that it would prove handy while in Seoul, especially since you’ll be near South Korea’s beauty meccas. It’s the perfect place to keep YesStyle a tap away, in case you need to compare prices and swatches. Don’t forget to make room for your K-beauty purchases! We suggest getting extra luggage allowance if you’re on a mission to hoard your favourites.

Also read: Japanese Vs Korean Skincare — Which One Should You Try?

Other South Korea apps to note

14. Emergency Ready App

south korea apps

Image credit: Emergency Ready App Official App via App Store

Ever-efficient and ever-reliable, the South Korean government developed an emergency app for tourists who are exploring the country’s vast regions. The Emergency Ready App is a project of South Korea’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety. It holds all the emergency information one would need in case of accidents and crises. You’ll get access to the contact details of fire stations, shelters, police precincts, medical facilities, and embassies. There’s even a safety guide that will remind you of dos and don’ts should emergencies arise during your stay. 

Of course, we’re all careful while travelling, and we hope you won’t need the Emergency Ready App in South Korea. But it won’t hurt to have this digital safety net just a click or tap away.

15. MiseGo

In case you aren’t aware, air pollution is a controversial topic in South Korea, especially for locals. This is why a lot of Koreans have face masks on hand in case the air quality drops any time during the week. If you’ve watched the hit K-drama series, Itaewon Class, you’ll easily recall the scene where Yi-seo (played by Kim Da-mi) had a mask on and even talked about the air pollution levels that day.

Luckily for us, there are several apps that will help us track the air quality in Seoul and beyond. While the app AirVisual Air Quality Forecast is a reliable alternative in all corners of the globe, a localised version would be miseGo. MiseGo allows people to check the air pollution and fine dust levels in South Korea at any time, and English-only users attest to its fun, user-friendly interface. It doesn’t only show numbers; the app visually presents data through maps and icons, which make the information easily digestible.

First-time downloaders of miseGo find the experience to be life-altering, as they’re made aware of real-time fine dust levels. Can you imagine all of that entering your airways and lungs? 

Image credit: Yonghyun Lee

There are many more handy apps that seasoned travellers come equipped with such as AccuWeather (for accurate weather forecasts), MAPS.ME (for offline access to maps even during hikes), and XE (for reliable currency exchange rates). But as far as South Korea apps go, our list should help you have a blast in the Land of the Morning Calm. Don’t forget to take lots of photos and tag us @tripzillamag. Safe travels!

About Author

Alyosha Robillos
Alyosha Robillos

In Russia, Alyosha is a boy's name popularised by literary greats Dostoevsky and Tolstoy—but this particular Alyosha is neither Russian nor a boy. She is a writer from the Philippines who loves exploring the world as much as she likes staying at home. Her life's mission is to pet every friendly critter there is. When she isn't busy doing that, she sniffs out stories and scribbles away on the backs of old receipts. She is an advocate of many things: culture and heritage, the environment, skincare and snacking, to name a few. She will work for lifetime supplies of french fries and coffee. Or yogurt. Or cheese, preferably Brie.

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