Money & Payment

Korea is one of the leading cashless countries in the world. Although card payments are the norm in Seoul, certain street food, small restaurants and some public transport may only accept cash on rare occasions. We recommend that visitors carry around some cash if they plan to explore a range of neighborhoods, restaurants, markets, etc.  

money Korean Won bills in order of 50,000 won, 10,000 won, 5,000 won and 1,000 won



Banks & Exchange rates

  • Most banks have business hours from 09:00 to 16:00

  • Banks usually offer the best exchange rates and most offer currency exchange services

  • Government-certified currency exchange booths are available outside of regular banking hours, found in areas frequented by international visitors

  • Certified booths have a sign with the word Certified and currency symbols



  • Typically operate until 23:00, with many open 24 hours a day, often found within banks

  • Can also be found at convenience stores but often charge higher transaction fees

  • Many accept international cards, marked with a Global sign or the logo of the international banks they accept cards from

  • Most offer foreign languages including English, Chinese and Japanese


Foreign Cards

  • Easy to make direct payments in most stores, restaurants and taxis (ride share and ride hall included)

  • Best to let vendors know that your card is a foreign card – tell them it's a hae-wae ka-deu (foreign card)

  • There may be certain locations that do not accept a foreign card



  • There is no tipping culture in Korea and is therefore not expected

  • Many major hotels and high-end restaurants add a 10% service charge (in addition to the 10% VAT)

  • Taxi drivers do not expect tips, but appreciate when passengers let them keep the change or round up the card payment

Global Tax Free

  • 10% VAT is added on to the price of most purchases

  • At stores with a Tax Free sign, foreigners are eligible for a tax refund on purchases greater than 30,000 won

  • To receive your refund, follow the steps below:

    • Make a purchase of total value greater than 30,000 won at stores with a Tax Free sign

    • Show your passport and ask for a refund check when making payment

    • When leaving the country, present your passport, refund check, receipt and unopened merchandise at airport customs

    • Receive your cash, check or credit card refund at the refund counter located near the departure gates


Korean (한국어, hangugeo) is the native language

  • English is not spoken very often in South Korea, but many people in Seoul can converse in basic English

  • Have translation tools like Google Translate handy for any situation

  • Staff in all the main hotels can speak decent to good English

  • Staff in High-end restaurants often speak decent English

  • Staff in smaller, more casual restaurants may not speak English, and some only offer Korean menus

  • Taxi drivers rarely speak English

  • Major tourist spots like Insa-dong, Myeong-dong and Hongdae have information centres to assist tourists in English


Simple words and phrases

Hello – 안녕하세요 (an-nyoung-ha-se-yo)
Thank you – 감사합니다 (gam-sa-ham-ni-da)
Yes – 네 (ne)
No – 아니요 (ah-ni-yo)


Contact Information

For any enquiries regarding this guide, please reach us at

Emergency numbers: 119 – Emergency (Fire & Ambulance) | 112 – Police | 182 – Missing Persons & Property | 1330 – Korea Travel Hotline