7 Best Mobile Apps When Visiting Korea

Visiting or settling down in a foreign country is always a challenge and South Korea is not an exception. Usual actions or tasks from everyday life can become daunting when being performed in a culturally different environment. Let alone the language “barriers” if your Korean skills are not sufficient. However there are very few hardships in life that really can’t be overcome and  you can always improve your everyday life by implementing small “enhancements”. At the age of smartphones and internet mobile apps are definitely one of those tools that can tremendously improve your quality of life. That’s why I decided to share with you the 7 best mobile apps you should install before coming to South Korea. Of course this is only my personal opinion and there might be some other apps that you can find more useful in your particular case but the ones I’ll be describing here will definitely be of some help.

Kakaotalk – Instant messenger for your Korean friends

KakaoTalk app presentation

The first of my list is of course kakaotalk messenger. You will find some people using Line (another Korean messaging app) or Whatsapp but all Koreans have Kakaotalk. This is far from being true for the other messaging apps. Kakaotalk is THE mobile app used by Koreans to communicate with each other. It has a lot of “regular” features such as messaging, voice talk, video talk and file transfer. On top of that, many “special” functionalities are available while in Korea. For example, it’s common for Koreans to use this app to buy various items and send a corresponding coupon to a friend through the messaging function. That friend can then use the coupon to retrieve the actual product from the related shop. Seems complicated but it’s not! In fact it’s really convenient and it works with a wide range of items like food, clothes and cinema tickets. The main thing I like about Kakaotalk is that the voice talk is really stable and doesn’t use much bandwidth.

Required Korean language level : None (Available in many languages)

Make sure to install this app when able to connect to your mobile network as you will need to receive a message through your mobile number to activate it.

Naver Dictionary – Can’t understand a Korean word? Translate it easily!

Naver Dictionary app presentation

Having difficulties to understand a word? Naver Dictionary is one of the best apps to quickly get an accurate translation. The application is well made and easy to use. It will often show different possible translations and explanations with examples of how it is used in a sentence. It works on both sides (Korean to Other language & Other language to Korean).

Required Korean language level : None (Available in many languages). Intermediate Korean is a plus to read the examples.

Works only with an internet connection.

Naver Maps – Lost or looking for an itinerary? Naver Maps will take care of you!

Naver Maps app presentation

Even though it is fully in Korean language, I was going to advise you to use this application to find your way and make itineraries in Korea because it is the most accurate and well made for this country. Forget about Google maps if you want to save yourself some trouble. Korean domestic market is fiercely protected from foreign competition and new technologies are no exception. Therefore, you’ll always have trouble to get accurate results from google maps here. Anyway, this is not an issue anymore as an English version was released 2 days ago. That’s actually some big news and I don’t think anyone was expecting this. The reason behind this is that Naver Maps is the official partner of the Pyeongchang olympic games and a lot of foreign visitors are expected in the country during the olympic games period. They decided to grant us with that great update to support the incoming visitors and help them find their way in the maze Korean cities can become when you can’t speak the language.

Required Korean language level : None (Available in English – Yes!)

Like with all other map applications, you’ll have to activate the localisation and will need an internet connection to refresh the maps.

Jihacheol – A must to travel around in subway

Jihacheol app screen

In a city as wide and as dense as Seoul, the subway remains one of the best ways to move around. With 10 million passengers commuting everyday and 21 different subway lines, it can be challenging to move around when not used to it. One magic solution exists, the name is Jihacheol (Subway in Korean). The app is build around the full map of subway lines in the city and can be used very easily. Intuitively you’ll want to select a station on the map by touching it, rest assured because this will work. You just need to select your start station and arrival one and you’ll get the full itinerary for the trip. As simple as that.

Required Korean language level : None (Available in English)

Works in Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, gwangju.

Kakao Bus – Travelling by bus becomes as easy as a pie

Kakao Bus app presentation

You’ll definitely be impressed by the shape and overall condition of the bus fleet in Korea. They are actually working way better than what they seem. However, you’ll most likely find much more difficulty to travel by bus than subway as it is less “foreigner friendly”. The stations are not always translated in English and the transportation network is really dense and complex. Don’t feel discouraged because buses can be really great to travel from place to another when you know how to use them. Kakao Bus is one of the best tools to help you in this task. It works in 57 different Korean cities. Of course it helps you prepare your itinerary and check the bus schedules but you can also know the bus location and real time. It provided information about the number of seats remaining in the bus and allows you to create alarms to track the bus arrival to your station or tell you when you should get off. Want to use the bus network? No need to hestitate anymore.

Required Korean language level : None (Available in English)

Works in 57 different cities. Required internet connection.

Visitkorea – Great contents and info about Korea from the Korea Tourism Organization

VisitKorea app screen

This mobile app may or may not be useful to you but I highly recommend you have a look at it. The Korea Tourism Organization made a great effort to built it and include a lot of useful information about various attractions, restaurants and dishes, accommodations and festivals. You can even find information about the various shopping centers you can find everywhere around the cities.you can also use the map service for directions and public transit information, as well as get up-to-date exchange rates and emergency contact numbers (Which can be a great help!). For more information about this app I recommend visiting the official page on google play which contains a detailed description about it.

Click Here

Required Korean language level : None (Available in English)

No internet connection required.

Exchange Rates – Don’t lose sight of how much you’re spending

Exchange rate app capture 1 Exchange rate app capture 2 Exchange rate app capture 3 Exchange rate app capture 4 Exchange rate app capture 5

The official currency of South Korea is the Korean Won (KRW). These days 1 USD = 1063 KRW / 1 EUR = 1321.5 KRW. The best ways to not lose sight of the value of things and how much you are spending is to be able to convert any desired amount to your own currency at any moment. One great app for this task if Exchange Rates. You just need to refresh the rates once a day if you want to use it offline. It included around 180 currencies from all over the world and can even make basic calculation.

Required Korean language level : None (Available in English)

Works offline. I recommend refreshing the exchange rates once a day though.


One important thing you should know about South Korea is that internet is virtually available everywhere. Even with no mobile plan on your smartphone you’ll be able to get Wi-Fi hotspots at any street corners. No need to feel anxious about your ability to reach a network or use any of the above apps!

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