Traveling or living in a country that is completely different from yours can be an intimidating experience. From the language barrier to cultural differences, even those who have been around and about often will find adjusting to a new environment quite daunting. Nonetheless, we all carry around a secret weapon that will help us through this ordeal – our smartphone! Luckily, there are many smartphone apps available that will make your travels in Korea so much smoother and easier! You could just continue to use the basic Google apps, but why not go the extra mile and try out these apps that locals in Korea use all the time! So long as you have these essential apps on your phone, you’ll have no problem getting around Korea!

But first….!

Before you start using these apps around in Korea, you’re going to need access to the Internet. In other words, you’re going to need a SIM card or a pocket Wi-Fi – these two being the most cost-effective options!

Check out these detailed guides on getting a SIM card or pocket Wi-Fi in Korea:

1. Travel Guide & Companion


You can’t really say you’ve downloaded all the essential apps for a trip to Korea without having downloaded the Trazy app on your phone! The Trazy mobile app is the one and only travel guide & companion you’ll need during your travels in Korea. You can easily browse through fun and unique activities, attraction tickets, hassle-free tours, and K-pop tickets with this app. What’s more, with just a few clicks, you’ve booked yourself the best deals on the most exciting attractions in Korea. You can even check out our blog through the Trazy app or even read this very blog in the palm of your hand!

Download: Android / iOS

2. Communicating

Naver Korean Dictionary & Translate

essential apps koreaGood communication hurt nobody! Google Translate may be the #1 translator in the world but when it comes to translating Korean, it may not be the best choice – I’m sure you’ve seen one or two out-of-the-world translations before. Though handy at times, Naver Korean Dictionary & Translate offers a much more accurate and wholesome translating experience by providing many sentence usage examples. It also offers services in many other languages too including French, Hindi, Thai, Vietnamese and so many more. If you’re looking to do some chatting here and there during your travels in Korea, this is just the app for you!

Download: Android / iOS

3. Keeping in Touch

Kakao Talk Messenger

essential apps korea

Practically used by almost everyone and anyone who owns a smartphone in Korea, Kakao Talk is the #1 app when it comes to messengers. It truly is an all-in-one app that has not only the basic functions of a messenger app such as texting, calling, and sending photos as well as videos but so much more. For example, you can transfer money to and fro, share your current location to others, and even send gifts to your friends as long as you are connected to the internet!  All in all, this app will come in real handy when you’re traveling around in Korea and have to keep in touch with your travel guides or even locals you meet along the way.

Download: Android / iOS

4. Getting Around

1) Maps

Naver Map

essential apps korea

Likewise, Google isn’t the only one providing navigation services and Google Maps does not come in very handy when used in Korea. Used by the majority of Koreans, the local, Naver Map, is a much more reliable and accurate option when navigating around Korea. What makes this app an essential one is that for starters, it is available in Korean, English, Japanese, and Chinese. Another added benefit is that you can download maps beforehand for offline use! Another navigation app used by many is Kakao Map which can be interconnected with other Kakao apps.


Naver Map: Android / iOS

Kakao Map: Android / iOS

2) Public Transportation

Subway: Subway Korea

As convenient as the subway in the metropolitan area may be, with more than 20 lines, it can get a bit confusing at times. Especially if you’re taking the subway during rush hours, the whole subway experience can get pretty hectic. Nonetheless, taking the subway is an easy and time-efficient means to get around Seoul and the Subway Korea app will assist you along the way. The great thing about this app is that it not only provides you with the basic subway route map but also calculates the fastest/easiest way to get to your destination and lets you see to-the-minute train schedules. In addition to this, it also carriage to get on for quick transfers!

Download: Android / iOS

Bus: Kakao Bus

essential apps korea

Buses aren’t the preferred mode of transport, especially in a foreign country. They’re not as consistent and time-efficient as subways. Nonetheless, if you have to take the bus somewhere make sure to download Kakao Bus first. With this app, you no longer have to waste precious time waiting for the bus to come as you can check bus schedules ahead of time or set alarms for buses you take regularly. What’s more, this isn’t an app just for use in Korea. Kakao Bus keeps track of buses in around 57 cities around Korea! So, how about taking the bus next time round with Kakao Bus.

Download: Android / iOS

Taxi: Kakao T

essential apps korea

Kakao T is a transportation service app, that mainly provides taxi-hailing services. In other words, you no longer need to flail your arms wildly just to catch a cab! All you need is a Kakao account based on an email account and a password, and you’re off. You just need to input your current location and your destination then, the app will find any available taxi driver in your vicinity. How simple is that? What’s more, it tells you beforehand the estimated fare to your destination so you no longer have to worry about being overcharged! Also, you can pay with cash, a credit card, or one of the many transportation cards (T-money) used in Korea!

Get your transportation cards here:

Discover Seoul Pass

Unlimited 4G/LTE Data SIM Card + T-money Card

Download: Android / iOS

5. Eating

Eating In:  Coupang Eats

Korea is well-known for its fast and efficient food delivery services. With just a few clicks, a bowl of jjajangmyeon is on its way to you while you’re snuggled up in your bed. You can order almost anything from one of the many delivery apps in Korea and the whole delivery game is on an entirely different level. That’s why Coupang Eats is an app that should be on your phone. If you know a little bit of Korea or you’re up for a little challenge, the two major delivery services, Baemin and Yogiyo, are highly recommended. (You can actually find detailed English guides on how to order food from these apps.) Otherwise, Coupang Eats is another great alternative since it is available in English which will make the ordering process much easier.

Download: Android / iOS

Bonus App!

Mise Mise

Pronounced me-sae me-sae, ‘Mise’ can be translated as fine, as in tiny.  This is another popular app used by many Koreans, with a huge increase in users during the months of March, April, and May. You’ve probably guessed what kind of app it is by now. Mise Mise is a weather app that shows you real-time info on the levels of fine dust in your area. Many prefer this app to others as it follows WHO standards providing much more reliable numbers. Moreover, rather than just providing numbers, air quality is represented by specific colors and simple facial expressions that make it possible for even non-Koreans to use this app!

Download: Android / iOS

Get yourself geared up for an exciting trip to Korea with all these essential apps at the ready!

Find more useful guides for your trip to Korea on, Korea’s #1 Travel Shop.

[Photo Credits]

Google Play Store

Apple App Store [Public domain]

Coupang Eats Facebook

Mango Plate Official Site

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