Is South Korea Safe For Female Travellers? My Personal Experience


Today I’m coming to you with some real talk about one of my favourite destinations – South Korea. If you’ve landed on this post you’re probably considering planning a trip to South Korea but have one question you need answering first- Is South Korea safe for female travellers? 

As someone who works in the travel industry and frequently travels solo, keeping my finger on the pulse of the latest safety advice and news is essential. 

And in October 2023 I solo travelled the bustling streets of Seoul and the coastal town of Busan so I am thrilled to share my personal insights and tips for travelling around South Korea safely. 

Spoiler alert, I found South Korea to be very safe for solo female travellers, but more on that later! 

Join me as we dive into the details, the adventures, and the undeniable charm that makes South Korea a fantastic place for solo wanderers like us. 

✔️ Flights: Book your flights on Skyscanner 

➡️ Car rental: Rent your car on DiscoverCars

✔️ Travel insurance: I recommend World Nomads

➡️ Accommodations: Book your stay at booking.com

✔️ Activities: Arrange your adventure trips and tours

South Korea Essentials

  • Now, staying connected is a must, right? Pick up a 4G SIM card with unlimited data (KT) or 4G SIM (SKT) at Seoul or Busan airport. But if you prefer to connect multiple devices, rent a 4G Pocket WiFi. Reserve in advance to save time!
  • Grab your T Money Card from the airport to make getting around South Korea a breeze. Your T Money card is your ticket to Korea’s subways, buses and taxis. Easily top up your card at the subway station machines. 
  • Buy a discounted KTX pass for unlimited high-speed train rides. It’ll whisk you from Seoul to Busan in under 2.5 hours. Now, that’s the way to travel!
  • Book your airport pickup in advance for a more cost-effective journey. Gimhae Airport is far from the city centre and Uber’s aren’t available, plus a taxi will cost you big bucks. 
  • Google Maps, Rome 2 Rio and Kakao Maps will be your best friends for getting around South Korea

is South Korea safe for female travellers? Absolutely, Seoul is one of the safest cities

South Korea Safety Overview

To start off let’s go through an overview of the main safety concerns you may have in South Korea.

Low Crime Rates: 9/10

South Korea boasts impressively low crime rates, making it one of the safest destinations for travellers.

Violent crime is rare, and you can comfortably explore the neighbourhoods with minimal concerns.

Efficient and Safe Transport 8/10

South Korea takes pride in its well-organized and safe public transportation system. Buses and trains are reliable, and taxis adhere to stringent regulations. 

Weather Considerations: 7/10

South Korea experiences distinct seasons, from the cherry blossoms of spring to the snowy landscapes of winter.

But it’s important to stay weather-wise; pack accordingly and be prepared for the occasional typhoon during the summer. Check the forecast and plan your activities accordingly.

Tap Water Safety: 8/10

Tap water in South Korea is safe for drinking!

There are strict purification standards and the water is thoroughly tested. The water may taste different from place to place, therefore, it’s a common preference among locals to consume filtered or bottled water instead.

But that being said it is completely safe to drink, I drank the tap water and had no issues whatsoever.

Safety at Night: 8/10

South Korea’s cities come alive after dark, and safety remains a top priority. Popular districts like Gangnam and Itaewon are vibrant and well-lit, offering a secure environment for nighttime fun. 

As always, exercise standard precautions and stick to well-traveled areas.

Health Precautions: 9/10

South Korea maintains high health standards, and medical facilities are of excellent quality.

However, it’s best to carry any necessary medications, be mindful of general food hygiene, and make sure to get travel insurance to cover unexpected medical expenses.

Organise your travel insurance now – I recommend WorldNomads!

Emergency Services: 8/10

As with any country you visit, familiarize yourself with emergency contact numbers and the location of your embassy or consulate. South Korea places a premium on safety, and local authorities are responsive to any concerns you may have.

  • POLICE 112
  • FIRE 119

Busan is a safe destination in South Korea for female travellers

Is South Korea Safe For Female Travellers – My Experience

Let me be real with you – South Korea is like that hidden gem waiting to be discovered. And I hear you, as a female traveller safety is your top concern!

As an Aussie who’s gotten lost in the iconic Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan and walked the Bukchon Hanok village in Seoul, I’m here to spill the tea on what it’s really like for us adventurous gals and how safe it actually is.

Personal Safety

First things first – personal safety. I’ve wandered through South Korea before the sunrises and after it sets and let me tell you, South Korea takes safety seriously.

Whether you’re eating kimchi dumplings at Gwangjang markets or visiting the DMZ, aka the border of North and South Korea, the sense of security is real. 

Crime rates are impressively low and due to the large population, you are constantly surrounded by plenty of people.

I always feel much safer when there are plenty of people around and there are loads of shops and restaurants that I can quickly duck into if I don’t feel safe or need directions. 

Culture and Language

Now, let’s talk about the cultural vibe. Respect and politeness are very important in the South Korean culture.

Locals are incredibly kind and helpful, and you’ll often find them going out of their way to assist you. On multiple occasions I had locals approach me and offer help, I must have looked pretty lost! 

It’s nice not even needing to ask for help!

Language barrier? Not a deal-breaker. English is widely understood, especially in tourist areas. 

Plus, the universal language of smiles and gestures goes a long way. No seriously, sometimes a shake of the head and a point speaks volumes.

I do however recommend you take the opportunity to learn a bit of the local lingo – even a simple “annyeonghaseyo” (hello) can spark a warm connection. Jump on Duo Lingo to get started learning a few popular phrases. 

Gwangjank market in Seoul is a great place to experience the culture and food

Is South Korea Safe For Female Travellers At Night 

If you’re like me and like to get a taste of the local nightlife, South Korea’s got you covered.

Whether you’re sipping soju in a traditional makgeolli bar or hitting the trendy clubs, you’ll find a lively atmosphere.

As a solo female traveller who has headed out after dark in both Seoul and Busan, I can confidently say that South Korea is a safe place after the sun sets.

The cities come alive with a vibrant energy, and you’ll find yourself wandering through neon-lit streets, sipping cocktails at a local bar and tasting traditional eats at the bustling markets without a worry.

In places like Hongdae and Myeongdong in Seoul, you can shop till you drop or until 10 pm, whichever comes first. 

Or why not join a bar crawl to explore the epic nightlife and meet other travellers along the way? 

The key is to stick to well-traveled areas, especially in popular districts like Gangnam or Itaewon. These hubs are alive with activity and can be jam-packed with people, especially on weekends.

I did however find it a little overwhelming at times having to weave through crowds on the main shopping streets, especially when I was a little lost or trying to navigate to get somewhere. 

My advice in this situation is to step inside a convenience store to regather yourself and figure out where you going. 

So whether you’re sampling street food, dancing the night away, or catching a late-night K-pop performance, South Korea’s commitment to safety has got your back. 

Just be street-smart, keep your belongings close, and trust your instincts.

Heading to Busan? Check out my 5 days in Busan itinerary!

The markets in Busan are a safe place for solo female travellers to visit

What to know before you visit South Korea

Now let’s cover 5 essential things relating to safety you should be aware of before visiting South Korea. 

1. Safe Public Transportation

Seoul’s public transport is not only efficient but also incredibly safe. 

The subway and buses are well-maintained, with clear signage in English and helpful staff. It’s a reliable way to navigate the city, even late into the night. 

Just be mindful of your belongings, as you would in any busy city. 

On my trip as a solo female traveller, I felt incredibly safe catching public transport at any hour. 

2. Low Crime Rates

Once again, Seoul boasts relatively low crime rates compared to many other major cities. Outside of the city, crime is even lower.

Violent crime is uncommon, and you can confidently explore neighbourhoods, markets, and attractions without too much concern. 

However, it’s always wise to stay alert in crowded areas, take standard precautions and trust your gut.

3. English-friendly Environment

While not everyone may be fluent in English, especially in more local areas, many signs, menus, and public information are available in English. 

And if not, just grab out Google Translate on your phone and you’re good to go. 

I found getting around, talking to locals, shopping and dining a very smooth experience in both Seoul and Busan. It’s pretty incredible how much you can communicate with only a few words shared.

4. Emergency Services

South Korea has a reliable and responsive emergency services system. 

The police are generally helpful, and there are medical facilities equipped to handle a variety of situations. It’s good to have emergency numbers handy and be aware of the locations of nearby hospitals or clinics, especially if you have specific medical needs.

The emergency numbers in South Korea are (no area code needed):

  • POLICE 112
  • FIRE 119

5. Respect for Personal Space

Koreans are generally very respectful of personal space, which contributes to a sense of safety.

While the city is pretty full on with loads of people, you won’t typically encounter aggressive behaviour and people tend to maintain distance from those they don’t know. 

It’s a good idea to be aware of cultural norms and reciprocate the courtesy.

haedong Yonggungsa in Busan

FAQs: Is South Korea Safe For Female Travellers

Moving onto some commonly asked questions surrounding – Is South Korea safe for female travellers?

How safe is Korea for foreigners?

South Korea is a very safe destination for foreigners, including solo female travellers. The crime rate is relatively low, and locals are known for their hospitality. 

Petty crime can happen in major cities like Seoul and Busan so like any other country, it’s advisable to stay vigilant, follow basic safety precautions, and be aware of your surroundings.

Is Busan safe for solo female travellers?

Busan is known for being a safe city for solo female travellers. The locals are friendly, and the city has a reputation for being welcoming to visitors. 

I travelled as a solo female traveller to Busan and felt very comfortable wandering the streets, catching public transport and dining out alone.

I joke that the only thing that really made me worried was crossing the road! It took a bit to adjust to the giveaway rules… Don’t worry I figured it out in the end!

I digress, it’s best to stick to well-traveled areas, and you too will likely find Busan to be a fantastic and secure destination for solo exploration.

Wondering, is Busan worth visiting? Check out what I think!

Is Jeju Island safe for solo female travellers?

Jeju Island is often regarded as one of the safest places in South Korea, and this extends to solo female travellers. 

The island’s tranquil environment and the warmth of the locals contribute to a sense of security. 

Jeju residents often go out of their way to make visitors feel not just welcome, but truly at home. This welcoming spirit extends to solo female travellers, who can confidently navigate the island, engaging with the local culture and community without fears for their safety.

Moreover, Jeju Island’s unique status as a self-governing province comes with a close-knit community feel. This factor contributes to a sense of familiarity, making it easier for solo female travellers to immerse themselves in the local lifestyle.

Jeju Island is truly a safe haven, perfect for exploring solo. 

Is Seoul safe for female tourists?

Lastly, Seoul is also considered a safe place for female tourists. 

The city’s extensive public transport, well-lit streets, and strong police presence contribute to its safety. 

I absolutely loved my solo adventures in Seoul and honestly ran into no issues when it came to safety concerns. I was very comfortable and found the locals to be very helpful, kind and welcoming. 

As with other big cities, people do tend to keep to themselves and go about their own business, plus being constantly surrounded by loads of people always makes me feel safer. 

But of course, never let your whole guard down, it’s always best to verge on the side of caution when travelling to an unfamiliar place. 

So, Is it Safe for Female Travellers?

Alright, we’ve taken quite the journey through the streets of South Korea, and it’s time for a little wrap-up chat.

After solo jetting through Seoul and Busan, I’m here to tell you – South Korea is not only safe for female travellers; it’s also filled with unforgettable experiences just waiting to be uncovered.

Working in the travel industry has its perks, and staying updated on the latest safety advice and news is one of them. Trust me, when I say South Korea’s commitment to safety is the real deal.

From the lively markets to the stunning temples, every corner of this incredible destination screams security.

Having wandered through more than 18 countries, I can honestly say South Korea has earned its spot as one of the safest places I’ve set foot in.

So, whether you’re a seasoned traveller like me or travelling for the first time, rest assured that South Korea is ready to welcome you with open arms.

Keep exploring, stay curious, and until our next journey, annyeong (goodbye)!

Keep reading about South Korea travel:

Is Busan Worth Visiting: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Busan
Seoul or Busan: Which City Should You Visit?
Seoul or Tokyo: Which City Should You Visit?
Busan 5 Day Itinerary: South Korea for First Timers
Day Trip From Seoul to Busan – 1 Day Itinerary
The Ultimate South Korea Itinerary 10 Days!

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