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on March 1, 2011
I spent 2 weeks in South Korea in the summer 2009, using the 2009 guidebook version. I also had along the Rough Guide, and my friend had the lonely planet. This book was superior to both other books. The Rough Guide is essentially useless and the Lonely PLanet only slightly better. If you are travelling beyond the big cities and using transport other than air, than you will need a guidebook containing the practical info on which buses/ferries etc to use. Most things outside the city are not in English, and few people speak English, meaning this book was invaluable. We traveled in Busan+surrounding area, then via ferry to Jeju, then flew to Seoul+surrounding area, then took bus to northeastern South Korea (Seoraksan national park), and then back to Seoul. For all of this, we somehow managed never to get on the wrong train/bus/ferry, and also found suitable guesthouses, despite not speaking/reading Korean. I credit this book! I have never used a guidebook as much as we did in S.Korea(and I have travelled extensively in Europe+Nepal, India).
As for S Korea itself, although people typically dont speak or speak very little English, they are very friendly and helpful to tourists. Foreign tourism in S Korea is a relatively new phenomenon. The only people who seem to do so seem to be the foreign English teachers living in Korea. After hearing I was from Canada, everyone asked me, "Are you an English teacher?" When we were on Jeju and taking the bus everywhere, we were happy that there was a pictorial guide for the bus destination. That is, there were no English bus numbers on the buses-- but on the signpost in front of the bus, there were pictures of a waterfall, or volcano or whatever. Ok, let's get on the waterfall bus! But it all worked out :). And good luck trying to find a postcard to buy! ( I never found one).
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