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Travelling Alone in Japan & Korea As A Women

Travelling Alone in Japan & Korea As A Women

Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 01:14 PM
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Travelling Alone in Japan & Korea As A Women

I'm currently at the beginning states of planning a trip to Japan and South Korea. I will be travelling on my own and I wonder as a woman is it safe? For someone who doesn't speak the language will it be easy to get around?

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you.
mdeemarlatt is offline  
Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 01:40 PM
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I can't speak to Korea as I've only been in transit there. But Japan is a very safe country in which to travel. Yes, getting around is easy even without the language. We used the wonderful Japanese trains, and in Kyoto we maximized the places we could see by taking taxis.

Do you know about www.japan-guide.com ? it's the best resource I know for planning a trip to Japan. There are plenty of Japan experts on this forum. As your plans begin to take shape, post your questions and your ideas for your itinerary and you will get lots of help.

Happy planning!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 04:48 PM
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I am a solo senior woman traveler. I have visited both South Korea and Japan (and am about to revisit them). I neither speak nor read either language. I never had the slightest concern for my safety.

While people will go out of their way to help you, a good guidebook, possibly a good phrasebook, translate and maps apps on a smart phone and a willingness to get out of your comfort zone will all help you navigate.

I have found the Korean Tourism organizations very helpful:

http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/index.kto
http://www.visitseoul.net/

You might also look into Goodwill guides for both countries.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 05:10 PM
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I find Korea to be very safe and have travelled around the country several times alone as well as other trips with company.

Although there will be odd cases of problems its very unusual. Just recently when I was in Seoul there was a murder of a Korean woman by her partner and it was major news that upset everyone. They were distressed that such a thing could ever happen there and worried about the degeneration of the country.

Normally its the sort of place where everyone leaves their bags and phones on cafe tables and wanders off. No one will take them. Walking around the streets is very safe even at night. There will be a few drunks around in some areas but other than that its fine. There are reports of pickpockets in the very crowded markets like Namdaemun in Seoul - I've been there and other markets a lot with no problems.

I'm no longer young and lovely so can't say from experience how a beautiful lone female would be treated but from my observations and lots of talks with several mid-20s Korean boys its unlikely that the lady would be treated to anything other than respect. I know an English teacher in a city outside of Seoul who is young and lovely and has absolutely no problems or fear of getting around alone.

Lack of Language does mean you need to work a bit harder at planning. There is a lot of signage in English all around the country but the main language is Korean. You may not find any one who speaks English in places but they will still try to help you. There are good tourist info offices in every city and even in many small towns and these usually have an English speaker but it is still a bit more challenging because of the language.

Well worth it though.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 07:01 PM
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I'm a woman who has been to both countries solo (3 weeks in Japan, 4 weeks in South Korea) and felt perfectly comfortably throughout. IME, Japan is a bit easier without English than South Korea, but South Korea (and particularly its major cities) should not be a difficulty. Learning at least a few pleasantries in each language will serve you exceedingly well.

For Japan, I agree with Kathie: consult japan-guide.com, and consult it extensively!

For South Korea, you might want to check my trip report -- just click on my name to find it. And look at MaryW's recent thread on tips for traveling in that country. I must admit that my experience with the Korean Tourism organizations was a bit less positive than thursdaysd's. The best resource I found was Seoul Selection Guide’s Korea.

Both can be wonderful destinations -- enjoy!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 09:43 PM
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I have been to Japan, but not S. Korea. However, I echo the sentiments of the other four ladies posting here. Japan is almost completely devoid of crime, and women, and especially foreigners, are respected by all Japanese. I generally feel safe falling asleep on a train, and walking on a dark street in Japan, for example.

Regarding the language, I have found that it's best to approach young people, who are taught English at an early age. Also, the Japanese love maps and flow charts, so get a detailed map, and point to where you want to go. You may find that someone will offer to take you where you are going--it has happened to me quite frequently, and you get get a cultural exchange while walking.

Many hotels have "ladies' floors." They tend to be on a high floor, and have special toiletries. In the US, a hotel would get sued for discrimination for doing that, but what a nice idea, don't you think?
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Old Aug 2nd, 2016, 10:10 PM
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Oh, CaliforniaLady's response reminds me: In BOTH countries, publicly posted maps (such as those in and around train or subway stations) will NOT necessarily follow a north-is-top convention -- instead, the top may show what you face, whatever its cardinal direction! Tripped me up any number of times....
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Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 05:26 AM
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Oh, and NO tipping.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 06:46 AM
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I have also traveled to Japan and South Korea as a woman alone. I've been to Japan more than ten times but only a three day trip to Seoul.

I found Seoul surprisingly easy to get around - all the street signs had English writing as well as Hangul. My Korean is basically hello and thank you and I did fine for my short visit.

In the more touristed - is that a word? - parts of Japan there is English signage in the train stations but less and less as you get into the more remote areas but as the others have said people do try always to be helpful. I also have been taken to my destination more than once when I asked someone for directions...

Addresses are a bit difficult in Japan so it is helpful to have google maps to use if possible.

I have never felt unsafe in Japan or Seoul.

Enjoy!
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Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 08:27 AM
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>

Senior women in Japan are probably most safe. After all, it's the old mamasans who go barging into everyone wherever they want. Seriously, the only rough treatment we ever received was when some little old woman would biff me in the back.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2016, 09:26 AM
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Solo male traveler here who spent 2 1/2 weeks in Japan in Nov. 2013 and will be heading back next March/April. Japan was by far the safest feeling country I have traveled to. After the first day, I left my money pouch in my hotel and just kept my money clip in my front pocket like I do here in the U.S. (Would never have dreamed of doing that in Morocco, Spain, Turkey or even France.) The people in Japan could not have been kinder. Now don't completely let your guard down either, particularly in areas of Tokyo at night such as Shinjuku, but just use basic common sense and you will be fine.
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Old Aug 6th, 2016, 11:31 AM
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Thank you so much for all the great responses. All this wonderful information is getting me excited for my planning.
mdeemarlatt is offline  
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