Here are top useful Korean phrases for travellers that you can note to your phrasebook and use them when you visit this country. You can apply these magical words in a hundred different situations.
Useful Korean phrases for travellers – Greeting
1. Hello – Annyeonghaseyo (안녕하세요)
Let’s start with the basics of saying ‘hello’ in Korean. Koreans greet each other by saying, ‘Annyeonghaseyo (안녕하세요)’. The typical situation are meeting, greeting, arriving, departing, entering a store, sighting someone you barely know across the street. There are dozens of variations to account for slightly different situations and levels of respect. You can say this while slightly nodding your head if the person is around the same age as you. If the person you are talking to is much older, make sure you bow down lower to show your respect. If the person you are greeting is younger, a simple ‘Annyeong (안녕)’ will do!
2. Thank you – Kamsahamnida (감사합니다)
The Korean language can be quite complicated because of the grammar changes depending on the age of the person you are talking to. There are many ways of saying ‘thank you’ in Korean but the safest and most common term is ‘Kamsahamnida (감사합니다)’. This is probably the bare minimum for making any attempt at Korean. Use it exactly as you would its English equivalent. Again, slightly nodding while saying this conveys your respect for the recipient.
3. Nice to meet you – Bangapsumnida (반갑습니다)
This is not really a Korean phrase for travellers but during your visit, you might be suddenly introduced to a curious crowd of people, or when you want to show how friendly you are to your tour guide, you should say “반갑습니다” with two-handed handshake.
Useful Korean phrases for travellers – Finding your way
4. Can you speak English? – Yeongo halsu isseoyo? (영어 할수있어요?)
When you travel to Korea, you might be in a situation that you you know the place you’re heading to is nearby but you can’t seem to spot it, then the easiest way to solve your problem is to ask a local, but not all Korean can speak English. Therefore, you can approach them, say ‘Yeongo halsu isseoyo? (영어 할수있어요?)’ to check if the person can speak English. If you’re in luck, he or she may say yes and you can easily ask for directions in English!
5. Where is here? – Yeogi ga eodiyeyo? (여기가 어디예요?)
If you are lost, keep calm and don’t be panic, you can come to a local people around you and ask ‘Yeogi ga eodiyeyo? (여기가 어디예요?)’ while showing a picture of your destination. They will not hesitate to advice you how to go there, some people are so kind that they even take you to that place if it’s near or they are also going there.
6. How to go to XXX – XXX eoddeokke ga yo? (XXX 어떻게 가요?)
If you know the name of the place in Korean, you can also say ‘XXX eoddeokke ga yo? (XXX 어떻게 가요?)’. For example, if you’re looking for Myeongdong, say ‘Myeongdong eoddeokke ga yo?’.
Useful Korean phrases for travellers – In restaurant
9. Excuse me – Jeogiyo (저기요)
Some people might find ordering food in Korean restaurants is difficult but if you learn these Korean phrase for travellers, you can go to any Korean restaurant! The first one is ‘Jeogiyo (저기요)’ that means ‘excuse me’. This phrase is to attract the attention of the servers in order to get the menu, order your food or to pay the bill.
10. I want to order – Jummun halggeyo (주문할께요)
After getting the attention of the servers, you can say ‘Jummun halggeyo (주문할께요)’ to tell them that you are going to order. The server will come to you and ready to take your order.
11. Please give me 1 of this – Igeo hana juseyo (이거 하나 주세요)
Go ahead and point to the menu while saying ‘Igeo hana juseyo (이거 하나 주세요)’ to order your desired choice of food. If you want two of it, you can say ‘Igeo du ge juseyo (이거 두 게 주세요)’ instead since “du ge” means two items.
Useful Korean phrases for travellers – Shopping
12. How much is it? – ol ma ye yo (얼마예요)
When you want to buy something while shopping, you probably have to ask “how much” if you like any item and about to get it. So when ol ma ye yo (얼마예요) works in this situation. Simply, they’ll just reach for the calculator and punch in the amount to show you.
13. Please give me a discount – 깎아주세요 – Kka-kka-ju-se-yo
You won’t be able to use this Korean phrase for travellers in shopping mall, but if you’re in traditional market like Dongdaemun and Hongdae, you can ask for some discount if the item is expensive by saying ‘Ggagga juseyo (깎아주세요)’. Keep in mind that if you purchase more than one item, chances are, the shopkeeper will be more than willing to give you some discount.