Hiring A Guide In Seoul: The Pros & Cons

by GoWithGuide travel specialist:Ajitsa K.

Last updated : Sep 18, 202310 min read

Whenever I’m traveling, there are two things on my mind. How will I get there, and what will I do once I land? If you’re like me, then your mind’s racing with the possibilities of what a Seoul trip could look like. 

If you’re also like me, you're freaking out as a flood of venues, monuments, sites and ideas hit you all at once. With the Gyeongbokgung, DMZ, and the quirky Trick Eye Museum calling, what’s a travel lover to do? Brave the Bukchon Hanok alleys alone, or go all in with a Seoul tour guide

Let’s make this a quick and painless decision for you with the pros, cons and everything in between. Gaja! 

The Pros...

Strolling through the Special City with a  guide can be…

1. A Time Saver

The Pros Of Hiring A Guide In Seoul 1
  • Was I Just Here?Places like Myeongdong have a chaotic charm when it comes to their food stalls and busy streets. You know what isn’t charming though? Getting lost. With a  local guide, you won't waste time reading street signs as you try to figure out if you’ve just walked around in a circle or not.
  • Ticket Hunting-There’s nothing as disheartening, and honestly, boring, as sifting through several Ghost walking tours or DMZ tour slots for availability that falls in line with your plans. Hitting up a guide is like calling a local friend that helps you book and plan. They'll take care of the logistics and keep your experiences up to date and save ticket hunting time.

2. A Pool Of Knowledge 

The Pros Of Hiring A Guide In Seoul 2
  • Keeping It Real- Nowadays it’s hard to figure out the truth from skillful exaggerations. Reading information about a city as diverse as Seoul is completely different from experiencing it (ironic, I know, seeing as you’re reading this right now). While the history books and news articles give us one side of the story, local guides fill in the gaps that most people leave out, giving you an authentic 360° view of the Special City. They also know the best places to eat (and where not to).  
  • A Walk On The Wild Side-Seasoned travelers will agree that traveling is about way more than the popular monuments. Lotte World and the giant Gangnam Style statue next to the Starfield Library in Gangnam Gu are amazing, but Seoul has a lot going on under the surface. A passionate local can take you beyond the veil, towards Seoul’s hidden treasures. Just make sure you keep the treasures between your tour team and the guide so others can experience the surprises after you. 

3. A Bridge Between

Pros Of Hiring A Guide In Seoul 3
  • The Culture ConundrumCulture is a difficult thing to master when you’re in Seoul. Between handshake etiquette and drink serving procedures, it can be overwhelming to tour the city while worrying about offending locals. Guides act as a bridge between the wide cultural gap we’ve all experienced when touching down in a new city.
  • For The Love Of LanguageDespite having a moderate national  English proficiency rating, most Seoulites will still feel shy about testing out their English in real life situations. Having a guide with you can break the ice, creating a connection point between you and locals, leading to vibrant conversations.

4. A Level Of Comfort & Convenience

Pros of Hiring A Guide In Seoul 4

  • Proper Prior Planning- Imagine the weight slipping off your shoulders as you land in Seoul and realize that all you have to do the next morning is wait to be picked up for your North side City tour. No hectic calls or hasty itinerary building. Everything’s set. Your timeline, your schedule and your interests all put together by a local with a knack for taking care of the technical, leaving you to create the fun memories.
  • Do This, Not That- Looking for the best times to visit attractions? Maybe you want to avoid crowds? Collaborate with a guide and gain insider knowledge on the most convenient travel and touring times for Seoul’s greater and lesser known venues. You’ll also have your transportation sorted as guides know the fastest, most efficient way to reach venues and districts.

Travel Q&A: Are there English speaking guides in Seoul?  Yes! Our bilingual Seoul tour guides help you adjust to a new language system through translating major pockets of information. They can also teach you a few common phrases to help you communicate more effectively and gain a deeper connection to the city. 

The Cons: Traditional v.s Private Guided Tours 

Guided tours have evolved over time, but the more things change, the more they stay the same. When you think of tours, some of the images that come to mind probably aren’t relaxing. 

Traditional Tours...

The Cons Of Traditional Tours

Traditional tours aren’t great, but don’t let that ruin a guided experience for you. Try something more intimate and curated. After all, being shuffled like cattle from one museum to the next is so 1990.

Private Guided Tours...

The Benefits Of Hiring A Private Guide

Still Stuck? Here's When A Guide Will Work For You, And When They Won't 

A Guide Works If… 

…you’re looking to learn. Watching the guard changing ceremony at the Gwanghwamun Gate of Seoul’s beloved Gyeongbokgung Palace hits different when you’ve got a knowledgeable history buff next to you explaining the intricacies of this timeless tradition. You’re in Seoul to expand your knowledge, and a guide is the best place to start. 

…you need to relax more. Vacations and trips away shouldn’t be so hard. You’re looking to spend time laughing with loved ones, trying out unfamiliar food at Gwangjang Market, or sipping banana milk in Ikseon Dong. You're not looking to massage your temples after a long day of planning. 

…you want to see Seoul in a new way. Say you’ve been to all of the major sites before, and you’re looking for more, but you’re not confident enough to take on Seoul’s hidden side. If you wouldn’t even know where to start, a guide can open your eyes to the many faces of such a layered city. 

When You Should & Shouldn't Get A Guide In Seoul

Leave The Guide Behind If…

…you’re an independent explorer. You thrive on creating your own itinerary and coming up with places to explore on your own. Diving into a nation or cities background and spending countless hours researching the perfect venue is your cup of Jujube Tea. You're your own guide. 

…you’re a free diver. Itineraries are for the weak! You’d rather go in blind and figure out the road afterwards. Bring on the good (dancing and sipping Soju in a random bar in Hongdae) and the bad (getting lost in Seoul Station). Either way, you’re up for it, and a guide would only hold you and your loved ones back. 

…you’re a linguist. There’s no better feeling than seeing your late night Korean studying sessions pay off with a natural conversation between you and a local. What would kill that buzz? A guide that stands in between your linguistic pursuits. 

Guide Etiquette: Do's & Don'ts When Interacting With A Guide 

Do's & Don'ts When You're On A Private Guided Tour In Seoul

Travel Tip: How to Hire A Guide In Seoul In 3, 2...1

Step By Step Guide On How To Hire a Guide In Seoul
  1. Start by heading to our Seoul tour guides page and choose a guide. You can check out any guide profiles that interest you, checking their availability and expertise.
  2. Once you find a guide you like, you can either select from one of their pre-set tours, or send over your own suggestions by hitting the “message” button on the right hand side of the profile.
  3. Let your guide know your travel time, and any special needs or concerns you have during the consultation stage. If the vibe is right, and their timeline matches with yours, it’s time to take the next step in creating lifelong memories by securing your tour!

Alright, Now Show Me Some Tours! 

Okay, you’ve decided a guided tour is the way to go. What could a potential tour look like with a GWG guide? These should help get you started. 

GoWithGuide Tour Offerings For Seoul
  • The Heart Of The Special City: The perfect blend of history, modernity and flair, an in-depth tour of the Special City is a great way to kickstart your journey. From the Bugak Skyway to Insa-dong, there are nuggets of storytelling waiting to be heard. 
  • Seoul By The Pictures: If a picture is worth a thousand words, you’ll have an entire novel by the time you're through with this photographer led journey through Seoul that features the nation’s iconic imagery as a backdrop. 
  • Delicious Gwangjang Food Market Tour: Food is the lifeblood of Seoul City, and nowhere pulses harder than the gigantic and vibrant Gwangjang market where you’ll find everything from Bindaetteok (mung bean pancake) to Ssundae (intestine sausage). 
  • Seoul’s Night Eye: Discover the city that stays awake with a laid back night tour through Ikseon Dong's quiet corners and evening bistros, sprinkled with colorful arcade games and smooth soju (Korean alcohol).

Ready to get your Seoul searching tour started? Get in touch with a Seoul tour guide and create the adventure of a lifetime. 

Paul K.

South Korea

Hello everyone, I am Paul, a tour guide in Seoul. I am a best tour guide with deep knowledge and information about the culture, art and history of Seoul, which is fascinated destination that seamlessly blends the old with the new. I'm excited to share with you some of the best things to experience during your trip to this incredible city. As a professional tour guide with license, certified by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea. I am sure I am here to help foreign travelers who I will meet, enjoy their trip in Korea and experience unforgettable memories in Korea, through my reliable and dedicated tour guide. My primary area for tourist destination is Seoul and its metropolitan area, consisting of the past relics and contemporary cultural hot places, such as palaces and royal shrines, Korean traditional villages and modern facilities and architecture including museums & galleries and contemporary architectures. Thank you for your interest, and as your guide, I hope to see you soon in Seoul.                                                                                                                                  

David a. M.

5.00 / 5
(2 reviews)
South Korea

I have been a Professor of Korean Cultural Tourism in Seoul, and a Tour-guide, Lecturer and Author on Traditional Cultural Sites, especially religious ones, on the high-end, for 25 years. Wrote the 1996-7 edition of Lonely Planet's KOREA guidebook!                                                                                                                                 

Joe K.

5.00 / 5
(1 reviews)
South Korea

Hi, my name is Joe and I’m the founder of Makgeolli work shop studio. I’m also a Korean alcohol sommelier with a deep love for well-being and healthy food. I was born in Ecuador and raised in the United States, but I always felt a strong connection to my Korean roots. When I finally made my way to Korea, I knew that I wanted to find a way to connect with my heritage. That’s when I discovered the craft of making Makgeolli. Our book, classes, and online content have reached out to makgeolli enthusiasts all over the world, and it makes me happy when people have found help through us, and even start experimenting and making their own makgeolli creations. I’m passionate about introducing Korea’s rice wine culture to the rest of the world, so If you are interested in learning more about our services please do not hesitate to take part in our Makgeolli making experience.                                                                                                                                 

Bergen P.

South Korea

Explore the wonder of Korea together! I was in charge of overseas business for the largest electronics company in Korea for a long time, and worked at the US headquarters in New York for 6 years, I understand the culture and customs of foreigners and know what foreign tourists want and are interested in. I have been working as a tour guide since 2018, providing the best service for my clients to enjoy their travels in Korea without any inconvenience. In particular, I have registered 30 tour products on the world's No.1 internet tour platform, and my clients who used my tours left the best reviews with 5 stars after the tour. It is my goal to make my customers feel the best satisfaction without any inconvenience. I will try to make you be a traveler not a tourist. Thanks, Bergen Park                                                                                                                                  

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