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This travel bulletin provides information for Australians travelling to South Korea, officially known as the Republic of Korea, for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic (9-25 February) and Paralympic (9-18 March) Winter Games.

Prepare early if you intend to travel to PyeongChang during the Games, including booking transportation and accommodation well in advance.

The Australian Embassy will have a consular team in PyeongChang during the Games to provide consular assistance. The Embassy in Seoul will also be able to assist with emergency passports throughout the Games period. See Where to get help.

To make the most of your stay, learn some Korean phrases. The Official site of the 2018 Australian Olympic Team has prepared a list of handy phrases for spectators and supporters.

Read and subscribe to the travel advice

This bulletin should be read in conjunction with our travel advice for South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea. The travel advice provides up-to-date, detailed information on safety and security risks, entry and exit requirements, local laws and health issues.

Subscribe to the travel advice for South Korea and this travel bulletin to ensure you receive email notification each time these are reissued. Updates may contain important information.

Take out comprehensive travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm your insurance covers you for the whole time you will be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy.

Entry and exit requirements

General information on entry and exit requirements can be found in the travel advice for South Korea.

If you are visiting South Korea for tourism, you can enter without an entry visa for a stay of up to 90 days. If you are visiting for other purposes – such as business or employment – you may need to arrange a visa in advance. You will need to provide proof of onward travel within 90 days from the date of entry.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of South Korea for up-to-date information.

Ticketing

Ticketing information is available on the Official site of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

CoSport has been appointed as the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games authorised ticket reseller for Australia. Tickets are available to Australians from the Official site of CoSport.

The PyeongChang Organising Committee, in conjunction with the International Olympic Committee, has placed strict rules on the purchase and exchange of tickets. Beware of fraudulent ticket sellers. Only purchase or exchange tickets through authorised sellers.

Accommodation and local travel

Up to one million spectators will attend the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in South Korea. Transport systems will be very busy. Accommodation will be in high demand. Plan and confirm your travel arrangements as early as possible.

Seollal, the lunar New Year or Korean New Year, will fall on Friday 16 February 2018. Attractions and local businesses may close or have limited operating hours from 15-18 February for this national holiday. Millions of Koreans travel across the country and in the region to spend the holiday with family. Expect an increase in road, train and foot traffic. Accommodation and tickets for public transport are likely to sell out quickly during this period. Make your plans well in advance.

There are various accommodation options for spectators located within one hour (90km) of PyeongChang. The Official site of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games provides further detail about accommodation and the estimated distance and travel time to the Olympic venues.

Road closures and restrictions may be in place throughout the PyeongChang region over the Games period. There is no provision for spectator car parking at Olympic venues. Use public transportation or the high speed trains (KTX). Avoid using unofficial taxis. Spectator shuttle buses from PyeongChang, Bokwang, Jeongseon, and Gangneung to the venues will be available to ticket holders free of charge on the same day of the event. Park-and-ride facilities will be linked to the spectator shuttle bus network.

A map with transport options and instructions for travelling to the Olympic sites is available on the Official site of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Security screening will be implemented on the KTX high speed rail system for the duration of the Games. Ensure you allow sufficient time to clear security prior to boarding your train.

If you are using public transport, check the event timetables. Accommodation is limited at the PyeongChang Mounter Cluster site, so make onward transport connections to your accommodation. Take care not to miss the last train each day.

Safety and security

Exercise normal safety precautions in South Korea. Use common sense and look out for suspicious behaviour, as you would in Australia. Monitor the media and other sources for changes to local travelling conditions.

Exercise care when walking alone at night, particularly along roads and in bar and nightclub areas.

Relations between South Korea and North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) remain tense. North Korea has conducted underground nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests, further aggravating the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. Further provocations by North Korea or reactions by other countries can't be ruled out. Monitor developments closely due to the risk that tensions on the Korean Peninsula could escalate with little warning.

See the travel advice for South Korea for more information on safety and security risks.

Event security

Most events will take place on two central sites, the PyeongChang Mountain Cluster and Gangneung Coastal Cluster. Venue information can be found on the Official site of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Expect large crowds and increased security at events and plan accordingly.

Local authorities are responsible for event security. You will be subject to personal security screening and bag searches at entry points to Olympic venues. Follow the advice of local authorities on what you can and can't bring into venues.

Local laws

Local laws apply to you wherever you go. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Research the local laws for your destination before travelling. For instance, penalties for possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs can result in long jail sentences, heavy fines and deportation.

See our travel advice for South Korea for further detail on local laws.

Health

Winter in South Korea is long and the weather may be severe. The average temperature in PyeongChang during February/March is normally around 1-2 degrees Celsius during the day and -11 degrees Celsius overnight. Temperatures can drop to as low as -22 degrees Celsius at night. Weather conditions can change quickly, heightening the risk of hypothermia. Take care when walking in snowy, icy or windy conditions. Ensure you have adequate warm clothing and appropriate footwear at all times.

Screening remains in place for quarantinable diseases, including Cholera, Zika virus and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) at airports for arriving and departing passengers. If you are planning to visit or transit South Korea by air from an MERS-CoV affected country, be aware that individuals who display symptoms may be subject to further testing by South Korean health authorities.

See our travel advice for South Korea for further detail about staying healthy while in PyeongChang.

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to first contact your family, friends, travel agent, travel insurance provider, employer or airline.

Emergencies

  • Police: 112
  • Ambulance and fire services: 119

Korean emergency services have simple English-language guidelines or interpreters available to help communicate with non-Korean speakers. Always get a police report when reporting a crime.

The South Korean Government offers a free smartphone application, Emergency Ready App, containing information on local emergency services, hospitals and emergency shelter locations. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices, and can be downloaded before you go.

Read the advice on preparing for emergencies produced by the Australian Embassy in Seoul.

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

The Australian Embassy will have a consular team in PyeongChang during the Games to provide consular assistance. The Embassy in Seoul will also be able to assist with emergency passports throughout the Games period.

Australian Embassy, Seoul

19th Floor, Kyobo Building
1, Jong-ro
Jongno-gu
Seoul 03154, Republic of Korea
Telephone: 82-2 2003 0100
Facsimile: 82-2 2003 0196
Website: southkorea.embassy.gov.au

Australian Consulate, Busan

Room 802 Samwhan Officetel
830-295, Bumil 2-dong
Dong-gu
Busan 601-709, Republic of Korea
Telephone: 82-51 647 1762
Facsimile: 82-51 647 1764

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy or Consulate in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 (from overseas) or 1300 555 135 (from within Australia).

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