Because of the inconvenience and high prices of these books, the travel guide is well on its way to extinction. Replacing it are travel apps, downloadable information sources that help their users to find cheap transportation, locate reviews on the best hotels and restaurants, and easily navigate their destinations.
The latter is one of the more stressful aspects of traveling to a new country, especially when there is a language barrier involved. Fortunately for those traveling to Seoul, there is now an app to ensure a stress-free and informative travel experience. Released earlier this year by the Korea Tourism Organization, the Seoul Walking Tour app is a smart audio tour guide for Apple and Android products that uses GPS to assist travelers in navigating sixteen different attractions in downtown Seoul.
I recently tried out the app to see just how useful it might be to travelers in the Korean capital. The following are some of the features I found particularly useful about the app.
Map With Icons: When the app is loaded, an easy-to-read map is displayed that uses appealing icons to simplify locating each attraction. Information can be accessed by tapping the icon, or by loading an alternative list.
Attraction Information: Each of the sixteen attractions on the app features information, attractive photographs, a GPS locating tool, and an audio guide.
Audio Guide: Perhaps the best feature of this app is the audio-guided tour, which offers intriguing information about each site. I was actually surprised that I didn't know many of the things that were mentioned in the audio clips and found the historical anecdotes and fun facts to be informative and interesting, without being too drawn out. The audio scripts are also available in text format for those that prefer to read the descriptions.
Camera and Travel Hotline: The Seoul Walking Tour app has a camera feature to use so one does not have to exit the application when snapping photos. There is also a feature to connect directly with 1330, the Korea Travel Hotline, for further information or to make an inquiry.
Although the app has many great features, there are still a few flaws that need to be fixed. For example, most of the photo captions in the image galleries are cut off cannot be read while words in the attraction descriptions are broken up into new lines, making them difficult to read. The GPS feature is also a bit slow to load.
Still, despite the bugs, this app is a must-have for all those traveling to Seoul, particularly for the audio guides. Also... it's 100% FREE, so there's no reason not to download it. Don't get stuck lugging around a bulky travel guide or Googling away your precious travel time when you can have all the information you need in the palm of your hand.
The Seoul Walking Tour app can be purchased at the iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. It is available in English, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. Until the end of July 2013, you can review the app by filling out a questionnaire and receive two free traditional beverages at the KTO office. For more information on this promotion, click here.