I understand. You haven’t planned your trip to Seoul yet because you think it’s expensive and far, and you don’t want budget limitations to compromise your experience. Well, I’m here to tell you that a little travel planning will go a long, long way when it comes visiting Seoul on a budget. Here are some tips to help you stretch your dollar as far as possible:
Stay at a Goshiwon
If you really want to have a unique Korean experience, a goshiwon is the perfect place to stay in Seoul on a budget. You will have your own room with a desk, bed, and bathroom. You’ll have access to a communal kitchen where you’ll be able to mingle with locals living and working in Seoul while they cook dinner. It’s a great time to pick their brains on things to do in the city. Here is a great guide to finding and staying in a goshiwon.
Take Advantage of Cheap Attractions
The first stop for any visitor is Gyeongbokgung Palace, the oldest and largest palace in Seoul. You can maximize your visit by checking out the changing of the guard ceremony (10 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.), taking a free guided tour (11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.), and exploring the National Folk Museum (admission is included in your ticket price). The entry fee is 3,000 won.
The National Museum of Korea is the perfect place to spend a day taking in art and cultural pieces that illustrate the country’s history. Visitors get in free.
Eat the Local Cuisine
You will send a small fortune if you try to eat Western food while in Korea, so take advantage of being in Korea and eat local! A meal at a restaurant can cost around $5 per person (and they always come with side dishes like kimchi and crab included!), so you can really eat plenty on a budget. Street food and snacks like kimbap can cost you just a dollar!
Book Your Flight Early and Be Flexible
Research has shown that the cheapest time to buy tickets is 47 days before your intended date of travel. If you can, fly on a Tuesday or Wednesday — you’ll find the cheapest seats. Doing this can save you an average of $200 on your tickets! Don’t forget to use flight comparison sites like Hipmunk to compare flights to Seoul — that way you know you’re getting the best option.
Take the Metro
The Seoul metro is efficient and will help you get anywhere around the city. When you arrive, buy a T-card so you can reload money at a cheaper rate than single-journey tickets.
Try Out a Jjimjilbang
Jjimjilbangs, 24-hour public bath houses, are very popular in Korea. If you can get over being naked with strangers, it’s an experience you should certainly have while in Seoul. You will typically see three pools with different temperatures. Start with the medium temperature, go to the hotter one, and then cool off in the lowest temperature. Most jjimjilbangs will let you sleep there, which is another great budget accommodation option.