We recently spent eight days in Seoul, and while it was fun and exciting to explore a new city, anything in excess of 4-5 days is probably a bit too long (unless you are really a city-lover). Apart from anything else, a longer visit means begin more careful with the money you spend, especially if you are a budget traveller like us.
Today we are here to share our top tips for visiting the South Korean capital without breaking the bank!
₩1000 = US$0.89 = £0.68 = €0.76 = ¥100.22
Seoul has many different types of accommodation to offer with prices that vary accordingly. We found K-pop Guesthouse on booking.com for the bargain price of US$160/€138/£122 for nine nights (twin room, shared bathroom, simple breakfast included). The guesthouse was located a two minute walk from Seoul Station, the city’s main train/bus/metro hub. Not only did this mean we were conveniently located for public transport, but also that we were central enough to be within walking distance of many attractions.
Although the metro only costs ₩1250 a ride, this can still add up throughout your stay. If you find accommodation in a central location, you will find that you can save money on transport, as well as walking off some of the delicious fried foods you will be eating!
Get a Discover Seoul Pass
We have lots of good things to say about the Discover Seoul Pass and will go into more detail in a separate post, however it is certainly worth looking into if you are planning a trip to Seoul.
The pass allows you entrance to over 30 attractions around the city, as well as discounts for other things as well. If you opt for a physical card (my recommendation) over a virtual mobile card, it will also work as your T-money pass for the subway, trains, and buses. The pass comes in three formats: 24 hour, 48 hour, and even 72 hour. Choose the most appropriate time limit based on your stay and the activities you wish to do. If you are smart about it, you will easily get your money’s worth! Blog post with tips and must-dos for the Discover Seoul Pass coming soon.
Plan your visit
This may seem obvious to some, but planning your trip will really save you money and time. If you have never visited Seoul before, take a good look at a map (we even pinned all the places we wanted to visit to help us get a sense of direction). Remember that offline maps aren’t available for South Korea, neither will you be able to get walking directions on your phone, so having a rough idea of where things are can be a real help. You will quickly realise that many attractions are within walking distance of each other (we did get fooled a couple of times though, thinking things were closer than they actually were! Good exercise I guess…)
Cycle along the river
You will see ‘city bikes’ dotted all over then place, they are green and white bikes that you can rent cheaply (one day rental included on the Discover Seoul Pass) by going to the bikeseoul website. You purchase a voucher valid for 24 hours, and can then unlock a bike with the code on the voucher. A great place to cycle is along the Han river where you will find large cycle paths and plenty of rest areas with drinking fountains and toilets.
Visit the markets
Great if you want a snack or a pair of socks. We like to experience new cultures, especially through their food. Markets are a great place to sample many different specialities without going broke. We generally tend to each get something different and share. (Anyone wondering about the extreme number of ice creams we seemed to eat while in Seoul – WE SHARED THEM ALL!) You can read about our favourite street foods in this blog.
About the socks; you can buy 10 pairs (sometimes even 11 or 14) for ₩10000. They come is so many different patterns, and you are bound to find some characters you love (Moomin, Pokemon, Totoro…) Nice easy gifts to take home too!
7/11 for 1+1
Let it be known that we love 7/11, particularly here in Japan. We were happy to be able to extend our repertoire of 7/11 visits to South Korea. The moment we walked into one, we were already comparing it with the ‘conbini’ here. No toilets? -1. Nice seating area with microwave, rubbish bin, and hot water? +1. However the one thing that we really wish the convenience stores would start doing here is 1+1. As soon as we discovered this ‘buy one get one free’ trend, we wouldn’t buy anything else. It applies to lots of different things, if you are open to trying something new or unknown then you are bound to find something to quench your thirst/satiate your hunger. Mainly we used it for iced tea or coffee, gatorade, the odd soda, and ice cream. For those travelling as a group of three, they also do a 2+1 offer. Other corner shops use the same principle, we just found 7/11 to be the best!
Enjoy your time in the South Korean capital, and don’t hesitate to tell us your top tips for cheap travel!