Never Ending Footsteps

The Cost of Travel in South Korea: My 2024 Budget Breakdown

I was so excited to return to South Korea.

I haven’t been to many places where I’ve felt such a cohesive blend of old and new, but South Korea is one of them. Steeped with 5000 years of culture and history, but integrated with modern music, technology, and infrastructure, it’s a country that surprised and delighted me at every turn.

And Seoul? It’s one of my favourite cities in the world. If you think New York City is the place that never sleeps, just wait until you arrive in Seoul. During my first visit to the country, I landed in the South Korean capital expecting to spend three or four days in town, but ended up leaving after three weeks . Yes, I loved this city so much that I simply couldn’t bring myself to leave.

I’d be walking the bustling streets of popular neighbourhood Hongdae in the early hours of the morning and realise that there was nowhere on earth quite like it. Street performers are sharing their best routines to the latest K-pop songs, shops are bright and open, karaoke is everywhere, and clubs have lines out the door. Talk about a sensory overload, but in the best possible way. 

On my return visit, though, I knew I needed to see more of this wonderful country. South Korea is so much more than it’s biggest city.

From the colourful houses in Busan to the scenic coastal views and tea plantations on Jeju Island to the towering mountains of Seoraksan National Park: I loved each and every destination I visited in the country. Get ready to be swept away by all that Korea has to offer, from Korean BBQ, K-pop, karaoke, palaces, temples, and arcades.

But how are the prices? In this post-pandemic world, the cost of travel has been skyrocketing, but this country has managed to remain relatively inexpensive.

Today, I’m going to be revealing exactly how much you can expect to spend on a trip to South Korea.

I’ve been recording every single dollar, peso, and baht that I’ve spent on my travels since 2011 (I now have  over 65 budget breakdowns on the site !), aiming to give you an accurate picture of how much you can expect to spend in every country around the world. Today, it’s South Korea’s turn and I’m so excited to start sharing.

Grab yourself a cold bottle of soju because this post’s a long one!

korea travel cost

What’s Included in this Post 

This budget breakdown covers how much I spent on accommodation, transportation, activities, and food during my trips to South Korea.

The amounts in the guide are listed in U.S. dollars, simply because the vast majority of my readers are from the U.S. I’ve also included prices in the South Korean won (KRW) — the local currency — as you’ll be using that throughout your time in the country.

At the time of writing (February 2024):

  • 1 USD: 1,300 KRW
  • 1 EUR: 1,450 KRW
  • 1 GBP: 1,675 KRW
  • 1 AUD: 875 KRW

Yes, this does make calculating the prices of things rather tricky when you’re in South Korea! For me, I kept in mind that 10,000 KRW is roughly 8 USD (€7, £6, or 11.50 AUD) and it made figuring out the prices of things far easier.

One quick note I do want to make about travel in South Korea is that it’s kind of complicated to pay for things! Korea is, these days, a cashless society — everybody pays with cards and there aren’t a lot of places that are happy to accept cash.

Now, that would be all well and good if it wasn’t for the fact that the vast majority of payment terminals don’t accept foreign bank cards. Apple Pay is very limited and Google Pay doesn’t exist at all.

Yes, really.

I’d say that we were able to successfully use our debit/credit cards 30% of the time in South Korea — and it made no difference whether we were using our U.K., Australian, or New Zealand cards.

So, what to do?

Honestly, there isn’t an elegant solution. Expect that every time you try to buy something, you might need to try four cards until one of them works. Carry a lot of cash with you in case none of your cards are accepted. It didn’t end up being a huge problem for us, as we were able to pay with cash whenever our cards were declined, but it was frustrating to have to continually deal with payment rejections everywhere we went!

Okay, let’s get started! Up first: accommodation!

korea travel cost

The Cheapest Accommodation Options in South Korea

Like practically every country in the world, prices have increased post-pandemic in South Korea, so you’ll be paying a little more for everything than you would have done a few years ago. Despite that, costs are lower than most Western countries, so accommodation in the country still offers up good value for money.

Let’s start on the lower end of the spectrum. If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, it’s possible to avoid paying for accommodation entirely.

Couchsurfing  exists in South Korea and allows you to stay with a local for free, usually sleeping on their sofa and enjoying a local’s insight into life in their country. It’s not the most comfortable of living situations, but if your budget’s tight, it’s worth sending out a few requests to hosts to see if anything comes of it. You can browse through the 150,000+ Korean hosts on  the Couchsurfing site .

Housesitting  is a more upmarket option, aimed at mid-range and luxury travellers. Housesitting involves taking care of somebody’s house for free while they’re away, often (but not always) looking after their pets, too. It’s best for long-term travellers or retirees, as you can’t pick and choose dates and destinations, so you’ll need to have a lot of flexibility as to where you go and at what time of year. If you do have that freedom, though it’s a wonderful way to cut down your travel expenses, soak up some home comforts, and live like a local for a while. Trusted Housesitters  is the best site for getting started with housesitting, as they have the highest number of listings.

And then we have hostels . In South Korea, you’ll come across hostels all over the country, finding them on tiny islands, large cities, and even within the national parks. They’re one of your best options for saving money.

All prices are in U.S. Dollars, by the way, as that’s where the vast majority of my readers are from.

Hostels in Korea  are on a par with the rest of major cities in East Asia, and you can expect to spend between  $18 a night for a dorm bed  for a well-reviewed hostel, with the price increasing slightly to about  $24 a night  for the absolute best of the best.

When it comes to private rooms in hostels, you’ll be looking at  $30 a night  for a clean, basic room in a good location, so if you’re travelling with friends or with your partner, you may find it cheaper to grab some privacy over settling for two beds in a dorm room.  $70 a night  will get you an exceptionally well-reviewed private room in a hostel.

I use  HostelWorld  to find the cheapest hostels, as they tend to have the greatest number of listings at the lowest prices.

And then there are hotels, which I’m going to jump into next.

korea travel cost

The Cost of Accommodation in South Korea 

I found hotels in South Korea to be pretty reasonably priced. You won’t get the cheap, cheap rates that you do in places like Southeast Asia, but prices are generally lower than more expensive countries in Western Europe.

  • As mentioned, well-rated hostels come in at an average price of $18 a night for a dorm bed, while private rooms are around $30 a night .
  • Inexpensive guesthouses are typically around $50 a night .
  • Four-star hotels are between $150 and $200 a night
  • And five-star hotels are $250-350 a night

As always with these posts, I like to share where I personally stayed in the country and what I thought of each of my accommodation choices. On my most recent trip, I splurged in Seoul because I wanted to stay in two of the best-rated hotels in the country, but kept my accommodation costs relatively low in the other destinations I visited.

Seoul (Hongdae): RYSE Hotel (240,000 KRW, or $183 per night)

If you’re going to stay anywhere in Hongdae (my favourite Seoul neighbourhood), RYSE Hotel is the place to be. It’s one of the best hotels in the city! It’s in the perfect location, in the heart of Hongdae’s cafe-and-nightlife scene, but so well-insulated that you don’t hear any of it. The rooms had a modern, industrial design, great views over the city, and there were tons of gifts, from facemasks (this is Korea, after all!) to local games to even a bottle of wine. There’s a rooftop bar with some of the best views in Seoul, one of the best equipped hotel gyms I’ve ever used, and the staff were amazing. I’d absolutely stay here again on future visits!

Seoul (Myeongdong): Hotel 28 (189,000 KRW, or $144 per night)

Our itinerary in South Korea saw us spending two separate stints in Seoul, so for our second visit, I dragged myself away from my beloved Hongdae and gave Myeongdong a try — this is the neighbourhood to head to if you want to shop ’til you drop then eat ’til you’re… replete! We chose Hotel28, which is the best-rated option in the area; one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. It’s a cinema-themed hotel (you get bags of free popcorn when you check in!) in one of the best areas for eating in the city. The rooms are spacious, the bathroom had the best bathtub ever, and the staff were so sweet. It’s right by one of the city’s best night markets, too, which was so much fun to eat my way around! The hotel gym was great, too.

Gyeongju: Maison Mini Hotel (62,000 KRW, or $49 per night)

Dave and I loved our stay at the adorable Maison Mini Hotel in Gyeongju and found it to be a fantastic mid-range accommodation option. The rooms were spotless and cleaned everyday throughout our stay. The owner was so sweet and welcoming, and the shared kitchen and laundry facilities were definitely appreciated. Having access to a proper coffee machine was particularly useful! The guesthouse is a 10 minute walk from all of the wonderful sights of Gyeongju and a five minute walk from the main bus station, so it made for a great base while we were in town. I can’t recommend this place highly enough!

Busan: Urbanstay Seomyeon (61,000 KRW, or $47 per night)

Like Seoul, Busan is a big old city with plenty of neighbourhoods to choose from. Seomyeon, however, is the best spot for new visitors to town — it’s in a convenient location for visiting all of the most popular spots and has plenty of vibrant nightlife and restaurants to explore. Urbanstay is right beside a metro station, which makes getting around even easier. The rooms are clean, modern, and basic — very minimalist! — with lightning-fast Wi-Fi. There actually aren’t any staff at the hotel, so you’ll be emailed a key code to get into your room, which works well. The washing machines are, as always, very much appreciated!

korea travel cost

Seoraksan National Park: Smile Resort (70,000 KRW, or $53 per night)

If you’re going to be hiking in Seoraksan National Park, you’ll want to be staying as close to the park entrance as possible. Unfortunately, this area of South Korea seems to be full of mediocre accommodation options. Still, Smile Resort was the best option that was close to the entrance while not being obscenely expensive. While the interior was a little old and tired, it was a perfectly acceptable place to stay! The owners were welcoming and kind, the free breakfast (a rarity in South Korea) was definitely appreciated before a big day of hiking, and it’s just a five-minute walk from the bus that takes you to the national park entrance. Rooms also have a private kitchenette and fridge, which was useful for keeping our water cold overnight.

My partner, Dave, wrote an in-depth itinerary on how to spend 10 days in South Korea after our most recent trip, so do check that out if you’re looking for advice how to structure a trip to the above places!

korea travel cost

The Cost of Transportation in South Korea 

I’m somebody who doesn’t get an awful lot out of travel days in unfamiliar places, but even I can admit that travelling around South Korea is a joy! From the buses to the high-speed trains to the comprehensive subways: getting around this country is convenient, comfortable, and hassle-free.

Your first encounter with the transportation system will be at the airport. There’s two options for getting the train from Incheon International Airport to Seoul: the Airport Railroad Express (AREX) or the All Stop Train. The former takes 43 minutes and costs 9,500 KRW ( $7.20 ), while the latter is half the price at 4,150 KRW ( $3.15 ) and takes 53 minutes.

I recommend jumping on the All Stop Train, then, as it’s cheaper, takes just 10 minutes longer, and runs more frequently than the AREX so will most likely get you into Seoul faster anyway.

I wouldn’t recommend taking the bus or the taxi, as both are more expensive and slower than the train. The bus costs 10-15,000 KRW ( $9 ) and takes around 80 minutes, while taxis cost a whopping 70,000 KRW, or $55 , and take around an hour.

korea travel cost

What to Know About T-Money Cards

Before we go any further, it’s time for a primer on T-Money! This is my one travel essential in South Korea and I highly recommend getting your hands on one before you leave the airport.

A T-Money card is designed to make your public transportation experiences seamless. You simply buy your T-Money card from any convenience store, or the vending machines at the airport, and then you can use it on subways, buses, taxis, and even vending machines and grocery stores — all across the country. Simply tap your card on the T-Money scanner and you’re good to go!

I recommend buying yours at the airport, where there are T-Money vending machines located beside the All Stop Train (and then you’ll pay for said train journey with the card). You’ll pay 4,000 KRW ( $3 ) for the card.

Once you’ve bought your card, remember to top it up with some cash. I topped-up with 40,000 KRW ( $30 ), which was the perfect amount for two weeks in the country — I had 2,000 KRW left over at the end. If you do end up with any money left on your T-Money card at the end of your trip, you can get that refunded to you at any subway station (including the airport) in Seoul.

I mentioned in the photo caption above that Dave’s T-Money card came free with his SIM card purchase. He bought his SIM card in advance from LG and picked it up in the arrivals hall at the airport. The SIM card included unlimited data (35,000 KRW or $25 for 10 days of usage) plus a Korean phone number — the latter of which is surprisingly useful in Korea (you often need a local phone number just to join a queue for a restaurant!) but tricky to get from many other providers.

korea travel cost

The Cost of Trains in South Korea

If you’ll be venturing outside of Seoul then odds are, you’ll be travelling by train. This is one of the best ways to explore the country, thanks to the modern carriages and speedy services. And expect your trains to be punctual — just as in nearby Japan , this country thrives on an on-time departure.

I’m a huge fan of the KTX — the Korean Travel Express — which whips you up and down the length of the country at speeds of 300+ kilometres an hour (190 mph). It’s the priciest option, for sure, but the amount of time you’ll save will likely make it worth it.

As an example, the KTX from Seoul to Busan — running from the top to the bottom of the country — takes just over two hours (at a price of 59,800 KRW/$45 ). In comparison, the equivalent buses and slower trains complete the journey anywhere between four and six hours (but costing 28,000 KRW/$21 ).

Buy your KTX tickets through the official Korail website to score the cheapest fare — we had no problems using it with our foreign debit/credit cards.

I’ll briefly mention the existence of the Korea Rail Pass (KR Pass) here, which works similarly to the Japan Rail Pass or a Eurail Pass. You can choose from either a consecutive pass or a flexible pass, but to be honest, the prices are around the same amount as the individual tickets, so I didn’t see the point. If you’ll be racing around the country and visiting multiple places in a single day, it may be worth it, but it wasn’t for us.

korea travel cost

The Cost of Buses in South Korea

You can take the bus to just about anywhere in South Korea.

There are two types of long-distance buses in the country: express and intercity; due to time constraints, we opted for the express option for every journey we took (intercity buses are cheaper but take way longer because they make stops all along the way; express buses take you directly to your destination). Our two-hour express bus from Seoul to Sokcho ( 21,000W, or $16 ) was bordering on luxurious with wide, comfortable reclining leather seats, tons of legroom, and even power sockets.

You can find bus departures either through Kobus (express buses only) or Bustago (express and intercity buses). However , you can only purchase through these sites if you have a Korean bank card and a local number — yes, it’s frustrating and only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Korea making travel difficult for foreign visitors.

We used these booking sites, therefore, to see which departure time we wanted to aim for and to check there were still tickets available. We then bought the tickets from the bus station an hour or so beforehand — departures typically run multiple times an hour so you don’t have to worry too much about buses being booked.

To give you a sense of ticket prices, here are some average one-way costs for a few routes you might take: 

  • Seoul to Busan: 33,000 KRW ($26)
  • Seoul to Gyeongju: 20,000 KRW ($15)
  • Busan to Daegu: 12,000 KRW ($9)
  • Seoul to Jeonju: 20,000 KRW ($15)

korea travel cost

The Cost of Flying in South Korea

South Korea isn’t a gargantuan country. And with fast and frequent overland options available throughout, you probably won’t need to fly very often — if it all. But if you plan on going to wonderful Jeju Island (which you should), then flying is the easiest way to get there.

A one-way direct flight from Seoul to Jeju will cost around $42 , and if you’re flying from Busan, a one-way fare is roughly $33 . 

In terms of alternative options to flying, you do have the ferry from Busan. At a journey time of around 12 hours, though, and a cost of 60,000W ($45) , there’s no real reason to put yourself through the discomfort.

korea travel cost

The Cost of the Metro in South Korea

The underground systems in Seoul and Busan are in a league of their own. In fact, Seoul has one of the most extensive subway systems in the world — it’s clean, modern, and safe. If you don’t have to use it during rush hour, it’s pretty calm, too. It’s one of the best and most efficient ways to get around Seoul, and with the exception of a couple of local bus trips, I relied on the subway during my entire stint in the city.

Fare is calculated by distance, so a subway ride of less than 10 km will cost 1,350 KRW ($1) with 100 KRW added on for every additional 5km (you’re unlikely to take a journey this far, though). When taking the subway over a typical day of sightseeing, I usually averaged around 5,000 KRW ($4) per day . 

Overall, my daily transportation costs in South Korea worked out to: $10.20 per day

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The Cost of Food in South Korea

Long-time readers of the site will already know that food is my primary driver to travel. It won’t come as any surprise, then, to learn that my favourite thing to do in Korea was eat .

There are so many incredible local dishes to sample in this country that I often found myself panicking that there weren’t going to be enough meals in the day. By the end of my weeks in the country, I was officially inducting South Korea into my list of the top five places to eat in the world (the others being India, Vietnam, Mexico, and Greece).

Yes, you’ve got all the classics you’ve probably come across before, like kimchi, bibimbap, and bulgogi, and you’ll be able to find them on practically every street you walk along. But for me, the delight came in wandering into a crowded restaurant without any idea what was on the menu, sitting down and being presented with one of the best dishes I’ve ever tried. Yes, I’m looking at you, samgyetang.

korea travel cost

Of course, Korean BBQ reigns supreme and provides a super-fun food experience — I definitely recommend trying it at least once while you’re in the country. Gather around a table with a group of friends, order yourselves an inordinate amount of meat, marinate it in a variety of sauces, then cook it up at your table on your own little grill.

And let me tell you that Korean fried chicken may have ruined me for all of my future fried chicken experiences. Before arriving in the country, I’d made a vow to never eat the same thing twice while I was there. After my first taste of crispy fried chicken, however, I found myself meekly eating it again a couple of days later. It was just so freaking good!

The kimchi in South Korea is amazing and I was regularly blown away by the depth of flavour that was contained in such a simple dish. You’ll be given a couple of versions of it (cabbage and radish) as a free side with practically every meal you order, and it was nearly always a flavourful highlight for me.

One particularly epic food experience we had in the country is depicted in the photo at the very top of this section — the one where I’m surrounded by about 35 different dishes! Hongsi Hanjungsik in Gyeongju offers up a traditional Korean banquet, run out of the owner’s home, with so many high-quality, tasty things to try. And despite the multitude of dishes, we didn’t come away feeling overly full. At a price of 20,000W (or $15.50) each, it felt like phenomenally good value!

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So let’s get into the food prices.

In general, if you’re eating out at a Korean restaurant, look to spend around 10,000 – 15,000 KRW ($7.50 – $11.50) for a meal. When eating at a more Western restaurant (which you absolutely should not do because the Western food in Korea is probably the worst I’ve ever eaten — a ham and cheese sandwich I ordered was drizzled with condensed milk!) then you might spend 20,000 KRW ($15) for a meal. Fast food, street food, or a smaller meal will range around 5,000 – 7,000 KRW ($4 – $5) . 

Here’s some examples of what we spent on some of the various dishes we tried:

  • Fried chicken for lunch: 10,000 KRW ($7.50)
  • Bibimbap for lunch: 9,500 KRW ($7)
  • Bindaetteok (mung bean pancake) as a street food snack: 5,000 KRW ($4)
  • Dakgalbi (stir-fried chicken) for dinner: 6,500 KRW ($4.50)
  • Unlimited Korean BBQ on a weekday lunch: 15,000 KRW ($11.50)
  • Samgyetang (chicken ginseng soup) at a fancy restaurant for lunch: 19,000 KRW ($14.50)
  • Street food snacks: 3,000 KRW ($2) each
  • A pint of local draft beer in a restaurant: 4,000 KRW ($3)
  • A bottle of soju in a restaurant: 4,000 KRW ($3)
  • A 750ml bottle of makgeolli in a restaurant: 4,000 KRW ($3)
  • An extremely fancy cocktail in a world-class bar: 23,000 KRW ($17.50)

Dave and I are usually intermittent fasters when we travel, so we rarely opted for breakfast while we were travelling in South Korea. Instead, we’d have a large meal for an early lunch and often hit the street food carts for dinner. Our daily meal costs were sometimes then as little as 15,000 KRW ($11.50) a day but averaged out at 25,000 KRW ($19) a day .

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The Cost of Activities and Entrance Fees in South Korea    

When it comes to activities in South Korea, there’s so much to keep you entertained — and it’s pretty affordable, too.

If there’s one activity to cross off your list when you’re in Seoul, it has to be the royal palaces. For just 10,000 KRW , you can purchase a combo ticket that gives you entrance to Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung (and its separate secret garden), Deoksugung, Changgyeonggung, and Jongmyo Shrine. To visit each of these individually would cost 14,000 KRW , so it’s well-worth getting the combo and crossing all of them off. We managed to see all of them in a single day of hardcore sightseeing, and while we were undoubtedly templed-out by the end of it, we were still glad we’d made the effort to do so.

If you only have a limited amount of time, then just head to Gyeongbokgung and Changdeokgung — the two most impressive of the palaces. You’ll be able to catch the impressive changing of the guard in the morning at Gyeongbokgung, then take a tour of the wonderful secret garden at Changdeokgung in the afternoon.

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Many visitors to Seoul spend their time shopping, eating, and partying. This is one livable, lively city, crammed full of excellent skincare products, world-class vintage stores, delicious street eats, and more karaoke bars than you could possibly imagine. There’s lots to keep you entertained.

Simply strolling through the different neighbourhoods provides a way to keep costs down. I loved spending my time cafe-hopping in student-filled Hongdae, shopping in bustling Myeongdong, picking up traditional souvenirs in Insadong, and admiring the street art in Itaewon.

One particular highlight from my most recent trip was walking the 10 kilometre, or seven mile, Cheonggyecheon Stream, which runs through downtown Seoul from Cheonggye Plaza to Dongdaemun. Once a busy highway, it has since been transformed into a peaceful oasis, where friends come to chill beside the water, surrounded by plants, trees, and fun water features.

Most visitors to South Korea want to hit up the DMZ: the border between South and North Korea, and specifically the Joint Security Area (JSA) — those famous blue barracks where North and South Korean soldiers stand face-to-face. It’s the closest you can get to North Korea without actually entering it.

You’ll want to be careful, then, when you do book your DMZ tour. There are plenty of these general DMZ tours running (priced at 76,000 KRW/$56 ), but the closest you’ll get to North Korea is standing on a hill and looking into the country from afar with binoculars. You won’t visit the JSA on these trips. It is, however, a third of the price of the JSA tours, so a great option for budget travellers. These non-JSA tours are incredibly popular, so do book early to ensure you manage to get a space. You can check availability for your travel dates using the widget below:

The JSA-specific tours are even more popular, but unfortunately, they’re currently (as of early-2024) on pause. This is a common occurrence, especially during these post-pandemic years. It’s only been open to tourists for about three months in total since 2020!

VVIP Travel and Hana Tour are the two JSA tour operators to go with, so do check out their websites before your trip, just in case the tours are up and running again. Tours cost 195,000 KRW ($150) per person and last for a full day.

korea travel cost

I knew I wanted to get out into nature while I was in South Korea, as I didn’t want my entire trip to focus around gigantic, bustling cities. This country, after all, is 70% mountains. Seoraksan National Park provided the perfect opportunity to do just that. It’s a two-hour bus ride from Seoul and when you arrive, you’ll feel as though you’re in a whole other country.

With an entrance fee of just 3,500 KRW ($2.50), this was an affordable way to see a part of the country that few tourists opt to explore. The scenery was incredible and a couple of days in town enabled us to tackle all of the most popular hikes.

Speaking of gigantic, bustling cities: Busan!

Busan often ends up being most people’s favorite spot in South Korea and there’s plenty to do while you’re there. From beach-hopping your days away (my favourite free activity!) to hitting up bustling fish markets; eating allll the street food then exploring amazing colourful villages, blanketed with murals. Busan is well-worth visiting, that’s for sure. But for us? We quickly realised that nearby Gyeongju was more our type of place.

korea travel cost

Dave and I adored Gyeongju, a compact city that’s perfect for some respite after a few days in Busan. Gyeongju is crammed full of cultural sites and attractions, from royal tombs to ancient observatories, to one of the most impressive Buddha statues we’ve ever seen. The vast majority of attractions in town were free to visit, so we spent very little money while we were there, too — an added bonus!

And I can’t write about South Korea and not include beautiful Jeju Island — the iconic volcanic island off the southern coast of the country that’s known for its beaches, waterfalls, and mountains, as well as its local delicacies. Just wait until you try the local black pork! There’s tons to do on the island — you could spend two weeks on Jeju alone — but so much of it is focused around landscapes and scenery (so much hiking!) that you can easily visit on a budget.

With all that being said, here’s a breakdown of the main activity costs you may encounter in South Korea:

  • Entry to Donggung Palace, Gyeongju – 3000 KRW ($2)
  • Bulguksa Temple & Seokguram Grotto, Gyeongju – 5,000 KRW ($4)
  • Gyeongju Expo Park – 8,000 KRW ($6)
  • Daereungwon Tomb Complex, Cheomseongdae Observatory, Woljeonggyo Bridge, Gyochon Traditional Village – Free
  • Royal palaces combo ticket, Seoul – 10,000 KRW ($7.50)
  • N Seoul Tower – 21,000 KRW ($16)
  • Kimchi Museum entrance – 5,000 KRW ($4)
  • Nanta cooking show – 44,000 KRW ($34)
  • Lotte World entrance – 62,000 KRW ($47)
  • Bukchon Hanok village, Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Cheonggyecheon Stream, War Memorial of Korea, National Museum of Korea, Seoul – Free
  • Entrance to Seoraksan National Park – 3,500 KRW ($2.50)
  • Busan Sky Capsule – 15,000 KRW ($11.50)
  • Songdo cable car, Busan – 15,000 KRW ($11.50)
  • Busan Tower Observatory – 7,000 KRW ($5)
  • Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, Gamcheon Cultural Village, Busan – Free
  • Jeongbang Waterfalls entrance, Jeju Island – 2,000 KRW ($1.50)
  • Camellia Hill entrance, Jeju Island – 7,000 KRW ($5)
  • Jeju Folk Village, Jeju Island – 12,000 KRW ($9)

As you can see, there’s very little that’s going to break the bank in South Korea — there’s tons of free attractions and any entrance fees are reasonable.

Over my two weeks in Korea, I averaged just $3 a day on activities and entrance fees.

The Cost of Miscellaneous Expenses in South Korea

An eSIM:  A few years ago, I made the switch to eSIMs and it’s an act that’s significantly improved my travels.

I used to hate having to spend my first few hours in a new country wandering around in search of a way to get connected. There’s locating a store that will sell you one, language barriers to deal with (I was surprised to discover South Korea has one of the highest language barriers I’ve ever encountered!), various forms of ID and information you might need to bring, scams to navigate, and… well, it’s a headache.

These days, I buy my SIM cards in advance through AloSIM , which sells local e-SIMs for travellers. What that means is that you can buy your SIM card online  before  you arrive in South Korea, and then as soon as you land in Seoul, can switch on your phone and be online before the plane’s even come to a halt. It’s worked flawlessly for me in over a dozen countries, including South Korea.

I paid  $15 for 5 GB of data for 30 days in South Korea. Readers of Never Ending Footsteps can get a 5% discount on AloSIM eSIMs by using the code FOOTSTEPS.

There’s one small detail I need to mention. Before arriving in South Korea, I read dozens of articles insisting that you need a local Korean phone number to successfully travel in the country.

Most of the taxi apps require a local number (especially if you want to pay by card in the app), and most popular restaurants operate a waitlist where they call or text you on a local number when a table is ready — if you don’t have one, you can’t join the queue!

Dave specifically bought an LG SIM card that gave you a local phone number and… we used it close to zero times. It turned out, we didn’t need to call a taxi even once and none of the restaurants we went to had waiting lists. A couple of takeaway joints that we went to required a local number to place an order, but that was it. I’m glad we had at least one SIM card with a Korean number for peace of mind but we also didn’t really need to use it, so I don’t think it’s as much of a travel essential as people say.

Travel insurance : If you’ve read any other posts on Never Ending Footsteps, you’ll know that I’m a great believer in travelling with travel insurance. I’ve seen far too many Go Fund Me campaigns from destitute backpackers that are unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country after a scooter accident/being attacked/breaking a leg with no way of getting home or paying for their healthcare. In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. These costs can quickly land you with a six-figure bill to pay at the end of it.

Travel insurance  will cover you if your flight is cancelled and you need to book a new one, if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, if you suddenly get struck down by appendicitis and have to be hospitalised, or discover a family member has died and you need to get home immediately. If you fall seriously ill, your insurance will cover the costs to fly you home to receive medical treatment.

I used  SafetyWing  as my travel insurance provider in South Korea. They provide worldwide coverage, don’t require you to have a return ticket, and even allow you to buy coverage after you’ve left home. If you’re on a long-term trip, you can pay monthly instead of up-front, and can cancel at any time. Finally, they’re affordable, and have a clear, easy-to-understand pricing structure, which is always appreciated.

The cost of two weeks of travel insurance with SafetyWing was $21, or $1.50 a day.

korea travel cost

How Much Does it Cost to Travel in South Korea? 

It’s time to tally up all of my expenses to see my total travel costs! In U.S. dollars, my average daily costs in South Korea were:

  • Accommodation: $104.50 per day
  • Transportation: $10.20 per day
  • Food: $19 per day
  • Activities/Entrance Fees: $3 per day

Average amount spent in South Korea: $137 a day!

As I mentioned in the accommodation section, I did splurge a little when it came to accommodation, so if you’re on a tighter budget, that’s where you’ll be able to cut costs.

For example, if you’re a backpacker who plans on staying in dorm rooms, you can expect to spend $18 a night on accommodation, making your total daily costs around $50 a day .

Alternatively, if you’re part of a couple and staying in budget-to-mid-range guesthouses, you’ll be looking at $50 a night for accommodation, which will make your daily total costs $82 a day .

So what do you think? Is South Korea more or less expensive than you expected? Let me know in the comments below!

Lauren juliff.

Lauren Juliff is a published author and travel expert who founded Never Ending Footsteps in 2011. She has spent over 12 years travelling the world, sharing in-depth advice from more than 100 countries across six continents. Lauren's travel advice has been featured in publications like the BBC, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan, and her work is read by 200,000 readers each month. Her travel memoir can be found in bookstores across the planet.

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Thank you so much for sharing all your infos, they are always clear and straight to the point which makes it really handy, i have been reading you for a while and always enjoy, i am now doing a 3 months trip through bali, south korea and japan, and your infos on south korea are going to be usefull, once again, Lauren,thank you!

Thanks a lot for your excellent article Lauren! South Korea is much more affordable than I thought it was. And apparently there’s nature too :) We just decided against a South Africa trip this September due to the safely situation and power outages, but now adding South Korea to the wishlist for when the boy is a little older and traveling purely by public transport is more feasible.

We’ve been living in the SoKorea for almost 2 years now. A couple things …

* DMA/JSA tours ARE available through US military and USDoD-associated individuals have first dibs, but we booked the end of July as “general tourists” without an issue. These tours leave from right OUTside several US military bases in SoKorea, include lunch and are half the price of just DMZ tours from Seoul. There is a dress code, which is STRICTLY enforced.

* In regard to the language barrier. Many Koreans – especially “younger” generation Koreans – DO know English. They, as a whole, are EXTREMELY shy about using it, though. I have found most have excellent English skills – much better than my Korean skills!! Give grace here, folks. And, download the Papago app as EVERYONE (Koreans & foreigners) uses this to communicate. Don’t be shy – just Papago it!

* Korean phone number – during covid, you needed a Korean number to register at restaurants and retail shops for contact- tracing/tracking purposes. We haven’t been anywhere lately that required a Korean # to get a table or anything.

* For taxis, subway directions/maps, download Kakao – there are various Kakao apps – 1 for subway, 1 for taxis, etc.

* Credit cards – AMEX tends to work more places than my Chase or Citibank VISA cards. I carry a couple hundred kwon with me just in case my cc doesn’t work. If you have significant leftover kwon when you leave, I’d suggest looking for Americans at the airport and strike up a conversation – with so many US military bases here, there’s a good chance someone will buy your kwon off you at a reasonable exchange rate.

Thanks for all the extra information!

The language barrier wasn’t a criticism or complaint — just in case you interpreted it as one! I came across a few younger Koreans who spoke excellent English and I didn’t personally have any problems with the lack of English spoken. It was just a brief sidenote that after travelling to 100-odd countries, the language barrier was higher in South Korea than the vast majority of other places I’ve visited.

I used Papago and Naver and Kakao, etc while I was in the country, but as this is an article about the cost of travel, I didn’t want to turn it into a travel guide and add too much detail that was unrelated to the costs. I’ll definitely publish a more general travel guide over the coming months!

The Korean phone number thing wasn’t a reference to COVID contact tracing but rather that the popular restaurants operate waitlists — and to join those waitlists, you’ll sometimes be asked to give your phone number so that they can text/call/KakaoTalk you when your table is available. I had one restaurant turn me away because Dave wasn’t with me so I couldn’t give them a local number, and a couple of takeaway places, where you ordered from a screen, required a local number to confirm the order. I read about this on r/KoreaTravel ( example ) quite a bit before getting here — it wasn’t as bad as expected but it does still seem to be a good idea to get a local number just in case.

Good to know that AMEX works well — the one bank we don’t have accounts with! I’m not American so wasn’t sure if US cards would fare better than ours.

Great to see new articles again! Cant wait to hear what you have been up to!

Thanks so much! I’m relieved to see I still have readers after my extended break! Lots to share from the past year, but the biggest news is probably gaining my Australian permanent residency and setting up a new home base in Melbourne! Other than that, lots of travel in Southeast Asia, as always :-)

Hi! Thanks so much for this :) we are travelling in October to South Korea & Tokyo and I too have read about needing a korean number. Do you happen to know if you need a local number for Kakao app? Thank you!

Hi Lucy! Yes, you can use an international number to sign up for Kakao, but the app won’t let you add a credit or debit card. You’ll need to pay the driver directly with cash.

Just wanted to let you know I found this post incredibly helpful as I´m planning a South Korea trip for later this year! Great to have an idea of costs, and you´ve made me consider putting Jeju island on our itinerary (would mean cutting time in other countries on the way – still figuring it out!).

Thank you so much for all the info! I just have one more question: Do you happen to know of any budget travel agency that organizes Korean land tours for a week or so? I found a few, but the prices are rather high.

wow..learnt so much from your article. thanks a ton. planing a 4day trip to S.Korea and 4 days in Taiwan… do you have any info on taiwan? also is S.Korea clean and safe? Im planning to stay in Seoul. would love to know where i can do some clothes shopping……..also are there any night markets around?

Thanks so much for the detailed breakdown and recommendations. You really have broken it down very well. I hope to visit South Korea next year and will definitely take all this into consideration when planning. I am just wondering about which time of year is best to visit…

Hi Joy! Based on my own experiences, I really enjoyed visiting in late-May — perfect temperatures, blue skies, and not many tourists — and found October to be too cold for my liking.

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Cost of a Trip to South Korea & the Cheapest Time to Visit South Korea

The average price of a 7-day trip to South Korea is $1,452 for a solo traveler, $2,504 for a couple, and $1,084 for a family of 4 . South Korea hotels range from $45 to $202 per night with an average of $67, while most vacation rentals will cost $110 to $440 per night for the entire home. Average worldwide flight costs to South Korea (from all airports) are between $953 and $1,513 per person for economy flights and $2,992 to $4,751 for first class. Depending on activities, we recommend budgeting $34 to $69 per person per day for transportation and enjoying local restaurants.

See below for average , budget , and luxury trip costs. You can also look up flight costs from your airport for more tailored flight pricing.

The Cheapest Times to Visit South Korea

On average, these will be the cheapest dates to fly to South Korea and stay in a South Korea hotel:

  • January 8th to March 18th
  • August 20th to December 9th

The absolute cheapest time to take a vacation in South Korea is usually early September .

Average South Korea Trip Costs

Average solo traveler.

The average cost for one person to visit South Korea for a week is $1,109-$2,277 ($158-$325 per day)

Food, Travel, and Sightseeing : $34 to $69 per day for one person’s daily expenses

Flights : $535 to $1,308 for economy

Lodging : $56 to $74 per night for one 2 or 3-star hotel room

or $66 to $81 per night for a 1-bed vacation rental

Average Couple’s Trip

The average cost for a couple to visit South Korea for a week is $1,875-$4,068 ($268-$581 per day)

Food, Travel, and Sightseeing : $67 to $138 per day for two people’s daily expenses

Flights : $1,070 to $2,616 for economy

Average Family Vacation

The average cost for 4 people to visit South Korea for a week is $3,678-$8,060 ($525-$1,151 per day)

Food, Travel, and Sightseeing : $134 to $277 per day for four people’s daily expenses

Flights : $2,140 to $5,233 for economy

Lodging : $112 to $148 per night for two 2 or 3-star hotel rooms

or $100 to $120 per night for a 2-bed vacation rental

Traveling Cheap to South Korea

How cheap can you make a vacation to South Korea? The cheapest trip to South Korea is about $126 per person per day for travelers willing to take standby flights, deal with inconvenience, and otherwise limit travel expenses. About 5% of rentals are available in the $0 to $100 range for an entire place, and vacation rentals can be booked for as low as $16 per night. These inexpensive rentals must be booked as early as possible and may not be in the most desirable areas. 1-star hotels are more likely to be available, with rooms starting at around $38.

Even cheaper trips are possible depending on where you live and whether you can drive. Check the cheapest times to fly for more saving ideas.

Budget Solo Traveler

The lowest cost for one person to visit South Korea for a week is $882-$2,116 ($126-$302 per day)

Food, Travel, and Sightseeing : $17 to $34 per day for one person’s daily expenses

Lodging : $38 to $45 per night for one 1-star hotel room

or $66 to $95 per night for a 1-bed vacation rental

Budget Couple’s Trip

The lowest cost for a couple to visit South Korea for a week is $1,536-$3,662 ($219-$523 per day)

Food, Travel, and Sightseeing : $34 to $68 per day for two people’s daily expenses

Budget Family Vacation

The lowest cost for 4 people to visit South Korea for a week is $3,078-$7,037 ($440-$1,005 per day)

Food, Travel, and Sightseeing : $68 to $136 per day for four people’s daily expenses

Lodging : $77 to $90 per night for two 1-star hotel rooms

or $98 to $142 per night for a 2-bed vacation rental

Overall it is easy to travel to South Korea cheaply.

The Cost of a Luxury South Korea Trip

There is no true ceiling on the cost of a luxury trip, so our estimates are based on what most people do in South Korea.

Luxury Solo Traveler

The high-end price for one person to visit South Korea for a week is $2,421-$9,507 ($346-$1,358 per day)

Food, Travel, and Sightseeing : $68 to $138 per day for one person’s daily expenses

Flights : $1,333 to $3,303 for first class

Lodging : $102 to $202 per night for one 4 or 5-star hotel room

or $441 to $873 per night for a preferred vacation rental

Luxury Couple’s Trip

The high-end price for a couple to visit South Korea for a week is $4,229-$13,776 ($604-$1,968 per day)

Food, Travel, and Sightseeing : $136 to $276 per day for two people’s daily expenses

Flights : $2,665 to $6,606 for first class

Luxury Family Vacation

The high-end price for 4 people to visit South Korea for a week is $8,452-$24,942 ($1,207-$3,563 per day)

Food, Travel, and Sightseeing : $271 to $552 per day for four people’s daily expenses

Flights : $5,331 to $13,212 for first class

Lodging : $204 to $404 per night for two 4 or 5-star hotel rooms

or $666 to $1,311 per night for a preferred vacation rental

South Korea Hotel Prices

The cost of staying in South Korea is lower than the average city. On average hotels are less expensive than vacation rentals. Luxury vacation rentals are more expensive in South Korea due to very high property costs. The graphs below show how much cost can vary depending on the type of experience you’re looking for.

South Korea Lodging Cost by Star Status

The average price for the class of hotel is on the (y) axis. The hotel class (out of 5 stars) is on the (x) axis.

Prices are based on South Korea hotel averages and may not reflect current prices. In some cases, we extrapolate prices to estimate costs, and hotels with your desired star rating may not be available.

Vacation Rental Prices

The percent of vacation rentals in the price range is on the left (y) axis. Price range is on the bottom (x) axis.

There are a healthy amount of vacation rentals serving all budgets in South Korea.

Flight Costs to South Korea

Averaging flights around the world, prices go from a high of $1,513 average in mid December to a low of $953 in early September. Median flight price is $1,051. These prices are based on millions of flights. For South Korea our data includes thousands of originating airports, and hundreds of airlines. The area has average variance in price compared with other locations.

Average Flight Cost by Season

Average flight cost by day of week.

The cheapest day to fly in is typically Wednesday, and the cheapest day to fly back is usually Wednesday. Click here to see data for the cost of flights from your airport. In South Korea, the difference between the cheapest and the most expensive week is about $560, so you can easily save about 59% simply by using our free flight guides and booking in advance.

Daily Expenses Budget

Daily vacation expenses vary more based on what you’re interested in doing. A fine dining restaurant with drinks around South Korea can easily cost $255 per person or more, while a standard nice meal might be about $17 per person. Private tours can cost $510 per day, but self-guided tours to see the outdoor sights can be free. Costs vary wildly, so recommendations are made based on the cost of living and averages we see for this type of vacation.

Other South Korea Guides

Travel costs nearby.

  • Daejeon, South Korea
  • Geumsan, South Korea
  • Boeun, South Korea
  • Cheongju, South Korea
  • Nonsan, South Korea
  • Gongju, South Korea
  • Muju, South Korea
  • Wanju, South Korea
  • Goesan, South Korea
  • Cheonan, South Korea

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Home » Asia » Is South Korea Expensive? (Insider’s Guide for 2024)

Is South Korea Expensive? (Insider’s Guide for 2024)

South Korea is a fascinating place to visit. This East Asian nation is a whirlwind of food, culture, history, serene landscapes, and frenetic cities. One moment you could be touring the DMZ, the next kicking back on a beach on Jeju Island – safe to say this tiny country is absolutely loaded with adventure!

A dream is all good, but when it comes to the logistics of the trip, you have to ask yourself: Is South Korea expensive? Well, not necessarily!

Of course, we are all going to have different expenses based on our own circumstances when we hit the ground. But broadly speaking there are a few main categories to your budget, and tips and tricks to saving money in each of them. From food and accommodation to sightseeing and tipping culture, this guide has everything you need to plan an epic whirlwind of a trip to South Korea – all without breaking the bank.

korea travel cost

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So, How Much Does a Trip to South Korea Cost on Average?

Cost of flights to south korea, price of accommodation in south korea, cost of transport in south korea, cost of food in south korea, price of alcohol in south korea, cost of attractions in south korea, additional costs of travel in south korea, some final tips for saving money in south korea, so is south korea expensive, in fact.

So, the cost of a trip to South Korea depends on a whole load of different factors. First of all, there are the basics – accommodation and flights. Throw on top of that everything else – the sightseeing, transport, food, drink, even souvenirs, and things can really add up. That’s where budgeting comes into its own. You want to make sure you have adequate funds for getting through your epic adventure in South Korea !

korea travel cost

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Travel costs we list throughout this guide are estimates and are subject to change. Prices are listed in US Dollars (USD).

South Korea uses the South Korean Won (KRW). As of March 2021, the exchange rate is 1 USD = 1112.36 KRW.

See below for a handy table summarizing the general costs for a two-week trip to South Korea.

2 Weeks in South Korea Travel Costs

ESTIMATED EXPENSE : $490 – $1133 USD for a roundtrip ticket.

When it comes to answering how expensive is South Korea, flights will be a big part of your budget. Mostly, it depends on where in the world you’re flying from, and also when you are flying. During the high season (June, July) flights into the country are more expensive. The cheapest month to fly into South Korea is April.

South Korea’s main airport is Incheon International Airport (ICN), which is situated in the capital Seoul. Make sure to factor in transport to and from the airport into the cost of your trip to South Korea. Some hotels may offer complimentary shuttles, otherwise prepare to pay for public transport or a taxi.

Here’s a rundown of the average costs of flying to South Korea from a selection of worldwide transport hubs:

  • New York to Incheon International Airport: 490 – 1054 USD
  • London to Incheon International Airport 590 – 720 GBP
  • Sydney to Incheon International Airport: 854 – 1,334 AUD
  • Vancouver to Incheon International Airport: 865 – 1,432 CAD

If you think that’s expensive, don’t sweat it! You can fly into South Korea more cheaply by using online services like Skyscanner . This allows you to scroll through various deals, last-minute bargains, and early-bird tickets, too.

Another tip: the cheapest option is often the longest! Yes, that means multiple connecting flights, but if you’ve got the time, the savings can do wonders for your budget and you will be able to hit the ground with more coin in yuor pocket!

ESTIMATED EXPENSE: $9 – $80 USD per night

So you want to know how expensive is South Korea? Well, I’m going to let you in on a secret – South Korea is a very inexpensive destination! Accommodation in South Korea is not expensive (unlike Japan, which it is often conflated with). And the digs are good quality for the price too – just because it’s cheap, doesn’t mean it’s sub-par.

You can expect to find every accommodation type across South Korea – hostels, urban Airbnbs, and all manner of hotels. There’s something to suit everyone! If you’re on a shoestring, or on your own, pop on into a hostel. If you have it in your budget to splurge a little, there will be something incredible here too!

But how do each of these options fit in with your budget? Good question. Let’s get into the details of each of them now. 

Hostels in South Korea

There is a sizeable selection of hostels in South Korea. More often than not, they’re the cheapest option going, as is the case in other countries. But don’t expect to find them everywhere – outside of the big cities like Busan and Seoul they are few and far between.

The cheapest hostels in South Korea cost as low as $10 per night.

Along with those wallet-friendly prices, hostels are packed with other perks. With communal kitchens and common rooms, they tend to lean towards being sociable places, hubs for international travellers exploring this East Asian nation. Free breakfasts, evening events, and walking tours put on by staff make them valuable for backpackers.

cheap places to stay in South Korea

(If you’re already sold, check out our guide to the best hostels in South Korea !)

Here are a few of the top hostels in South Korea to inspire your trip:

  • Seoul Cube Itaewon – This cool hostel in Seoul boasts female dorms, male dorms, and free breakfast among its many perks. Add to this its location just two minutes’ stroll from Itaewon Station, and it’s a solid option.
  • Insa Hostel Insadong – A backpacker-friendly hangout, Insa Hostel Insadong has colorful interiors and a rooftop terrace where you can mingle with other guests over drinks on a backdrop of city views. Breakfast is included.
  • INNO Guesthouse and Bar Hongdae – One major perk of this hostel is that it comes with its very own on-site pub, which is a great place to meet fellow travellers. Dorms are clean and spacious.

Airbnbs in South Korea

Airbnbs are plentiful in South Korea. Unlike hostels, you’ll find them everywhere – and often, they’ll be situated in modern apartments in high-rise buildings. A lot of the time they’re fairly compact, but they come packed with all you need to enjoy a very local stay almost anywhere in the country.

They can be priced as a low as $20 per night.

Privacy is a big part of staying in an Airbnb anywhere in the world. The independence afforded by staying in an actual apartment as opposed to a hotel (or hostel) is highly valued too, and a kitchen to cook your own meals in keeps costs low. Plus, they’re often in areas that other accommodation isn’t , meaning you get a more authentic experience of the place you’re visiting. What’s not to like?

South Korea accommodation prices

Here are some of our favourite Airbnbs in South Korea:

  • Beautiful Apartment in Hongdae – This is a cosy, homely kind of apartment that’s perfect for a solo traveler or a couple. Decorated in warm, relaxing colors, it comes with its own kitchen and laundry facilities for extra convenience.
  • Bright Modern Apartment – Bright and contemporary furnishings mingle with whitewashed walls and wooden floors for a stylish stay. In addition, it’s close to bars and restaurants.
  • Charming City Apartment – With enough room to sleep up to four guests, this studio apartment is ideal for small groups or a couple. It comes with a compact kitchen and all the amenities you’ll need for a comfortable stay.

Hotels in South Korea

While the most expensive accommodation option in South Korea, they’re still relatively cheap. In fact, you can enjoy a stay in a modern, mid-range hotel in Seoul for around $50. That’s a bargain compared with many other countries! In other cities within the country, you can expect even cheaper room rates.

Hotels can be the way to stay in style in South Korea. You won’t have to lift a finger, thanks to housekeeping, concierge services, complimentary breakfasts, and on-site amenities like gyms and restaurants. If you thought traveling in South Korea cheaply meant missing out on hotel stays, think again!

cheap hotels in South Korea

Here are some of the top hotels in South Korea:

  • GLAD Mapo – This contemporary hotel is situated right in front of Gongdeok Station in Seoul. Guests here can enjoy convenience and comfort, thanks to the onsite fitness center and bar.
  • Tong Tong Petit Hotel – Boasting a bar and garden, this hotel offers a selection of different rooms to suit travelers’ needs, and all at a budget-friendly price.
  • Metro Hotel Myeongdong – A modern hotel with polished rooms, Metro Hotel Myeongdong has a fitness center, outdoor terrace, and is a stone’s throw from a metro station.

Jjimjilbang in South Korea

If you wanted to stay somewhere a little more authentic, look no further than this jjimjilbang. Translating literally as “steamed-quality room” these bathhouses are a one-stop-shop for food, accommodation, and a spa experience.

Often multi-level, these 24-hour spa resort complexes boast swimming pools, baths, saunas, bars, computer rooms, and restaurants – you name it. Sleeping in a jjimjilbang is definitely unique, and a bargain too, costing as little as $13 per night (though rooms are communal).

korea travel cost

Despite the budget-friendly prices, they’re often glossy and polished, but don’t expect them all to be up to scratch. And note – they can’t be booked in advance.

Here are a few of the top jimjilbang in South Korea:

  • Dragon Hill Spa – A famous spa in Seoul, this jjimjilbang is spread across eight floors and boasts various recreation facilities, including a movie theater, fitness center, and restaurants. The sleeping floor is spacious; the all-inclusive nightly rate is $30.
  • Spa Lei – With its welcoming atmosphere, this place really is cheap (around $14 per night). It’s located in Seoul’s upscale Gangnam and boasts multiple sleeping areas.
  • Riverside Spa Land – This more traditional jjimjilbang is situated right next to Dong Seoul Bus Station, making it easy for arrivals and departures. It costs around $6 dollars to use the facilities (including sleeping).

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ESTIMATED EXPENSE : $0 – $10.00 USD per day

South Korea is a relatively small country – around 100,000 square kilometers. That means you can comfortably traverse its relatively small area during a 2-week trip.

Transport in South Korea is not expensive either. That combined with its fairly compact size means adventuring is a very viable option, even on a shoestring budget. You can choose from affordable high-speed trains, and even more affordable intercity buses, to get you from A to B.

Then once you’re in the cities, you can use cheap metro (or bus) networks to get around.

All in all, public transport in South Korea is comprehensive, budget-friendly, and really opens up the country beyond its much-touted cities. Now let’s take a more detailed look at how each of those transport options works out.

Train Travel in South Korea

South Korea has a pretty excellent train network, but it isn’t always the most extensive. Used for long-distance travel around the country, trains in South Korea are safe, comfortable, and most definitely affordable.

cheap train travel in South Korea

There are various options to suit your budget and schedule. KTX refers to high-speed express trains, ITX are regular train services, and KORAIL offers trains run for tourists.

The fare you pay depends on how far you travel and what type of the above train services you use. For example, KTX trains are 40% more expensive overall than regular ITX trains.

Booking in advance gets you a discount – trains are also cheaper by 15% if you travel Monday to Friday. Standing tickets called ipseokpyo are 15-30% cheaper than assigned seat tickets, depending on the route – you’re still allowed to sit in an empty seat using an ipseokpyo , however.

You may want to consider the KORAIL Pass, allowing for unlimited rail travel across South Korea (including KTX/ITX services) within selected time blocks. These include:

  • 3 days: $100
  • 5 days: $150
  • 7 days: $174

There’s also the option to select either two or four-day KORAIL Passes to be used within a 10-day window, giving you more flexibility. Those aged 13-25 get a 13% discount.

Bus Travel in South Korea

Bus travel in South Korea is very affordable. The network of long-distance buses connects every town and city in the country, and reaches areas that the trains don’t go.

how to get around South Korea cheap

These long-distance buses are frequent, leaving every 15-30 minutes from large, well-organized bus stations. In smaller towns, they’re more likely to leave/arrive hourly. 

It’s easy to just turn up at a bus station and buy a ticket on your day of travel. Simply go to the window and state your destination.

Express buses ( ilban ) are the quickest ways to get between larger cities. Expressways even have dedicated bus lanes to reduce delays. Buses almost always leave on time, and are pretty speedy to say the least.

There are also udeung . These “superior” buses have three separate seats across, as opposed to the regular two pairs of seats in ilban . You’ll have to pay around 40-50% more for the privilege, however.

A ticket for an hour-long journey on a regular express bus will cost approximately $3.60. It’s unlikely that you’ll pay any more than $10 for a single bus journey (unless you opt for an udeung service).

Getting around cities in South Korea

City transport in South Korea is affordable and extensive, allowing you to get around cheaply. For one thing, six of its big cities have their own metro networks – in all cases, they’re affordable and convenient. These are Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, Gwangju, and Incheon.

is transport in South Korea expensive_2

The average cost for a single ride on any of these subways is approximately $1.60. 

Then there are city buses. Frequent and budget-friendly, a single ride costs $1.10 for one trip (no matter how far you travel). Make sure you have the correct fare though, as the machines on buses don’t give change.

Taxis are ubiquitous and inexpensive in South Korea, and practically make up part of any given city’s public transport network. A regular taxi ( ilban ) costs around $3 for the first two kilometres.

Like the metro and bus services, you can use a prepaid contactless travel card to pay for your journeys in taxis. The main one is the T-Money card. It gives you around a $0.09 discount on every trip and costs $2.70 to purchase.

Renting a Car in South Korea

Driving in South Korea is not recommended, especially if it’s your first time visiting. The country’s public transport will have you in most places you’ll want to visit without any hassle.

Plus, the roads can be pretty hair-raising at times, too – it seems like everyone’s in a big rush to get wherever they’re going!

renting a car in South Korea

Even if you want to drive, and you’re an experienced driver, it’s not the most economic way to get around. The standard rate for a standard car is around $60 per day – compared with the cost of long-distance bus travel, it’s very expensive.

Insurance is compulsory and costs around $10 a day .

On top of that, you’ll also have to pay tolls to use the expressways, which makes renting a car in South Korea even less of a budget option. 

The cost of petrol in South Korea is around $1.32 per liter, diesel about $1.14.

Rental costs do get cheaper if you rent the car over multiple days, but not by much. Renting a car in advance may also yield discounts. In conclusion, however, renting a car is not a good way to travel around South Korea cheaply.

Want to save some cash and explore South Korea by rental car? Use to find the best deal possible. There are some great prices on the site and they aren’t difficult to find.


Whether it’s grabbing some street food, or dining on high-end multi-course extravaganzas, food is always a centerpiece to life in South Korea.

Korean food revolves around bap (rice) and a variety of banchan (side dishes), as well as soup and the ubiquitous kimchi. Expect big, bold flavors with plenty of garlic and chili, soy sauce, hot chili paste, and fermented soybean paste.

cost of travel to South Korea

And for the most part, food is not expensive in South Korea. Unless you’re trying so-called royal cuisine, it’s affordable up and down the country. Make sure you don’t miss out on:

  • Korean Barbecue – Now popular all over the world, Korean barbecue is a lively way to enjoy food in South Korea. Cook yourself an array of meats served up alongside vegetables and side dishes. Can be enjoyed for as little as $11 per person.
  • Bibimbap – The country’s most famous rice dish, bibimbap consists of rice, vegetables, egg, and sometimes meat, served up in a hot stone bowl with lashings of gochujang (chili paste). One bowl can cost as low as $5.
  • Dakgalbi – Delicious dakgalbi is a spicy concoction of chicken and tteok (rice cakes), as well a variety of other ingredients thrown in depending on the establishment – even cheese. This can cost around $8.

Keep the cost of your trip to South Korea even lower with these foodie tips:

  • Look for noodle joints – Noodles are cheap and plentiful in South Korea. They serve up things like nangmyeon (buckwheat noodles) served in a cold broth, popular in the summertime. Noodle joints are honestly everywhere and offer bowls for as little as $2.50.
  • Street Food – You can sample an array of delights through Korean street food. This means anything from snacks at $0.50 to full-on meals for $1.80.
  • Opt for a buffet – This is a great way to eat a lot, try a lot, and not pay very much for the privilege. These are all-you-can-eat and offer different combinations – for Korean hotpot or barbecue, it’s around $13.

Where to Eat Cheaply in South Korea

Eating out in South Korea is normal. It’s a national pastime. Usually done with a bottle of soju (rice vodka) on the side, dining takes hours and is a big social event. A visit to South Korea would not be complete without enjoying this gastronomic scene.

cheap places to eat in South Korea

Joining in doesn’t have to cost the world. In fact, eating out in South Korea isn’t that expensive. There are a lot of options for budget-minded travelers, including these hotspots:

  • Look for orange tents : Called pojangmacha , these roadside eateries might look a bit ropey, but honestly, they’re amazing. Usually bright orange (sometimes blue), all you do is duck in, pull up a chair, and point to something. They’re usually quite rowdy with plenty of alcohol-induced silliness.
  • Discover Isaacs Toast: Not all Korean food is “traditional”, as evidenced by its wide-reaching chain of toasted sandwich stores, Isaacs Toast. Combos of cheese, sausagemeat, bacon, eggs, potato, and chicken, are served hot, dripping with sauce, between toasted bread. Super inexpensive and a great hangover cure to boot.
  • Korean meal sets: Set meals are a big deal in South Korea. Head to side streets and food courts alike and there’ll be places serving these. For around $5, you get a bowl of rice, soup, and various banchan .

Eating out may be cheap in South Korea, but sometimes cooking meals for yourself is even more affordable. If you feel like rustling up some grub, here are some great spots to pick up fresh ingredients:

  • Lotte Mart: This big chain of supermarkets and department stores can be found all over the country. They sell a wide range of groceries, international food, and even clothes and electronics.
  • E-mart: One of the largest retailers and oldest supermarket chains in South Korea, E-mart stocks everything from coffee and seaweed to cosmetics and alcohol. They also serve a load of Western brands if you’re missing home comforts.


Like eating, drinking is a big part of socialising in South Korea. And not just “normal” drinking, but drinking quite heavily is a regular part of Korean social life. On any given weekend, bars and barbecue restaurants overflow with friends enjoying copious amounts of soju and beer to wash down sizzling slices of beef and pork belly.

So, as you may be imagining, South Korea is not expensive for alcohol.

how much does alcohol cost in South Korea

Whether it’s a restaurant, a trendy bar, or a boisterous streetside drinking den, chances are the alcohol is going to be relatively cheap.

A glass of Cass (the local beer) will cost you between $2.70 and $4.50. For a craft beer, expect to pay more – between $4 and $6. Cocktails cost upwards of $6.

Happy hours aren’t much of a thing, but a good option to enjoy some inexpensive drinks is to go to a Hof. These German-inspired establishments serve inexpensive fried snacks and draft beer for around $2.60. 

Here are some beverages to stick to if you like bargain prices:

  • Soju – You must try this if you like your beverages. This rice (or potato)-based drink is super popular, super alcoholic, and super cheap. It’s sold in 0.36-liter green bottles that’ll cost you between $2.60 and $4 in a bar, but as little as $1.30 in a convenience store.
  • South Korean Beer – Local brands of beer include Cass, Max, and Hite. These can be picked up in supermarkets for around $2. If you really love beer, you should try out South Korea’s burgeoning craft beer scene.

A very cheap way to drink in South Korea is to join the locals at seating areas outside 24-hour convenience stores (pyeonuijeom). We’re not joking – this is actually a thing. Pick up a bottle of cheap soju or low-cost beer and enjoy the ambience!

ESTIMATED EXPENSE : $0-$25 USD per day

South Korea has an array of attractions to keep you entertained during your trip. From the charming centuries-old palaces in the capital city to historic villages in Jeonju and sleepy seaside in Jeju .

As well as cultural attractions, there are other fascinating sights where you can learn more about the South Korea of today. These include the DMZ, a multitude of museums, fish markets in Busan, and modern-day city districts, like the Cheonggyecheon – a beautified river district in Seoul.

Thankfully, the cost of attractions in South Korea is pretty cheap. Entry into museums – such as the National Museum of Korea – ranges from free to as little as $5. Elsewhere, many of the historic sites are free to enter – you can even peer into South Korea’s imperial past at Changdeokgung Palace for $2.70.

hiking around South Korea mountains in cloud

There’s plenty of free activities too, try the following: 

  • Hiking – Hiking is uber-popular in South Korea. With seemingly countless mountains with well-marked trails and amazing views (often boasting historic and cultural sites, too), it’s no wonder that hiking is viewed as an unofficial national sport.
  • Hanok villages – Often free of charge, these renovated historic villages featuring hanok (traditional wooden houses) are amazing to explore. One example is Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul, which boasts around 900 houses to wander around freely.

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Now that you’ve got the basics of your budget figured out, you may think that you’re ready to take your hard-earned cash to South Korea and adventure for a couple of weeks. Well, that’s almost true, but there are still more financial factors to bear in mind.

Is South Korea safe to live

Unexpected costs are just that – unexpected. You may want to buy a book, a touristy T-shirt, a map, a souvenir, some medicine, or simply pay for luggage storage. It could be anything . Factoring around 10% of your original budget for such expenses should cover you though, thus preventing unforeseen purchases to eat into your allowance.

Tipping in South Korea

Tipping is just not the done thing in South Korea. Much like in Japan, tipping is not part of the culture in South Korea and is therefore not expected.

In fact, if you tried to leave a tip on a table in a restaurant in South Korea, it would, most likely, be returned to you. 

In some restaurants, however, they will accept a tip. These are usually more Western-oriented establishments. And in upscale restaurants, there may be a 10% service charge included in your bill.

Though it is not uncommon for some South Koreans to outright refuse a tip, generally the more high-end the establishment – and the more “used” to Westerners it is – the more likely it is that they will accept a tip.

In hotels, for example, you can offer money to bellboys if you receive a high level of service. When it comes to tour guides, offering a gift is a more culturally approved way to show your appreciation.

It is not customary to tip in taxis either, so just pay the amount on the meter.

Get Travel Insurance for South Korea

If you’re truly a fan of budget travel , then take note of these additional money-saving tips to help you travel around South Korea cheap:

  • Get out into nature – Whether it’s hiking in South Korea’s many mountains, as the older generations of love to do here, or if it’s more watery activities like snorkelling, nature is free. Even if there are costs involved (in travel or equipment rental), exploring South Korea’s natural world is very affordable and very rewarding.
  • Use intercity buses – These are crazy cheap. They may be hair-raising at times, but because of that, you’ll often be where you need to be quicker than you’d expect! In all seriousness though, if you want to save money and travel around South Korea, buses are where it’s at.
  • Go couchsurfing – Couchsurfing is a social experience for any traveler looking to meet locals and learn about their country through their hosts. There is a surprising number of these in South Korea’s cities, and using Couchsurfing is a very budget-friendly option, but we realise it’s not for everyone.
  • Eat street food – When you’re hungry, opt for street eats. This is a very normal thing to eat in South Korea. You can spend your time just wandering around, filling up on various tasty snacks from food stalls for a snip of a restaurant meal.
  • Have a water bottle : Don’t waste money on plastic, bottled waters; carry your own and refill it in the fountains and the tap. If you’re worried about potable water, get a filtered bottle, like the GRAYL, which filters out 99% of viruses and bacteria.
  • Earn money while you travel: Teaching English while traveling is a great way to make ends meet! If you find a sweet gig, you may even end up living in South Korea.
  • Become a volunteer with Worldpackers: Give back to the local community and, in exchange, you’re room and board will often be covered. It’s not always free, but it’s still a cheap way to travel in South Korea.

korea travel cost

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Not at all. South Korea is not expensive. Flights taking up the vast majority of your budget. Once you’re on the ground, you’ll marvel at just how budget-friendly this East Asian nation is. 

You don’t have to stay put, either – the relatively low cost of pretty much everything makes traveling around and actually seeing the country easy on the wallet too.

wts in seoul

We’re ending with a round-up of the best tips to keep the costs of your trip to South Korea even lower:

  • Go where locals go – There are various places throughout South Korea where locals congregate to drink, play music and generally hang out. These can consist of tables and chairs outside convenience stores, or it can be situated along a stretch of coastline – Haeundae Beach in Busan, for example. Grab a bottle or two of soju and join in!
  • Enjoy jjimjilbangs – Possibly more value for money than hostels (and definitely more of a “local” experience), jjimjilbangs have affordable accommodation that includes access to a range of spa amenities. A game-changer for budget travel.
  • Hike – Hiking is all the rage in South Korea. If you’re stuck for things to do, simply head out into the mountains and hills surrounding its cities for a breath of fresh air, exercise, and awesome views.
  • Get buses – We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, buses are super cheap in South Korea. They make the cost of getting around pretty much negligible to your budget, which means you can make a whirlwind tour of the country on a two-week trip. Also, like almost everything in Korea, they are very safe.
  • Hit up convenience stores – These have cheap very Korean snacks, cheap coffee, and cheap alcohol, and they’re everywhere. Any budget-minded traveller should definitely get involved.

With our money-saving tips, you can travel South Korea on a budget between $30 to $75 USD per day.

Before you go, check out our essential packing list . Forgetting something important means having to buy it when you’re in South Korea, which isn’t ideal for your overall travel costs!

korea travel cost

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The Sunrise Dreamers

10 Best South Korea Budget Tips + Travel Costs (2024)

Are you wondering how much a trip to South Korea will cost? Here’s our in-depth travel guide on the 10 best South Korea budget tips you should know before your trip. We’ll show you how to plan your South Korea travel costs and many ways to make your trip more budget-friendly. We also share all of our costs for a 2 week trip to Korea from accommodation and snacks to transport and activities.

South Korea is ultimately one of the best countries we’ve travelled to. The country blew us away with its beautiful culture, rich history and delicious food.

Have you been wondering if South Korea is expensive to visit? Depending on the prices of your home country, it’s really not too bad. Compared to the UK it is much more affordable and it’s even slightly less expensive than beloved Japan!

We’ve created this budget guide to share our South Korea travel costs of travelling the country for 2 weeks. We visited Seoul, Gyeongju, Golgulsa Templestay, Busan and Jeonju!

Honestly, we had a great time and can’t wait to go back in the future and we’ll probably still stick to a budget. For now, we’ll show you that South Korea can be done on a budget and what travel costs you can expect.

10 Best South Korea Budget Tips + Travel Costs (2023)

This post may contain affiliate links. We will receive a small commission if you make a purchase using these links, at no additional cost to you .

10 Best South Korea Budget Tips

Table of Contents (Skip to a section!)

Here are our top 10 South Korea Budget tips to help you plan the best trip! After these tips, you’ll find our full South Korea travel cost breakdown split into separate categories.

1. Swap Restaurants for Markets & Street Food

One of the best ways to travel to South Korea on a budget is to choose your food carefully. The price to eat somewhere in South Korea is very reasonable, but some places will be expensive too.

Throughout our 2 weeks in South Korea we ate our food at restaurants, markets, street stalls, convenience stores and grocery stores ! It definitely helps the bank to cook your own food and you can try the endless supply of ramyeon!

Places to eat in South Korea on a budget

  • Myeongdong Street Food (Seoul)
  • Maru – Budget-friendly Korean street food in the heart of Insadong (Seoul)
  • Gwangjang Market – Our favourite! (Seoul)
  • Haeundae Market (Busan)
  • Gwangbokdong Food Street (Busan)
  • Fast-food chains – Places like Lotteria, No Brand Burger and Subway

We highly recommend visiting Gwangjang Market whilst visiting Seoul. Grab a mung bean pancake, bibimbap and dumplings and you’ll be very full ( this food will feed two people )!

A few Korean dishes to try to keep your South Korea travel costs low:

  • Ramyeon (The easiest food to grab at a convenience store)  1,500 ₩
  • Bibimbap (Very popular with a variety of toppings)  6,000 ₩
  • Gimbap (Korean Sushi, you can find these everywhere)! around 2,000 ₩
  • Mandu (Korean Dumplings) 5,000 ₩
  • Tteok-bokki (Spicy & saucy Rice Cakes) 3,000 ₩

You’ll be surprised by how good the food is in the convenience stores in South Korea. Locals grab food from here all the time and it’s perfect for those in South Korea on a budget.

If there are some restaurants you’d like to try, just add that to your budget and eat at convenience stores the next day. International and Western food will also usually cost more than Korean, but Korean food is very good!

Osegye Hyang is our favourite traditional Korean restaurant with affordable prices. We’ve even created a Vegan in South Korea Guide – Best Restaurants & Snacks (2024) !

Note – There is no tipping culture in South Korea. It’s likely the staff will kindly decline your tip! This is common throughout East Asia.

Eat at markets if you're visiting South Korea on a budget

2. Stay in Budget Accommodation in South Korea

Accommodation can take up a big part of your South Korea travel budget. Especially if you choose amazing hotels! Although it’s nice to feel comfortable, maybe take the time to look at some other options before spending more than your budget.

Hostels and small private rooms are going to be the most affordable places to stay in South Korea. Most hostels offer private rooms that are still cheaper than hotels.

It’s really down to preference, but we didn’t stay in one bad accommodation on our South Korea trip and we stayed in private rooms!

Hostels usually cost around 25,000₩ per person with male, female or mixed dorms available. A private room in a hoste l is around 40,000₩ per room and hotels are usually 70,000₩ or more!

Where to stay in South Korea on a budget

  • Seoul  –  Hostel Tommy  – A lovely hostel with dorms & private rooms! –  Find here on !
  • Seoul – Kimstay 9 – Basic private rooms! – Find here on !
  • Busan  –  Dynamic Guesthouse  – A shared penthouse with great views –  Find here on !
  • Gyeongju  –  Doobaki Guesthouse – The best hostel in South Korea! –  Find here on !

There are also a few ways to get free accommodation in South Korea :

  • Couchsurfing – Stay in a local house, for free! Find out more here !
  • Workaway – Exchange work/volunteering for free accommodation and food!
  • Worldpackers – Volunteer for free accommodation and food!
  • Trusted Housesitters – Look after a locals pet whilst they’re out of town

It’s also important to note that accommodation will be more expensive in the peak time of year such as the Cherry Blossom season, spring and fall. Winter is usually the cheapest time to visit South Korea on a budget.

Accommodation in South Korea (this one is a Hanok stay)!

3. Do you need a Sim Card in South Korea?

When you start to Google about sim cards or wifi in South Korea, there’s a lot of information telling you to get one! We agree, but it’s definitely possible to travel the country without one.

We have a solution to help your South Korea budget. Pick up an E-Sim for 15,000₩ ! (€10.99 for 12 days)

E-sims are the perfect option if you only need internet or mobile data. You don’t even need to buy them in advance like other sims or wifis.

As we visited South Korea for 2 weeks, we purchased our sim on Day 3 of our trip. This made us realise how much easier it is to have the internet on the go, but luckily Seoul is a very easy place to get around and we downloaded offline Maps.

If there’s more than one of you, it’s also possible to hotspot the E-sim data from one phone, although you’ll have to check your data allowance! The instructions come with the E-sim, but you simply install it into your phone settings. The customer service team answer quickly if you have any problems!

There’s also some great deals if you do need a Korean phone number. Here’s a few other options ranging in price:

E-Sim  – Here’s a  12 Day E-Sim (15,000₩, €10.99 for 12 days and 6gb of data)

Prepaid Sim  – Purchase ahead of time and pick up at the airport. This sim has a Korean number! The price changes depending on how long you need it. Find  a sim card on Klook here ! (£15 for 10 days)

Portable Wifi  – The most expensive option is portable Wifi and this is usually what travellers get if they’re not worried about their South Korea travel costs. Find a  portable Wifi on Klook here ! (£20 for 10 days) Also, pick it up at the airport.

It’s also a good idea to carry around a  portable charger  for your phone so you always have enough battery to last the day. We recommend  Anker Power Bank and just charge it up every few days if you’ve been using it a lot.

Travelling South Korea on a budget

4. Use Buses to get around South Korea on a Budget

The transport in South Korea is some of the best in the world! It’s reliable, well connected and quite affordable considering how good it is.

If you want to stick to your travel budget in South Korea, we recommend catching Intercity and Express Buses around South Korea. They are so comfy and you can book your seats in advance.

Here’s the prices we paid for transport around South Korea on a budget

  • KTX (Fast Train) Seoul to Gyeongju – 2 hours – 49,000₩ (£32)
  • Express Bus – Gyeongju to Busan – 45 minutes – 5,000₩ (£3.30)
  • Express Bus – Busan to Jeonju – 3 hours – 25,000₩ (£16.40)
  • Express bus – Jeonju to Seoul – 2.5 hours – 14,000₩ (£9.20)

The buses from Seoul to Gyeongju will take around 4-5 hours and usually cost around 22,000₩ £46.40 . We took a train as we wanted to arrive in Gyeongju early and also wanted to experience a train in South Korea as we only used buses in Japan.

If you want to add Jeju Island to your South Korea travel costs, then it’s best to book a flight from Seoul or Busan. The ferries are often more expensive and they will take longer.

It’s possible to book trains in advance, but you can only book buses in advance if you have a Korean number. We booked our bus tickets as soon as we arrived at a new destination, usually booking them 2-3 days in advance.

Express & Intercity Buses  – Have a look at bus times on the official Korean website – Kobus tickets

Trains  – Book your train tickets in advance here – Korail tickets here (or a Korea Rail Pass )

Flights  – Flights to Jeju Island from Seoul or Busan –  Check Skyscanner  for flight times and prices !

Bukchon Hanok Village

5. Get a T-Money card

This is another great way to stick to your South Korea budget. A T-Money card is a discounted transport card that works all over South Korea in cities and towns. It’s for local transport to each destination, not for long bus journeys.

Using a T-Money card is not just about saving money, but saving time too! You won’t need to purchase a local ticket every time you use the bus or subway. Simply tap your card when you get on and off transport and you’ll be good to travel around South Korea!

A T-Money Card costs 2,500 ₩ . There’s also tourist cards and designed cards that cost 4,000₩

How to get a T-Money Card?

T-Money cards are available to purchase at the airport, at major stations and convenience stores (such as CU, GS25, 7-Eleven and Ministop).

How to top up my T-Money Card?

You can only top up a T-Money card with cash and not by debit or credit card. Make sure you grab money out of an ATM if you arrive in South Korea without Korean Won! Here’s how you can top up using cash:

  • At Convenience Stores! Hand your card over, give the employee the cash and it’s all done!
  • Some other local newsstands or shops offer top-ups. Look out for the T-Money logo!
  • At major stations, find a ticket machine and choose how much you want to add to your card. The machines can be changed to English!

Gamcheon Culture Village - Free!

6. Use Local Buses and Subway instead of Taxis

Local buses are always the most affordable way to travel around any city and it’s the same with South Korea. However, the subway is also very budget-friendly too!

As the transport is well connected, you won’t need to use taxis anyway! The best way to feel comfortable about using public transport in South Korea is to download the app – Naver Maps . Google Maps doesn’t work in South Korea, so it’s best to use the local navigation app!

It costs 1,250₩ to use the Subway in South Korea which is £0.82p ! For reference, in London, it costs £2.60 to take one journey. We used subways and buses all around Seoul, Gyeongju, Busan and Jeonju without any issues! Naver Maps is perfect with timing and where to go.

7. Shop at Convenience Stores

One of the best South Korea budget tips is to eat and shop at the convenience store! Food and meals are well priced and you can usually heat the food inside the shop too! It makes travelling around South Korea on a budget so much easier!

The tax in South Korea is included in the price, so you don’t have to worry about extra prices at the checkout (like in Canada or the US).

Our favourite convenience store snacks are Ramyeon, Lotus Biscuits, Chocolate Soy Milk (it’s okay to laugh), Japanese Onigiri and Frozen dumplings (to add to your Ramyeon back in a hostel kitchen).

There are plenty of lunches to find in convenience stores based around rice or noodles. The best part is convenience stores are everywhere!

Onigiri at 7/11

8. Make use of the Free Things To Do

This South Korea budget tip may be obvious – activities don’t always have to cost money. There are so many free things to do around the country and some of them are highlights of our trip! Here’s a list of great things to do for free if you’re in South Korea on a budget.

Seoul – A city filled with unique neighbourhoods, hikes and parks. There are so many free things to do in Seoul to help your South Korea budget. Check out our 5 Day Seoul Itinerary !

  • Explore neighbourhoods such as Insa-dong, Ikseon-dong, Myeongdong, Hongdae, Itaewon & Gangnam
  • Walk around the beautiful Bukchon Village & Ihwa Mural Village
  • Feel the nature at Namsan Park

Gyeongju – Some of the best things to do in Gyeongju are free! Browse our 11 Best Things to do in Gyeongju: Itinerary (2024) ! Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Admire Woljeonggyo Bridge, Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond
  • Visit Cheomseongdae & Gyerim Forest 
  • Window shop in Hwangnidan-Gil & explore the Hanok Village

Busan – Another great city for finding budget-friendly activities! We also have a 3 day Busan Itinerary !

  • Gamcheon Culture Village (yes it’s free!) & watch the sunset at Lotte Department Building
  • Walk along the Igidae Coastal Walk & relax at Haeundae Beach
  • Discover Nampo-dong & Haedong Yonggung Temple

Jeonju – Walk through the famous Hanok village and check out the murals, markets and shrines!

  • Explore Jeonju Hanok Village & Jaman Mural Village
  • Walk through Nambu Market & visit Gyeonggijeon Shrine
  • See the views from Omokdae

Jeju Island – Filled with natural wonders, Jeju is filled with free things to do. You’ll just need transport to get around!

Namsan Park - Free things to do in South Korea on a budget

9. Use Klook to Save Money on Activities

Klook is one of the best companies to book activities, tours and things to do in South Korea. It’s similar to GetYourGuide, but Klook is used more in Asia. We’ve used this website in South Korea and Japan to buy discounted tickets such as Disneyland, Seoul Tower and Hanbok rentals .

It’s also a great place to find sim card or portable wifi deals! When using Klook, you can easily book your activity in advance and sometimes there’s an option to pick up the ticket at the airport on arrival.

Activities to buy on Klook in South Korea:

  • Seoul Tower – Go to the top of Seoul Tower in Namsan Park – Buy your ticket in advance!  
  • Hanbok Rental – ( Gyeongbokgung Palace  as it’s the perfect size to explore and there’s a great rental shop nearby!  Find the link on Klook here –  Hanbok Rental Klook
  • DMZ Tour – Visit part of North Korea – Book tickets with Klook here !
  • Korea Rail Pass – If you decide to use the train, consider a rail pass – Here’s more info !
  • Everland 1 Day Pass – One of South Korea’s theme parks – Buy your tickets here !
  • Nami Island – Take a trip to Nami Island from Seoul – Find out more info here !

Staying in a temple is another fantastic activity that can’t be missed on your South Korea trip! It can be booked on Korea’s temple stay website ! Also, check out our Golgulsa Templestay Review !

Hanbok Rental using Klook

10. Travel Off Peak

If you’re planning your travel budget for South Korea, one of the first steps is to figure out which time of year you want to visit.

The most popular time to visit South Korea is between April and May due to the beautiful cherry blossom season. Prices for accommodation and flights will most likely be more expensive and it will also book up fast. There will be more tourists and locals around, especially in the parks.

If you’re travelling to South Korea on a budget, it may be best to avoid these months and visit off-peak.

The off-peak months to travel to South Korea are January, February, late October , November and early March. If you can find good deals on flights and good accommodation prices outside of these months, then go for it! January is usually the cheapest month to travel as it’s cold, but it’s perfect if you want to ski!

Summer isn’t the best time to visit South Korea due to the hot and humid weather, but it’s still a popular time to visit due to worldwide holidays.

When to travel to South Korea on a budget

How to Budget in South Korea

So that’s our 10 South Korea budget tips! There are many ways to travel on a budget, it all depends on how comfortable you are. We love hostels, but some people we know would never stay in them. For us, they’re budget-friendly, comfortable and just a place to sleep or meet new people!

Ultimately it comes down to food, accommodation, transport and activities. Check accommodation in advance before you book your flights just to get an idea of prices for that month. Here’s a few more tips on how to budget in South Korea:

  • If you want to shop, Namdaemun and Dongdaemun are filled with discounts in Seoul
  • Tours will cost money, so make sure you add must-do activities to your budget
  • Eat more street food and at markets
  • Check prices for your visa ( every country is different )
  • Use Skyscanner to browse flight prices for different times of the year

Accommodation in South Korea – We use Hostelworld and  to find accommodation in South Korea. You can filter to the lowest price and check reviews from previous guests.

Travel Insurance  – Don’t forget travel insurance whilst planning your South Korea budget.   SafetyWing  is a flexible monthly-rolling travel insurance to help you stay safe on your trip. You can add more months to your trip too! –  Find out more here!

E-Sim  – Here’s the E-sim we used on our South Kore trip – 12 Day E-Sim (15,000₩, €10.99 for 12 days and 6GB of data)

Shop in markets instead of shops on your South Korea budget trip

Costs compared to other countries in Asia

We have only visited countries in Southeast Asia, South Asia and Japan.

After visiting both Japan and South Korea, we have to admit that South Korea is slightly cheaper! The country is more affordable meals out and transport (especially the train!)

Comparing South Korea to countries such as Thailand, Sri Lanka or the Philippines, we have to say that South Korea is more expensive on every level. Accommodation is almost three times the price compared to countries in Southeast/South Asia. Food and activities are more too.

A full breakdown of our South Korea Travel Costs

Here’s the full breakdown of our South Korea travel costs. We both shared the same card and cash, but for this breakdown, we’ll show you roughly how much the same trip would cost for one person too.

Our full South Korea travel costs for 2 people (2 weeks)

  • Korean E-Visa – 20,600₩ (£14)
  • Intercity Transport -186,800₩ (£123)
  • Local Subway & Buses – 88,000₩ (£58)
  • Activities – 225,800₩ (£148)
  • Restaurants & Markets – 345,600₩ (£227)
  • Groceries – 109,110₩ (£72)
  • Snacks – 120,300₩ (£79)
  • Accommodation – 586,200₩ (£385)
  • Miscellaneous – 20,500₩ (£13.50)

Total Cost – 1702,910₩ (£1,120)

Our Transport Costs – 274,800₩ (£181) – prices for two people

T-Money Cards – We accidentally bought the Korea Tour Cards at the airport so spent 4000₩ instead of 2500₩. We topped up our cards with 80,000₩ (£52.60) to get around the cities in towns during our 2 week trip. There’s a chance we may have a bit of money leftover on our cards too!

Accommodation – 586,200₩ (£385) – prices for two people

  • 5 nights in Seoul (private room in a hostel) – 260,000₩ / £171
  • 2 nights in Gyeongju (private room in a hostel, Korean style beds) 72,000₩ / £47
  • 3 nights in Busan (private room in a shared apartment, shared bathroom) 117,000₩ / £77
  • 1 night in Jeonju (private room in a Hanok with free breakfast) 52,200₩ / £34
  • 2 nights in Seoul – different place – (private room in a guesthouse) 85,000₩ / £56
  • Seoul – 52,000₩ (£34.20) per night / 26,000₩ (£17.10) per person
  • Gyeongju – 36,000₩ (£23.50) per night / 18,000₩ (£11.75) per person
  • Busan – 39,000₩ (£25.60 per night / 19,500₩ (£12.80) per person
  • Jeonju – 52,200₩ (£34 per night / 26,100₩ (£17) per person
  • Seoul – 42,500₩ (£28) per night / 21,250₩ (£14) per person

Our accommodation costs came to 586,200₩ (£385) which is 293,100₩ (£192.50) per person for 2 weeks! One of our nights we spent at Golgulsa Templestay which we’ve included as an activity.

Activities – 225,800₩ (£148) – prices for two people

  • Golgulsa Templstay – 120,000₩ (£79)
  • Archery at Golgulsa Temple – 20,000₩ (£13.20)
  • Palaces – 26,000₩ (£13.20)
  • Hanbok Rental – 24,000₩ (£15.80)
  • Seoul Tower – 8,300₩ (£5.50)
  • Photo Booth – 4,000₩ (£2.60)
  • Bukchon Observatory with free drinks – 6,000₩ (£4)
  • Gamcheon Map – 2,000₩ (£1.30)
  • Arcade games – 15,500₩ (£10.20)

Shopping & Miscellaneous – 20,500₩ (£13.50) – prices for two people

  • Laundry / Laundry Detergent ( 2 washes ) – 4,000₩ (£2.60)
  • Socks & Lip Balm – 12,500₩ (£15.15)
  • Plasters – 4,000₩ (£2.60)

Restaurants & Markets – 345,600₩ (£227.40)

We ate at multiple restaurants and markets during our 2 weeks in South Korea, we also revisited a few if we loved the food. Osegye Hyang is our favourite restaurant (traditional Korean)! Here’s a few examples of our meals:

  • Lunch at a Traditional Korean Restaurant – 27,000₩ (£17.80)
  • Lunch at a Hot Pot Restaurant – 26,000₩ (£17.15)
  • Lunch at 7-Eleven – 83,00₩ (£5.50)
  • Lunch at Lotteria – 14,200₩ (£9.40)
  • Lunch at a Bibimbap Restaurant- 16,000₩ (£10.55)
  • Lunch at a Korean Street Food Restaurant 19,000₩ (£12.50)
  • Dinner at a Japanese Restaurant – 18,000₩ (£18.90)
  • Dinner at Gwangjang Market – 12,000₩ (£7.90)
  • Dinner at a Korean Restaurant – 16,000₩ (£10.55)

Snacks – 120,300₩ (£79.15)

In the snack category, we’ve included random snacks at convenience stores or street food. Here are a few examples of snack prices in South Korea.

  • Lotus Biscuits – 3,800₩ (£2.51)
  • Sweet Potato Street Food – 1,000₩ (£0.65)
  • Chocolate Soy Milk – 1,200₩ (£0.79)
  • Onigiri – 1,200₩ (£0.79)
  • Mochi – 2,500₩ (£1.65)
  • Red Bean Bun – 3,000₩ (£2)
  • Bakery (4 Doughnuts) – 13,100₩ (£8.65)
  • Korean Rice Cakes – 4,000₩ (£2.65)

Groceries (which include meals) 109,110₩ (£71.80)

Our grocery section is very close to snack selection but we tried to split it up into food that we took home or cooked for meals. We bought a lot of instant noodles, frozen dumplings, inari sushi and soy milk.

  • Bread – 2,250₩ (£1.49)
  • Inari Sushi Pack – 4,500₩ (£3)
  • Bananas – 4,900₩ (£3.20)
  • Ramyeon – 2,400₩ (£1.60)
  • Frozen Dumplings – 6,400₩ (£4.20)

Total Food Costs – 575,010₩ (£378.40)- prices for two people

Food Costs per day in South Korea – 41,072₩ (£27) – prices for two people

Total Cost of a 2 week trip in South Korea for 2 people – 1702,910₩ (£1,120) & 141,909₩ (£93) per day

Our total cost doesn’t include flights in and out of the country, but for reference, we flew from Manila to Seoul for £135 each with Jeju Air and Seoul to Bangkok for £105 each with Air Asia. Our flights worked out well as we were already travelling in Asia at the time, we booked them 2 months in advance.

We hope this helps you plan your South Korea budget! We think that £46 per person, per day, is a pretty good price to travel around South Kore. We also had the best time and didn’t feel like we lost out on anything.

Korean food is amazing and we ate at restaurants and markets a lot more than cooking our own food. If we cooked more, our South Korea travel costs would be even less!

Traditional Korean Restaurant in South Korea

Is South Korea expensive to visit?

After looking at all of our South Korea travel costs, we’ve concluded that South Korea isn’t expensive to visit compared to the UK. Depending on your home country, the prices may be more, but we were pleasantly surprised with the prices of food.

The accommodation we booked was also really great! If you’re visiting South Korea on a budget, you’ll need to watch your spending when shopping or eating at fancier restaurants.

How much money to bring to South Korea for 2 weeks?

If you’re planning a travel budget for South Korea, we always recommend budgeting more than you think you need. We spent 1702,910₩ (£1,120) for two people during our 2 weeks in South Korea and although we ate a lot of instant noodles, we did everything we wanted to do!

We recommend budgeting at least 1215,715₩ (£800) if you’re a solo traveller with the addition of flights.

Travel Essentials for a South Korea Trip

Here are a few travel essentials we always bring with us:

  • Amazon Basics Packing Cubes  – The best way to pack your bag!
  • Anker Power Bank  – Keep your phone charged on the go!
  • Stainless Steel Water Bottle  – The water in Korea is drinkable, bring a reusable bottle and fill it up!
  • Rain Mac in a Bag  – Carry a lightweight raincoat or umbrella around Korea!
  • Worldwide Travel Adaptor  – The ultimate travel plug when travelling to different countries!
  • Joby GorillaPod 3K Pro Kit  – The best  lightweight  tripod to take anywhere in South Korea! We have a  Joby GorillaPod  and use it for our  Sony A600 . There’s also a  Joby Phone Tripod  if you take photos on your phone.

Let us know if you have any more South Korea budget tips and we’ll have to keep adding to this guide! We highly recommend visiting South Korea even on a budget. Make sure you have extra money just in case anything goes wrong and always have travel insurance! Now you know how to create a travel budget for South Korea!

Don’t forget about Travel Insurance! –  SafetyWing  Nomad Insurance

SafetyWing  is a flexible monthly-rolling travel insurance to help you stay safe on your trip anywhere in the world.  Find out more here!

More  South Korea  guides:

  • Ultimate 2 week South Korea Itinerary: Best Places (2024)
  • 5 Day Seoul Itinerary – Best Things To Do (2024)
  • Staying in Golgulsa Temple: The Best Templestay in Korea (2024)

25+ Best South Korea Travel Tips: What to Know

  • 3 day Busan Itinerary: What to do in Busan (2024)
  • 11 Best Things to do in Gyeongju: Itinerary (2024)
  • Ultimate South Korea Bucket List: 20 Best Things To Do
  • Vegan in South Korea Guide – Best Restaurants & Snacks (2024)
  • All our  South Korea  posts!

That’s the end of our  10 Best South Korea Budget Tips + Travel Costs (2024)!  Have the best time in South Korea on a budget and if you need any more help planning – send us a message on Instagram (@thesunrisedreamers) or leave a comment below!


south korea travel costs, pinterest guide, how to travel south Korea on a budget, south Korea budget

Amy & Dan are the founders of The Sunrise Dreamers. They are travellers from the UK who have been on the road since 2017 whilst living in places like England, Canada, Thailand and the Canary Islands. They share their knowledge of travelling the world with detailed travel guides and tips. They're experts in vegan travel and show their audience how to travel on a budget.

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Thank you so much for such awesome tips. Planning a trip for early next year so these tips will definitely be useful.

Amazing! You’ll have a great time! 🙂

Thank you this has really helped with my planning a budget travel trip to South Korea. I was just wonder if you, or any other readers used a WOW pass, it seems to get a lot of good reviews?

Hi Ashley! Thank you so much 🙂 Personally, we haven’t used a WOW Pass but know it’s an all-in-one prepaid card for foreign travellers! As we’re from the UK, we just use a debit card that has no foreign charges. (example, Starling or Revolut) Sorry I can’t share more info about it! Safe travels.

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13 tips for visiting South Korea on a budget

Ann Babe

Feb 19, 2024 • 8 min read

Women eating street food at market

Do as the locals do and grab a bite to eat at street food stalls at the market © Carlo A / Getty Images

South Korea's cost of living is on the rise, but it's definitely still possible to visit on a budget. Between its vast and affordable transit system , wide range of dining options and abundance of low-cost activities and attractions, South Korea can prove a relatively inexpensive travel destination.

To maximize your savings, here's a guide full of helpful pointers to visiting South Korea on a budget.

Consider whether you need a SIM card

South Korea is one of the most connected countries in the world, with many cities offering free wi-fi in busy public areas, in public transport stations and aboard buses and subways. Almost every cafe will provide customers with free wi-fi, and most accommodations, even small places, are likely to have internet access. 

With so much free Internet around, it's entirely doable to forgo the SIM card altogether and rely on the nation's robust wi-fi infrastructure and pre-downloaded maps and translation apps instead. But if you want to guarantee that you'll always be connected, buy a SIM card in advance through sites like Trazy, Klook or Korea Sim and then pick it up at the airport. If your phone supports an electronic SIM card, purchase a short-term plan through eSIM Korea for as little as ₩1000 per day.

View from the Plane, Cloud land and water, Jeju Island, South Korea

Fly to South Korea in January, November, October or March

Winter weather enthusiasts, rejoice! January is the cheapest month for airfare to South Korea, and it's a prime time for avoiding the crowds and partaking in winter sports activities. But if below-freezing temperatures are not your thing, the next most affordable (non-winter) months to fly are November, October and March. For the best deals, be sure to book your tickets at least five weeks in advance.

Leave the airport by bus or airtrain

Taxis from the airport are expensive and no faster than the bus or airtrain. The AREX train (departing from level B1F of the airport) to Seoul Station costs ₩4150 to ₩9500 for an adult ticket, depending on whether you select the 60-minute all-stop or the 45-minute express. From there, transfer to the subway to get around the capital . Or if you're heading beyond Seoul, buy a Korail railway ticket. 

Even more affordable than the Korail are the airport buses, which leave directly from the airport (1F from Terminal 1, B1F from Terminal 2) and go to many major cities across the country.

Buy a Korail Pass for unlimited travel by train

If you plan on traveling to several cities in a short time span, look into purchasing a Korail Pass . Available in two varieties – a consecutive three- or five-day duration period or a flexible two- or four-day duration period – the Korail Pass ranges from ₩131,000 to ₩244,000 for adults. If you're traveling in a group of two or more, that price drops by ₩10,000, and if you're 27 or younger, you qualify for the youth price, discounted even further to ₩105,000 to ₩195,000. The Korail Pass is specifically for international travelers and works for both the high-speed KTX and slow trains.

Morning view of Mugunghwa Train moving on railroad bridge on Jiseokcheon Stream with Yeongbyeokjeong Pavilion in the background

Ride the slow rail

If you don't expect to ride the train more than a handful of times within a five-day period, it's better to buy tickets a la carte. Look for the budget friendly Mugunghwa trains. As the most sluggish class of trains, they'll slow down your journey considerably (Seoul to Busan , for example, takes an extra three hours by Mugunghwa than by KTX), but they offer a chance to take in the stunning scenery out the window at a more leisurely (and less nauseating) pace. 

To save even more, buy a train ticket for the dining car or the standing-room only spaces between cars. These sections have a limited number of stools or folding seats, so board early for your best chance of snagging one. Or, hit the pavement and use the intercity bus system instead.

Use transportation cards for discounted bus and subway fares

Instead of purchasing single-journey subway tickets or using cash to board the bus, buy a Tmoney transit card for ₩4000 and load it up with money at any subway station or major convenience store, including 7-Eleven, CU, GS25 and Ministop. The Tmoney card reduces both subway fares (by ₩100) and bus fares (by varying amounts, depending on the type of bus) and also provides discounts on transfers within 30 minutes. 

Tmoney cards work anywhere in the country, but if you're visiting just Seoul and Jeju and you plan to get around primarily via public transit, you might want to consider the tourist-only regional MPASS card. This pass can be purchased in varying durations (ranging from ₩15,000 for one day to ₩64,500 for seven days) and allows for 20 rides per day.

Opt for local accommodations over international hotels

With international hotel chains costing upwards of ₩250,000 a night in South Korea, budget-conscious travelers should aim for small local lodgings instead. In Seoul, cute boutique options abound. Outside major centers, though, these can be hard to find, so consider a minbak or pension , which are usually ondol -style rooms equipped with underfloor heating and often sleeping mats rather than beds. When possible, book directly with the lodging as opposed to through a middle-man aggregator site, as proprietors often have to drive up their nightly rates to cover the platform's service fees.

If you're in a pinch and feel comfortable with sleeping in a shared space, there's always the possibility of staying in a 24-hour jjimjilbang (bathhouse). 

View of an alley of the Kwangjang market at night with people eating street food at stalls

Eat at traditional markets, street stalls and mom-and-pop restaurants

For homey, satisfying eats, head to the traditional markets, where you can find heaping portions of noodles, soups and fried snacks at reasonable prices from the restaurants and food stalls tucked inside. Budget travelers should keep an eye out for pojangmacha (tented dining areas), where you can order dishes like meat skewers, fish cake soup and tteokbokki rice cakes (as well as soju and beer) while seated outside at a plastic table. Small mom-and-pop places also provide big bang for your buck, serving up your main course with a bowl of rice and a table full of (refillable) banchan side dishes. 

Search for tourist coupons

For travelers interested in doing a lot of sightseeing on their trip, several different tourist savings cards discount or waive admission to many of the country's most popular attractions. The Discover Seoul Pass (ranging from ₩50,000 for one day to ₩90,000 for three days) offers more than 200 deals, including free use of the city's public bicycles and a free ride on the AREX. The Korea Tour Pass (₩4000) comes with benefits from 182 brands. 

Both passes can be loaded just like Tmoney cards for use as a transportation card, and they also have mobile apps. For travelers who don't intend on visiting so many attractions, it's worth stopping into a tourist information center to see what one-off coupons are available. Check out the Korea Tourism Organization's website or app for a list of special promotions.

Visit museums, movie theaters and other attractions on Culture Day

If you happen to be in South Korea on the last Wednesday of the month, check to see whether any of the venues you're interested in participate in Culture Day. On this day, more than 2000 museums, art galleries, performance halls, movie theaters, sports facilities and heritage sites across the country give free or discounted admission.

Traveling to Jeju is cheaper by plane than by ferry

For those visitors who have Jeju on their itinerary, going by plane can often cost much less than going by boat, plus flying is exponentially faster. Choose budget airlines such as Jeju Air, Air Busan, Jin Air, T'way, Air Seoul or Eastar Jet over the pricier Korean Air and Asiana Airlines. Weekday flights without a flexible cancellation policy can be found for less than ₩18,000 one way.

View of Chun Wang-sa Temple at Mount Hallasan National Park, South Korea

Take advantage of South Korea's vast national park system

South Korea is home to 22 national parks, some of which are free, and others of which charge less than ₩4000 for the entrance fee. For nature lovers, these parks offer not only a bit of hiking but also a glimpse of some of the country's most beautiful Buddhist temples that are hidden within. Book a campsite or sleeping shelter for an overnight adventure experience that costs as little as a couple thousand won a night.

Claim your sales tax refund before you go

Foreigners who stay less than six months (and overseas Koreans staying less than three months) in South Korea are eligible for a refund of the 10% sales tax paid on purchases. These purchases must be more than ₩30,000 and less than ₩500,000 and can be made only at participating tax-free stores. You can claim your reimbursement immediately at the tax-free store itself, at a tax-refund booth outside airports and ports, or at the tax-refund counter or kiosk inside major airports. You'll need your receipts and your passport.

Daily costs in South Korea

  • Hostel room: ₩20,000–40,000
  • Basic guesthouse or minbak room for two: ₩30,000–60,000
  • Self-catering apartment (including a pension): ₩60,000–120,000
  • Public transport ticket (one bus ride using a transportation card): ₩1200
  • Coffee: from ₩3000
  • Gimbap (rice rolls): from ₩2000
  • Dinner for two: from ₩15,000
  • Beer at the bar: from ₩4000

This article was first published Aug 22, 2022 and updated Feb 19, 2024.

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Cost To Travel In Korea: Korean Travel Budget

How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Korea 2023? Korean Budget

Want to know how much it will cost to travel in Korea? Worried about going over budget and not having enough cash? Not sure how expensive Korea is (it’s not)? Then this guide to the cost to travel in Korea has you sorted. Featuring a breakdown of all the costs you can expect in Korea, you can easily plan your Korean travel budget. Not only that, there are dozens of great tips to help you plan your dream Korean trip and save money in many ways.

Take the pain out of planning by learning more about the costs of accommodation, food, transportation, activities, day trips, and lots more. There are daily budget costs for 3 different types of travellers and actual detailed breakdowns to show how much things cost in Korea. Mix and match for each category to plan your realistic Korean travel budget.

Check the summary at the beginning of this article for a quick glance at what you can expect to spend each day. Then read through the following sections to find out more details about each of those costs.

You can also pick up some tips about how to find cheap accommodation, ways to save money on transport, some great food and drink options you have to try, and some of Korea’s best activities.

If you want some other guides that will help you save money when you travel to Korea, take a look at these other really useful articles:

Read more: How To Save Money In Seoul Free Things To Do In Seoul

Korea Essentials:

Here are some of my favourite resources that will help you save time and money on your journey to Seoul:

Flights To Korea: | JetRadar

Hotels In Seoul: Myeongdong | Hongdae | Gangnam

Recommended Tour Companies: Klook | Trazy | Get Your Guide | Voyagin

Travel & Tour Passes: T-Money Card | Discover Seoul Pass

Internet / Mobile: 4g Sim Card | Portable 4g WiFi

Airport Transportation: AREX Train Ticket | Incheon Airport Pickup

Follow Me On Social Media:

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links and I may earn commission for purchases made after clicking one of these links. Affiliate Disclaimer

Wearing a hanbok is a common cost to travel in Korea

Cost To Travel In Korea By Traveller Type

Everyone is different and the way we travel, how much we spend, and on what, is unique.

Personally, I’m happy to spend less on transport and more on food and entertainment. Others people may cut accommodation costs and head to the most expensive attractions, whilst some people might want to control costs in all areas.

I’ve broken down the costs into three travel-styles to fit different budgets. These are as follows:

  • Budget Travellers: Those who want to save as much money as possible and don’t mind roughing it a bit.
  • Comfort Travellers: Typically families or couples who want to spend a bit more here and there.
  • Luxury Travellers: When money is no issue and you want the best there is.

As I mentioned, most people will probably save in some areas and spend more in others. I’m a mix between a budget and comfort traveller, sometimes dipping into luxury on special occasions.

The cost to travel in Korea can be broken down into the following 4 expenses:

  • Accommodation
  • Transportation

Below is a summary of the average daily cost by traveller type. You can pick and choose the costs for each section to work out your personal costs to travel in Korea. You don’t have to follow these figures exactly, but they should give you a much better idea when working out your Korean travel budget.

Summary: What Does It Cost To Travel In Korea?

For those who know what kind of travel-style they prefer, or want to get an idea of the costs they can expect when travelling in Korea, here is a quick summary of the ‘average’ daily cost to travel in Korea.

Please note: I’ve used KRW for all figures to avoid any exchange rate changes over time. To work out costs in your own currency, use Google’s exchange rate calculator .

Want to save on hefty foreign exchange rate fees and bad exchange rates? Find out how the Wise card for travelling in Korea could save you more and help you travel smarter.

Budget Daily Costs :

Comfort daily costs :, luxury daily costs :.

*Accommodation costs may seem low, but I have assumed that most people will be sharing a room as a couple of family (or have two rooms for a family). Therefore, costs will be split between two or more people.

A couple would spend 100,000 KRW per room, so the accommodation budget would be 200,000 KRW per night. This would actually get you a very nice room and you could actually spend a lot less than this on accommodation.

Solo travellers can find great single-room accommodation for 100,000 KRW.

Joel’s Tip: In my experience, budget travel costs and actual travel costs usually don’t match up as there is always something unexpected that comes up that you didn’t budget for.

Therefore, I’d recommend adding 20% to all of these costs .

If you need the extra money, you have it. If not, you can change any extra cash back at the end of your journey.

My personal travel costs are usually around the following amounts:

  • Accommodation : 50,000 – 100,000 KRW
  • Food : 30,000 – 50,000 KRW
  • Activities : 0 to 25,000 KRW
  • Transportation : 10,000 KRW

A weekend in Seoul generally costs me about 150,000 – 200,000 KRW. I try to find the best deals on hotels, but sometimes you can’t avoid paying more. Food is something that I enjoy and often don’t mind splashing out on, especially on holiday. I enjoy walking and exploring new places, so I often don’t pay for activities, unless it’s something that I specifically want to see. Even then, I’ll try to find discount tickets online if I can. Transport costs are low as I walk or take the subway or a bus. These are both cheap and easy ways to get around Seoul and other cities.

Please note: These are average costs and you can spend a lot more or less in each category. To understand how I got to these costs, please keep reading and you’ll find out more about the breakdown of the true costs to travel in Korea.

Costs Not Covered Above

Apart from these five main categories that make up most of the cost to travel in Korea, there are some other costs that should be considered, such as:

  • Shopping and souvenirs
  • Internet & Data Costs
  • Flights to and from Korea
  • Inter-city travel (incl. flights to Jeju Island)
  • Day trips / personalised tours
  • Visas (if necessary)
  • Travel Insurance

You’ll find some of these costs included in the other expense sections above, whilst some of them have their own section at the end of this article. You can use the table of contents at the top of this page to find what you’re looking for.

Tips To Control Travel Costs

Everyone wants to save money, and when you are trying to work out your cost to travel in Korea, you might find you need to control your travel expenses. Here’s a few tips to control your travel costs in Korea that will leave your Korean travel budget looking healthier, without compromising all the fun you plan to have.

  • Plan ahead – make an itinerary that makes sense. Plan your days around zones in cities, and try to cut down unnecessary travel costs. It’ll save time, too. Pre-planning travel to Korea really helps.
  • Figure out when to travel – knowing when the peak tourist season is, and when hotels and flights are more likely to be expensive, can save you a lot of money. This guide to the best time to visit Korea should help.
  • Haggle in the markets – Seoul’s markets aren’t as cheap as they used to be, but you can still haggle for a better price
  • Use discount cards – use the Discover Seoul Pass or Korea Tour Card to save money when you travel in Seoul. Plan your itinerary so that you can get the most out of these discount cards.
  • Use a T-Money Card – the T-Money Card will save money on transportation in Korea.
  • Make the most of complimentary services – if you get breakfast at your hotel, get up early enough to eat it. Top up water bottles at restaurants (water is always free). Try out the free samples in supermarkets and malls.
  • Do free things to do in Seoul – there are lots of free things to see and do in Seoul , including romantic walks along the Han River, hiking to the N Seoul Tower, trying on Hanbok, and lots more.

For more great tips about how to save money when you’re visiting Seoul, be sure to check out this article:

Read more: How To Save Money In Seoul

Now, here’s a breakdown of the key expenses in your Korean travel budget.

Where To Stay In Seoul and Korea

1: Accommodation Costs In Korea

The biggest cost to travel in Korea, apart from your flights, will probably be accommodation. Whatever your budget, you’ll find some incredible options for places to stay in Korea. Accommodation costs have been rising in recent years, in line with big increases in house and rental prices, but they are still very reasonable.

From hostels to 5 star hotels, Korea has something for all travellers and you can spend a night in Seoul for as little as 10,000 KRW

Here’s a quick selection of the best accommodation for Seoul. Accommodation costs in Korea are generally the same in most cities, but you might find seasonal price rises during spring and autumn, or in areas where there is a festival going on.

If you want a more detailed breakdown of the different neighbourhoods in Seoul , as well as more great hotel recommendations, check out my guide below:

Read more: Where To Stay In Seoul – Seoul’s 7 Hottest Neighbourhoods

1.1: Budget Level Accommodation Costs

Budget accommodation ranges from shared dorm beds in a hostel, to cheap hotels with a private room. These rooms will usually be very small, but air conditioned or heated depending on the season.

These places, especially the hostels, have a great community and offer the chance for solo our group travellers to make new friends, get travel advice from others, and see an authentic side to Seoul.

The price for basic accommodation is between 8,000 KRW to 50,000 KRW.

I’ll use an average price of 25,000 KRW per night for accommodation to work out the daily Korean travel budget.

Here are six of the best budget places to stay in Seoul:

Joel’s Tip: Another option for accommodation, especially if you haven’t booked any for one night, is to stay in a Korean sauna ( jjim-jjil-bang ). You can stay overnight and soak in the hot pools for about 10,000 KRW per night. They provide towels and pyjamas, too. These are great for emergency accommodation or budget stays when travelling to another city for one night.

1.2: Comfort Level Accommodation Costs

Comfort accommodation in Seoul includes basic and mid-range hotels. You’ll typically get a small to medium-sized private room in a good location. Expect fresh towels and cleaning daily and possibly a basic breakfast service, too (although this might be extra).

The price for comfort accommodation is between 50,000 KRW to 150,000 KRW per night.

I’ll use an average price of 100,000 KRW per night for accommodation to work out the daily Korean travel budget.

Here are six of the best comfort places to stay in Seoul:

Joel’s Tip: This category is the broadest and there are so many great (and not so great) hotels available in Seoul and other cities. If you’re going for hotels in this category, I would recommend choosing your location first and then filtering the hotels by their ratings, then price. You can find some outstanding hotels at great prices and avoid the over-priced and poorly run hotels this way.

1.3: Luxury Level Accommodation Costs

There is a wide range of options for luxurious hotels in Seoul, with some of the best areas to stay including Gangnam , Jamsil , and Yongsan . These are often less busy and crowded than Myeongdong and Hongdae. Expect high levels of service, great food options, and a wonderful night’s sleep.

The price for luxury accommodation is above 150,000 KRW per night

I’ll use an average price of 200,000 KRW per night for accommodation to work out the daily Korean travel budget.

Here are six of the best luxury places to stay in Seoul:

Joel’s Tip: You can have some truly unforgettable experiences in some of Seoul’s finest locations. For the most amazing views, the Signiel Hotel in the Lotte World Tower – the world’s 6th tallest building – is hard to beat.

AirBnB’s In Seoul

Another option for accommodation in Seoul is from AirBnB . With lots of owners renting out their apartments in excellent locations, you can get a very different experience from your typical hotel stay, with whole apartments available to rent instead of just one room.

There are options available for all budgets, with rooms available for as little as 12,000 KRW per night in central locations such as Myeongdong or Hongdae. You could rent a rooftop camping ground , complete with BBQ, city views, and a double bed inside a tented room. There are even apartments with tall windows looking out over the city from high up in one of Seoul’s many massive apartment complexes.

If you like the look of staying at an AirBnB, then make use of the referral voucher below to cut your cost to travel in Korea even more! You can get up to $37 off your first stay in Seoul or other places in Korea.

Read more: Sign up with AirBnB and get $37 off your first stay!

Joel’s Tip: Whatever level of accommodation you’re looking for, you’ll find it on AirBnb and in the various hotel booking websites mentioned before. If you want to cut your cost to travel in Korea, then I’d recommend taking some time to look around the best hostels and hotels, check the reviews, and find the best place for you.

Kimchi jjigae - definitely one of the best Korean winter foods available

2: Food Costs In Korea

Food is one of the most variable aspects of trying to work out the cost to travel in Korea. One person might eat a free breakfast at their hotel, another might go to one of Seoul’s amazing gourmet bakeries and spend 15,000 KRW on baked goods and coffee. You might want a simple meal for dinner and spend less than 10,000 KRW, or go all out with mountains of Korean BBQ goodness and spend ten times that.

In order to work out the costs and budget for your travels in Korea, I’ve broken the typical daily costs for budget, comfort, and luxury travel styles

To help you out, here are some guideline figures for how much you could spend on food, depending on your budget style. Of course, you might want to have a budget breakfast and splash out at dinner, that’s up to you. You can use the average food costs to help work out your daily cost to travel in Korea.

Budget Food Costs:

Comfort food costs:, luxury food costs:.

Please note: Costs for alcohol are not included . These prices include costs for water, soft drinks, and coffee. If you plan to drink a lot of imported alcohol, your costs will go up a lot. Please make a note to include it yourself. I’ll add some typical costs for drinks in the next section.

2.1: Breakfast Costs

Here are 6 great items that you’d normally eat for breakfast in Korea. The prices are based on an average cost and can vary according to location and quality. If you book a good hotel, you can often get breakfast included, which will save time and money.

Egg Toast is very popular in Korea

Joel’s Tip: Gimbap is a versatile food option in Korea, especially if you’re trying to keep costs down. It’s great any time of day and there are lots of options for fillings. You’ll find gimbap in convenience stores, train stations, and in many gimbap chain restaurants. They’re also good for hiking and for packing in your bag as food to eat later on.

2.2: Lunch Costs

After a busy morning walking around and exploring Korea’s amazing sights, you’re bound to want a tasty meal to give you energy and keep you going for the rest of the day. There are plenty of great lunch options in Korea (more than I could put here) that won’t break the bank. Korea has a lot of seasonal dishes, be sure to get some delicious Korean winter foods when it’s cold.

Cold noodles in Korea

Joel’s Tip: Many meals in Korea are designed for 2 or more people. You’ll notice that they usually have ‘2인’ listed above them and are around 20 – 30,000 KRW. These dishes are incredible as they come in a large pot that you share. You generally get more food than you would for two single servings.

2.3: Snack Food Costs

If you walk down Myeongdong Market’s Street Food Alley then you can’t resist helping yourself to a few extra snack foods. And when it’s summer in Korea , you’ll find it hard not to indulge in a sweet Korean dessert or two. There are so many unique snacks to sample in Korea you’ll want to try them all. Good news, calories don’t count when you’re on holiday!

gyeryan-ppang is a traditional Korean street food

Joel’s Tip: If you want to take home all these yummy snacks that you’ve tried whilst visiting Seoul, then head to Hongdae or Myeongdong and you’ll find lots of shops selling discounted snacks. Also, you can buy an extra suitcase to pack them all into when you realise just how many you ‘had to buy’.

If you’re curious about what sort of snacks you can get from Korea, then check out Korean Snack Box – they’ll ship them directly to you so you can sample them without having to go to Korea! Get a taste for Korea right now!

Korean Snack Box (Enter Code: KOREANSNACKBOX10 for 10% off!)

2.4: Dinner Costs

Dinner is when you’ll typically spend the most money on food. After a busy day of sightseeing, shopping, and exploring, you deserve a big meal with a drink or two. When trying to work out the cost to travel in Korea, dinner costs can cause the most variance. Do you splash out on a fancy Korean BBQ meal with bottles of soju and Korean beer, or have a simpler, healthier meal and save a few won? Here are some of the most popular evening meals you can look forward to in Korea.


Joel’s Tip: Try to avoid the main shopping areas around Myeongdong in Seoul when looking for dinner. There are lots of good restaurants, and they’ll usually have English menus, but you can find much better quality food for a lower price in other areas. Jonggak Avenue Of Youth (종각젊음의거리) is only 5 minutes walk from Myeongdong and has lots of great places to eat. Also, check out the back-alley open-air dining north of Jongno-3 subway station for great Korean BBQ.

2.5: Drink Costs

One cost when travelling in Korea that many people overlook is the cost of drinks. A bottle of water might be cheap, but if you’re going to be consuming creamy lattes, hydrating with energy drinks, or getting merry with alcohol, then drink costs add up quickly. Try to budget for at least 3 or 4 drinks per day. Restaurants usually give you water with a meal, so you can save money by drinking while you eat.

Banana Milk in Korea

Korean alcohol in restaurants is typically the same price wherever you go. Expect to pay 4-5,000 KRW for beer, makgeolli , or soju whenever you’re eating in a Korean restaurant. There’s usually no foreign beers in restaurants unless it sells foreign food, too. Bars will have a wider choice. Makgeolli and soju are ridiculously cheap from convenience stores, as little as 1,000 KRW! If you want to cut your cost to travel in Korea, I’d recommend buying some cheap drinks from these stores.

Joel’s Tip: You can save money on food in lots of different ways, such as buying food (and alcohol) from a convenience store, eating street food, not drinking imported drinks, choosing small, local restaurants, and lots more.

If you’ve whet your appetite for some delectable Korean dishes, then why not check out some of my other articles about Korean food. Find out the most irresistible dishes you have to try when you arrive.

Read more: 20+ Most Delicious Korean Traditional Dishes 10+ Strangely Unique Korean Foods Korean Foods To Enjoy In Winter

N Seoul Tower is one of the best things to do in Seoul

3: Activity Costs In Korea

There are so many incredible things to do in Korea and your cost to travel in Korea will depend a lot on what you plan to do. Activity costs can include many things, from taking a day trip to the demilitarised zone (DMZ), to skydiving, skiing, rail-biking, and lots more. Palaces, temples, museums, galleries, theatres, exhibitions, theme parks, aquariums, and whatever else you want to do usually all cost money.

So how can you work out how much money to bring with you to Korea for activities?

Advanced planning will help you a lot. Work out your itinerary, and see what you will spend money on. To help you do that I’ve outlined some of the most popular attractions in Seoul and their average costs. I’ll cover day trips later, as they are usually a lot more expensive.

To work out the daily activity cost to travel in Korea, I’ll assume the following:

  • Budget travellers will see many sights, but also do free activities
  • Comfort travellers will also see many sights, but will visit a few premium attractions
  • Luxury travellers will mainly visit premium attractions.

Therefore, based on the above costs, I would say that activity costs in Korea for each group is as follows:

  • Budget travellers = 20,000 KRW per day
  • Comfort travellers = 30,000 KRW per day
  • Luxury travellers = 50,000 KRW per day

Joel’s Tip: There are so many great activities in Seoul that don’t cost a single won . You can spend a whole day without paying for any attractions and the last Wednesday of every month is Culture Day , where you can find lots of free or discounted cultural activities. Find out more about all the best free things to do in Seoul below:

Read more: 25 Awesome Free Things To Do In Seoul

To work out the daily costs to travel in Korea, I won’t provide a detailed daily itinerary and costs for each day. That would be impossible and everyone’s travel plans are different. Instead, I’ll show you the sort of prices you can expect to pay for various activities. If you want some suggestions for an itinerary for Korea, with lots of the best activities, then check out 2this article:

Read more: Your Perfect 7 Day Itinerary For Korea

3.1: Popular Activities In Seoul

Walking through the royal palaces in Seoul dressed up in hanbok and taking dozens of incredible photos – it’s the dream of many tourists coming to Seoul. But how much does it cost? And what are the costs to travel in Korea when you want to go out every day, visit the theme parks, chill out in aquariums, and cruise along the river at night?

Here are some of the most popular activities in Seoul, some of which you can also find in other cities in Korea.

Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul

These are some of the most common activities in Seoul, but of course there are many more things to do in Seoul and Korea. If you want some help creating your Korean bucket list, check out the link below:

Read more: Ultimate South Korea Bucket List

Joel’s Tip: You can find hanbok rental near Bukchon Hanok Village . This is a great place for unforgettable pictures with traditional Korean hanok houses. You can also wear this hanbok around Gyeongbokgung Palace . Doing both in one day saves you having to rent hanbok twice.

The Discover Seoul Pass will help lower your Korean Travel Budget

Reduce Your Costs In Seoul With The Discover Seoul Pass

If you plan to do lots of big activities in Seoul, then I’d really recommend getting a Discover Seoul Pass . The Discover Seoul Pass allows you free or discounted entry to a range of different attractions in Seoul, including the COEX Aquarium, Lotte World, Gyeongbokgung Palace, N Seoul Tower, River Cruise, Trick Eye Museum, and lots more. You can also get a free hanbok rental, city tour bus ride, Airport Express journey, and other great benefits.

I created some itineraries for the Discover Seoul Pass that show how you can save more than 50,000 won per person each day with the pass, and takes you across Seoul and into some of the best attractions. Check out the article below for more details:

Read more: How To Save Money With The Discover Seoul Pass

3.2: Day Trip Costs In Korea

Visiting the natural beauty of Nami Island , Boseong Green Tea Plantation , and Damyang Bamboo Forest , or having fun riding rail bikes, rollercoasters, and cable cars, are just some of the great ways you can spend a day out from Seoul or other big cities.

These trips aren’t always cheap, but they’re definitely worth it as you can see some really amazing sights that you probably won’t find back home. Some trips you can make by yourself with public transport, others are easier when booked with a tour company such as Klook , Trazy , or KKDay . For more on the best day trips from Seoul, check out the article below:

Read more: How To Get To Nami Island 10 Amazing Day Trips From Seoul

There are also lots of festivals that happen throughout the year which are hosted in the far corners of Korea, such as the Boryeong Mud Festival , the Jindo Sea Parting Miracle , or various New Year celebrations along the coast where you watch the sun rise on the first day of the year.

Again, you can book tours or make your own way to some of the places. If you’d like to know more about all the best festivals throughout the year, check out the link below:

Read more: All The Best Festivals In Korea

Here are the costs to travel on day trips in Korea. These are mostly based on tours from , but there are ways you can get to some of them more cheaply by public transport. See the link above or ask for more details in the Korea Travel Advice Facebook Group for lots of great tips and suggestions about day tours and how to do them cheaply.

DMZ in Korea

From 54,000 KRW

Nami Island is a great day trip from Seoul

Nami Island / Rail Bike

From 42,000 KRW

Caribbean Bay in Korea

Everland / Caribbean Bay

From 56,000 KRW

Jeonju Hanok Village

Jeonju Hanok Village

From 98,000 KRW

Seoraksan National Park

Seoraksan Tour

From 75,000 KRW

Korean Folk Village

Korean Folk Village

Joel’s Tip: Booking a tour can be expensive, but it can also save a lot of time and be convenient as you won’t have to deal with the language barrier so much. If you’re an experienced traveller, you can usually make your own way. However, for families or people who are not comfortable with the risk of getting lost or delayed, then tours are worth the extra money for peace of mind. Even I book tours for some events because it’s the only way to get to some places without a car.

Ride The KTX from Seoul To Busan

4: Transportation Costs In Korea

Korea is a really cheap and convenient country to get around with lots of cost-effective forms of public transport. Getting around inside big cities like Seoul is simple, with subways, buses, taxis, and even bikes for rent. To get between cities, there’s a vast network of buses and trains (high speed and regular).

To work out the daily transportation cost to travel in Korea, I’ll assume the following:

  • Budget travellers will walk or take only buses / subways.
  • Comfort travellers will also take a taxi or two per day.
  • Luxury travellers will mainly use taxis or trains for long distances.

Therefore, based on the above costs, I would say that travel costs in Korea for each group is as follows:

  • Budget travellers = 5,000 KRW per day
  • Comfort travellers = 20,000 KRW per day
  • Luxury travellers = 30,000 KRW per day

Before I get into more details about transportation costs, it’s important to point out that these prices are the prices you’d pay with a T-Money card (or a card that has a T-Money function). The T-Money card is a transportation card that can be used throughout Korea and saves you having to use cash. You can top them up at convenience stores, train stations, and many other places.

There are several ways to get a T-Money card. I’ve covered the most common ones for tourists:

Read more: Guide To The T-Money Card Guide To The Korea Tour Card Guide To The Discover Seoul Pass

Assuming you’re using a T-Money card (you really should be), here are some of the travel costs in Korea:

4.1: Transportation Costs In Cities:

Getting around big urban areas like Seoul or Busan can be very time consuming if you have to walk everywhere. The cost to travel in Seoul and other cities on public transport is as follows:

Bus rides: Buses are 1,250+ won per single journey. There are no round-trip tickets. Bus Routes For Seoul

Subway / train rides: Subway tickets are 1,250+ won per single journey. Subway Routes For Seoul

Taxis: Taxi prices start at 3,800 won (lower outside Seoul). A 10 minute journey should cost around 5,000 won. Seoul Station to Hongdae (5km) would take around 35 minutes and cost around 15,000 won. You can find out taxi costs with the Kakao Taxi app when you’re in Korea. Information About Taxis In Korea

Bikes: You can rent a bike in Seoul for 1,000 won per day. This is a cheap and healthy way to explore Seoul. Information About Renting Bikes In Seoul

As a tourist, your cost to travel in Seoul and other cities will depend on how many different places you want to visit. If you’re exploring one or two areas per day, you might not spend much time on public transport. If you want to visit lots of different locations, then you could spend a lot.

Joel’s Tip: When you leave a bus or subway, touch your T-Money card on the card machine (below) and you can get a discount on your next journey if it’s within 30 minutes.

T-Money Card On A Bus in Korea

4.2: Transport Costs Between Cities

If you want to travel between cities (there’s more to Korea than just Seoul!), then there are several options for you. The fastest method to get from Seoul to Busan and other major cities is to take the KTX high speed railway. The cheapest is either the slow train or intercity buses. Here is the cost to travel in Korea for each one.

Trains In Korea

There are several options for travelling by train in Korea, including the KTX high-speed train network that covers most major cities in Korea. Slower trains will take longer but also stop at more locations and cost far less.

You can find more details about Korea’s rail network and book tickets online from the Korail website.

Read more: Korail Website For Train Ticket Booking Online

If you plan to travel on trains a lot, consider a KTX Rail Pass for unlimited rides for 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 days.

To show you the cost to travel in Korea by train, here are the various prices you could pay to travel one-way between Seoul and some other select cities. Don’t forget, the travel times will be much faster with the more expensive trains.

Seoul to Busan : KTX (high-speed) train = 59,800 KRW ITX-Saemaul (mid-range) train = 42,600 KRW Mugunghwa (low-cost) train = 28,600 KRW

Seoul to Daejeon: KTX (high-speed) train = 23,700 KRW ITX-Saemaul (mid-range) train = 16,000 KRW Mugunghwa (low-cost) train = 10,800 KRW

Seoul to Suwon: KTX (high-speed) train = 8,400 KRW ITX-Saemaul (mid-range) train = 4,800 KRW Mugunghwa (low-cost) train = 2,700 KRW

Joel’s Tip: The cheap trains can take a longer time to get to places. For tourists, I’d recommend taking the KTX, even though it’s more expensive. Time is precious when you’re on holiday and you don’t want to waste it travelling. That being said, the ITX-Saemaul can be almost as fast as the KTX and also considerably cheaper.

Intercity Buses In Korea

There are two types of buses that will comfortably shuttle you across Korea. These are the Gosok  ( 고속 , Express) and  Sioe  ( 시외 , Intercity) buses. Together these bus networks cover almost anywhere you’d want to visit in Korea and the prices are really good.

Buses are clean, spacious, and the premium buses (extra cost) have large reclining seats that you can easily nap on. Korea is a small country though, so you won’t be taking too many long journeys.

You can book tickets for the various buses in the website below. There’s also an app you can download to book tickets on the go (only in Korean).

Read more: Express Bus Website (Korean / English)

To show you the cost to travel in Korea by bus, here are examples of ticket costs for one-way travel between Seoul and some other select cities:

Seoul to Busan : Premium (luxury) bus = 39,800 KRW Excellent (mid-range) bus = 36,000 KRW Economy (low-cost) bus = 24,200 KRW

Seoul to Gangneung: Premium (luxury) bus = 23,700 KRW Excellent (mid-range) bus = 21,500 KRW Economy (low-cost) bus = 14,600 KRW

Seoul to Gyeongju: Premium (luxury) bus = 33,700 KRW Excellent (mid-range) bus = 30,500 KRW Economy (low-cost) bus = 20,600 KRW

Joel’s Tip: There are also late night buses which will cost a little bit extra (about 3,000 KRW). These are a great way to save on a night’s accommodation when moving between cities.

4.3: Flight Costs Inside Korea

If you want to get to Jeju Island , the best way is to fly. There are many low-cost airlines in Korea that will fly there cheaply from Korea’s other major cities, such as Seoul (Gimpo Airport) and Busan.

Korea’s low-cost airlines are Air Busan , T-Way , Jeju Air , Jin Air , and Easter Jet . Flights from Seoul to Jeju Island can vary a lot depending on the season, but the lowest price I’ve seen them is around 20,000 KRW one way. However, expect to pay an average of 50,000 KRW, especially if you’re booking last minute.

You can check flight prices on websites such as or JetRadar . This is a really easy and convenient way to get to Jeju Island.

The only other option is to take a ferry from Mokpo to Jeju Island . which runs 14 times per week and costs about 26,000 KRW per person (foot passenger) one way. If you have rented a car, this is the only way to take it to Jeju Island. The ferry takes 4.5 hours.

Shopping costs in Korea can be high

5: Other Costs To Travel In Korea

These next few sections offer some further advice about how much you can expect to spend when planning your dream trip to Korea.

5.1: Souvenirs & Shopping Expenses In Korea

For some people, shopping is one of the main reasons for visiting Korea. Seoul’s markets and shopping malls are packed full of bargains, while designer stores and boutiques offer a wide range of exclusive items that can’t be found elsewhere.

Here are some of the most common souvenirs you’ll find in Korea, and how much you can expect to pay for them:

  • Korean cosmetics – 5,000+ KRW
  • Korean facemasks – 1,000+ KRW
  • Korean tea – 10,000+ KRW
  • Magnets – 3,000 KRW
  • Chopsticks – 2,000 KRW
  • Bookmarks – 2,000 KRW
  • Korean snacks – 1,000+ KRW
  • Socks – 1,000 KRW per pair
  • Traditional Crafts – 5,000+ KRW
  • Tea Set – 10,000+ KRW

Again, it’s very hard to set an actual price for these items as they differ in size, quantity, quality, and authenticity. You might pay 10,000 KRW for some basic Jeju green tea, or you might pay 100,000 KRW for a more exclusive gift-set version.

Whatever you plan on buying, remember to add extra to your Korean travel budget for shopping and souvenirs .

Bargain hunters looking for the best bargains should definitely check out the awesome traditional markets in Korea . They have authentic items, such as hanbok , arts, crafts, souvenirs, and traditional foods, as well as many modern items.

Most cities in Korea will have at least one traditional market, while Seoul and Busan have a wide range that offer more specialised products. To find the best ones for you, check out my guide to traditional markets below:

Read more: The 10 Best Traditional Markets In Korea

Other great places to buy souvenirs and go shopping include the various shopping malls , which range from busy malls exploding with discounts, to more refined department stores with only the finest goods. Here are some of the best ones you’ll find in Seoul:

  • Starfield Mal , Gangnam (COEX)
  • Goto Mall , Gangnam (Bus Terminal)
  • Shinsegae Department Store , Myeongdong / Gangnam
  • i-Park by Shilla , Yongsan
  • Lotte World Tower , Jamsil
  • Lotte Young , Myeongdong
  • Times Square , Yeongdeungpo
  • Insdaong Art Street (various places), Insadong

You might not plan to buy a suitcase’s worth of goods, but sometimes you can’t help it. Especially once you start trying Korea’s great snacks and see the colourful souvenirs on sale. I often see pics of people buying additional luggage to pack them full of snacks and goodies from Korea!

Joel’s Tip: If you’re curious about what sort of snacks you can get from Korea, then check out Korean Snack Box – they’ll ship them directly to you so you can sample them without having to go to Korea! Get a taste for Korea right now!

5.2: Internet & Mobile Phones Costs In Korea

I’ve not included the cost for Internet access and mobile phone sims in the daily Korean travel budget figures because not everyone will get a tourist sim card or Internet service in Korea.

Korea has great free WiFi access in places like Incheon Airport, in public transport across Seoul and other cities, and in lots of public places. You can usually find free WiFi in cafes and restaurants throughout the country.

Seoul declared it will provide free WiFi across most of the city by 2022 and has spent a lot of money to make sure that happens. Travelling and using your connected devices is safe and easy in Korea.

That being said, I know that most people want to have a secure connection to the online world wherever they go. I’m no exception. If you do want to get a mobile sim card or WiFi egg, then you can pick these up at Incheon Airport or order them online from various agencies.

Sim Card Costs

You can buy sim cards from all major phone companies in Korea – KT Olleh / LG / SK Telecom – and they offer various data packages, including unlimited deals. Packages typically last 1 / 5 / 10 / 30 days and there are a lot of options to suit your needs and budgets. You can find a great offer in the link below:

Read more: Prepaid Sim Cards From Klook

Example Prices For Unlimited Data Sim Card:

Here are some costs for sim cards in Korea. You can probably find cheaper, but remember that this is for unlimited service and there are no extra fees.

1 day – 5,900 KRW

5 days – 24,800 KRW (4,960 KRW per day)

10 days – 34,700 KRW ( 3,470 KRW per day)

30 days – 64,400 KRW ( 2,145 KRW per day)

Portable WiFi Costs

A WiFi egg or portable WiFi device is a great way to keep multiple devices connected without needing to insert a sim card. You can pick these up across Korea and pay for the time or data that you use.

Read more: Portable WiFi From Klook

Prices for portable WiFi with unlimited data start at 3,300 KRW per day , but can rise to about 10,000 KRW for plans that include power packs and other features.

For lower data needs, you can pick up a 1gb portable WiFi pack for 2,400 KRW per day.

Whatever option you choose, Korea has one of the best Internet services in the world and you will get a great online experience.

5.3: Flight Costs To Korea

The cost to travel to Korea is probably one of the biggest expenses you’ll face when planning your Korean travel budget. Of course, I can’t tell you a single amount for any flight to Korea as there are so many variable factors including where and when you’re flying from.

Instead, here’s some great sites where you can compare flight costs. These will help you to find the best flight to Korea for you. It’s worth spending some time checking flight times and airlines to get the best deals possible.

JetRadar / / Expedia

Korea has two major airlines that offer direct flights to the country from around the world, These are:

Korean Airlines / Asiana Airlines

There are also 5 Korean budget airlines that might offer amazing flight prices to Korea, especially if you’re travelling from East or South East Asia. These are:

Jeju Air / T-Way / Air Busan / Jin Air / Eastar Jet

Joel’s Tip: Incheon Airport is Korea’s main airport and has lots of great facilities. If you have to travel there at an inconvenient time, it shouldn’t be a problem. There is a spa, sauna, cinema, loads of great restaurants, cafes, and bars, hotels, rest areas, and lots more. Check out my guides for Incheon Airport to learn more about this highly accessible and entertaining airport.

Check out this guide to flying to Korea to discover where to get cheap flights to Korea, how to find the best flights, how to fly direct to Korea, and lots more awesome tips for flying to Korea.

Read more: What To Do In Incheon Airport How To Get From Incheon Airport To Seoul

5.4: Visa Costs For Korea

Korea is a popular tourist destination for many travellers around the world and many countries have a visa waiver agreement in place. This allows tourists to travel in Korea for 30 / 60 / 90 / 180 days when they arrive. If you’re from one of these countries (see pic below), then you won’t have any visa costs for Korea.

Countries that need a visa for Korea

Unfortunately, there are no visa waiver agreements in some countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, China, India, and The Philippines. Therefore, there are likely to be increased travel costs for citizens from these countries. It’s worth checking out the cost to get a visa from your local Korean embassy and adding that to your Korean travel budget.

For travellers from The Philippines , it’s not possible to get a tourist visa from the Korean embassy due to high demand. Therefore, please check this page to see where you can get a Korean tourist visa from an agency.

If you’re unsure about whether or not you need a visa, or the visa cost to travel to Korea, then contact your local Korean embassy .

Read more: Visa Policy of South Korea

Please note: Due to the current global pandemic, the availability of visas may be restricted or changed. Please contact your local Korean embassy to confirm the current status.

5.5: Travel Insurance Costs

Korea is one of the safest countries I’ve ever been to and the risk of theft or assault are very low. That being said, there is always the chance that things can go wrong on holiday and it’s good to be prepared. Flights can be cancelled or delayed, luggage lost, things get broken, and you can even end up in hospital. Trust me, I’ve experienced most of these problems myself and they’re no fun!

Joel’s Tip: You can find lots of options for travel insurance and you should choose one that matches your country, activities, and costs. Personally, I buy travel insurance from World Nomads when I’m travelling. They provide great coverage and were one of the last to stop their travel insurance policies during the global pandemic. If you’re looking for good travel insurance, you can check them out in the link below:

Read more: World Nomads Travel Insurance

Cost To Travel In Korea FAQs

Finally, here’s a few FAQs about the cost to travel in Korea, in case the above information didn’t cover enough for you.

Is food expensive in Korea?

No. Food is generally very reasonably priced in Korea. Meals can cost as little as 3,000 KRW ($3 USD) and even a large meal like a Korean BBQ can cost as little as 10,000 KRW ($10 USD) per person. There are many delicious street foods starting from 1,000 KRW that are a great way to snack between meals without spending lots. Foreign foods can cost more, however.

How much does it cost to travel in Korea

Around 75,000 KRW – 200,000 KRW per day should be sufficient for most travellers coming to Korea. This includes accommodation, food, transportation, and activity costs. If you plan to do lots of expensive activities, day tours, or shopping, then be sure to add in extra budget to cover these costs. There are many free and cheap activities you can enjoy in Korea that will help you travel for less.

What is the cheapest time to travel in Korea?

March . March is one of the cheapest times to travel to Korea as it is between Seollal (Korean Lunar New year) in late January, early February, and the start of the cherry blossom season (late March, early April). November is also cheap as it is between peak autumn leaves season and Christmas / New Year.

How can I save money travelling to Korea?

Planning, budgeting, discount cards, and making use of free activities. Planning your trip to Korea and making a budget will let you work out how much you’ll need when you travel. Scheduling your daily travel plans for similar areas (e.g. Bukchon Hanok Village, Insadong, and Gyeongbokgung Palace), cuts down on travel costs and avoids having to rent hanbok twice in one trip. Using discount cards like the Discover Seoul Pass, Korea Tour Card, or the T-Money Card will also cut costs a lot.

How much money do I need for 7 days in Korea?

The cost to travel in Korea for 7 days is typically around $1,000 USD . However, it can be higher depending on the accommodation you book. This figure also doesn’t include flights or visas. Budget travellers can spend a lot less, with daily costs as low as $50 per day ($350 per week), or even less.

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Cost To Travel In Korea: Korean Travel Budget

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Travel Finances

10 day south korea trip cost – our actual expenses.

This post may contain affiliate links. We receive a commission on purchases made through links on this page. This is at no additional cost to you & helps support our travels. Read more in our Disclaimer . Thank you!

Get an in-depth look at what our South Korea trip cost with our detailed travel expenses breakdown from 10 days in Seoul.

We visited South Korea for over two weeks and loved our entire trip there. South Korea is a perfect destination for some amazing food, the sweetest people, tons of culture, and even some modern twists. 

There is so much to see in South Korea but this expense guide covers two weeks in Seoul and all the costs that come with it!

We’ll cover what a South Korea trip cost, how much money to bring to Korea for 2 weeks, if South Korea is expensive to travel, cost of meals in Korea, and more!

south korea trip cost

As a quick note, we are not backpackers, we rarely stay in hostels, and are very cautious with street food. We like to save money where we can, be we certainly spend it on what is important to us.

This is not representative of what you will spend in South Korea, even for the same period of time or season. This is merely an overview of what we spent and some of our tips and reasons for the amounts. Please use it as a guide to your future trip to Seoul, South Korea!

This post is all about what our 2 week South Korea trip cost.

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Best time to visit south korea

korea trip cost calculator

Peak seasons in South Korea are spring (April – June) and autumn (September—November). These seasons bring consistently good weather, far more tourism to the country, and, with them, higher prices.

We visited Seoul in September and absolutely loved the weather. We’ve also visited in late March. It was certainly less crowded during this time, but the weather was a bit more inconsistent with rain and very cold days.

korea travel cost

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Dive into our destination guides, including itineraries and cost posts! Or look at individual countries to start planning your next adventure!

Cash vs. card in south korea

Since we only visited, Seoul, we can only really say for this very large, modern city. The rest of the country may be very different. However, we were able to use credit card nearly everywhere, even at the markets for street food. There were some stalls that only took cash and we did need cash for the public transportation. We would say we averaged around $10 per day for cash with food, trains, and tips. 

  • Use our favorite debit card for free ATM withdrawals!

South Korea Itinerary

south korea trip cost from india

Our original South Korea itinerary had us traveling over the entire country. However, due to an unexpected positive test and subsequent mandatory quarantine, we had to alter our plans. We ended spending the first half of our trip indoors, but the next 10 days were spent soaking up the magic of Seoul, South Korea. I was a little worried that we would get bored in one city for so long, but there is SO much to do in Seoul. Plus there are so many destinations within a day trip radius that you can easily stay busy for 10 days. 

day trip tours from Seoul

South korea trip cost:.

south korea trip budget philippines

Total: $241

We flew directly from Hanoi, Vietnam, on VietJet Air. This was a budget airline that charged for our baggage, but we found it to still be affordable and their customer service was wonderful!

Flights will be different for everyone since everyone is coming from somewhere different. However, this gives a good idea of how affordable it is to fly around Asia once you are there.

  • Get unbelievable flight deals from!

Total: $138

Oftentimes, travel entry fees are nothing. You simply get a visa on arrival and go on your merry way. This is especially true for US citizens or one of the  most powerful passports in the world . South Korea was easy to enter as a US citizen but it did cost us a little bit. 

This is because at the time we went we needed a  South Korea e-visa  and COVID tests upon arrival. The e-visa cost us $9 per person but the COVID tests at the airport were $60 each! Super expensive for COVID tests, given the fact that we had just paid $3 each in Vietnam before we left.

UPDATE: We have since returned to South Korea, and US citizens no longer need an e-visa. This was as of early 2024, and as always, is subject to change. 

>> Pro Traveler Tip: Register your trip on STEP as a US citizen to be kept in the know on your destination!
  • Find your entry requirements and make getting a visa a breeze!


how much money to bring to korea for 2 weeks

Total: $652

Average: $65 per night

Candidly, our budget is $45 a night for accommodations. South Korea, Seoul especially, didn’t really fit in that budget. But we were able to make the most of it and find deals here and there. We did end up staying at multiple properties as we had to move when the deals did. 

  • Conrad Seoul (Hilton Points)
  • Fairfield by Marriott Seoul  

The best way to find deals in Seoul is book ahead of time. The closer you get to the day of arrival, the more expensive it will be. Weekends are definitely more expensive so if you can plan your trip during the week, that’s best.

Luckily, there is a great transportation network in Seoul, so you can stay in areas a little farther away and still be able to get around easily and affordably! Also, the level of cleanliness in Seoul was incredible. Even if we booked a lower rate place, it was due to location or the size of the room and never because of the quality of the accommodation or the cleanliness.


South korea.

3 month europe trip itinerary

Food & Drink

2 week trip to south korea cost

Total: $631

Average: $63 per day

Average: $31.50 per person per day

The food in Korea is one of my new favorites. Even though we spent quite a bit on food every day, it was worth it! We ate a few meals that were a little more expensive. Or in the case of our food tour , we ate 12 meals in one day…

Korean BBQ can be quite expensive at touristy spots (think: $100+ per person), so be on the lookout for more local places where you can snag delicious BBQ for around $20 per person. There are also tons of street food options. The Gwangjang Market was amazing and had some delicious food for cheap. And we met some of the kindest people there!

Food tours in seoul


estimated travel cost in korea visa

Average: $6.50 per day

We took the public transportation in Seoul as much as possible. It’s clean, efficient, and went near enough to everywhere we were looking to go. We even took the train all the way to and from the Incheon airport into Seoul. It was a long trip, but definitely the better option financially. It was also comfortable and if you can get a seat, really not that bad. 

The only times we didn’t take the train were when we were out past midnight when they stop running. This surprisingly happened more often than we thought, but there is so much to do even late at night in Seoul! In those instances, we took a cab either by waiting in a cab line or called for a taxi through the Kakao T app and paid cash for the metered price or via credit card in the app.

1 week trip to south korea cost

We were able to easily enjoy our time in Seoul with mostly free activities. The day we visited the Gyeongbokgung Palace was a free entry day but it normally is 3,000 won (unless you’re wearing Hanbok). We visited the Namdaemun Market, saw the closing ceremonies at the Sungnyemun Gate, walked along the Cheonggyecheon, explored Bukchon Hanok Village, and even saw deer at the Seoul Forest Park all for free. 

The only thing we did pay for was our first international baseball game. The KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) game was a blast! I could not figure out how to book tickets online, so we had the concierge at our hotel book them for us and we paid the hotel in cash, much easier. And for only $30 we were able to sit right on the field in the midst of all the action!

Top Activities in Seoul

korea travel budget

Everything was aesthetically pleasing in Seoul which is my kryptonite. I really had to restrain myself on shopping there. However, we did get a few things as gifts for friends and family. We also saw a movie as a date night. We saw Top Gun: Maverick (Nate’s new favorite movie) in IMAX for only $25 for the two of us!

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Get data before you even land in South Korea with  Airalo’s e-sims . They offer coverage by country or regionally if you are visiting multiple countries. This is a little secret… since the  South Korea package  (Unlimited for $32 over 10 days) was a bit more expensive than the  Asia regional package  (5 GB for $20 over 30 days), we got the Asia regional package for our time in South Korea. The data coverage was great and we could top up any time.

get your data before you land

Purchase and download your e-sim before you even step foot in the country. Airalo allows you to have data when you land! 

Travel Insurance

We never go on a trip without travel insurance (in fact, we have an annual plan with them). Our favorite travel insurance with  SafetyWing  offers great coverage for travel and medical needs and is affordable starting at just $10. Plus, I can’t emphasize enough, the customer service is actually really good and real people respond to you when you have questions, a surprising rarity in the travel insurance space.

Better safe than sorry...

For a weekend getaway or a long-term adventure,  SafetyWing  has you covered. They cover medical accidents, lost luggage, emergency response, and natural disasters. AND it’s affordable!

Total South Korea trip cost

Total: $1,613

Average: $161 per day

Average: $80.50 per person per day

south korea trip cost

$1,613 for 2 people

Daily Total:

$161 per day for 2 people

Value for Money:

korea travel cost

This post was all about how much our South Korea trip cost.

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  • Date: March 2, 2023

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Gyeongbokgung Palace in South Korea

How much does a trip to South Korea cost?

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  • South Korea travel costs

If you’re planning on travelling to South Korea, you’re probably wondering how much you need to budget for your trip. While your travel costs will depend on your travel style, generally speaking South Korea is best for travellers with some spending money.

Accommodation costs are generally affordable and food and drinks are reasonably-priced. Many of South Korea’s best attractions are very affordable or even free and, while some activities could set you back a fair amount, there’s plenty to do at lower price points too.

How much should I budget for a trip to South Korea?

A reasonable budget for two for a week in South Korea is around ₩1,508,000 .

The above cost is based on staying in good, mid-range accommodation and having a few meals out per week, while preparing some yourself . It makes allowances for a couple of sightseeing activities, but doesn’t take into account expensive activities like adventure sports or private tours.

Generally speaking, the longer you travel, the cheaper it costs per day, while fly-in, fly-out trips can be more expensive.

How much does accommodation cost?

You can expect to spend between ₩80,000-₩120,000 a night, per couple, on accommodation in South Korea. This will get you a private room with your own bathroom in a 3-4-star hotel or apartment rental.

Hostels are, of course, cheaper, but a private room with a shared bathroom will still cost around ₩50,000 per night. A bed in a dorm room also averages around ₩20,000 per night, per person, although there are definitely cheaper options out there.

Keep in mind that accommodation can be more expensive in Seoul, so budget accordingly if you'll be spending more time in the city.

How much should I budget for food and drinks in South Korea?

Budget to spend around ₩548,037 for two for a week in South Korea. This assumes you’re cooking some of the time and drinking some alcohol.

If you enjoy eating out, you can expect to pay around ₩61,500 for a nice dinner for two, including an alcoholic drink. A meal at a pub is likely to be around ₩32,943 for two, with cheaper meals available (especially for lunch) for around ₩11,255 each.

Assuming that you’ll be eating out some of the time, budget at least ₩100,363 a week for groceries. If you enjoy a few drinks, you’ll need to increase this amount – beer costs around ₩2,301 for a 500ml bottle and good bottle of wine is around ₩25,778 , from a shop, although there are cheaper options available. Milk typically costs around ₩2,358 for a two-litre bottle and you can expect to pay around ₩4,846 for a cappuccino from a local café.

How much does it cost to get around South Korea?

Getting around South Korea is easiest with a train. Transport costs fluctuate depending how much you travel, but budgeting around ₩155,000 for two per week is a good starting point. This should allow you to take a couple of intercity train routes. If you’re planning on doing any tours or using hop-on hop-off buses, you’ll need to up your budget a bit.

Inter-city trains connect major cities in Korea, and it's possible to be almost anywhere in the country within a few hours. Fares do depend on the class of ticket you book, so if you're planning to do a few day trips travelling first class, you may want to budget a bit more.

Buses and the subway are both very convenient if you're travelling in Seoul. Get the T-Money card from any convenience store in town, add money, and validate it every time you get on or off a bus, or enter and exit the subway.

What should I expect to spend on activities?

A lot of the best things to do in South Korea are free. However, there definitely are some attractions that cost money – entry fees to a museum or an art gallery are usually around ₩19,000 - ₩50,650 per person. If you want to do organised day trips or join smaller tour groups to learn more about some of the sites, budget around ₩108,000 per activity per person.

South Korea is a beautiful destination to visit and although it’s not cheap, it’s definitely possible to travel there for less. Cooking your own meals, carefully selecting accommodation or limiting meals out will definitely help you to reduce your travel costs. Slow travel is another great way to help your budget to stretch further, while exploring a place in more depth.

Travelling through South Korea is definitely possible on a budget – just pick your priorities and compromise on the rest or consider travelling in the off-season and avoiding school holidays to cut down on costs. And, if you’re on the luxury end of the scale or wanting to treat yourself, the sky’s the limit.

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Last Updated 5 May 2022

Gyeongbokgung palace with cherry blossom tree in spring time in seoul city of korea, south korea.

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  • How to Plan Your Trip to South Korea 2024/2025 (6 Easy Steps)

South Korea is a popular destination for many travelers, especially for families with teenagers and couples. Besides its history, nature, and modernity, South Korea offers unique and lively experiences, such as K-pop, the hanbok, Hanok hotels, bibimbap, and more, which continue to draw travelers from all over the world.

In this article, we'll explain everything you need to know to plan a wonderful trip to South Korea, including the top places to visit, how long you should spend there, the best times to visit, and the costs.

  • 1. Do I Need a Visa to Visit South Korea
  • 2. Top 4 Places to Visit in South Korea
  • 3. Best Times to Visit South Korea
  • 4. How Many Days to Spend in South Korea
  • 5. How Much Does a Trip to South Korea Cost
  • 6. How to Get To and Around South Korea

Do I Need a Visa to Visit South Korea?

Nationals of many countries are exempt from needing a visa to enter South Korea, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Most travelers could stay in South Korea without a visa for 90 days.

Top 4 Places to Visit in South Korea

With so many wonderful destinations in South Korea, we know it could be difficult to narrow down where to visit. Below are some recommended places to visit for your first trip, based on our knowledge and feedback from our clients.

1) Seoul — Capital City with a Perfect Blend of History and Modernity

As the bustling capital city of South Korea, Seoul is a must-see city when planning a first trip to South Korea. It offers plenty of experiences that would enrich your trip.

If you want to explore history-filled attractions to deepen your understanding of South Korea, don't miss a visit to one of the oldest royal palaces, Gyeongbokgung, and the quiet Korean traditional village of Bukchon Hanok.

Beyond the representative attractions, you could also wear a traditional hanbok and stay in Korean-style accommodation to enrich your trip.

If your children are interested in K-pop, you could see the idols at the famous broadcasting buildings and visit the renowned Korean Wave music companies.

2) Busan — Bustling Seaside City

Busan is a charming seaside city known for its glistening beaches. You could enjoy the comfortable sea breeze and feed seagulls at Haeundae Beach and sample fresh seafood.

As well as beautiful sea views, Busan has many culture-rich attractions. Visit Korean Buddhist temples with stunning sea views, such as Haedong Yonggung Temple, and enjoy the unique art of Gamcheon Culture Village with its multicolored houses.

You can just tell us your preferences and requirements, and we will customize a tour for you.

3) Gyeongju — Ancient Capital with a Long History

Gyeongju, the ancient and medieval capital of South Korea , has a rich history that spans thousands of years and has well-preserved ancient buildings. There, you could explore some UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Bulguksa Temple, which has stood for over a millennium, and Yangdong Folk Village, which is home to the largest hanok village in Korea with Joseon Dynasty (1392–1897) buildings.

4) Jeju Island — Formed by Volcanic Activity and Suitable for Relaxation

Known all over the country for its picturesque natural views, Jeju Island is one of the most popular destinations for travelers to escape from the country's larger cities and relax for a few days.

Jeju Island was formed by volcanic activity, resulting in various natural landscapes, such as the Manjanggul lava tube, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

You could enjoy exciting sea outdoor sports, such as surfing, deep diving, and snorkeling. Additionally, you could relax by basking in the wonderful sunrise or sunset on the sandy beaches.

Discover real reviews of Highlights Travel Family 's best-rated service across trusted platforms.

Best Times to Visit South Korea

South Korea has four distinct seasons and it's suitable to visit all year round.

The best times to travel to South Korea are in spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) , when you could enjoy pleasant weather, clearer days, and the best scenery. In spring, you could admire the blooming cherry blossoms and in autumn, you could view the vibrant red foliage.

Summer (June to August) is hot and humid in South Korea, and it is the rainy season as well. But it does not rain every day and you could still enjoy a flexibly planned trip. Compared with July and August (the summer vacation months), June is cooler and less crowded, which makes it a better time for families to visit South Korea.

Winter (December to February) is cold and dry in South Korea, making it a good time to bathe in the hot springs. Christmas and New Year are two of the busiest periods to travel so we suggest that you plan ahead at least 3–6 months in advance as hotels are easily booked up.

Just contact us  if you are thinking of a trip to South Korea. We'd like to create a wonderful trip based on your needs and interests, whatever the weather.

How Many Days to Spend in South Korea

For a first trip to South Korea, we recommend a 10-day trip to explore the highlights in the top cities from north to south covering Seoul, Busan, Gyeongju, and Jeju Island.

Below are three well-selected South Korea itineraries ideal for vacations of three popular lengths (7, 10, and 14 days), each offering authentic activities to enrich your trip.

1) 7-Day Essence Itinerary: Explore Seoul and Busan

Here is the handpicked itinerary, for inspiration:

  • Days 1–4: Seoul
  • Days 5–7: Busan

7 days are enough to explore South Korea's top two cities of Seoul and Busan. You could wear a traditional hanbok to stroll around culturally-rich Bukchon Hanok Village and stay at a traditional Hanok hotel in Seoul, take a day trip to explore well-preserved UNESCO sites in Gyeongju, and relax with the sea breeze in Busan.

2) 10-Day Classic Itinerary: the Most Chosen Korea Tour Plan

  • Days 1–3: Seoul
  • Days 4–5: Gyeongju
  • Days 6–7: Busan
  • Days 8–9: Jeju Island
  • Day 10: Departure

This 10-day itinerary is based on the 7-day itinerary with the addition of Jeju Island. It's perfect for first-timers to explore the best of South Korea without rushing and to enjoy its natural beauty.

On Jeju Island, you could explore unique volcanic landscapes, enjoy sunrise or sunset on a sandy beach, and enjoy some free time doing outdoor activities such as snorkeling and surfing.

3) 14-Day South Korea and Japan Itinerary

14 days is ideal for a trip to both South Korea and the neighboring country of Japan, spending 1 week in each country. Not only could you immerse yourself in Korean culture, but also you could experience kid-favored anime elements, stay at a ryokan with an onsen, and watch a geisha performance in Japan.

  • Days 4–5: Busan
  • Day 6: Fly to Osaka in Japan
  • Days 7–9: Kyoto
  • Days 10–11: Hakone
  • Days 12–14: Tokyo

Week 1 in South Korea: Seoul–Busan

Start your wonderful trip in South Korea. Experience traditional activities in Seoul, such as trying on a hanbok to meander around Bukchon Hanok Village, and relax on a sandy beach and feed some seagulls in Busan.

Week 2 in Japan: Osaka–Kyoto–Hakone–Tokyo

Fly to Osaka to continue your trip in Japan. In the impressive medieval capital of Kyoto , you could dress up like a ninja to learn techniques from a ninja master, wear a kimono to visit the famous Fushimi Inari Shrine, and feed friendly deer in Nara.

Take the Shinkansen to Hakone , the well-known home to hot springs, and stay at a Japanese-style ryokan with an onsen.

In Tokyo, the capital city perfectly combines history and modernity. You could meander around the Asakusa district with its Edo-era vibe, make sushi with an experienced chef, and buy your favorite anime products at Pokémon Center.

Check more details about plan a 12-Day or 2 Week Itinerary in South Korea and Japan.

How Much Does a Trip to South Korea Cost?

The private tour cost in South Korea is about US$400–500 per day per person based on a family of 3–5 people , including 4-star hotels, a full-day itinerary, tickets for attractions, private cars, and private guides.

Travel costs are typically one or two times higher in peak times such as the cherry blossom season in March to April, Christmas, and New Year. Therefore, we recommend that you plan your trip at least 3–6 months in advance.

How to Get To and Around South Korea

Most flights from international starting points, such as North America, Europe, and Australia, land at Incheon International Airport in Seoul or Gimhae International Airport in Busan . These airports are conveniently close to their corresponding cities and are international hubs for some of South Korea's leading airlines.

Most cities in South Korea are conveniently connected by the KTX (South Korea's high-speed railway) , which is the most comfortable and efficient way of traveling. For instance, the journey from Seoul to Busan takes approximately 2½ hours.

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In My Korea

Complete South Korea Travel Guide 2024: Korean Travel Tips

Planning a trip to Korea but not sure where to start? First-time traveller who isn’t sure if Korea is the right country for your next trip? Worried about travelling to Korea and facing problems with the Korean language, culture, money, Internet, transportation, hotels, food, or etiquette? Then this complete South Korea travel guide is packed full of tips that you’ll certainly need.

You’ll find all the best Korean travel tips and advice in this article. Whether you’re a first-time traveller to Korea, or you’ve visited before, this South Korea travel guide will show what to see, when to travel, and which places to visit, as well as help you avoid any difficult situations or surprising culture shocks.

This guide is designed to walk you through everything you need to know to prepare for your trip to Korea. You can use it to plan your itinerary, to pre-book travel essentials, to learn about what festivals and seasonal events are on, and to find more reasons to want to travel to Korea right now.

Table of Contents

Affiliate Disclaimer :  This site contains affiliate links and I may earn commission for purchases made after clicking these links.

What’s In This South Korea Travel Guide

South Korea Travel Guide For Seoul And Korea

This South Korea travel guide covers all the essential information you need to plan a trip to Korea. This is useful for first-time travellers to Korea who might not be aware of uniquely Korean cultural and travel issues. Even if you’ve visited Korea before, I’m sure you can learn a lot from this travel guide.

This article contains lots of insights and knowledge about travelling to Korea and is quite long. I’ve added links in each section to articles that provide more information about each topic. Therefore, I suggest viewing this South Korea travel guide on a desktop computer as it will be easier to read.

What Are You Looking For?

To help make it easier for you to find what you’re looking for, I’ve broken this article into the following sections. Click the quick links below to jump straight there or keep reading through all parts.

Korean Travel News And Travel Restrictions

Latest Travel News

Current Requirements To Travel To Korea

Entry Requirements

Why You Should Travel To Korea

Why Visit Korea

The Best Time To Visit Korea

When To Visit

How To Book Flights To Korea

Flights To Korea

Where To Stay In Seoul New

Where To Stay

Cost To Travel In South Korea

Korea Travel Costs

Travel Money And Money Exchanges In Korea

Travel Money

Mobile Phones And Internet In Korea

Phones & Internet

Using Public Transport In Korea

Public Transport

Best Places To Visit In Korea

Where To Visit

Best Day Tours From Seoul

Seoul Day Tours

Best Sights To See In Korea

Sightseeing Spots

Best Activities To Try In Korea

Korean Activities

Best Korean Festivals To Join

Korean Festivals

Recommended Itinerary For Korea

1-Week Itinerary

Cultural Issues When Visiting Korea

Culture Issues

Language Issues When Travelling Korea

Language Issues

Health And Safety Issues In Korea

Health & Safety

Personal Travel Tips For Korea

Korean Travel Tips

Korean Travel News And Travel Restrictions 2024

Latest Korean Travel News

This section of the South Korea travel guide will show you the latest travel news and restriction updates, including any temporary or permanent changes to the entry process, visa changes, and other things that might affect travel to Korea. COVID-related updates will also be posted here.

Latest Korean Travel News In 2024

This section will detail any interesting or important travel news that could affect travellers to Korea, such as price increases in public transport, travel changes, new services, or closures.

The Korean government is aiming to boost tourism to Korea by doubling the amount travellers can claim back in tax when shopping in Korea. From 2024, travellers will be able to claim up to 5,000,000 KRW on eligible purchases with a limit of 1,000,000 KRW tax back per transaction. Source : Korea Herald

From August 2023, the price to travel on buses in Seoul is set to rise. Bus fares will rise to 1,500 KRW per journey. From October 7th, 2023, Seoul’s subway fares will rise to 1,400 KRW per journey. Other cities in Korea will enact similar rises throughout 2023 to cover higher costs of public transportation. Source : Korea Herald

From July 15th, 2023, the requirement to register your health condition through the Q-Code portal will be scrapped. Source : Korea Times

From July 3rd, 2023, children aged 17 years and younger, as well as adults aged 65 and older, will no longer need to apply for a K-ETA to travel to Korea. Furthermore, the validity period has been increased from 2 years to 3 years to make travelling to Korea easier. Source: K-ETA website .

From June 2023, Korea will end almost all pandemic-related restrictions for tourists and locals. Masks will no longer be necessary except in hospitals and infected people no longer face mandatory self-isolation (although the government still recommends 5 days self-isolation). Q-Code requirements haven’t been mentioned, however. Source : Korea Herald .

From April 2023 until December 2024, travellers from 22 countries won’t have to complete a K-ETA when visiting Korea, saving time and money for citizens of those countries. People from other countries still need a K-ETA. Source : K-ETA

The 22 countries temporarily excluded from the K-ETA requirement are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Macao, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, UK, US (including Guam).

From April 2023, all foreigners under 19 years old (18 and under) can now enter major royal palaces and tombs, including Seoul’s Gyeongbokgung Palace, for free. Previously, all foreigners were made to pay a fee to enter. Source : Korea Herald

From March 2023, a quarter of all buses in Seoul will refuse cash payments and allow only card payments using transportation cards, such as the T-Money card. Seoul’s night buses won’t be included for now, and 262 of Seoul’s 370 bus routes will still accept cash. Expect further increases in cash-free buses in the future. Source : Korea Herald

From February 2023, the base fare for a taxi journey in Korea has increased by 1,000 won to a minimum of 4,800 won. The distance that the base fare applies has also been shortened from 2km to 1.6km, which will make fares more expensive. Source : Korea Times

What Are the Current COVID Restrictions In Korea In 2024?

Korean royal guard outside a palace in Seoul

Korea has been removing COVID-related restrictions in the country throughout 2022 and 2023. It is no longer necessary to show a QR code to enter a building and restrictions involving masks and health checks have mostly gone. The latest COVID-related rules for Korea are as follows .

Masks : From Monday, March 20th, Korea has removed the mandatory mask rule for public transport, one of the final places that masks were required for the general public. The only places that require a face mask (from June 1st) are in medical facilities (hospitals). Masks are not mandatory elsewhere, including in schools, shops, restaurants or anywhere outside. Source : Korea Herald

Self-Quarantine : From June 1st, Korea will no longer impose a mandatory self-isolation period on infected people. The government instead ‘recommends’ a period of self-isolation for 5 days to reduce the chance of transmission to other people. Source : Korea Herald

For further details about the latest COVID requirements for entering or travelling in Korea, check out the second section of this South Korea travel guide, which has a list of all the updated entry requirements, including visas, tests, and other considerations.

Planning to visit Korea? These travel essentials will help you plan your trip, get the best deals, and save you time and money before and during your Korean adventure.

Visas & K-ETA: Some travellers to Korea need a Tourist Visa , but most can travel with a Korean Electronic Travel Authorisation (K-ETA). Currently 22 Countries don’t need either one.

How To Stay Connected : Pre-order a Korean Sim Card or a WiFi Router to collect on-arrival at Incheon Airport (desks open 24-hours). Alternatively, download a Korean eSIM for you travels.

Where To Stay : For Seoul, I recommend Myeongdong (convenient), Hongdae (cool culture) or Gangnam (shopping). For Busan, Haeundae (Beach) or Seomyeon (Downtown).

Incheon Airport To Seoul : Take the Airport Express (AREX) to Seoul Station or a Limo Bus across Seoul. Book an Incheon Airport Private Transfer and relax to or from the airport.

Korean Tour Operators : Tour companies that have a big presence in Korea include Klook , Trazy , Viator , and Get Your Guide . These sites offer discounted entry tickets for top attractions.

Seoul City Passes : Visit Seoul’s top attractions for free with a Discover Seoul Pass or Go City Seoul Pass . These passes are great for families and couples visiting Seoul – you can save lots.

How To Get Around : For public transport, grab a T-Money Card . Save money on Korea’s high speed trains with a Korea Rail Pass . To see more of Korea, there are many rental car options from Klook , EconomyBookings , and RentalCars .

Travel Money : Use money exchanges near Myeongdong and Hongdae subway stations for the best exchange rates. Order a Wise Card or WOWPASS to pay by card across Korea.

Flights To Korea : I use flight comparison sites such as Expedia and Skyscanner to find the best flights to Korea from any country. Air Asia is a good option for budget flights from Asia.

Travel Insurance : It is important to insure your trips to protect yourself against the unexpected. World Nomad is a specialized travel insurance provider with options for different coverage for travellers from around the world. You can also purchase cover when you are already travelling.

How To Learn Korean : The language course from 90 Day Korean or Korean Class 101 both have well-structured lessons and lots of useful resources to help you learn Korean.

Current Requirements To Travel To Korea In 2024

Passport and other documents for travelling to Korea

This part of the South Korea travel guide is for tourists . If you plan to travel for business, employment, or other reasons, check your nearest Korean embassy for the latest travel requirements.

Most of the restrictions and requirements for travelling to Korea have now been scrapped. You can see what entry and travel rules are in place for Korea in the table below:

The following section provides more information and exceptions about these requirements:

COVID-positive travellers should avoid travelling to Korea : To avoid infecting others on the way to Korea, as well as in Korea, the Korean government recommends that you shouldn’t travel to Korea if you exhibit COVID-symptoms or have tested positive. Self-quarantine is mandatory in Korea.

There are no PCR or other testing requirements : It is not necessary to take a PCR or other test before travelling to Korea. However, you will be asked to take a test if you show symptoms of COVID or similar illnesses when travelling to or arriving in Korea.

There is no quarantine on arrival : Travellers to Korea no longer need to quarantine when entering Korea. From June 1st, there is only a ‘recommended’ 5 day self-isolation period for infected travellers, but this is not enforced.

Complete the self-health check before or on arrival : From July 15th, 2023, travellers to Korea no longer need to complete a Q-Code self-health check or declare their health status on arrival.

Apply for a K-ETA or tourist visa before travelling : You need to apply for either a K-ETA or tourist visa for South Korea before flying to the country. Entry will be prohibited without the correct one. From April 1st, 2023 until December 31st, 2024, 22 countries are excluded from the K-ETA.

If you’re not sure which of these you need to apply for, more information is provided in the next section of this South Korea travel guide about the K-ETA and tourist visa for Korea.

K-ETA (Korean Electronic Travel Authorisation)

The K-ETA (Korean Electronic Travel Authorisation) is an online travel authorisation that visa-free foreign visitors aged 18 to 65 must obtain before entering the Korea for tourism, visiting relatives, participating in events or meetings, and for business purposes other than profitable activities.

Tourists from 112 eligible countries need to apply for a K-ETA before travelling to Korea and won’t be allowed to board a flight to Korea without it. The approval process isn’t difficult, but requires accommodation details, travel dates, and personal details such as passport number, etc.

From April 1st, 2023 until December 31st, 2024, the Korean government has decided to suspend the K-ETA requirement for travellers from the following 22 countries:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Macao, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, UK, US (including Guam).

The aim is to reduce the burden of travellers coming to Korea and to encourage more people to visit Korea during the ‘Visit Korea Year’, which runs during 2023 and 2024.

Source : K-ETA website news .

From July 3rd, 2023, the Korean government will no longer ask for travellers who are 17 years and younger, or 65 years and older, to apply for a K-ETA when visiting Korea. These are ages based on the time you travel to Korea, not the age when you apply to travel.

Furthermore, the validity period of the K-ETA is now 3 years, not 2 years. The Korean government has decided to extend the validity period to make it easier for people to travel to Korea.

The K-ETA is based on your nationality , not the country you’re travelling from. That means, if you require a tourist visa from your home country (e.g. the Philippines), but are travelling from a country that requires a K-ETA (e.g. the USA), you can’t use the K-ETA to travel to Korea.

Tourists should apply as far in advance as possible at the official K-ETA website. If you would like to know more about the K-ETA, check out my article explaining what is the K-ETA . The K-ETA costs 10,000 KRW (about $9.00 USD). If you are charged more than this, you’re on the wrong site.

Official K-ETA website

Not sure if you need a K-ETA? Check out this infographic to find out.

Do You Need A K-ETA Poster

Will The K-ETA End In The Future?

The K-ETA will continue for the indefinite future. It is not a pandemic-related travel restriction but a permanent feature that just happened to start in 2021. The Korean government have stated that the K-ETA will be ongoing and other countries and areas, such as the EU, are planning similar ETAs.

Update : In July 2023, the Korean government stopped requiring children 17 years and younger and adults 65 years and older to apply for a K-ETA. The validity period was also increased to 3 years.

Update : In April 2023, the Korean government suspended the K-ETA for travellers from 22 countries (listed previously). This is in an effort to reduce the burden on travellers visiting Korea during the ‘Visit Korea Years’ of 2023 and 2024. This lasts until December 2024, but could possibly go on longer.

Tourist Visas For South Korea

Tourists that aren’t from one of the 112 countries that require a K-ETA to travel to Korea will need to apply for a tourist visa. This includes nationals from countries such India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Tourist visas are based on nationality (passport), not country of residence.

The process to apply for a tourist visa differs depending on the country and may be as simple as submitting an application at the Korean embassy in the country you live in. For other countries, it may be necessary to submit extra information like bank statements and a full itinerary.

If you need a tourist visa for South Korea, contact your nearest Korean embassy as soon as you can to start the process. Tourist visas may be rejected, delayed, or take longer than expected. For some countries, such as the Philippines, it is necessary to apply through a specialist visa agency.

Transit Tour Visas For South Korea

Travel advisory about visa-free entry to Korea

Visa-free entry for foreign transit passengers at Incheon Airport will resume from May 2023 after being suspended for 3 years during the pandemic. There are two types of visa-free transit entry methods for travellers to Korea, they differ in length, requirements, and eligibility.

The first type of visa-free entry for transit passengers is open to all travellers to Korea and allows entry for 3 days, as long as they take a transit tour from Incheon Airport. The second type of visa-free entry for transit passengers is available for 30 days, but only from travellers from 36 select countries.

Visa-Free Entry For Transit Passengers (3 Days)

From May 15, 2023, travellers from any country can travel from Incheon Airport to the Seoul Metropolitan area for up to 3 days, as long as they book at least 1 transit tour from Incheon Airport. If Korea is not their final destination, they’re free to explore more of Seoul after the tour.

There are a wide range of transit tours available from Incheon Airport, including cultural, historic, food, shopping, and entertainment tours. See the sights of Seoul’s most popular places in a few hours, or stay for longer and see more. You can find out more about transit tours from the Visit Korea website .

Requirements : To be eligible for a transit tour visa, travellers must:

  • Have an onward flight to their home country or a 3rd country after Korea.
  • Participate in a transit tour program by a designated travel agency.
  • Stay within the Seoul Metropolitan area only.
  • Have more than 2 hours between connecting flights.

Eligible countries : Visa-free entry with a transit tour is open to passengers of all countries, as long as they meet the above requirements.

Tip : If you have a transit tour in Korea, I recommend staying in Hongdae , as there is a direct train from Incheon Airport to Hongdae called the All-Stop Airport Line. Hongdae is also a really fun place where you can see lots of culture, try Korean dishes, and pack your suitcase with Korean souvenirs.

Transit passenger tour information for South Korea

Visa-Free Entry For Transit Passengers (30 Days)

This will allow travellers from 36 countries to enter and stay in Korea for up to 30 days without a Korean visa. Travellers must be travelling to or from one of these 36 countries to be eligible to stay in Korea without a visa. This includes passengers who are not citizens of those countries.

Requirements : To be eligible for a visa-free entry as a transit passenger, travellers must:

  • Hold an onward flight to any of the 36 countries mentioned below.
  • Have no illegal stay records of any kind, nor have been denied entry to Korea.
  • Not have exceeded a maximum of 3 days stay in any other transit airport.

Eligible countries : Travellers from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and 32 EU countries (see picture below) can stay for up to 30 days, as long as the above-mentioned requirements are met.

Transit tour information for South Korea

Why You Should Travel To Korea In 2024

Women in hanbok at Korean palace in Seoul

There’s not enough space in this South Korea travel guide to write down all of the reasons why you should travel to South Korea. Korea is an under-appreciated gem that has so much to discover and experience that’s completely different from what you’ll find in other countries.

Much the way that Japan has a very distinct culture and history, Korea has lots of unique, appealing places to see, people to meet, history to learn about, and natural sights to appreciate. Many people only see a small slice of Korean culture and beauty through modern media, but there’s a lot more.

Here are some of the reasons you should travel to Korea:

  • Delicious foods and tasty seasonal dishes.
  • Four distinct seasons that offer a variety of views.
  • Fascinating history to learn about and explore.
  • Stunning mountains and beaches for outdoor lovers.
  • Unique and unusual festivals throughout the year.
  • Friendly locals and a safe country to travel around.
  • Modern, high-tech cities that are clean and efficient.
  • Welcoming Buddhist temples and temple stays.
  • Cheaper than most other developed countries.
  • A shopper’s paradise with many markets and malls .
  • Korea really wants you to come and visit.

Korea wants you to visit so much that they declared 2023-2024 the Visit Korea Year . This two-year period, confusingly referred to as a single year, is set to feature loads of events and activities to draw tourists to Korea, and includes promotions for discounted flights, accommodation, and food.

Some of the events you can expect to see during the Visit Korea Year(s) include K-Pop concerts, e-sports competitions, food festivals, and cultural celebrations. There’ll be K-Cultural stars involved, too, including your favourite K-Pop and K-Drama stars. Get ready to travel to Korea soon!

Want to know what you can do in Korea that you can’t do in other countries? Check out these amazing unique Korean experiences that should definitely be on your Korean bucket list.

The Best Time To Visit Korea

Beautiful Korean Pagoda At Royal Palace In Seoul In Autumn

The best time to visit Korea is in spring (late-March to May) or autumn (mid-September until mid-November). These seasons have the most comfortable weather, ranging from 10 to 30 degrees Celsius, an average amount of rain, and also have the most festivals and events.

My favourite months to travel in Korea are April and October . Early-April is when cherry blossoms come out and the weather warms up enough to stop wearing a jacket. October in Korea is a beautiful month when autumn foliage sweeps across the country and the weather is warm and calm.

When you travel to Korea, the season you travel in can have a big impact on what you can see, eat, and do. This section of the South Korea travel guide is one of the most important and if you want to travel to Korea in the future, I recommend learning about Korea’s seasons before making plans.

What Can You See In Korea Each Season?

Although spring and autumn are undoubtedly the best time to visit Korea, there are plenty of reasons to visit in other seasons, too. Visitors to Korea who are restricted to travelling during certain times, such as during school or work holidays, needn’t be put off by travelling in summer or winter.

Here’s a summary of what you can see and do in each season in Korea:

Spring In Korea Gyeongbokgung Palace

Spring: Cherry Blossoms, Blooming Nature, Culture Festivals

Spring is an amazing season to travel in Korea as you can see colourful plum blossoms (Mar), cherry blossoms (Mar-Apr), and many other bright sights. The warm weather allows people go out more to enjoy cultural activities and spring festivals , such as the Lotus Lantern Festival and Jindo Sea-Parting Festival, and also trekking, hiking, and cycling. Spring is one of the most popular times to travel in Korea for locals, so expect places to be busy, especially around cherry blossom season.

Check out my cherry blossom guide for the best places to see cherry blossoms in Korea.

Summer In Korea Boseong Green Tea Fields

Summer: Beaches, Korean Desserts, Water Sports, Camping

Summer is a difficult season for travellers due to the high humidity and heat. June and July are rainy season in Korea and it may rain for days on end, causing people to change travel plans to indoor activities. In late July and August it gets very hot, which is good for going to the beach and enjoying water sports or water parks, which Korea has many of. Evening activities like hiking, drinking in rooftop bars, and visiting night markets are great ways to get out in summer when it’s not as hot.

Check out my guide to Korean summer activities for the best places to have fun during summer and rainy day activities in Busan in case the weather isn’t so good.

Autumn In Korea Temple Wall Autumn Foliage

Autumn: Foliage, Festivals, Fresh Foods, Harvest Festivals

Autumn is another incredibly popular time to travel in Korea, especially in October when the autumn foliage is at its best. The foliage really brings everything to life, adding shades of colour to plain palace walls, mountains, and parks. The calm weather is warm with clear skies, making it perfect for going into nature to see the fresh fruits and other harvest goods, as well as join in harvest and cultural festivals. Enjoy local Korean dishes, fresh from the farm to your table.

Check out my guide to autumn foliage in Korea for the best places to see the leaves.

Winter In Korea Snowy Temples

Winter: Snow, Winter Sports, Ice Fishing, Light Festivals

Winter in Korea is often neglected due to the cold weather, but is actually a very nice time to travel with delicious winter foods to try. It’s the driest time of year with blue skies making everything bright and beautiful. When it snows, sights look even more incredible. Jeju Island is a great place to visit during winter as it has fresh citrus and colourful camellia flowers to see. You can enjoy winter sports, festivals and activities, such as ice fishing, ice skating, sledding, and more.

Check out my guide to Korean winter activities for the best places to have fun during winter.

What Is The Weather Like In Korea?

The weather in Korea follows a similar pattern each year, spread over five distinct seasons. As well as spring, summer, autumn, and winter, Korea also has a rainy season, which starts around mid-June and finishes mid-July. It doesn’t constantly rain during rainy season, but may do for several days.

There’s always something to do in Korea, no matter what the season. Even rainy season in Korea is fine for travelling, as long as you plan lots of indoor activities and can be flexible with your schedule. Don’t let the weather in Korea put you off visiting, you’ll find plenty to do in each season.

Here’s a summary of the weather in Korea each season:

The graph below shows you the average temperature each month in Seoul. This is an average temperature, so some days will be much hotter and others much colder. I’ve experienced summer temperatures of over 35 degrees and winter nights of -20, so be prepared for both.

Average monthly temperatures in Seoul Korea

The table below shows the average rainfall for each month in Korea, based on records from . The summer months have the most, while winter in Korea is very dry. The rainfall in the winter months can turn to snow when it’s cold enough, too.

There will be more information about the sights, festivals, and events you can enjoy in Korea in later parts of this South Korea travel guide. Check them out for travel ideas for your trip to Korea.

How To Book Flights To Korea

Person looking at flight times

Flying to Korea in 2024 is getting easier with more airlines offering direct or connecting flights to Korea and budget airlines adding more routes to Korea from other parts of Asia and as far away as the USA. There aren’t as many routes as there were in 2019, but they are returning month by month.

Booking a flight to Korea is one of the first things most people do and finding the right flight can really affect your travels. Choosing the right flight not only affects how much money you need to spend, but also when you’ll arrive, how you’ll get to your hotel, and where you’ll arrive in Korea.

Check out my guide to booking flights to Korea to discover the best ways to book a flight to Korea, including the best time to book (21 to 127 days before travel), where to get cheap flights, the various airlines that offer flights to Korea, and lots more.

Arriving At Incheon Airport

Most flights to Korea arrive at Incheon Airport, which is near Seoul. It takes about an hour to get to the centre of Seoul from Incheon Airport and there are various transportation options including a high-speed train, subway, limo buses, taxis, and private transfers.

The best option for transferring from Incheon Airport to your hotel is usually a limo bus as these run to popular areas of Seoul, such as Myeongdong, Hongdae, Gangnam, and Insadong. There’s also a direct train to Seoul Station and a subway that goes to Seoul Station via Hongdae.

Arriving during the daytime gives you the best options for getting from Incheon Airport into Seoul, while nighttime flights will leave you fewer options. There are a few night buses that run, but late arrivals will either need to stay at the airport or book a private transfer or taxi instead. More details about taking a taxi from Incheon Airport can be found in my guide to taxis in Korea .

If you want to book a private transfer direct to your hotel from Incheon Airport, contact Jerry Heng , a freelance driver. I want to recommend Jerry as he has years of experience organising airport pick-ups and drop-offs, as well as personalised tours around Korea. He’s also a friendly guy.

Recommended Flight Comparison Sites

I suggest checking at least one flight comparison website before booking any flights. You can alter the arrival and departure times, flight duration, choose direct or indirect flights, and sort by price to find the perfect flight for you. Skyscanner is my preferred comparison site, but they’re all useful.

Take time to change the dates and flight times to find the most suitable flights for you. Cheaper flights often have inconvenient arrival times, so you should decide whether it’s worth the hassle to save a bit of money. Sometimes spending more for the right flight is worth it, especially when time is limited.

I try to go for a balance of convenience and savings and avoid flights that arrive late at night or leave too early in the morning. These flights require you to book an extra night at the airport or make you lose time when you could be travelling and doing more interesting things.

Here are 4 of the best flight comparison sites for booking flights to Korea:

Skyscanner Flight Comparison Site

Skyscanner is one of the most popular flight aggregators and offers flights, hotels, and other travel bookings for all major destinations. Skyscanner shows airline environmental ratings and which flights are practical or difficult.

Expedia Flight Comparison Site

Expedia is a large US travel company that offers tours, flights, hotels, and other services around the world. You can book hotel and flights together, to save you time and effort when travelling. A good place to start your flight search.

Kayak Flight Comparison Website

Kayak is great for people looking for cheap flights to Korea. You can see price trends for your flight to Korea to see when the best prices are available. There are also lots of budget travel options on the site that can save you more.

Wayaway Flight Comparison Site

WayAway is a flight comparison site for the modern generation, with Instagram tips & travel advice as well as a good selection of cheap flights. You can get cashback on bookings with their premium service.

Where To Stay In Seoul

Popular neighbourhood to stay in Seoul

Incheon Airport is the main arrival destination for most travellers visiting Korea, with more than 71 million travellers passing through the airport in 2019, making it the world’s 14th busiest airport . It’s close to Seoul and has lots of transportation options to get into Korea’s capital.

Seoul is the first place people visit, not only because it’s close to Incheon Airport, but because it’s undeniably the heart and soul of Korea. The greater Seoul area includes about 50% of Korea’s population (25 million people) and is by far the biggest, most vibrant, and fun city in Korea.

To travel to Korea you need either a K-ETA or tourist visa . One of the requirements to apply for these is the address of the first place you’ll be staying in Korea. Therefore, you should book at least your first hotel in Korea so you can begin those applications. Seoul is an ideal first place to stay.

Best Neighbourhoods To Stay In Seoul

Deciding where to stay in Seoul can be difficult because there are so many unique neighbourhoods, each offering something interesting for travellers to experience. Knowing which has the best sights, entertainment, culture, shopping, transport, markets, restaurants, cafes, etc., is useful.

Seoul’s neighbourhoods typically contain a mixture of several of these elements and will appeal to different types of travellers. Below is a very rough guide for which neighbourhood each type of traveller might enjoy. Of course, there are plenty of other things to do in each area.

As you can see from the list above, both Hongdae and Myeongdong have a lot to offer and I would definitely recommend either of these neighbourhoods for first time travellers to Seoul. Even people who have travelled to Korea before will find lots of reasons to stay there. They’re where I usually stay.

I have detailed guides to hotels in the two best districts for staying in Seoul – Hongdae and Myeongdong. My guide to hotels in Hongdae includes a range of hotels for all types of travellers, while my guide to hotels in Myeongdong highlights Myeongdong’s best budget to mid-range hotels.

Each neighbourhood feels unique and offers something to discover, from traditional markets and eateries, modern Insta-worthy cafe districts, peaceful parks and lakes, world-class skyscrapers, and many fun activities. Wherever you choose to stay, you’re sure to find something you enjoy.

I’ve included the 8 best neighbourhoods in Seoul in this South Korea travel guide, along with a small summary about what you can expect in each area. These are the most popular areas for tourists to stay in, but certainly not the only places to stay. There are also links to hotels in these areas.

Here are the 8 best neighbourhoods in Seoul:

Myeongdong shopping sights and traditional markets

Myeongdong is arguably one of the best places to stay in Seoul for any traveller. It has the best range of budget and mid-range hotels in Seoul and is conveniently located for sights, activities, and public transport. It’s close to popular tourist sites, such as the N Seoul Tower and royal palaces. There are traditional markets and Myeongdong’s famous street food alley to check out. As Myeongdong is popular with tourists, you’ll find more people that can speak English and places to exchange money.

Hongdae youth culture shopping and dining area

Hongdae is one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Seoul and a must-see for any traveller to the city. This area has emerged as a creative hotbed for the latest Korean fashion, art, food, and culture, thanks to innovations from students of nearby universities. Youth culture is on display in Hongdae’s main and side streets, with boutique shops, trendy bars and cafes, inventive restaurants, street art, and live performances. If you want to see a vibrant, colourful side of Seoul, then Hongdae is the place for you.

Gangnam luxury shopping and modern k-culture

Gangnam is an upscale area of Seoul that’s home to some of Korea’s biggest stars. This area was where K-Pop was invented, as can be seen by the golden Gangnam Style statue outside COEX Mall. Gangnam is a lot more than that, and is a powerful business area with Seoul’s best shopping and dining experiences, as well as some of the city’s finest cafes and bars. Gangnam has a host of upmarket hotels that provide outstanding luxury, but also has a selection of budget and mid-range hotels making it accessible for all travellers.

Jongno Neighbourhood in Seoul traditional sights and hanok houses

Jongno is the area north of Myeongdong that includes Insadong, Bukchon Hanok Village, Ikseongdong Hanok Village, Jogyesa Temple, 4 of Seoul’s royal palaces, the presidential Blue House, and lots more. This area is packed full of interesting sights and traditional restaurants and tea houses to explore. You can find a good range of hotels in Insadong, Seoul’s artistic area that is home to artists and tourist-friendly attractions. There are also guesthouses and apartments to rent in the residential areas of Jongno that offer a more homely stay.

Jamsil luxury shopping theme parks and nature

Jamsil is an upmarket residential neigbourhood close to Gangnam that’s home to one of Korea’s largest companies, Lotte. You’ll find the Lotte World Tower, Lotte World Theme Park, and Lotte Aquarium in this area, as well as the beautiful Seokchon Lake and leafy Olympic Park. Jamsil is a great base for people visiting for cherry blossoms in spring as the Seokchon Lake Cherry Blossom Festival is one of Seoul’s best. There are lots of trendy cafes and bars near the lake and it’s a relaxed part of the city to stay in.

Dongdaemun neighbourhood traditional markets and modern culture

Dongdaemun is known for both its traditional markets, where you can buy a range of goods, as well as the futuristic Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP). The area is an unusual mix of traditional Seoul, with Gwangjang Market offering some of Seoul’s best Korean street food, and modern culture, displayed by the night markets and art installations at the DDP. There are lots of cheap eats and bargain markets and malls in this area, making it a great place to stay if you plan to do a lot of bargain shopping in Seoul.

Yongsan International culture and Korean history

Yongsan is the area encompassing the N Seoul Tower, the popular international area of Itaewon, the trendy hilltop area of Haebangchon (HBC), Seoul Station, the National Museum of Seoul, and many riverside parks. Yongsan has a busy train station with towering skyscrapers and hotels around it catering to business and luxury travellers, as well as shoppers. This quiet business and residential area has good transport links and fewer crowds than other parts of Seoul, as well as interesting cultural attractions.

Yeoudio riverside parks and business district

Yeouido is a large island that rests in the Han River, overlooking Hongdae and Yongsan. It has some of the best parks in Seoul and is a popular place for locals to walk along the river on weekends and at night. These parks are home to Seoul’s biggest cherry blossom festivals, as well as summer night markets, fireworks performances, live music, and people enjoying life outside of work. Yeouido is the upmarket financial centre of Seoul, making it an ideal base for business, luxury, and family travellers.

Seoul’s neighbourhoods are informal designations, not necessarily the official district name. For example, Hongdae is a neighbourhood in the Mapo-gu district and Myeongdong a neighbourhood in the Jung-gu district. Whereas Jongno is both the neighbourhood and district name (Jongno-gu).

You might see some areas referred to differently. However, the terms I’ve used in this section are the names most commonly used to describe these areas by tourists and expats. Koreans will certainly know which area of Seoul you’re talking about when you use these names.

Learn more : If you want to know more about Seoul’s best districts and figure out where the best place to stay for your trip to Korea, then check out my detailed guide about where to stay in Seoul . It’s packed with useful info about each neighbourhood, hotel recommendations for different budgets, and tips about booking accommodation in Seoul. Also learn more about the Han River Boat Service launching in 2024 to connect Yeoudio, Jamsil and other riverside destinations.

Hotel Recommendations For Seoul

Hotel room in Seoul for travellers

There are hundreds (maybe thousands) of hotels in Seoul to choose from ranging from multi-person dorm rooms to the height of luxury looking down over Seoul from a 5-star hotel room in the Lotte World Tower . Whatever your budget or requirements, there’ll be somewhere to stay in Seoul for you.

To save you time searching for the best places to stay in Seoul, I’ve created a list of the 9 best luxury, mid-range, and budget hotels in Seoul, as well as 6 long-stay serviced apartments. This list has been created based on customer reviews, location, facilities, amenities, reputation, and quality.

I live outside of Seoul, so often book hotels when I’m visiting Seoul for the weekend . I’ve stayed at quite a few of these, so can personally recommend them based on my own experience. I’ve had both good and bad hotel experiences in Seoul and only want to recommend the best to you.

Recommended Luxury Hotels

Seoul has some incredible luxury hotels to enjoy, each with a true 5-star service, excellent amenities, and delectable restaurants. Many of Seoul’s best luxury hotels are located in Gangnam, Seoul’s wealthiest district, where you can find top restaurants and designer brand shopping.

Recommended Mid-Range Hotels

If you want to experience a luxurious stay in Seoul without breaking the bank, then these mid-range hotels will be perfect for you. These unique, 4-star hotels are reasonably priced and provide stylish, comfortable rooms that you’ll sleep easily in after a busy day exploring Seoul.

Recommended Budget Hotels

Seoul has a wide range of excellent budget hotels with prices that might surprise you for a large city. These are some of my favourite places to stay in Seoul when I visit for the weekend and are popular with travellers due to their convenient location, facilities, and comfortable beds.

Recommended Serviced Apartments

If you plan to stay in Seoul for a month or more, these serviced apartments will provide you all the comforts of home with the benefits of staying at a hotel. These excellent serviced apartments come with cleaning services, health facilities, cooking facilities, and are value for money.

Cost To Travel In South Korea In 2024

Korean won Korean money

This part of the South Korea travel guide will help you understand some of your expected costs to travel to Korea. The costs to travel to Korea include flights, accommodation, food, drinks, transportation, activities, sim cards, visas, souvenirs, travel insurance, and lots more.

The costs you will pay when you travel vary massively depending on what type of traveller you are and what style of travel you can afford. If you want 5-star luxury and fine-dining, your budget will be very different from someone eating ramyeon from 7-11 and staying in a budget guesthouse.

Therefore, I will try to provide expected costs for 3 different types of traveller – budget , mid-range , and luxury . These aren’t exact figures, but should give you a rough idea of how much you’ll spend.

Daily Costs To Travel In Korea

There are costs that you will pay each day when travelling in Korea that can be averaged out to give you a daily cost. Knowing these figures will help you plan your budget for Korea and to see where you can afford to spend more for the one-off costs to travel, which will be covered next.

The daily costs are accommodation, food & drinks, transportation, attractions & tours, and miscellaneous expenses that can pop up unexpectedly. These miscellaneous costs might include getting a street food snack, an unexpected entrance fee, or a few extra drinks in the evening.

Transportation will be covered later in this South Korea travel guide and there are some useful tips to reduce your transportation costs. You will also be able to see some of the best attractions, tours, and activities in Korea and you’ll be able to work out how much you’ll spend on those.

Here are the daily costs per person to travel in Korea:

Please note : These are costs per day, per person . Couples and families sharing a room will have lower costs as double rooms aren’t much more expensive than single rooms. Some days will be cheaper, some much more expensive, especially if you take day trips or visit premium attractions.

There are also one-off costs not included in these daily costs. These can be pre-travel costs, such as flights and a K-ETA or tourist visa (already covered), travel insurance, vaccinations, and such like. Pre-travel costs are different for each traveller and depend on your country of residence.

Other one-off costs during travel in Korea may include day tours, souvenirs, shopping, celebrations, medical costs, and expenses that you don’t normally pay each day. Again, these vary for each traveller and are difficult to calculate as people’s budgets are so different.

Is Korea A Cheap Country To Travel In?

cost to travel in Korea

Korea is relatively cheap country to visit, but certainly isn’t always a budget destination. The cost to travel to Korea has risen over the last few years and might be more expensive than you think, even if you’ve previously visited Korea. Flying to Korea is certainly more expensive now.

Food costs rose by 7.5% in 2022 alone and these costs have been passed on to restaurants, which now charge higher prices for meals. Transportation costs rose by about 20% in 2023 for buses and subways, although these are still relatively cheap compared to some countries.

Despite these price increases, travelling in Korea is still cheaper than travelling in most other high-income industrialised countries such as Japan, the USA, and Western Europe. If you’re from countries such as the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, or Malaysia, Korea may seem expensive.

City Passes That Save You Money In Seoul

There are a number of city passes that can save you money when visiting Seoul by offering free or discounted entry to some of the best attractions in the city for a single price. The original city pass for Seoul is the Discover Seoul Pass, but now there is also the Go City Pass and Klook Pass Seoul.

Here’s a summary of each of these Seoul city passes:

Discover Seoul Pass : Available in 24 | 48 | 72 hour periods, allows entry to top attractions in Seoul such as Lotte World Adventure, N Seoul Tower, COEX Aquarium, Alive Museum, Zoolung Zoolung, Sealala Sauna, Gyeongbokgung Palace, and more. Prices start at 50,000 KRW .

Go City Seoul Pass : Available as 1 – 5 day passes or a flexible pass for up to 7 attractions. Covers a wider amount of attractions than the DSP, including a DMZ Tour, Nanta Cookin’ Musical, Seoul Land, Seoul Pub Crawl, Seoul Ghost Tour, and more. Prices start at 68,000 KRW .

Klook Pass Seoul : Available for use 2 – 5 attractions, including Everland or Lotte World Adventure theme parks. The Klook Pass Seoul allows free entry to selected attractions within a 30 day period. Attractions include the N Seoul Tower and Lotte World Aquarium. Prices start at 44,000 KRW .

If you’d like to know more about these passes, be sure to check out my article about the Klook Pass Seoul , as well as my suggested Discover Seoul Pass itineraries . I’ll have a review article of the Go City Seoul Pass soon, too.

How To Save Money In Korea

How to save money in Korean won

There are always ways to save money and spend less in Korea. Budget options exist for travellers and you can travel in Korea for less than 150,000 KRW per day, even as little as 50,000 KRW per day. Here are some of the ways you can save money in Korea and travel more for less:

Eat like a local : Visit the traditional markets, food stalls, and traditional Korean restaurants. These are much cheaper than eating foreign foods in Korea. University areas are usually cheap, too.

Spend less on coffee : Coffee in Korea can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. A latte could cost you 5,000 KRW in a chain store, but there are cheap hole-in-the-wall cafes where it’s half that.

Shop in the markets : From designer goods (possibly fake) to souvenirs, the markets of Seoul and other cities usually have the best prices. Don’t be afraid to haggle.

Use public transport : Korea has a fantastic public transport network both in cities and between cities. Don’t waste money on taxis and private transfers when you can use a bus or subway.

Book everything online : You can find discounted entry and tour tickets online that are much cheaper than the regular price. Use Klook , Get Your Guide , and Viator for the best prices.

Stay in guesthouses and hostels : You can find rooms for as little as 10,000 KRW per night in shared dorms and 20,000 KRW in guesthouses. Book ahead to find the best prices.

Take advantage of free things : There are lots of places you can visit for free in Seoul and free services, such as walking tours in Seoul, 30-minute hanbok rentals, and even free entry to the palaces.

Get your tax back : Korea makes it really easy to recover tax you’ve paid when shopping. Stores in Seoul will process tax returns for you or you can claim a refund at the airport when you leave.

You will see tips and links in this South Korea travel guide that are designed to help you save money when you visit Korea. Booking tours, attractions, and sim cards in advance can save you a lot of money, as can using a T-Money card and Wise travel card. Keep reading for more money-saving tips.

Travel Money And Money Exchanges In Korea

Korean won travel money

If you follow the tips in this section of this South Korea travel guide, you can certainly save yourself a lot of money and avoid unnecessary fees when spending in Korea. Learn where and how to exchange money, how to avoid ATM and card fees, and how to get tax back before you leave.

Because this section covers a lot of the common questions people ask about travel money in Korea, it will be broken down into a question and answer format. This should make it easier for you to find the information you’re looking for and discover answers you didn’t know you were looking for.

Can You Use A Foreign Card In Korea?

Almost all foreign credit cards with Visa or Mastercard will be accepted in Korea and it is possible to use these cards to pay across the country. American Express is also accepted in popular tourist areas, but not as widely as Visa or Mastercard and may have problems outside of big cities.

Foreign debit cards should work if they use Visa or Mastercard, but there may be restrictions in place with your bank when using them abroad. It is recommended that you call your bank to check before travelling. For both credit and debit cards, check your bank for any fees you’ll pay overseas.

Can You Withdraw Cash From An ATM In Korea?

Foreign Currency Global ATM in Korea

You can withdraw cash from ATMs in Korea using a debit card, but not all ATMs will accept international cards. Look for a sign saying ‘Global ATM’ or ‘Foreign Currency ATM’ to withdraw cash in Korea with a debit card. You can also withdraw cash using a credit card, but it’s more expensive.

Whether you use a debit or credit card, an ATM is likely to charge a fee to withdraw money using a foreign card. Your bank or credit card company may also charge a fee or give a bad exchange rate. These costs can add up a lot if you withdraw regularly, so try to make fewer withdrawals.

Learn more : Should you use cash or card when you visit Korea? This article about the how to pay in Korea has lots of useful information about payment methods in Korea, including alternatives to the usual mix of cash and a credit card.

How Can You Save Money When Paying By Card In Korea?

Instead of using a foreign debit or credit card in Korea, which might have expensive fees or not work in places, here are two better options. The first is the WOWPASS travel card , which offers tourist-friendly card services in Korea. The other is to apply for a travel card that can be used globally.

Both the WOWPASS and the two other travel cards offer the ability to pay by card in Korea and to withdraw cash in Korean won. They also offer better exchange rates than you’ll find in airport or local money exchanges in Korea. They each have some unique features, which will be illustrated below.

Pay Like A Local With WOWPASS

The WOWPASS is a new way to pay in Korea that combines the essential functions of a T-Money transportation card with the benefits of a local debit card. This is a prepaid card you can top up at more than 90 locations in KRW or your own currency. Just look for the bright orange WOW machines.

WOWPASS Money Exchange Machine In Seoul

The T-Money function in the WOWPASS means it’s more useful than other travel cards as you don’t need to carry two separate cards when you travel. Please note, you still need to charge the T-Money balance of WOWPASS with cash, just like a regular T-Money card.

The WOWPASS travel card allows you to add up to 1,000,000 KRW to your card and can be used to pay for almost anything in Korea without any fees. The card is issued by a Korean company, so you can use it to withdraw cash at any WOWPASS machine located in Seoul & other cities in Korea.

Paying with a WOWPASS card in Korea

Thanks to the user-friendly WOWPASS app, users can freeze or replace their card, check their spending, add funds, and check exchange rates. Because the WOWPASS isn’t tied to your home bank account, it also reduces the damage by card fraud, in case the worst was to happen.

As well as a regular WOWPASS, you can also reserve the All-In-One Airport Package , which includes the WOWPASS, 10,000 KRW T-Money balance, and a discounted Korean sim card. This is really useful for those who want to get connected and travelling as soon as they arrive in Korea. Get the WOWPASS app for Android or Apple .

Tip : Use the invitation code INMYKOR1 to get cashback on WOWPASS top-ups in foreign currency.

Overseas Travel Cards You Can Use In Korea

Overseas travel cards are another option for spending in Korea and I use them myself to spend money from my UK bank account in Korea, as well as when travelling in other countries. They’re really simple to use and are much cheaper than paying with my foreign card or exchanging money.

Two of the leading travel card companies are Wise and Revolut . I use both of these to pay for things in Korea and have written an article about how to use the Wise card in Korea . You can use them to pay for hotels, food, drinks, transportation, taxis, attractions, and lots more. They’re really useful.

Here’s a summary of the main features of these travel cards:

Wise Travel Card for spending in Korea

The Wise travel card allows you to easily transfer and convert money from your home bank account into dozens of other currencies and use this money to pay when you’re travelling. You only need to transfer as much as you plan to spend and can easily transfer back anything you haven’t. The exchange rate will be better than your bank or a money exchange offers, too.

A versatile, easy to use app breaks down what you’ve spent by category so you can track your travel spending. You can withdraw cash from ATMs, pay by QR code, use it for Google Pay, and pay by contactless. Even if you lose your card, you can still spend money. It’s also really safe as you can freeze your card, set spending limits, and limit how much money you transfer.

Revolut Travel Card for spending in Korea

The Revolut travel card can be used in Korea to pay for a wide range of goods and services without expensive fees for spending your home currency overseas. Unlike the Wise travel card, which lets you transfer money into different currencies and then spend in a local currency, such as Korean won, the Revolut travel card lets you pay fee-free with your home currency.

The Revolut travel card comes with an easy to use app that can be used to manage your money both at home and when travelling in Korea. You can check your spending with categories and reports and set budgets for your spending. The Revolut travel card also offers cashback in the US, stock and crypto investments, and the same security features as the Wise travel card.

Can You Use Apple Pay In Korea?

Apple Pay wasn’t previously available in Korea due to a lack of approval by Korea’s financial regulator. However, in February 2023, Apple Pay received approval to begin operating in Korea through the Hyundai Card Co., allowing payments with Apple devices from March 2023 onwards.

The Apple Pay payment system has been available in Korea since March 21st , 2023 and allows Apple Pay members to pay for goods and services at NFC-enabled payment terminals. However, on the launch date of Apple Pay, there were only 70,000 NFC-enabled payment terminals in Korea.

The lack of NFC-enabled payment terminals will be a big issue for Apple Pay users in Korea as there are around 2,900,000 shops in Korea and most won’t accept Apple Pay. Franchises like Starbucks can’t accept Apple Pay and it can’t be used to pay for public transport. You’ll need a T-Money card.

Samsung Pay, which uses MST technology, not NFC, currently dominates the Korean market. NFC-enabled terminals should grow, especially in tourist areas and city-centres from 2023 onwards. This will be good news for Google Pay, which also uses NFC technology and also isn’t in use in Korea yet.

Should You Exchange Money Before Travelling To Korea?

It is not necessary to exchange money into Korean won before travelling to Korea, but it can certainly be useful to have a small amount of money. Exchange rates for Korean won outside Korea may not be as good as within Korea and changing large amounts of cash before you travel isn’t essential.

It might be hard to get Korean won from your local bank or money exchange as it’s not one of the most commonly exchanged currencies. Therefore, you might find exchange rates less favourable and extra fees applied to exchange money. Using travel cards like Wise or Revolut is a better option.

Should You Change Money At Incheon Airport?

Foreign Currency Exchange at Incheon Airport

I’ve travelled around the world and always avoid exchanging money at the airport if I can help it. Airports often have the worst rates for money exchange as they know people need to get local cash, there aren’t many other options, and you need at least a bit of money to travel to your hotel.

Incheon Airport is an exception to this rule and I’ve compared travel exchange rates at several times when flying into and out of the airport. The foreign currency exchange rates at Incheon Airport aren’t that bad and are just slightly higher than what you’d find in Seoul. Not the best, but not bad.

There are also Global ATMs at Incheon Airport, so you can withdraw cash here. If you have a Wise or Revolut travel card, you can withdraw up to $200 fee-free from an ATM in Korea. However, Korean banks will charge a withdrawal fee (about 3,000 KRW), which applies to any foreign card used.

Where Can You Exchange Money In Seoul?

Seoul is the first destination for most travellers to Korea and if you want to save money on exchange rate fees, I recommend exchanging money in the capital. There are two main options for exchanging money easily and quickly in Seoul – WOW money exchange machines and money exchanges.

Here’s a summary about the two main ways to exchange money in Seoul:


The cheapest and most convenient option for exchanging money in Seoul is through a WOW money exchange machine. This automated machine gives the best exchange rates and can quickly and easily exchange foreign cash for Korean won. It doesn’t accept card payments, only cash. All you need to do is scan your passport and deposit your cash and it will convert it into Korean won immediately. There are dozens of these machines in Seoul, as well as in other cities like Busan and Daejeon.

Money Exchanges In Seoul

The traditional way to exchange foreign currency in Seoul was through a money exchange. You can find these in Myeongdong, where many tourists stay and visit in Seoul. There are also money exchanges inside banks and in other tourist hotspots. These used to be the best place to exchange money, until the WOW money exchanges were introduced and travel cards like Wise and Revolut made it easier to use a card. If you want to use a money exchange in Seoul, Myeongdong is the best place to do it.

Can You Get Tax Back When Shopping In Korea?

Travellers to Korea can claim tax back on eligible purchases during their trip. This can be done immediately after you purchase an item (if the shop offers the service) or at Incheon Airport or other airports in Korea before you depart.

Instant tax refunds are available at certain locations in Seoul and other big cities. These are usually department stores and large chain stores. You are able to claim tax refunds for goods up to a total value of 2,500,000 KRW (incl. tax). There is a tax refund limit of 500,000 KRW per transaction.

2024 Tax Refund Changes : From 2024, the tax refund limits will be doubled, so you will be able to claim up to 5,000,000 KRW of tax back and claim up to 1,000,000 KRW back per transaction. Source: Korea Herald .

To claim a tax refund you need:

  • To show your passport
  • To be a tourist in Korea
  • To spend between 30,000 to 300,000 KRW in one place
  • To be leaving Korea within 3 months

Tax isn’t refundable on all purchases, so be sure to check when shopping. Tax refunds can also be claimed at the airport as long as you have the receipt and the goods you’ve purchased.

Mobile Phones And Internet In Korea

Using a phone while travelling in Korea

Staying connected to the Internet when visiting Korea is becoming more and more essential these days. Keeping your mobile phone, tablet, or computer connected to the web is useful not only to stay in touch with people back home, but also to help you save money and travel Korea more easily.

There are several options to stay connected in Korea when you travel. The main options for travellers are tourist SIM cards, either physical or eSIMs, portable WiFi routers, and relying on free WiFi provided in public places and hotels. All of these are good options, but there are other considerations, too.

This South Korea travel guide will cover the main differences between Korean SIM cards and portable WiFi routers and which will be most suitable for you. There are also details about why you might want a Korean phone number and which apps to use to help you travel in Korea.

Don’t forget, if you bring your phone or other mobile devices to Korea, you’ll need a travel adapter .

Should You Get A Korean SIM Card Or WiFi Router?

Both a Korean SIM card or portable WiFi router will provide access to Korea’s high-speed mobile networks and keep you connected to the Internet. They provide a secure internet connection, but do so in a different way and with different available features. Find out about the best Korean SIM card for tourists in this SK SIM card review .

Here are the main features of Korean SIM cards and WiFi routers:

Costs : SIM cards and WiFi routers are similarly priced when using them for a two week period, but they are charged in different ways. SIM cards are fixed-price and can be bought for set time periods, whereas WiFi routers are charged daily. WiFi routers are cheaper in the short-term.

Ease of use : If you purchase or pre-order a SIM card or portable WiFi router at Incheon Airport, which I highly recommend, the staff will install or setup everything for you. Once they’re activated, it’s very simple to use either one. Cancelling and returning them at the airport is also easy for both.

Here are the reasons you should get a Korean SIM card or portable WiFi router in Korea:

Korean sim cards to make phone calls

You should get a Korean SIM card when visiting Korea to get a Korean phone number. The benefits of having a Korean phone number are mainly to make calls and use Korean apps. SIM cards are also useful if you want a secure connection everywhere you go and plan to make calls or send texts. When you have a SIM card, you can tether your network connection to connect other devices you own. Korean phone coverage is amazing and you’ll get service everywhere. SIM cards don’t require you to carry any extra devices and are cheaper over the long-run than WiFi routers.

portable wifi routers in Korea

You should get a portable WiFi router if you’re travelling in a group or as a family as you can connect multiple devices to one router. This is much cheaper than getting separate SIM cards for all travellers, but also requires people stay close together. WiFi routers are charged per day and if you need additional days, they’ll be automatically added and charged when you return the router. This means you’ll never have to worry about your service suddenly ending. The main downside to using a WiFi router is the lack of Korean phone number, but that might not be an issue if you don’t need one.

Where Can You Get Korean SIM Cards Or WiFi Routers?

Sim card and wifi routers at Incheon Airport Korea

You can get a Korean SIM card or portable WiFi router in several ways. The easiest way, and one that I definitely recommend, is to purchase online through a tour company such as Klook , Viator , or Get Your Guide , and get a SIM card at Incheon Airport or other entry point into Korea when you arrive..

The main reason I recommend this method is that you can guarantee you will get a SIM card or router and it will be waiting for you when you arrive. The collection desks at Incheon Airport are open 24-hours a day and they will help you install everything you need to get started immediately.

You can also get SIM cards and WiFi routers when you arrive at the airport and you should find similar rates. However, you won’t be guaranteed a device and you will need to pay in person. When you book online, you can pay in your home currency and avoid those issues.

I don’t recommend getting a SIM card or WiFi router in Seoul or other cities. It is possible, but you may run into language issues and find less tourist-friendly options. Phone shops outside the airport usually cater to Koreans, not tourists. Airport rentals are the easiest options for visitors to Korea.

What’s The Benefit Of A Korean Phone Number For Tourists?

There are two main benefits of having a Korean phone number for tourists. The first benefit is the ability to call people when you’re in Korea. This can be useful for making reservations, keeping in touch with people, and in case of emergencies.

The second benefit of having a Korean phone number is the ability to use Korean apps . It isn’t mandatory to have a Korean phone number to use Korean apps, but most won’t let you use their services unless you sign up with a phone number. Using Korean apps makes travelling easier.

A phone number is like a form of identity in Korea, which is why you need your passport to register a SIM card. Once you have a phone number, many more services are available, including food delivery, ordering taxis, making reservations (such as for the Busan Sky Capsule ), and online messaging.

What Apps Do I Need For Travelling In Korea?

If you have a Korean phone number, you can use Korean apps. Even without a Korean number, you can still download these apps and use some of their services. Full features typically require a phone number though. There are other, non-Korean apps that will help you when travelling, too.

Here are the most useful apps to use when travelling in Korea:

Papago : This is the essential translation tool for visiting Korea. Papago’s translation services are the best and you can use the app to take pictures and translate Korean signs, menus, and other pictures.

Naver Maps : To find your way around Korea, use Naver Maps or Kakao Maps. Their systems are much more accurate in Korea than Google Maps. Use them to plan travel routes and transport times.

Kakao Taxi : Uber and Grab don’t really exist in Korea, so if you plan to take a taxi, you’ll need to use Kakao Taxi. Simple to use and takes the hassle out of trying to use Korean to give directions.

Kakao Talk : This is Korea’s most popular messaging app and is useful for keeping in touch with Korean friends, contacting businesses in Korea, and even calling abroad.

Seoul Subway : Use this app to travel around Seoul’s underground more easily. Plan your route, see when the next train is due to arrive, check connections, and see how late the trains run.

Korail Talk : This app allows you to book trains on Korea’s high-speed train network and regular train routes. This app has an English setting, so you can check train times and prices easily.

Coupang Eats : This is a food-delivery app that allows you to order almost anything edible and get it sent directly to you. You can even order convenience store goods. Useful for rainy days.

Mango Plate : Find restaurants in Korea with this app and discover the best places to go out and eat. You can also see restaurant details and get directions in Naver Maps and Kakao Maps.

WOWPASS : To use the WOWPASS to pay like a local in Korea and for T-Money functions, you’ll need the WOWPASS app. This will let you check your balances and spending and control your card.

Wise & Revolut : As mentioned in this South Korea travel guide, using a travel card to pay for items in Korea will save you money when you travel. If you use Wise or Revolut, make sure you have the app.

Klook : This company provides some of the best tours in Korea and if you make bookings through their website, you can easily manage them with the Klook app.

Intercity Bus by T-Money : This app is great for booking buses between cities in Korea. There is an English version that allows you to book tickets, check times, and see available seats.

These apps should be available on both Android and Apple. Some of these apps might default to Korean, but you should be able to change them to English in the side menu.

Is There Free WiFi In Korea?

Travellers in Korea have the option to not get a sim card or portable WiFi but still stay connected. This is thanks to the excellent Free Wifi in Korea that is provided in public transport, government buildings, restaurants, cafes, and many other places. This is mostly in the cities, however.

Hotels also provide free WiFi in most cities in Korea. If you plan to rely on free WiFi, I recommend using the hotel’s WiFi to plan routes, check opening times, and research places you want to visit. Take screenshots of these details so you can see them later, even if you don’t have Internet access.

The only warning I would give about relying on free WiFi when travelling in Korea is the increased use of mobile-dependent apps and passes in Korea. Physical tickets and passes are being phased out in favour of digital versions, which often need an active Internet connection to use.

I’ve noticed in recent years that services that impact travellers have moved to digital versions. This includes the T-Money card, Discover Seoul Pass, train and coach tickets, attraction tickets and event tickets. I believe that having a reliable net connection will be a must for most travellers soon.

Using Public Transport In Korea In 2024

Public transport in Korea ITX train

This section of the South Korea travel guide looks at Korea’s public transport system and how to navigate it as a traveller. Korea has arguably one of the best public transport systems in the world. It’s cheap, well-connected, frequent, and runs on time. Other countries could learn a lot from Korea.

The great news for tourists is that Korea’s public transport is very foreigner friendly and information is provided in English in almost all places, as well as Chinese and Japanese in popular areas such as Seoul and Busan. Travelling by public transport in Korea is cheap, easy, and convenient.

How Much Does Public Transport Cost In Korea?

The cost of public transportation in Korea is fixed, no matter what day you purchase tickets on. If you buy one month in advance, or last minute, you will pay the same price for the journey. Journeys within a city are a single price and not dependent on how far you travel, unless you leave the city limits.

All journeys are single fares and you can’t buy return tickets. You will need to buy two singles when you want to travel somewhere and back again. The cost of a single fare depends on how you pay for the ticket – by cash or with a transportation card.

Here are the costs for public transport in Korea by payment method, type and user:

Please note : The cost of subway rides is set to rise to 1,400 / 1,500 KRW in October 2023. These prices will be adjusted when this occurs.

How Do You Pay For Public Transport In Korea?

The cost of public transport in Korea depends on whether you pay with a transportation card, such as T-Money, a Korea Tour Card , or Cashbee, or in cash. This applies to both subways and buses. If you use a transportation card, you should add credit to it, then touch it to the card reader at the subway or bus to pay.

To use cash to buy a subway ticket, you will need to buy a ticket at the station. For buses, you should pay the correct fare to the driver when boarding the bus. However, since 2022, buses across Korea have started to end the use of cash and some will insist on payment by transportation card only.

In the future, bus payments are expected to become simpler with fares deducted via bluetooth-enabled phones that have the relevant app downloaded. This system has already been in place in Gyeonggi Province since March 2022 and is likely to spread to more bus routes in the future.

I highly recommend getting a T-Money card when you travel to Korea. You can use it to pay for public transportation (at a discounted rate), and it will work almost everywhere in Korea. It can also be used to buy goods from shops, cafes, and restaurants. It’s really convenient and a must-have for Korea.

Using T-Money To Pay For Public Transport In Korea

T-Money card machine to pay for public transport in Korea

A T-Money card is the essential transportation card for using public transport in Korea. You can purchase one at Incheon Airport, subway and train stations, and convenience stores across Korea. The card can be used in many places. It never expires, so you can use it on different trips, too.

Here is how to use a T-Money card in Korea:

  • Purchase a T-Money card (2,500 KRW)
  • Add money to the card (cash top-up only)
  • Enter the bus or subway station
  • Tap the T-Money card against the card reader (see pic above)
  • Tap the T-Money card again when you get off (for transfer discount)
  • Recharge when necessary

I recommend adding about 10,000 KRW for each day you plan to travel in Korea. That means about 70,000 KRW for a week. You can add more money later if necessary. You can top up at convenience stores and transport stations. There is also an app version of T-Money, but the card version is better.

How Do You Use Trains In Korea?

Korean high speed trains KTX

The train network in Korea is divided into high-speed trains (KTX) and regular trains (ITX and Mugunghwa). The KTX network connects major cities in Korea and is convenient for travelling around Korea quickly and cheaply. The carriages are comfortable and come with modern facilities.

Unlike other forms of public transport in Korea, transportation cards like T-Money aren’t accepted for trains. You will need to buy a train ticket to travel and all tickets are single tickets. The price to buy a ticket doesn’t change and you can refund a ticket up to the last minute for only a small fee.

You can book tickets within 30 days of travel through the official Korail website or app, or at a train station in Korea. Unfortunately, buying a train ticket online in Korea can be difficult as Korean payment systems often reject cards issued outside of Korea. Buying in person is recommended.

How To Book Korean Rail Tickets Outside Of Korea

If you want to book Korean train tickets outside of Korea, you can do it online with , which is Korail’s exclusive overseas distributor. The price is slightly higher (about 5%) than the price you’ll pay in Korea, but it will allow you to book tickets online and secure your seat in advance.

If you plan to travel on the main KTX route between Seoul and Busan, I highly recommend booking tickets in advance. There are three types of tickets available – first class, regular, and standing. The journey takes 2:34 and you don’t want to be standing for all that time. Book ahead for comfort.

Is The Korea Rail Pass Worth The Price?

The Korea Rail Pass is a good option for tourists who plan to travel long distances by train in Korea, such as between Seoul and Busan or Seoul and Jeonju. The pass has two main options – flexible and consecutive. These mean you can use it any time (flexible) or within consecutive days.

The flexible pass is more expensive, but offers more freedom to travel around Korea over a longer period. You can use the pass to only cover big journeys and won’t feel pressured to use it again until you’re ready. The extra cost is more than worth the inconvenience of having to rush travel plans.

Will you save money with the Korea Rail Pass? That depends on your travel plans, how often you’ll be travelling by train, and how many people are travelling. If there are 2 people or more, purchase the group saver pass and save 10,000 KRW each on the pass. Group tours make it better value.

The Korea Rail Pass does not allow you to ride on the subway for free, which would make it better value. It can also be complicated to reserve tickets online using the pass and buying tickets in the regular way is more convenient. Overall, the pass isn’t essential, but might save you money.

How Do You Use Taxis In Korea?

People using a taxi in Korea

Taxis in Korea can be hailed from the street or called directly to you using apps such as Kakao Taxi . Companies like Uber and Grab don’t have a large presence in Korea and operate the same way as Kakao Taxi, by helping you find an official taxi driver. Private taxi services aren’t common.

The big issue facing the Korean taxi industry in 2024 is the lack of taxi drivers. This can make it hard to get a taxi, even when using an app like Kakao Taxi. Late night taxis are particularly difficult to find. Read this guide about how to use Kakao Taxi to help you learn how to call a taxi in Korea.

Taxi prices in Korea are reasonable, especially compared to countries like Japan and the UK. Although base taxi fares rose in 2023 to 4,800 KRW, the price is still low and relatively affordable to travel by taxi if you need to. It’s a good option if there are no direct public transport routes.

Taking a taxi to and from Incheon Airport is a convenient option if you have a lot of bags or you are travelling in a group. For solo travellers or couples, I would recommend using public transport or a limo bus, as it’s significantly cheaper and won’t take much longer than a taxi.

How Do You Use Intercity Buses In Korea?

Intercity buses in Korea operate in a similar way to trains. You can only book tickets within 30 days of travel and can only buy single tickets. Book tickets online through websites such as T-Money Bus or Bustago , through app versions of these sites, or at the bus terminal you will depart from.

You can’t walk onto intercity buses without a ticket, nor can you use transportation cards like T-Money to pay on entry. You will need to pay for and receive your ticket (physical or digital) before you can enter the bus. Ticket machines usually (but not always) have English options for buying tickets.

There are no return bus tickets in Korea and you can only buy tickets from your point of departure, unless you book online or via an app. If you’re travelling from Seoul to Gangneung, for example, you will need to buy a ticket in Seoul and then a ticket in Gangneung. You can’t buy both in Seoul.

How Can You Hire A Car In Korea?

Renting a car is a great way to see parts of Korea that aren’t covered by the train network and gives you the freedom to explore at your leisure. If you plan to travel to Jeju Island, which doesn’t have any trains, hiring a car will be a lot more convenient and is almost a must if you plan to travel inland.

Car rental in Korea isn’t that expensive and you can rent a modern car for as little as 75,000 KRW per day. I recommend booking car rentals through Klook , they will deal with the Korean car rental companies and reserve a car for you. This is easier than trying to do it in Korean.

To hire a car in Korea, you will need:

  • Driver’s license (must have had it for at least 1 or 2 years)
  • International Driving Permit (in some cases)
  • Credit card (in the name of the main driver)
  • Valid photo ID (passport)
  • Printed voucher for rental (if booked online)

Here’s some more information about the International Driving Permit and rules you should follow when driving in Korea, such as the legal requirement to wear seatbelts, booster seats for under 6s, and not using your phone while driving. Be sure to read up on local rules before driving in Korea.

Best Places To Visit In Korea In 2024

Bukchon Hanok Village is one of the best places to visit in Korea

The next few sections of this South Korea travel guide will help you figure out what you want to do and see on your travels. This first section will give you a brief introduction to the best places to visit in Korea, including the major cities, tourist hotspots, and unique areas that you’re sure to love.

Here are the best places to visit in Korea:

Seoul Korea's Capital City

Seoul: Korea’s Capital

Seoul is Korea’s vibrant, bustling capital and truly a must-see for any first-time visitor to Korea. There is so much to see and do in Seoul that you could easily spend a week or more exploring the city and not get bored. You will find yourself falling in love with the city for different reasons. Maybe it’s the friendly people, the deliciously cheap street eats, the way things just work, the hidden murals on old buildings down side streets, the feeling of safety even in a big city, or the historic sights creeping out from modern buildings. Seoul includes everything Korea has to offer, plus a lot more you won’t find elsewhere.

What To See In Seoul

Here are 10 great places to visit in Seoul:

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Bukchon Hanok Village
  • Myeongdong Street Markets
  • Lotte World Tower & Seokchon Lake
  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Markets
  • Yeouido Han River Park & Cruise
  • Secret Garden (Changdeokgung Palace)
  • N Seoul Tower & Namsan Mountain
  • COEX Mall & Bongeunsa Temple
  • Bukhansan National Park

Gamcheon Culture Village In Busan Korea (1)

Busan: Big Coastal City

While Seoul is a showcase of all things Korean, Busan is unashamedly its own city and a celebration of coastal life and local culture. Busan is famous for fresh seafood, traditional markets, great beaches, big festivals, movies, temples, and places to explore the coast. Beaches are popular places to visit in Busan, along with cliff-side walkways with views over the ocean. Central Busan is a lively spot with lots of entertainment and markets to enjoy, including a famous fish market where you can choose your own lunch and then eat it. Busan is spread out and deserves several days to explore it properly.

What To See In Busan

Here are 10 great places to visit in Busan:

  • Haeundae Beach & Beach Train
  • Jagalchi Fish Market
  • Gamcheon Culture Village
  • Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
  • Songdo Beach & Cable Car
  • Huinnyeoul Culture Village
  • BIFF Square & Centum City Mall
  • Oryukdo Skywalk & Coastal Paths
  • Lotte World Busan
  • Busan X The Sky Observatory

Jeju Islands famous attraction Seongsan Ilchulbong

Jeju Island: Natural Wonder

Jeju Island is a gorgeous island created from a volcano rising out of the ocean 2 million years ago. Today it’s one of the New 7 Natural Wonders of Nature and deservedly so. The lush island is packed with pine trees, tangerines, rolling hills and fields, cacti, and jet black volcanic rock tumbled all around. You can relax on a beach, go horse riding, explore ancient lava tubes, scuba dive, climb to the volcano’s peak, chill in a beach-side cafe, explore traditional markets, learn about local culture, and lots more. The island has two main cities, but the attractions are spread out along the coast.

What to See On Jeju Island

Here are 10 great places to visit on Jeju Island:

  • Hallasan Mountain (Volcano)
  • Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak
  • Hyeopjae & Hamdeok Beaches
  • Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market
  • Jeju Folk Village
  • Yakcheonsa Coastal Buddhist Temple
  • Jungmun Beach & Jusangjeolli Cliff
  • O’Sulloc Green Tea Museum
  • Cheonjiyeon & Jeongbang Waterfalls

Bulguksa Temple Gyeongju Historic City

Gyeongju: Historic Capital

Gyeongju , the former capital of the Shilla Kingdom in ancient Korea, is a true treasure trove of UNESCO World Heritage sites, as well as local culture, history, and natural beauty. Described as an outdoor museum, you can see many of the big attractions in the Gyeongju Historic Area, including the 1,400 year Cheomseongdae Observatory . There’s so much to see in Gyeongju outside this area though, including the impressive Bulguksa Temple, one of the best Buddhist temples in Korea. There’s also the Bomun Lake Tourist District, a dreamy sight during cherry blossom season.

What To See In Gyeongju

Here are 10 great places to visit in Gyeongju:

  • Bulguksa Temple & Seokguram Shrine
  • Cheomseongdae Observatory
  • Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond
  • Yangdong Folk Village
  • Hwangnidangil Hanok Street
  • Daereungwon Tomb Complex
  • Bomun Lake Tourist Complex
  • Woljeonggyo Bridge
  • Gyeongju National Museum
  • Gyochon Traditional Hanok Village

Jeonju Hanok Village Korea

Jeonju: Traditional Views & Food

Jeonju is the perfect destination for a day trip from Seoul and has most of its main attractions in one area of the city. What can you see in Jeonju? The main attraction is the gigantic Jeonju Hanok Village , featuring more than 700 traditional hanok houses. You can dress up in Korean hanbok, dine on Jeonju’s famous bibimbap in an old restaurant, and see how life in Korea used to be. There are plenty of other sights nearby, including a traditional market, pretty river, and the rather unusual Jaman Mural Village.

What To See In Jeonju

Here are 5 great places to visit in Jeonju:

  • Jeonju Hanok Village
  • Jeongdong Catholic Church
  • Gyeonggijeon Shrine
  • Nambu Traditional Market
  • Jaman Mural Village

Suwon Historic Fortress City

Suwon: Fortress City

Suwon is another city close to Seoul that you can visit in a day and see many interesting and unique sights. The main draw of Suwon is the Hwaseong Fortress and the fortress walls, which are still intact and run for 6km around the city. Inside this fortress you’ll find lots of museums, historic buildings, parks, and activities, such as archery. There are often cultural festivals in this area, too. Surprisingly, Suwon is the best place to get KFC (Korean Fried Chicken). There’s a whole street dedicated to making it.

What to See In Suwon

Here are 5 great places to visit in Suwon:

  • Hwaseong Fortress & Fortress Walls
  • Hwaseong Haenggung & Haengridan Gil
  • Fried Chicken Street
  • Korean Folk Village
  • Gwanggyo Lake Park

Incheon Modern City in Korea

Incheon: Modern City With Islands

Incheon is one of Korea’s largest cities, but is sadly ignored as it’s right next to Seoul and most people think it’s just there for the airport. That’s not true at all and there’s plenty to see and do in Incheon. Described as a futuristic city, Incheon is at the front of Korea’s push to become an ultra-modern country and nowhere shows that more than Songdo Central Park . The traditional side of Incheon is also worth exploring, including the Chinatown, which is home to Korea’s most popular student food – jajangmyeon . If you want to explore a lesser-seen side of Korea, check out the islands near Incheon to see ancient fortresses, temples, and charming sights.

What to See In Incheon

Here are 5 great places to visit in Incheon:

  • Songdo Central Park
  • Incheon Chinatown
  • Wolmido Island
  • Incheon Grand Park
  • Ganghwa Jeondeungsa Temple

Nami Island women in hanbok Korea

Gapyeong County: Tourists Treats

Gapyeong County is a rural part of Korea just outside Seoul that is one of the most popular day trip destinations for visitors and locals alike. Inside Gapyeong County is the lovely Garden of Morning Calm , a beautiful sculpted garden that showcases traditional Korean buildings set amongst thousands of different plants and trees. There’s also Nami Island , an ever-popular attraction that has long tree-lined streets to explore, woodland animals, bike paths, and even a zip line to the island. You can also visit Petite France, a recreation of a French village, Gapyeong Rail Bike Park, and Cheongpyeong Lake, and many other attractions in Gapyeong.

What To See In Gapyeong

Here are 5 great places to visit in Gapyeong:

  • Nami Island
  • Garden of Morning Calm
  • Petite France
  • Gapyeong Rail Bike Park
  • Cheongpyeong Lake

Beach in Gangneung Korea

North-East Coast: Amazing Beaches

The north-east coastal region of Korea, spreading between Sokcho and Gangneung , features some of Korea’s most popular summer seaside resorts and beaches. The wide, sandy beaches are perfect for water sports, working on your tan, and sitting at night listening to local musicians perform BTS covers and their own tunes. Sokcho deserves at least two days to explore, more if you plan to visit nearby Seoraksan National Park , one of Korea’s best places to see autumn foliage. Gangneung is where to see cherry blossoms in spring, sit and relax at a seaside cafe at Gangneung Coffee Street , and enjoy beach life.

What To See On The North-East

Here are 5 great places in north-east Korea:

  • Sokcho Beach
  • Gangneung Beach
  • Seoraksan National Park
  • Yangyang Surfyy Beach
  • Gangneung Coffee Street

Famous bridge in Ulsan Korea

East Coast: Harbour Cities

Ulsan and Pohang are two industrial cities that don’t get enough attention, but are ideal for a weekend visit once you’ve explored other top sights. These coastal cities both have good beaches, coastal walks, and green spots, including a pretty bamboo forest in Ulsan. In Pohang, you can see the dizzying Space Walk , which looks out over the city and ocean. There’s also a former Japanese district with old buildings, and the famous Homigot Sunrise Square where you can watch the first sunrise of the year. Ulsan is famous for whaling and visitors should check out the charming Jangsaengpo Whale Museum and Daewangam Park.

What To See On The East Coast

Here are 5 great places on Korea’s East Coast:

  • Yeongildae Beach & Space Walk
  • Ilsan Beach & Daewangam Park
  • Jangsaengpo Whale Museum
  • Homigot Sunrise Square
  • Taehwagang National Garden

Damyang Bamboo Forest in Southern Korea

South-West: Iconic Rural Destinations

South-west Korea is a long way from most travellers’ typical route, but this area is worth visiting if you have time. Gwangju , one of Korea’s largest cities, is hidden away down here and surrounded by natural beauty, including the Juknokwon Bamboo Forest , Boseong Green Tea Fields, and Suncheon Bay Nature Reserve. If you plan to hire a car , these spots will show you a completely different side to Korea. Gwangju, too, which is a fun city and the birthplace of Korean democracy. Hidden in the far corner of Korea is Mokpo, a lovely coastal city that has a new cable car carrying you over the ocean.

What to See In The South-West

Here are 5 great places in south-west Korea:

  • Damyang Juknokwon Bamboo Forest
  • Boseong Green Tea Fields
  • Gwangju Culture Park & Penguin Village
  • Suncheon Bay Nature Reserve
  • Mokpo Marine Cable Car

Namhae Island in South Korea

South Coast Islands: Summer Getaways

Best explored during the hot summer months and early autumn, the south coast islands in Korea, which span from Busan to Mokpo, are where Koreans spend their summer holidays. The most popular destinations here are Geoje, Tongyeong, Yeosu, Namhae, and Goheung and each offers winding coastal paths, beaches, natural beauty, and fun summer activities. The best way to see these islands is with a rented car or by bike, riding around the coast visiting a few different beaches and attractions. Don’t expect too many cultural sights, instead you’ll find luges, gardens, water sports, and lots of fun.

What to See On The South Coast

Here are 5 great places on Korea’s South Coast:

  • Dolsan Park & Cable Car
  • Namhae Geumsan Boriam Hermitage
  • Hallyeohaesang National Park
  • Oedo-Botania Botanical Garden
  • Skyline Luge Tongyeong

As you can see, there are many great places to visit in Korea. Korea is truly a country of undiscovered wonders that people aren’t aware of. Seoul is an incredible place to visit, but there’s so much more to see. That’s why I try to include lesser-known places in this South Korea travel guide.

The list above covers a lot of the most popular or tour-worthy destinations in Korea, but there are still more places I could recommend, such as Andong (home to the mask dance festival), Gunsan (port town with a retro vibe), Daegu (big city with historic sights), Daejeon , and many more.

Besides cities and towns in Korea, there are also 18 national parks to explore, thousands of mountains, Buddhist temples, beaches, bike routes, campsites, and so much more. I’ll include a few of each of these in the next few sections of this South Korea travel guide.

Best Day Tours From Seoul In 2024

DMZ Peace Village In South Korea

Taking a day tour while you’re staying in Seoul is a great way to see more of Korea’s top attractions without the hassle of moving hotels to somewhere new. The 10 day tours from Seoul below can all be done in a day or less and can even be combined with other activities in the same day.

I don’t want to include every day tour available in this South Korea travel guide as there isn’t enough room to talk about them all. If you want to find more day tours, I recommend looking at the options available through tour providers such as Klook , Viator , and Get Your Guide .

Please note : There are many day tours from Seoul and they come with various prices. I recommend avoiding the very cheapest as these will often waste your time by taking you to some overpriced gift shop area and pressuring you to buy souvenirs or rushing you through too many attractions.

Here are 10 great day tours from Seoul:

DMZ between North and South Korea

Why Visit The DMZ

The DMZ, the demilitarised zone between North & South Korea is a truly unique place to visit when you’re in Korea. There are several different locations to see in this area, each reflecting the bitter struggle between the two Korea’s in the ongoing Korean War. Some of the highlights are the 3rd Tunnel, Dora Observatory, Dorasan Station, Gamaksan Suspension Bridge, and the Imjingak Park. There’s also the Panmunjom Truce Village where you can walk into North Korea, but this is currently closed. Tours are required to travel to certain parts of the DMZ.

Heart statue at Nami Island Korea

Why Visit Gapyeong County

Gapyeong County is home to Nami Island, the Garden of Morning Calm, Petite France, Gapyeong Rail Bike Park, and several other fun attractions. Nami Island and the Garden of Morning Calm are the most popular and can both be visited in a day. You can witness beautiful scenes at these destinations, especially during cherry blossom season (April) and autumn foliage season (October). Tours from Seoul to Gapyeong County are convenient and can take you to multiple places in one day without the hassle of buses and finding your own way.

Hwaseong fortress and walls in Suwon Korea

Why Visit Hwaseong Fortress

Hwaseong Fortress and its fortress walls offer a unique chance to see what life was like in Korea 200 years ago. Not only can you walk the full length of the walls around the city, you can also try archery and other traditional activities in the fortress grounds. There are many museums, fortress buildings, and exhibitions showing how people lived in this period. You can also enjoy the beautiful ponds and streams that run through the palace with traditional Korean restaurants and cafes looking out over these areas.

Korean Folk Village traditional sights and culture

Why Visit Korean Folk Village

Discover traditional Korean life at the Korean Folk Village in Yongin during a day trip from Seoul. Walk through dozens of recreated farm buildings, government offices, academies, shops, smiths, schools, and other traditional buildings from Korea’s past to get a feel for how people lived at this time. Actors dressed in traditional Joseon-era costumes bring the scenes to life. You can try fun activities, such as mask carving, horse riding, and archery. Witness exciting festivals and cultural performances, too.

Jeonju Hanok Village In Korea

Why Visit Jeonju Hanok Village

A day trip to the Jeonju Hanok Village in Jeonju is a great way to experience various traditional Korean cultural activities in a beautiful setting. This sprawling hanok village has over 700 traditional buildings for you to explore, dine in, or even stay in. Make sure you rent hanbok in Jeonju so you look like Korean royalty and make memorable photos during your trip. Whilst you’re in Jeonju Hanok Village, you can try local delights such as Jeonju bibimbap and PNB chocopies. Also check out the traditional Nambu Market and Jeongdong Catholic Church.

Alpaca world attraction in Korea

Why Visit Alpaca World

When you travel to Korea, you may not think about seeing alpacas, which are from an entirely different continent. But Korea’s love of all things cute means that these furry friends have become very popular in Korea and have their own theme park a few hours from Seoul. There are dozens of cuddly alpacas to see, feed, and play with at Alpaca World , as well as hundreds of other cute critters such as ponies, rabbits, deer, goats, fennec foxes, and more. There are 17 separate areas to explore in Alpaca World and it’ll provide hours of fun for the whole family.

Seoraksan National Park with clouds

Why Visit Seoraksan

Seoraksan National Park on Korea’s east coast is a great day trip from Seoul for those who want to see mountain peaks, leafy valleys, stony rivers, and a gigantic Buddha. Even if you’re not a keen hiker, you can explore lots of the park’s valley pathways easily, or reach the top thanks to the convenient cable car. See the sights from the observatory and check out the small temple in the clouds. Make sure you try haemul pajeon (seafood pancake) and makgeolli (rice wine). It’s the traditional meal Koreans enjoy after hiking.

Everland Theme Park in Korea

Why Visit Everland

Everland is Korea’s biggest theme park and is packed with attractions for everyone to enjoy. Thrill seekers will love the rollercoasters, such as T Express (the world’s 4th steepest rollercoaster) and many more exciting rides. Check out the Zootopia section to see wild animals and wild rides, or the Plantopia section for floral beauty, romantic walkways, and seasonal delights. There are plenty of attractions, cultural performances, entertainments, and seasonal events to keep you amused all day long.

Paragliding in Korea

Why Visit Danyang

A great way to see Korea’s countryside is with a day trip to Danyang to enjoy the rush of sailing over valleys and beside mountains while tandem paragliding. Feel the wind in your face and the sensation of riding the air currents as you pass over the many delightful views of Danyang. You can enjoy other activities in this area, such as the Mancheonha Skywalk , a clifftop lookout with incredible views, riding an alpine coaster, and zooming along a zip line. The perfect day tour from Seoul for thrill seekers.

Dae Jang Geum Park In Korea

Why Visit Dae Jang Geum Park

Fans of Korean period dramas and movies will love a day trip to Dae Jang Geum Park in Yongin. This is the largest historical drama filming set in Korea and was used to film MBC productions such as ‘Wind in the Palace’ and ‘The Great Queen Seondeok’, as well as K-Pop videos including Daechwita by Suga from BTS. If you’re lucky, you may see filming going on here. But even if you don’t, it’s a fun place for those who want to learn more about Korea’s history and take some cool pictures in a real movie set.

I’ve linked to tours provided by reliable tour companies in Korea. If you would rather book a tour through a local guide, contact Jerry Heng or Andrew Chung Hanbyul . They’re freelance guides with years of experience offering tours in Korea and both offer amazing service.

These places are accessible by public transport, but may take much longer than a tour would do, wasting your precious time. Check out my guide for getting to Nami Island to help you navigate Gapyeong County. For other destinations, I would recommend a tour – it’s more practical.

Best Sights To See In Korea In 2024

Bongeunsa Temple in Gangnam Seoul Korea

South Korea truly has something for everyone. There’s so much I want to include in this South Korea travel guide, which is why this section is full of different sights to see and explore. However, to keep things short and simple, I’ll just list them, not give full details about each one.

Whether you’re travelling to Korea to learn about Korean culture or history, to see Korea’s impressive landmarks, to enjoy family fun attractions, to hop from cafe to cafe, to immerse yourself in nature, or simply to eat and shop, then you’ll definitely find something for you in this section.

N Seoul Tower is an unmissable landmark in Seoul

Famous Landmarks In Korea

Landmarks and iconic buildings are often top of a traveller’s bucket list for Korea as they provide great photo opportunities, showcase the best of the country, and offer fantastic views. Seoul has many top landmarks, but you can see plenty of other sights outside of the capital, too.

Here are 10 famous landmarks in Korea:

  • Lotte World Tower (Seoul)
  • N Seoul Tower (Seoul)
  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza (Seoul)
  • Cheonggyecheon Stream (Seoul)
  • DMZ Area (near Seoul)
  • Nami Island (Gapyeong County)
  • Gamcheon Culture Village (Busan)
  • Seongsan Ilchulbong (Jeju)
  • Homigot Sunrise Square (Pohang)
  • Banwol Purple Island (West Coast)

Bukchon Hanok Village in Seoul Korea

Historic Sights In Korea

Discover life in the Joseon period and before in Korea’s many captivating historic sights, including royal palaces, Buddhist temples, fortresses, and hanok villages. There are so many amazing historic sights to see in Korea, with each city having something to see.

Here are 10 historic sights in Korea:

  • Bukchon Hanok Village (Seoul)
  • Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul)
  • The Secret Garden (Seoul)
  • Seoul Fortress Walls (Seoul)
  • Hwaseong Fortress (Suwon)
  • Bulguksa Temple (Gyeongju)
  • Gyeongju Historic Area (Gyeongju)
  • Jeonju Hanok Village (Jeonju)
  • Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (Busan)
  • Andong Hahoe Village (Andong)

K Star Road in Gangnam Seoul

Korean Modern Cultural Sights

Fans of BTS, K-Dramas, Korean movies, and modern Korean culture in general have a lot to see and do in Korea. As well as famous filming locations across the country, these modern cultural sights will entertain, inform, and provide great destinations to visit.

Here are 10 modern cultural sights in Korea:

  • Hallyu K Star Road (Seoul)
  • K-Style Hub (Seoul)
  • Hongik Uni. Station Area (Seoul)
  • COEX Artium (Seoul)
  • Asia Culture Centre (Gwangju)
  • BIFF Square (Busan)
  • Dae Jang Geum Park (Yongin)
  • Sunshine Studio (Nonsan)
  • Kim Gwang-Seok Street (Daegu)

Lotte World Adventure Theme Park In Seoul

Family Fun Attractions In Korea

Families travelling to Korea have plenty of things to see and do and ways to enjoy spending time together. There’s no Disneyworld or Universal Studios in Korea, but there are plenty of great alternatives, as well as places for children to explore, learn, and discover.

Here are 10 family fun attractions in Korea:

  • Lotte World Adventure (Seoul)
  • Everland Theme Park (Yongin)
  • Seoul Grand Park & Zoo (Seoul)
  • Alive Museum & Dynamic Maze (Seoul)
  • Seoul Children’s Museum (Seoul)
  • Zoolung Zoolung (Seoul)
  • Sea Life Busan Aquarium (Busan)
  • Jeju Dinosaur Island (Jeju Island)
  • Alpaca World (Gangwon Province)
  • Skyline Luge & Lotte World (Busan)

Soldier statues at the War Memorial In Korea

Korean Museums & Galleries

Travellers to Korea who want to learn about Korea’s history, culture, and art will love Korea’s impressive museums and galleries. These are great places to visit when the weather is bad and you might be surprised at how much there is to learn about Korea’s past.

Here are 10 museums & galleries in Korea:

  • National Museum of Korea (Seoul)
  • War Memorial of Korea (Seoul)
  • Seoul Museum of Art (Seoul)
  • Seoul Museum of History (Seoul)
  • Seodaemun Prison Museum (Seoul)
  • Museum Kimchikan (Seoul)
  • National Folk Museum of Korea (Seoul)
  • Gyeongju National Museum (Gyeongju)
  • National Maritime Museum (Busan)
  • Daegu Art Museum (Daegu)

Barista making coffee in Ikseongdong Seoul

Cafe Areas In Korea

When you need a break from travelling in Korea, visit one of these cosy cafe areas and take time to relax and recharge. Although Korea was traditionally a tea drinking country, cafes are now everywhere and you’ll find photogenic cafes everywhere these days.

Here are 10 cafe areas to visit in Korea:

  • Ikseondong Hanok Village (Seoul)
  • Gyeongui Line Parks (Seoul)
  • Samcheondong Cafe Street (Seoul)
  • Sinsa-dong / Garosugil Road (Seoul)
  • Jukjeon Cafe Street (Seoul)
  • Jeonpo Cafe Street (Busan)
  • Haeridangil (Busan)
  • Hwangnidangil (Gyeongju)
  • Hwaseong Haenggung Area (Suwon)
  • Gangneung Coffee Street (Gangneung)

Korean woman preparing food at Gwangjang Market Seoul

Korean Markets & Malls

If you want the best selection of street food, souvenirs, and bargain shopping options, be sure to visit Korea’s many traditional markets. It’s a cultural experience itself. Korea also has some of the world’s largest malls with a wide variety of Korean and international goods.

Here are 10 markets & malls in Korea:

  • Gwangjang Market (Seoul)
  • Dongaemun Market (Seoul)
  • Hongdae Shopping Street (Seoul)
  • Starfield COEX Mall (Seoul)
  • Jagalchi Fish Market (Busan)
  • Seomyeon Underground Mall (Busan)
  • Centum City Mall (Busan)
  • Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market (Jeju)
  • Nambu Market (Jeonju)
  • Paju Premium Outlets (Paju)

Bear statue at Seoraksan National Park Korea

Korean Natural Wonders

Korea is a country covered in mountains, waterfalls, valleys, rice terraces, and beautiful natural sights. Make time to visit some of these natural wonders when you visit Korea and you’ll be amazed at the incredible views you can find. The national parks are truly breathtaking.

Here are 10 natural wonders to see in Korea:

  • Hallasan Mountain (Jeju)
  • Jirisan National Park (Southern Korea)
  • Seoraksan National Park (Gyeonggi)
  • Garden of Morning Calm (Gapyeong)
  • Juknokwon Bamboo Forest (Damyang)
  • Boseong Green Tea Fields (Boseong)
  • Udo Island (Jeju Island)
  • Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak (Jeju)
  • Hyeopjae Beach (Jeju)
  • Suncheon Bay National Park (Suncheon)

These 100 ideas are just the tip of the iceberg for what you can enjoy when travelling to Korea. There’s so much more to discover and I recommend you add some time to your travel plans to explore without a plan. Sometimes the best travel memories come from unexpected discoveries.

Best Activities To Try In Korea In 2024

Often the most memorable moments when travelling come from the experiences we have, not just the places we visit. Visiting a palace is interesting, but visiting a palace while dressed in traditional Korean hanbok , pretending you’re Joseon-era royalty with your friends or family is much more fun.

This section of the South Korea travel guide offers 10 fun activities you can try when you visit Korea. These will give you a good introduction to Korean culture, food, history, and nature. If you want more ideas, check out my list of 50 unique Korean experiences you can only do in Korea.

People wearing Korean traditional hanbok dresses

One of the top experiences to try in Korea has to be wearing Korean hanbok. It is available for all members of the family (even pets) and you can rent hanbok near most palaces or hanok villages. The hanbok easily fit over your regular clothes and come in a variety of colourful or traditional designs. You can get hair styling, accessories, and even have a hanbok photoshoot . Rentals can be as short as one hour or up to a full day.

Korean Street Food in Seoul

Travellers to Korea can’t say they’ve truly tried Korean cuisine until they’ve eaten Korean street food from a market stall or street vendor. There are many types of Korean street food to sample in Korea, such as savoury snacks like tteokbokki and eomuk , to sweet treats like hotteok and bungeo-ppang . Korean street food is cheap and delicious. It’s usually not that healthy, but always leaves you feeling great. Give it a try.

Hanok House In Seoul

Experience life as a Korean would have in the Joseon-era with a night in a traditional hanok house. A hanok stay is very different from sleeping in a hotel and allows you to try a night on a futon (with underground heating keeping you warm in winter). Slide the doors aside in the morning and walk out onto the wooden decking to enjoy traditional Korean tea at a low table and the sight of the ornately decorated garden. Don’t forget to take your shoes off before you enter.

Korean fortress walls with white plants

Seoul and other cities in Korea still have fortress walls you can walk or hike along that will offer incredible views of cities and mountains. As you walk along the fortress walls, you begin to imagine what life would have been like as a soldier keeping the city safe from invaders. Nowadays, you can enjoy exercise and sightseeing at the same time. Seoul’s fortress walls are a good place to start, but you can find fortress walls in many other places.

Korean Sauna

Visiting a Korean sauna might be a bit shocking for first-time travellers to Korea, but it’s a great way to relax and is especially good in winter. When you enter a Korean sauna, you should take off all your clothes, have a shower, and then enter one of the hot baths. Being naked in front of others can be scary for some, but you soon overcome that fear. Korean saunas sometimes have a communal resting area called a jjimjjilbang . These areas require pyjamas and offer snacks, drinks, and places to rest.

Korean Buddhist Temple Musical Performance

The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism have set up a templestay program at dozens of temples across Korea where you spend a day or two at the temple and join in various activities. This is truly a unique experience that you should try in Korea as you get to see customs performed by the monks that aren’t normally shown to the public. You also get to stay overnight at the temple and experience a hanok stay at the same time. Guests can also eat healthy vegan temple food, learn a lot, and chat with the monks.

Korean Karaoke Noraebang Sign

A noraebang is the Korean version of a karaoke room, but is more popular in Korea and is commonly visited by locals and tourists alike. This is a great place to visit in the evening after a big Korean bbq meal and a few drinks. Everyone can relax and belt out their favourite Korean or international tunes together (or alone), shake some tambourines in support, or just watch and enjoy the atmosphere with some drinks. You can find these in every town and city in Korea and they provide a cheap night of fun and drinks.

Sky Bridge On Lotte World Tower

Open since 2020, the Sky Bridge at Lotte World Tower offers unbeatable views of Seoul and a nerve-racking trip above the city. Walk between the two towers at the top of the Lotte World Tower and peer down the 541 metre drop to the city streets below. It’s actually very safe and you’re strapped into a harness as you walk from one side to the other, but this definitely isn’t for the faint-hearted. If you’re not sure you can handle the height, check out the Seoul Sky Observatory on the 117th floor instead.

Sheep Cafe in Seoul Korea

Koreans love to drink coffee and also love cute, unusual things, which is probably why theme cafes have become so popular in Korea. Besides the many cat cafes, there are theme cafes where you can stroke sheep, pet dogs, and see other animals. There’s more to Korea’s theme cafes than just drinking coffee with animals, you can also try drinking from a toilet at the Poop Cafe , paint pictures, build lego, go camping, practice being a wizard, and more. Hongdae in Seoul is the best place to find theme cafes.

Boseong Green Tea Fields In Korea

Although cafes are replacing Korean tea houses, Korea still grows and drinks lots of tea, especially green tea. You can visit these tea fields in areas such as Boseong and on Jeju Island, both of which have visitor centres and attractions to teach you about the wonderful world of Korean tea. The Daehan Dawon Tea Plantation in Boseong has lush green fields all year round and has been used as a filming location for several Korean shows. The O’sulloc Tea Museum on Jeju Island also has lovely views.

I recommend trying at least a few of these unique activities, they’ll really make your trip to Korea more memorable and offer insights into Korean culture and life. My advice is to be brave when visiting Korea and try new things, even if they seem a bit unusual at first. The same applies to Korean foods.

Best Korean Festivals To Join In 2024

There are dozens of festivals held in Korea each year celebrating the seasons, local products, traditions, culture, and often just for the sake of having fun. Visiting a festival in Korea will offer you a glimpse of how locals celebrate life, culture, and nature and let you join in the fun.

Whenever you visit Korea, there’ll be festivals going on. However, the biggest festivals occur in spring or autumn. As mentioned previously in this South Korea travel guide, these are the best seasons to visit Korea as the weather is pleasant and people are celebrating the end of summer or winter.

Cherry blossom viewing in Korea

Cherry Blossom Festivals

The cherry blossom festivals in Korea occur in late March and early April and are some of the biggest festivals in Korea. People flock to forests, lakes, and rivers to see the pretty blossoms. The Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival has over 2 million visitors each year, and even more people visit Seokchon Lake and Yeouido Hangang Park in Seoul. There are many festivals and tours to see cherry blossoms in Korea so you should be able to find a quiet place to enjoy the view.

Light Festival In Korea

Winter Light Festivals

During the cold, dark days of winter, attractions such as Nami Island, the Garden of Morning Calm, and Herb Island transform into sparkling winter wonderlands with millions of bright lights illuminating them. There are also winter illumination festivals in Korean cities, such as the Haeundae Lighting Festival in Busan, Cheonggyecheon Stream Winter Lights in Seoul, and the Busan Christmas Tree Cultural Festival. When it snows in Korea, these festivals look even more magical.

Summer Music Festival Concert In Korea

Summer Music Festivals

Summer in Korea is hot, but that doesn’t stop people enjoying day-long music festivals across the country. From chilled jazz festivals like the Seoul Jazz Festival , to action-packed concerts like Psy’s Summer Swag , there are music festivals to suit everyone. This is a popular summer activity in Korea , so be sure to book in advance for ticketed events. If you can’t get tickets, just go to a popular beach in the evening and you’ll usually find musicians performing.

New Year Festivals In Korea

New Year Festivals

There are various festivals in Korea to celebrate the solar new year. New Year’s Eve festivals involve a bell-ringing ceremony where a giant bell is rung at midnight to welcome in the new year. Fireworks festivals are common events in cities across Korea, starting at midnight, too. Koreans celebrate the start of the new year by visiting the East Coast to see the first sunrise of the year at places like Homigot Sunrise Square or Seongsan Ilchulbong on Jeju Island.

Buddhist lanterns for Buddha's Birthday In Korea

Buddha’s Birthday Festivals

Buddha’s Birthday is like Christmas for the Buddhist world, but celebrated very differently. It also falls on changing dates each year as it follows the lunar calendar, just like Korean New Year. Korean Buddhist temples across Korea will celebrate by putting up colourful lanterns and decorations for at least a month before the actual date. The biggest festival celebrating Buddha’s Birthday is the Yeon Deung Hoe Lantern Festival , which features thousands of lanterns and a lantern parade through central Seoul.

Boryeong Mud Festival in Korea

Boryeong Mud Festival

The Boryeong Mud Festival is one of Korea’s largest festivals and attracts visitors from around the world. Running for 2 weeks during rainy season, this is the best way to see a Korean festival even when the weather is bad. There’s a lot to see and do at this festival, including getting dirty in the mud with mud sports, mud wrestling, mud tug-of-war, and other mud-filled events. Boryeong is famous for the high-quality mud found in nearby waters and, by joining this festival, you’re getting a free mud facial.

Jinju Lantern Festival In Korea

Jinju Lantern Festival

The visually stunning Jinju Lantern Festival is held in October each year in Jinju City and runs for several weeks. During the day, watch cultural performances and enjoy exploring the central fortress grounds of Jinju. Once it gets dark, see the city transform as thousands of lanterns, some as big as trees, come to life. There are so many weird and wonderful lanterns to discover at this festival. You can also set your own lanterns to float down the river with your wish inside.

Andong Mask Dance Festival In Korea (1)

Andong Mask Dance Festival

The Andong Mask Dance Festival in Andong, home of the Andong Hahoe Village, is a great opportunity to witness traditional Korean dance and music performances. Not only can you see traditional Korean performances during this 4 day festival, there are also international performers displaying their own culture’s dancing. Get hands-on with traditional Korean culture at this festival. Explore Andong and learn about its contributions to Korea’s cultural development.

Cat statues at Goyang Flower Festival

Goyang Flower Festival

The Goyang International Flower Festival runs twice per year, once in spring and once in autumn. It’s a beautiful celebration of floral beauty mixed with Korean cuteness and creativity. At this flower festival you can stroll through a maze of different displays, with each section focusing on certain flowers and plants. There are indoor displays with vividly coloured roses, nature-based outdoor photo zones, and the lovely Ilsan Lake Park in the background.

Baekje Culture Festival In Gongju

Baekje Culture Festival

The Baekje Culture Festival probably isn’t one that first-time travellers to Korea would know about. Held in Gongju and Buyeo, the two former capitals of the ancient Baekje Kingdom, this 10-day long festival held around Chuseok (Korean mid-autumn harvest festival), is packed with unique events and sights and is set in historic locations in each city. There’s local food to try, musical & cultural performances, fun photo zones, lantern displays, and much more.

Knowing when you plan to visit Korea will help you research what festivals are on and what the weather will be like. There are certainly a lot more than just the ones mentioned above, including some others mentioned previously in the seasons part of this South Korea travel guide.

I recommend using a tour company to see out of the way festivals like the Jinju Lantern Festival and the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival. These are often far from typical tourist destinations and can take hours to get to by public transport. Tours are worth the cost to save you time and avoid hassle.

Recommended Itinerary For Korea In 2024

In this section of this South Korea travel guide is my recommended first-timer itinerary for South Korea. This introduces you to two of Korea’s biggest cities, as well as a couple of day trips to highly rated destinations in Korea. There’s a mix of history, culture, nature, sights, and experiences.

This itinerary starts in Seoul as that’s where most people arrive to Korea after flying into Incheon Airport. If you arrive in Busan, you can change the route to start and end there instead. For travellers to Korea with only 2 or 3 days, I recommend using the first few days of this itinerary instead.

The itinerary lasts for one week, which isn’t enough time to see all of Korea, but enough time to get a feel for the country. If you have more time, use this itinerary and add in or replace extra destinations as you like. Jeju Island is certainly worth visiting if you have an extra 2 or 3 days.

Classic Sights Of Korea Itinerary

N Seoul Tower In Seoul At Night

This itinerary covers a few must-see sights in Korea, including the two largest cities, the history city of Gyeongju, and some popular day trip destinations from Seoul.

Day 1 : Arrive in Seoul and explore Gyeongbokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, Insadong Art Street, Jogyesa Temple, and Cheonggyecheon Stream. Get dinner at the Jonggak Avenue of Youth for authentic Korean food that’s better than the touristy places in Myeongdong.

Day 2 : Learn about Korean history at the War Memorial of Korea or National Museum of Korea, explore Seoul’s traditional Gwangjang market in Dongdaemun, take the cable car to the N Seoul Tower for sunset & night views, then head down to Itaewon or Myeongdong for dinner & drinks.

Day 3 : Take a day trip to Gapyeong and visit Nami Island, the Garden of Morning Calm, and the Gapyeong Rail Bike Park. Return to Seoul for dinner and rooftop drinks in Myeongdong and then walk along the fortress walls from Dongdaemun Station if the weather is good.

Day 4 : Take the KTX to Busan, drop your bags, and take the subway to Nampo-dong for Jagalchi Fish Market, Bosu-dong Book Alley, and traditional sights. Take a taxi to Huinnyeoul Culture Village. End the day in Haeundae for evening dinner & drinks and a walk along the beach at night.

Haedong Yonggungsa Temple In Busan

Day 5 : Take the bus to Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, then a taxi to Songjeong Beach. Relax in a beachside cafe, then take the Haeundae Beach Train to Cheongsapo, change to the Sky Capsule, and end up in Haeundae. Take a bus to Gamcheon Culture Village and get dinner at Songdo Beach.

Day 6 : Take a day trip from Busan to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Gyeongju. Visit the Gyeongju Historic Area, then Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village for traditional food and sights of Woljeonggyo Bridge. See tranquil night views of Wolji Pond before getting dinner at Hwangnidangil.

Day 7 : Head back to Seoul on the KTX for a final day of shopping and sightseeing in Hongdae. Walk along the Gyeongui Line Forest Park or Book Street or visit a theme cafe. Take the subway directly to Incheon Airport from Hongdae or spend a night here and check out the lively night scene.

Gyeongui Line Book Street In Seoul

Please note : I recommend trying not to cram too much into your itinerary. You may want to see as much as possible, but people often end up rushing past sights and not appreciating them. Plan for less and see more if you have time. It gives you a chance to be spontaneous.

To plan a realistic itinerary for South Korea, it is important to factor in transportation, meal breaks, and rest times. Use Naver Maps to plan your route and work out travel times. A short journey on the map might take much longer if there’s no direct route. Also consider breaks if you plan to walk a lot.

Cultural Issues When Visiting Korea

People eating a Korean BBQ meal on the street

The next few sections of this South Korea travel guide will provide answers to some of the most common questions first-time travellers to Korea have in regards to cultural, language, and safety issues. Korea is a culturally unique country with customs and traditions you might not be aware of.

Korea is a society that places a strong emphasis on social image, respect for others, and social harmony. This means Koreans will often try to avoid conflict, especially in public. To show respect for Korean culture and to avoid being rude, try to respect social harmony and always avoid conflict.

If you follow these tips, you’ll find it easier to avoid accidentally upsetting someone in Korea. There’s far too much to cover in this South Korea travel guide, so if you’d like to know more, check out my detailed guide to Korean etiquette and culture , it’s packed with tips and insights to understand Korea.

What is considered rude in Korea? It is considered rude to point with one finger or with chopsticks, give and receive with one hand, cross your legs when sitting, and to walk inside with your shoes on. Things considered rude in other countries such as swearing and spitting are also rude in Korea.

What is considered unlucky in Korea? It is considered unlucky to write someone’s name in red ink and to stand chopsticks upright in rice. Both are used in rituals for deceased people. The number 4 is also unlucky as the word is the same as the word for ‘death’.

Do you need to tip in Korea? It’s not necessary to tip in Korea and most restaurants and cafes won’t expect or allow you to tip. There is no service charge added to bills in Korea, with the exception of some upmarket restaurants, bars, and hotels in touristy areas of Seoul. Tipping guides is okay.

Sign to take off your shoes in Korea

Do you need to take off shoes when going inside? If you enter someone’s house in Korea, you should take off your shoes. This rule also applies to temples, traditional restaurants, and other places in traditional buildings. Most cafes, shops, and restaurants won’t ask you to take off your shoes.

When should you use two hands in Korea? You should use two hands when giving and receiving things in Korea, such as money, a gift, a business card, or food. When you shake hands, use both hands, not just one. The same applies to pouring drinks, both pouring and holding a glass.

Do I have to act like a Korean in Korea? You don’t have to follow Korean customs and traditions when you visit Korea. You are a guest in the country and Koreans won’t expect you to know every rule. However, showing cultural awareness in Korea will help you make friends and impress locals.

The best tip for being culturally sensitive in Korea is to first consider all the things that you’d consider rude in your own country – spitting, swearing, shouting, physical violence, etc. Show the same acts of kindness you’d show at home – help others, give up your seat for those in need, be polite, etc.

Furthermore, remember that social harmony is really important in Korea and try not to cause a scene. Keep your voice down in public, don’t talk or act aggressively, be polite, and don’t force things when people are reluctant. Koreans may feel obliged to do things, even when they don’t want to.

Language Issues When Travelling Korea

Korean and English on a sign in Seoul

Language issues can be a big concern for first-time travellers to Korea as Korean is a very different language from English and has a unique alphabet. Korean is also one of the most difficult languages to learn for English speakers, ranked alongside Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic.

However, as a tourist to Korea, you don’t need to worry about mastering the language. English is used for signs and announcements in most places that you’ll need it, such as on public transport, at the airport, at attractions & tourist sites, on menus, and most other places. It’s common across Korea.

If there is a sign or notice that isn’t in Korean, I recommend using the Papago app to take translate it. Use the image translation function in the app to scan the sign and Papago will translate it into English for you. It’s really convenient and the way I translate things I can’t read in Korean.

Do Korean People Speak English?

Speaking in English to Korean people is different from being able to read and translate signs. English is taught from elementary school until the end of high school. That doesn’t mean everyone will remember it, but there’s a good chance some people will know English, especially younger Koreans.

It is best to ask if someone speaks English before trying to have a conversation. You can do this in Korean by asking “영어 할 수 있어요?” (Yong-oh hal su iss-o-yo?) or just ask it in English. Tour guides and people in the tourism industry will probably be able to speak English, but it’s not guaranteed.

Shyness is an issue in Korea and locals may be reluctant to speak English at first for fear of making a mistake. As an English teacher in Korea, I know that Korean students are usually quite competent in English, but lack confidence to use it. Be patient and encouraging when talking in English.

Although some Koreans may be too shy to use English, other people may be enthusiastic about speaking English to you and want to practice it. I’ve been asked random questions in English by strangers in the street in Korea who want to practice English and find out about my life.

Ticket prices for Lotte World Adventure In Seoul

Should You Learn Korean Before Visiting Korea?

If you do want to learn some Korean before you travel, I recommend you start by learning the Korean alphabet , or at least learning some basic Korean travel phrases . Knowing how to introduce yourself, discuss prices, ask for directions, and ask for help will make your trip to Korea a lot easier.

You can learn Korean online through courses such as 90 Day Korean and Korean Class 101 , or with self-study textbooks like the excellent Talk To Me In Korean series. There are lots of resources on YouTube, too. I particularly like Learn Korean with GO! Korean Billy as he explains things clearly.

Another way to prepare to move to Korea is to read some Korean novels in English . Although these books won’t teach you any Korean, they’ll offer up valuable insights into Korean culture, both traditional and hidden under the surface. Literature is a good way to gain an understanding of a culture.

Nonsensical English sign in Korea

A warning about Konglish : Although Korea uses English in many useful ways, there’s also a lot of Konglish. The sign above is a good example of random English words being used to look cool, but ending up being confusing. There’s a lot of this in Korea and it’s mostly harmless, so don’t worry.

Health And Safety Issues In Korea

Person washing their hands at a temple in Korea

First-time travellers to Korea may be worried about health and hygiene issues, such as if certain foods are available and if they’re safe to eat. Other issues include vaccinations, personal safety, and how easy it is to contact emergency services. These issues are addressed below.

Is Korean Street Food Safe To Eat?

Korean street food is generally safe to eat and won’t give you any health issues unless you have an intolerance to the food. Korean street food can be spicy or contain a lot of salt, be aware of your own personal tolerances and dietary requirements before trying it.

Also be careful when ordering food with meat or seafood and check that it is cooked thoroughly. Korean street food that has been left out for a long time is more likely to cause food poisoning problems, so ask for freshly cooked food if you’re concerned.

Flame cooked Korean street food

Is It Easy To Find Vegan-Friendly Food In Korea?

There are many vegan-friendly Korean dishes , such as gimbap , japchae , pajeon , bibimbap , ramyeon , and tteokbokki . However, some restaurants may use non vegan-friendly ingredients when preparing these foods, so be careful. Kimchi isn’t vegan-friendly due to its seafood ingredients & sauces.

Vegetarianism and veganism aren’t common in Korea with fewer people following these diets than in countries such as the USA or UK. Vegetarians in Korea account for 3% of the population, while vegans in Korea are only 0.2% of the population as of 2022. The UK is 10% and 2% respectively.

However, the number of vegan-friendly restaurants and bakeries is increasing each year in Korea, especially in areas such as Hongdae and Itaewon. Korean Buddhist temple food is vegan-friendly and a good option for vegans who want to enjoy vegan food while learning about local Korean culture.

If you’re concerned about accidentally ordering non vegan-friendly food, or want to know how to tell someone about food allergies or requirements, check out my guide to Korean phrases for ordering food . This has a whole section about special requests when ordering food in Korean.

Is It Safe To Drink Tap Water In Korea?

Korean tap water is potable and safe to drink. Korea ranks 23rd for water hygiene, which is above the USA, Canada, and Australia. However, many Koreans don’t drink tap water , preferring to use water purifiers and bottled water instead, claiming that tap water smells strange or water pipes are bad.

Personally, I don’t like drinking tap water in Korea as it tastes a bit stale, but it’s perfectly fine to drink and doesn’t cause any problems. Bottled water is very cheap in Korea and costs 600 KRW for a 500ml bottle from a convenience store. Buying water from a supermarket is a cheaper option though.

Person giving a vaccination

Do You Need Any Vaccinations To Travel To South Korea?

There are no mandatory vaccinations required to travel to Korea , but it is suggested you should have at least routine vaccinations such as tetanus, MMR, and polio. Hepatitis A & B, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis vaccinations are also recommended.

Is Korea Friendly To Tourists?

Korea is generally friendly and welcoming to tourists. The Korean government spends a lot of money and effort to promote Korean tourism to the world and there are many incentives to bring people to the country. Korean people are also mostly polite and welcoming, especially in the tourism sector.

Is Korea A Dangerous Country To Travel In?

South Korea is a safe country to travel in and the crime rate in Korea is low, comparable to Norway or the Netherlands. Public crimes, such as theft and assault, are rare. Pickpocketing and purse snatching aren’t common and unattended goods are generally left alone or reported to the police.

How safe is Korea? I regularly see people leave their phone or handbag on a cafe table to reserve it before going up to order a drink. People even leave their laptops open while they pop out for lunch or go to the toilet. Stealing disturbs social harmony and is one of the reasons it’s rare in Korea.

Physical violence is also rare, but still occurs in Korea, as it does in all countries. This is most often found in areas with lots of bars and when people are drunk. However, visiting bars in Korea is a lot safer than I’ve experienced in other countries and trouble is not common, even in busy places.

Seoul Tourist Police in Korea

How Do You Contact Tourist Information Services In Korea?

Call 1330 in Korea to contact the Travel Helpline . The Korean Travel Helpline provides the following services free of charge to tourists in Korea.

  • Tourist Information : Find out about attractions, opening hours, prices, and other information.
  • Tourist Interpretation : Access travel information in several languages.
  • Tourist Complaints : Report rip-offs and problems you encounter when travelling in Korea.
  • Tourist Police : Report minor crimes in English and other languanges.

There are tourist police patrolling the streets of Seoul, dressed in purple uniforms as shown in the picture above. In popular tourist locations like Myeongdong and Bukchon Hanok Village, you’ll also find friendly tourist information staff dressed in red shirts with matching red cowboy hats.

What Should You Do If You Have An Emergency In Korea?

If you need to report a fire or medical emergency in Korea, you should call 119 from any phone. To contact the police in Korea, call 112. You will need to select an option to report an emergency in English or another language. It may take some time to be redirected to an English speaker.

  • 119 – Medical Emergency & Fire Rescue
  • 112 – Police

When you use medical services in Korea, you have to pay the cost of treatment, but there is no fee for the ambulance ride as this is covered by the Korean government. Travel insurance should cover the cost of medical bills, so if you’re worried about a large medical bill, insurance is recommended.

Fortunately, the cost of treatment in Korea is quite reasonable and Korea has advanced medical facilities, which is why it’s a popular medical tourism destination . Many people travel to Korea for minor and major surgery, including laser eye surgery, cosmetic surgery, and internal medicine.

Is Air Pollution A Problem In Korea?

Air pollution is an issue in Korea, especially in spring & summer. Winds blow yellow dust from Central Asia, field burning spreads fumes across Asia, and fossil-fuel burning contributes to higher levels of air pollution. Some days there’ll be very low visibility and health risks for people with lung problems.

My Personal Travel Tips For Korea

Man with ginkgo trees at Nami Island

This South Korea travel guide is a collection of information I’ve researched and learned since moving to Korea in 2015 and blogging about Korean travel since 2019. I hope the provided information and insights are useful and assist you plan your dream first-time, or even tenth-time, trip to Korea.

This section includes my personal tips that didn’t really fit anywhere else and reflections built from travelling all over Korea in all seasons. These are tips I would offer to first-time travellers to Korea and people who might have some worries about visiting the Land of Morning Calm. I hope they help.

The Real Korea Isn’t What You See On TV

Korea is a developed country that went from being a 3rd world country in the mid 20th Century to a high-tech country in a short time. Despite the many high-rises and modern K-Pop stars, there are still shadows of the former Korea seen in both run-down slums and people with ‘traditional’ values.

The image created by selective K-Culture can distort people’s reality when dreaming of a trip to Korea in the same way Korean people can suffer from Paris Syndrome when visiting France. There are many wonderful things about Korea, but don’t travel thinking that everything is as shown on TV.

Be Prepared For Culture Shock

One of the best things about travelling is seeing a country and people that act and behave differently to how you do in your own country. This is known as culture shock and can be both a blessing and a challenge for first-time travellers to Korea. Things you might be used to can be different in Korea.

Some examples of culture shock in Korea include the way age determines hierarchy in Korea and how older people can be rather pushy, especially on the subway. Younger people also typically don’t question the decisions of older people in Korea as it is considered rude and disrespectful.

Less extreme cultural differences that might confuse some first-time visitors to Korea include having to shout to call someone to take your order in a Korean restaurant or not giving a tip. Koreans might similarly look at you strangely if you do something culturally different, such as walking while drinking.

Don’t Overpack When You Travel To Korea

First-time travellers to Korea may be worried about visiting a country like Korea without taking everything they need from home, even the kitchen sink. My advice is to pack as light as possible and leave yourself some space in your suitcase. There are two reasons for this.

  • You can buy most things you need in Korea . This includes sun cream, heat packs, clothes, shoes, cosmetics, travel accessories, etc. They’re also probably cheaper in Korea, too.
  • You will want to take home lots of things . From weird Korean snacks to beautiful hand-crafted pottery and woodwork, there are so many things to buy in Korea.

(1) The only exception is if you might have a problem finding correct-fitting items. Korean shoes and clothes are slightly smaller than what you’d find in Western countries and the sizes are also differently labelled. I’m a medium in the UK but a large (sometimes XL!) in Korea. Be careful when shopping.

(2) It’s hard to fit everything you buy in Korea into an already full suitcase. Fortunately, you can buy extra suitcases at low prices. Check out Namdaemun Market for cheap luggage options, as well as shops like the one pictured below (this is in Busan) in places like Hongdae and Dongdaemun.

Luggage shop in Busan Korea

Electricity In South Korea

Be careful with electric items when travelling to Korea. Korea uses type C and F plugs , which are used in Europe, Russia, and other parts of Asia. The standard voltage is 220V with 60Hz frequency. Anything designed for a standard voltage between 220V and 240V should be fine in Korea.

Laptops, mobile phones, and other portable devices will be fine when you travel in Korea as long as you use a travel adapter with a USB or socket connection. Hairdryers, shavers, curlers, and similar devices might have problems charging in Korea and run out of power very soon. My shaver did.

Go With The Flow And Go Quickly

Korea is a very busy country and you might hear people mutter ‘빨리빨리’ ( ppalli ppalli ) if you walk slowly, especially in the subway. Koreans work long hours and are eager to get home or go out for dinner. Don’t take it personally if people push past you and don’t feel like you have to rush.

Know Where To Throw Away Rubbish

It can be difficult to find a bin to throw away rubbish in Korea, even in urban areas. The best place to dispose of rubbish in Korea is at a convenience store. You can find recycling and trash bins in these shops. If you go hiking or explore the countryside, expect to carry your rubbish home with you.

South Korea Travel Guide FAQs

Finally, here’s a few FAQs about this South Korea travel guide, in case the above information didn’t cover enough for you.

What is the best month to visit South Korea?

The best months to visit South Korea are April and October. April is warm and you can see cherry blossoms in Seoul at the start of the month. October is warm with clear skies. During October you can see autumn foliage across Korea.

How much money is enough for South Korea?

The amount of money you need to travel in South Korea depends on your travel style and desired level of comfort. A rough budget for South Korea is 50-100,000 KRW per day for budget travellers, 100-200,000 KRW per day for mid-range travellers, and 200,000+ KRW per day for luxury travellers.

Is South Korea friendly to tourists?

South Korea is a welcoming country and friendly to tourists. There are many services to welcome tourists to South Korea, including free transit tours from Incheon Airport, cultural performances in tourist destinations, low entry fees to traditional attractions like Gyeongbokgung Palace, and tourist information and signs in multiple languages.

What do I need to know before travelling to South Korea?

It’s important to know about the weather before travelling to South Korea as this can impact your day to day travel and affect what clothes you’ll need. You should also research what festivals are on before you travel, what seasonal events are happening, such as cherry blossom viewing, and also how to use public transport and get connected to the net.

What is the cheapest month to visit South Korea?

January and February are two of the cheapest months to visit South Korea and are considered low season as the weather is cold. Hotel prices and flights to Korea will be lower in these months. Winter is a good time to travel to Korea to see snow and enjoy winter sports and festivals, however, some attractions will be closed during this time of year.

Do I need a South Korea travel guide?

It is good to check a South Korea travel guide to research your trip, especially for first-time travellers to Korea. Korea has a unique culture, language, and customs that might be confusing for new travellers. A South Korea travel guide will help you prepare for these factors and give you ideas to create your perfect trip to Korea.

Can you drink tap water in Korea?

Korean tap water is potable and safe to drink. You can drink water from hotels and apartments in Korea. Restaurants and cafes will provide you with free drinking water, which usually comes from a water cooler. Bottled water is available from convenience stores and is reasonably priced.

Is South Korea safe for first-time travellers?

South Korea is a safe country for first-time travellers to visit. Personal crimes, such as theft, mugging, and physical violence are rare in Korea and it is safe to walk the streets of Seoul, even at night. First-time travellers can prepare for a trip to South Korea by being aware of potential scams, such as taxi drivers over charging them or being ripped off in the traditional markets.

What are the best apps for travelling in South Korea?

The best apps for travelling to South Korea are Papago, Kakao Taxi, Naver Maps, and Seoul Subway. These apps will allow you to translate between Korean and English, hail taxis, and navigate as you travel. All of these apps have English language options and are free to use.

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Hi! My name is Joel, I'm the author of In My Korea and writer of this article. I've lived, worked and travelled in Korea since 2015 and want to share my insights, stories and tips to help you have the best experience during your trip to Korea.

I love learning more about Korean culture, hiking the many mountains, and visiting all the coolest places in Korea, both modern and traditional. If you want to know more about my story, check out the ' about me ' section to learn why I love living in Korea.

4 thoughts on “Complete South Korea Travel Guide 2024: Korean Travel Tips”

This South Korea travel guide is a comprehensive resource for anyone planning a trip to Korea. It covers everything from entry requirements and travel tips to accommodation options and places to visit. Whether you’re a first-time traveler or have been to Korea before, this guide has something for everyone. The inclusion of the latest travel news and COVID-related updates adds to its relevance and usefulness. I appreciate the detailed breakdown of sections and the inclusion of quick links for easy navigation. Overall, this guide is a valuable tool for anyone looking to explore the wonders of South Korea.

Moderator – Nice Article! In My Korea

Thank for the great info! Could you please recommend any tours agency for a few day trips around Korea? I found a few , but they are pretty pricey!

Hi, thanks for reading. Klook and Viator have a good selection of tours in Korea with some of the best prices on the market. I’m not sure which tours you’re looking for, but they usually do day trips for less than $100 per day that cover popular tourist sights.

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South Korea Travel Costs: How Much Money You Need

South Korea Travel Costs

How Much Does a Trip to Korea Cost?

How much does it cost to stay in south korea, is food expensive in south korea, south korean transport prices, cost of tourist activities in south korea, do you need cash in south korea, tipping in south korea, how to minimize south korea vacation costs.

Visiting South Korea is generally an affordable experience . How much it costs to travel to South Korea depends on the level of luxury desired.

South Korea travel costs can vary significantly, from budget food and accommodation options to top-end hotels and restaurants.

The local currency, the South Korean won (₩) is worth around US$0.0008, which means that for each US dollar, you can obtain around ₩1200.

This guide outlines the average costs of hotels, restaurants, and transport options to help you work out how much money you need to travel to South Korea.

When planning a South Korea travel budget, there are various things to take into consideration, mainly:

  • Accommodation

Foreigners also need to consider the cost of the entry permit they require. Visitors from visa-exempt countries need to apply online for a Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA). The processing fee is lower than that of a traditional South Korean visa.

After arriving in South Korea, visitors from overseas can expect to spend $50-150 per person per day to enjoy a stay with a relative level of comfort.

Some travelers will prefer to spend more than this for more luxurious accommodation and dining options, while others may choose to spend less than this on more affordable dorm rooms and typical Korean street food.

Accommodation in South Korea can range from ₩20,000 (around US$16.00) per night for a dorm bed in a budget hostel to ₩200,000 (approximately US$160.00) for a high-end hotel room .

Mid-range guesthouses can cost around ₩70000 (roughly US$57).

Average prices for accommodation are approximately as follows:

  • Hotel or hostel for one person: ₩90,000-100,000
  • Room for 2 persons: ₩180,000

The accommodation type selected has a significant impact on overall South Korea travel costs.

Food in South Korea is generally affordable . The cost of eating can vary depending on whether you eat the famous yet modestly-priced Korean street food or dine at upmarket restaurants.

On average, food for a day costs around ₩29,500 (around US$24). The range of food options and the corresponding prices can be seen in the following examples:

  • South Korean street food prices can cost ₩1000–5000 per day (approximately US$0.82-$4.00)
  • A mid-range barbequed pork meal can cost about ₩40,000 (around US$33)
  • A Royal Korean banquet at a top-end restaurant can cost around ₩80,000 (roughly US$66)

Travelers on a budget will find that in South Korea, convenience store prices tend to be reasonable, with most items being less than US$2 and many costing less than US$1.

How much it costs to travel around South Korea depends on where you plan to visit and the modes of transport selected.

Subway tickets typically cost ₩1,300 (around US$1) per journey. Bus fares are similarly priced.

Taxi fares vary by region and the size of the vehicle, but the base rate is typically between ₩2,800 and ₩6,500 (approximately US$2-5) with increments of ₩100 according to time or distance traveled.

Transport between cities can cost around ₩43,918 (approximately US$36) for a ticket.

Flight prices to South Korea can vary depending on the country of origin, airline, and whether the passenger chooses to fly first class or economy.

Travelers with a lower budget can make the most of free or inexpensive tourist attractions and activities in Seoul and other areas of the country.

Some of the country’s museums and important buildings offer free entry. This includes the National Museum of Korea and the Seoul Museum of History (fees apply for certain exhibitions).

Visiting Gyeongbokgung Palace, costs ₩3000 (about US$2.50) to visit.

Other activities, such as a scrub and massage at a jjimjilbang (luxury sauna) can cost around ₩60,000 (US$50).

Many businesses in South Korea accept credit and debit cards .

However, various places, particularly market stalls, small restaurants, and low-cost accommodation may not have the facility to conduct transactions via card and will only accept cash.

It is recommendable that international travelers keep some ₩10,000 notes on their person at all times to be on the safe side.

Withdrawing cash is generally not a problem. ATMs that accept foreign credit and debit cards are widespread in South Korea. Overseas visitors should look for ATMs that have the logo of their card company or the “Global" sign.

Banks, particularly in big South Korean cities, can also exchange currency for foreign travelers.

Leaving a tip is not expected in South Korea . In fact, the staff at certain establishments may refuse to accept a tip if one is offered.

High-end hotel restaurants may add a service charge and tips for hotel staff are generally only given in the most luxurious hotels.

Even in these cases, travelers are not obliged to tip . This can help reduce South Korea vacation costs compared to visiting other countries where tips are expected.

Travelers can take the following steps to limit how much they spend on a trip to South Korea:

  • Travel out of peak season —when deciding the time of year to visit South Korea, choosing a month less popular amongst tourists can help save on accommodation costs
  • Make an itinerary —this can help reduce unnecessary transport costs by planning to visit places close to each other on the same days. Planning where to eat is also a good idea to get the best value meals
  • Shop at markets —visitors can haggle at South Korean markets to get the best prices for souvenirs and other goods
  • Take advantage of free activities —some of the country’s museums and important buildings, such as the National Museum of Korea, have free entry

In general, research and planning ahead can help travelers avoid unexpected expenses and reduce how much they spend on their South Korea vacation.

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  • Travel Planning Guide

Travel Budget for Seoul Visit Seoul on a Budget or Travel in Style

  • Seoul Costs


  • Seoul Hotel Prices
  • Best Hotels for First Time Visitors in Seoul
  • Best Hotels for One Night in Seoul
  • Best Family-Friendly Hotels in Seoul
  • Best Romantic Hotels for Couples in Seoul
  • Best Cheap Hotels in Seoul
  • Best Luxury Hotels in Seoul
  • Best Business Hotels in Seoul
  • Best Hotels for a Weekend Getaway in Seoul
  • Best Hotels for One Week in Seoul
  • Is Seoul Expensive?
  • How much does a trip to Seoul cost?
  • 3 Days in Seoul: Travel Itinerary
  • Is Seoul Worth Visiting?
  • South Korea Costs
  • Pyeongchang
  • Busan (Pusan)
  • Cheju (Jeju)
  • How much does it cost to travel to Seoul? (Average Daily Cost)
  • Seoul trip costs: one week, two weeks, one month

Is Seoul expensive to visit?

  • How much do I need for a trip to Seoul?
  • Accommodation, Food, Entertainment, and Transportation Costs
  • Travel Guide

How much does it cost to travel to Seoul?

You should plan to spend around $108 (₩148,114) per day on your vacation in Seoul. This is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors.

Past travelers have spent, on average for one day:

  • $30 (₩41,265) on meals
  • $16 (₩21,287) on local transportation
  • $109 (₩149,579) on hotels

A one week trip to Seoul for two people costs, on average, $1,518 (₩2,073,591) . This includes accommodation, food, local transportation, and sightseeing.

All of these average travel prices have been collected from other travelers to help you plan your own travel budget.

  • Travel Style: All Budget (Cheap) Mid-Range Luxury (High-End)
  • Average Daily Cost Per person, per day $ 108 ₩ 148,114
  • One Week Per person $ 759 ₩ 1,036,796
  • 2 Weeks Per person $ 1,518 ₩ 2,073,591
  • One Month Per person $ 3,253 ₩ 4,443,410
  • One Week For a couple $ 1,518 ₩ 2,073,591
  • 2 Weeks For a couple $ 3,036 ₩ 4,147,183
  • One Month For a couple $ 6,505 ₩ 8,886,820

How much does a one week, two week, or one month trip to Seoul cost?

A one week trip to Seoul usually costs around $759 (₩1,036,796) for one person and $1,518 (₩2,073,591) for two people. This includes accommodation, food, local transportation, and sightseeing.

A two week trip to Seoul on average costs around $1,518 (₩2,073,591) for one person and $3,036 (₩4,147,183) for two people. This cost includes accommodation, food, local transportation, and sightseeing.

Please note, prices can vary based on your travel style, speed, and other variables. If you're traveling as a family of three or four people, the price per person often goes down because kid's tickets are cheaper and hotel rooms can be shared. If you travel slower over a longer period of time then your daily budget will also go down. Two people traveling together for one month in Seoul will often have a lower daily budget per person than one person traveling alone for one week.

A one month trip to Seoul on average costs around $3,253 (₩4,443,410) for one person and $6,505 (₩8,886,820) for two people. The more places you visit, the higher the daily price will become due to increased transportation costs.

Independent Travel

Traveling Independently to Seoul has many benefits including affordabilty, freedom, flexibility, and the opportunity to control your own experiences.

All of the travel costs below are based on the experiences of other independent travelers.

Prices in Seoul are reasonable and comparable to your average travel destination. Hotels, food, and sightseeing are generally within normal price ranges.

Within Asia, Seoul is a somewhat more expensive destination compared to other places. It is in the top 25% of cities in Asia for its travel costs. While some cities in the region are more expensive, Seoul is generally more expensive than most.

For more details, and to find out if it's within your travel budget, see Is Seoul Expensive?

How much money do I need for a trip to Seoul?

The average Seoul trip cost is broken down by category here for independent travelers. All of these Seoul travel prices are calculated from the budgets of real travelers.

Accommodation Budget in Seoul

Average daily costs.

Calculated from travelers like you

The average price paid for one person for accommodation in Seoul is $55 (₩74,789). For two people sharing a typical double-occupancy hotel room, the average price paid for a hotel room in Seoul is $109 (₩149,579). This cost is from the reported spending of actual travelers.

  • Accommodation 1 Hotel or hostel for one person $ 55 ₩ 74,789
  • Accommodation 1 Typical double-occupancy room $ 109 ₩ 149,579

Hotel Prices in Seoul

Looking for a hotel in Seoul? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options.


Find the best hotel for your travel style.

Actual Hotel Prices The average hotel room price in Seoul based on data provided by Kayak for actual hotel rooms is $45. (Prices in U.S. Dollars, before taxes & fees.)

Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world.

Recommended Properties

  • BJ Hotel Budget Hotel - Kayak $ 26
  • The Shilla Seoul Luxury Hotel - Kayak $ 212

Transportation Budget in Seoul

The cost of a taxi ride in Seoul is significantly more than public transportation. On average, past travelers have spent $16 (₩21,287) per person, per day, on local transportation in Seoul.

  • Transportation 1 Taxis, local buses, subway, etc. $ 16 ₩ 21,287

Recommended Services

  • Private Airport Transfer: Seoul City - Gimpo Airport (1-5 pax) Viator $ 80
  • Private Airport Transfer: Seoul City to Gimpo Airport (1-12 pax) Viator $ 167

Flights to Seoul

Rental cars in seoul, what did other people spend on transportation in seoul.

Typical prices for Transportation in Seoul are listed below. These actual costs are from real travelers and can give you an idea of the prices in Seoul, but your costs will vary based on your travel style and the place where the purchase was made.

  • Subway Card ₩ 5,000
  • Short Taxi Ride ₩ 7,000
  • Metro Ride ₩ 1,350
  • Seoul City Pass Plus ₩ 10,000

Food Budget in Seoul

While meal prices in Seoul can vary, the average cost of food in Seoul is $30 (₩41,265) per day. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out an average meal in Seoul should cost around $12 (₩16,506) per person. Breakfast prices are usually a little cheaper than lunch or dinner. The price of food in sit-down restaurants in Seoul is often higher than fast food prices or street food prices.

  • Food 2 Meals for one day $ 30 ₩ 41,265


  • Traditional Brew Master's workshop Visit & Dinner with Magkeolli Viator $ 140
  • K-food cooking Japchae Mandu Tteokbokki & Fishcake Viator $ 86

What did other people spend on Food in Seoul?

Typical prices for Food in Seoul are listed below. These actual costs are from real travelers and can give you an idea of the prices in Seoul, but your costs will vary based on your travel style and the place where the purchase was made.

  • Rice with Kimchi & Bacon ₩ 6,000
  • Waffle ₩ 1,000
  • Dippin' Dots ₩ 2,000
  • Chicken Fried Rice ₩ 5,500
  • Chicken Stick ₩ 2,000
  • Drinking Yoghurt & Mi Chew ₩ 1,900
  • Lunch Buffet ₩ 6,000
  • Donut ₩ 1,000

Entertainment Budget in Seoul

Entertainment and activities in Seoul typically cost an average of $27 (₩36,419) per person, per day based on the spending of previous travelers. This includes fees paid for admission tickets to museums and attractions, day tours, and other sightseeing expenses.

  • Entertainment 1 Entrance tickets, shows, etc. $ 27 ₩ 36,419

The Go City Seoul Pass offers great discounts on attractions in Seoul. With the Go City Explorer pass, you can choose to visit specific sights and attractions at a discount. Or, you can visit as many included attractions as you like with a multi-day All-Inclusive Pass. The average visitor saves 30% off of the regular admission prices.

Recommended Activities

  • Flexible Private Guided Tour in Seoul (Optional Layover) Viator $ 160
  • Rare Chance : The Korea's White House Walking Tour Viator $ 36

What did other people spend on Entertainment in Seoul?

Typical prices for Entertainment in Seoul are listed below. These actual costs are from real travelers and can give you an idea of the prices in Seoul, but your costs will vary based on your travel style and the place where the purchase was made.

  • Palace Tickets ₩ 8,000
  • Movie Ticket ₩ 8,000
  • Kimchi Museum ₩ 3,000

Tips and Handouts Budget in Seoul

The average cost for Tips and Handouts in Seoul is $1.83 (₩2,500) per day. The usual amount for a tip in Seoul is 5% - 15% .

  • Tips and Handouts 1 For guides or service providers $ 1.83 ₩ 2,500

Alcohol Budget in Seoul

The average person spends about $12 (₩16,662) on alcoholic beverages in Seoul per day. The more you spend on alcohol, the more fun you might be having despite your higher budget.

  • Alcohol 2 Drinks for one day $ 12 ₩ 16,662
  • Soju Tasting at Distillery - story of 3 pigs Viator $ 42
  • Seoul Pub Crawl by Absolute Viator $ 20

Water Budget in Seoul

On average, people spend $2.05 (₩2,796) on bottled water in Seoul per day. The public water in Seoul is considered safe to drink.

  • Water 2 Bottled water for one day $ 2.05 ₩ 2,796

Related Articles

Seoul on a budget.



Food and dining, transportation, more related articles.

We've been gathering travel costs from tens of thousands of actual travelers since 2010, and we use the data to calculate average daily travel costs for destinations around the world. We also systematically analyze the prices of hotels, hostels, and tours from travel providers such as Kayak, HostelWorld, TourRadar, Viator, and others. This combination of expenses from actual travelers, combined with pricing data from major travel companies, gives us a uniqe insight into the overall cost of travel for thousands of cities in countries around the world. You can see more here: How it Works .

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By Patricia Liu and Joel Marinan

There has never been a better time to visit South Korea. Clean, modern, sophisticated, and ultra safe, Korea is a destination that you will want to come back to again and again. With the rise of Korean culture and entertainment throughout the world, the country is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, especially for foreigners who wish to experience all that Korea has to offer.

Korea has always been a fascinating country to visit and deserves a place on everyone’s travel bucket list. Known for its stunning blend of tradition and modernity, Korea features futuristic technology, bustling markets, and a thriving pop culture scene. There are no guns or drugs allowed in Korea, and visitors can expect a high level of safety and cleanliness while exploring the country. Also of note is that Korea is a no tipping culture, so savoring the delicious cuisine is extra affordable, as are the cab rides to restaurants and other destinations.

Speaking of affordability, the exchange rate between the Korean won and the US Dollar has been very favorable for Westerners, which is another perk of traveling to Korea right now.

Our South Korea Travel Guide shows you where to go, what to see, and when to travel. Start your journey with itinerary ideas and pre-travel tips, the best day trips, and lots more essential Korean travel advice. Let’s go!

Here are some of our most popular articles that will help you make the most of your trip to South Korea.

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Latest travel updates.

  • Vaccination is NOT a requirement for entry into Korea.
  • There is no requirement on the passport’s remainder validity for entry. You may travel to Korea as long as your passport remains valid throughout your stay in Korea.
  • From April 1st, 2023, travelers from the USA, Canada, and 21 other countries no longer need to apply for the K-ETA to travel to Korea. This will run at least until 31st December, 2024 and is designed to make it easier to travel to Korea.

Discounted Flights To Korea

Planning Your Trip To Korea

Check the Korean Embassy for any possible travel restrictions.

  • If you’re not sure where to stay, check out our guide to the  best hotels in Seoul  . You can find our recommendations for the best luxury, mid-range, and budget hotels in Seoul, as well as long-term apartments that you’ll love.
  • For the best flight deals to South Korea, Best of Korea recommends  Skyscanner  and  Expedia . You  can find the cheapest prices and most convenient flights and buy the one that suits you best.
  • For the best hotel prices in Seoul, Best of Korea recommends  Klook  0r  Agoda  – they cover most hotels in Seoul and the rest of Korea and offer great prices without hidden fees.
  • Before you travel to Korea, it’s a good idea to order an eSim card, regular  sim card  or  portable WiFi router  to collect at the airport so you’re connected as soon as you arrive. You can change a small bit of money before you travel, but you can also use the airport ATM to get some Korean won.
  • There are large differences in exchange rates so you will need to do some comparing before you exchange a large sum of money. You can exchange USD to KRW easily at banks or money exchange shops in all major tourist areas like central Seoul (Myeongdong and Namdaemun are good places but the Coex Center also offers money exchange. You can also negotiate the exchange rate with the vendor if you think it is too high.
  • You can withdraw cash from bank ATMs. Alternatively, use a pre-paid travel card like the one offered by  Wise , which allows ATM withdrawals and payments and works perfectly in Korea.
  • Don’t forget to bring a  travel adapter for your electronics and leave plenty of extra space in your suitcase for the many Korean souvenirs and goodies you’ll buy on your tri

Do US Citizens Need A Tourist Visa?

No, travelers from the USA don’t need a tourist visa to enter South Korea. You can visit for up to 90 days visa-free.

Current COVID-19 Rules In Korea

Most COVID-19 rules in Korea have been dropped and now there are only 2 main rules to be aware of. First, face masks are mandatory when visiting medical facilities (hospitals). There is no longer a 7-day mandatory quarantine for people in South Korea. If you’re infected with COVID, the Korean government recommends a 5 day self-quarantine, but it’s not enforced. Travelers to Korea should follow the current restrictions or may be liable for fines or deportation.

Korean Tourism Support Hotline

If you have any concerns or problems when traveling in Korea, you can call  1330 . This is a dedicated tourism support hotline where trained specialists provide tourist assistance and is available in Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Thai, and Malay.

US Government Travel Advisory For Korea

The U.S. Department of State currently has a level 1 travel advisory (Exercise Normal Precautions) for the Republic of Korea (ROK). Find out more about current travel advisories for South Korea on the  Department of State  website.

Gyeongbokgung palace at night in Seoul, South Korea.

6 Best Destinations In Korea

South Korea is truly a country of contrasts. From the bustling, modern city of  Seoul , with cutting-edge designer buildings, VR labs, and AI robots, to peaceful UNESCO World Heritage cities like Jeonju  and  Gyeongju , there are many unique places to explore.

There’s nothing worse than coming back from vacation and hearing about incredible places you missed that you wished you’d seen, such as a beautiful Buddhist temple by the beach (Haedong Yonggungsa Temple) or a leafy island getaway where deer and rabbits roam freely (Nami Island).

Here are 6 of the best destinations in Korea that you absolutely must visit, as well as some of the sights you’ll want to check out while you’re there. We’ll be bringing you lots more detailed destination guides in the future, so be sure to visit again soon.

South Korea Travel Guide For Seoul

Korea’s Busy Capital

Seoul is Korea’s largest city, capital, and first, stop for most travelers to Korea. There are  many beautiful places in Seoul , including landmarks, relics from ancient kingdoms, towering skyscrapers, Buddhist temples, Michelin-starred restaurants, and some of the best street food you’ll find in the world. If you see only one city in Korea, you should definitely visit Seoul.

You’ll never be bored in Seoul. Whether you’re traveling as a family, as a couple, or by yourself, there’s so much to do. Be sure to plan lots of time to check out Korea’s capital.

This  Full Day Tour  of Seoul will show you some of the hottest spots in the city, while this  Customized Private Tour of Seoul will allow you to choose where to go.

Here are 10 of the best Seoul attractions:

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace
  • Bukchon Hanok Village
  • Starfield COEX Mall
  • Bukhansan National Park
  • Myeongdong Street Markets
  • Lotte World Tower
  • Secret Garden (Changdeokgung Palace)
  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza
  • N Seoul Tower
  • Yeouido Hangang Park

South Korea Travel Guide For Busan

Korea’s Second City

Busan, Korea’s second city, is a thriving port city far away from Seoul both physically and culturally. This popular summer destination features some of Korea’s most popular beaches and bars. Explore Busan and you’ll find sprawling markets, fresh seafood, film festivals, the world’s largest shopping mall, coastal temples, and lots more.

Busan is a city with some very photogenic sights. See the sunrise on the beach, hike around leafy coastal streets on the side of cliffs, and marvel at the wide range of (living!) seafood in the markets.

This  Full Day Tour  of Busan will show you the best beaches, markets, and local sights, while this  Customized Private Tour of Busan  will allow you to choose where to go.

Here are 10 of the best Busan attractions:

  • Haeundae Beach
  • Gwangbokdong Food Street
  • Haedong Yonggungsa Temple
  • Huinnyeoul Culture Village
  • Gamcheon Culture Village
  • Oryukdo Sky Walk
  • Lotte World Busan
  • Jagalchi Fish Market
  • BIFF Square & Centum City Mall
  • Taejongdae Resort Park

South Korea Travel Guide For Gyeongju


Gyeongju is the former capital of the Silla Kingdom, part of the Three Kingdoms part of Korean history. These days, Gyeongju is an open air museum housing Korea’s finest history and monument. This UNESCO World Heritage City is a must-see for those who want to learn more about Korea’s deep cultural past.

Gyeongju is packed with temples, palaces, historical sights, and monuments. But it’s not just the history that draws the crowds, the city is an area of natural beauty, lined with cherry blossoms and shadowed by misty mountains.

This  Full Day Tour of Gyeongju  from Busan will take you around Korea’s open-air museum city, showing the top UNESCO sites along the way, while this  Customized Private Tour of Gyeongju  will allow you to choose where to go.

Here are 10 of the best Gyeongju attractions:

  • Gyeongju Historic Area
  • Bomun Lake Tourist Complex
  • Bulguksa Temple & Seokguram Shrine
  • Donggung Palace & Wolji Pond
  • Yangdong Folk Village
  • Cheomseongdae Astronomical Observatory
  • Gyeongju National Museum
  • Gyochon Traditional Hanok Village
  • Woljeonggyo Bridge
  • Gyeongju National Park

South Korea Travel Guide For Jeju Island

Natural Wonder

Jeju Island is Korea’s semi-tropical island that’s a popular vacation destination for locals and tourists alike. This area of outstanding natural beauty offers up rugged coastal walks, sandy beaches, green hills, and a volcano to hike up for those who enjoy a challenge. Culture and cafe lovers will also find Jeju Island a charm.

From snorkelling under the sea, to hiking above the clouds, sampling Jeju’s black pork BBQ, and drinking local green tea, there’s so many exciting activities, sights, tastes, and experiences waiting for you on Jeju Island.

This  Full Day Tour of Jeju Island  will show you some of the most incredible UNESCO World Heritage sites on Jeju’s East Coast, while this  Customized Private Tour of Jeju Island  will allow you to choose where to go.

Here are 10 of the best Jeju Island attractions:

  • Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak
  • Jusangjeolli Hexagonal Lava Cliff
  • Hallasan Mountain (Volcano)
  • Hamdeok Beach
  • Jeju Folk Village
  • Hyeopjae & Geumneung Beach Areas
  • Cheonjeyeon & Jeongbang Waterfalls
  • Udo Traditional Island
  • Yakcheonnsa Coastal Buddhist Temple
  • O’Sulloc Green Tea Fields

South Korea Travel Guide For Jeonju

Traditional Korea

Jeonju is famous for its historical and cultural sights, including the sprawling Jeonju Hanok Village, packed with more than 700 traditional  hanok  houses. Jeonju’s many impressive sights are close to each other and perfect for a day trip from Seoul or Busan. You can even stay overnight in one of the traditional houses.

Jeonju is a tourist hotspot so there are plenty of things to keep travelers entertained and places to experience traditional Korean food and drinks. Be sure to check out the Jeonju bibimbap, one of Korea’s national dishes. Rent hanbok (traditional clothes), take lots of pictures, and see the sights.

This  Full Day Tour of Jeonju  will show you around the beautiful  hanok  houses and traditional Korean restaurants, while this  2-Day Tour of Jeonju  includes an overnight stay in a  hanok  and lots of delicious Korean meals.

Here are 10 of the best Jeonju attractions:

  • Jeonju Hanok Village
  • Gyeonggijeon Shrine & Portrait Museum
  • Jeongdon Catholic Church
  • Jeonju Hyanggyo Confucian School
  • Nambu Traditional Market
  • Jaman Mural Village
  • Omokdae Viewpoint
  • Deokjin Park
  • Hanbyeokdang Pavilion
  • Taiji-ro & Hyangoyo-gil Shopping Streets

South Korea Travel Guide For Gapyeong

Rural Attractions

Gapyeong County is an area just outside of Seoul that’s home to several interesting attractions celebrating Korean and foreign culture. The lush green hills and blue rivers of Gapyeong make it a great place to immerse in Korean nature.

You’ll find some of the hottest day trip locations here. Explore Gapyeong County on a day trip from Seoul. You can see romantic tree-lined streets and cafes on Nami Island, explore one of Korea’s most beautiful gardens, take a trip to Petite France, and enjoy cycling through the hills on an abandoned railway track.

This  Full Day Tour of Gapyeong  will show you around Nami Island, Garden of Morning Calm, and the Rail Bike Park.

Here are 10 of the best Gapyeong attractions:

  • Nami Island
  • Garden of Morning Calm
  • Petite France
  • Ganchon Rail Bike Park
  • Edelweiss Swiss Village
  • Cheongpyeong Lake
  • Jarasum Island
  • Kalbongsan Recreational Forest
  • Gapyeong Sledding Hills
  • Nami Island Zip Line

People walking on a Korean road

There are loads of locations to visit in Korea that make for a perfect day trip from Seoul. Hop on a coach, train, or tour bus in the morning and explore one or more of these unique destinations.

Here are 10 of the best day trips from Seoul to discover on your next journey to Korea:

  • DMZ (North Korean Border)
  • Suwon Hwaseong Fortress
  • Everland Theme Park
  • Jeonju Historic City
  • Seoraksan National Park
  • Korean Folk Village
  • Alpaca World
  • Gwangmyeong Cave

Most travelers to Korea arrive at Incheon Airport and then travel into Seoul (it’s only 40 minutes away) to begin their journey. Seoul is certainly an incredible place to start traveling, but it definitely shouldn’t be your only destination. Korea has a lot to offer, including a lot of seasonal activities and events that you should take into consideration.

Spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Korea and during these times the traditional cities like Gyeongju and Jeonju look amazing. They’re covered with cherry blossoms or fall foliage and this creates some postcard-like scenes. Gapyeong area is packed full of natural sights to enjoy, so definitely check out these areas.

If you’re visiting during summer, head towards the coastal areas, including the north-east coastal towns of Gangneung & Sokcho, or the south-east coastal areas of Busan and the nearby islands, such as Geoje, Tongyeong, and Yeosu. You’ll find lots of winter activities to enjoy in these areas.

Winter is cold and dry and, ironically, a great time to visit Jeju Island. This semi-tropical island is warmer than the mainland, but still gets snow on the mighty Hallasan Mountain. You can sit on a sunny beach one day and then hike knee-deep in snow the next. Jeju is also famous for its citrus, with thousands of tangerine trees dropping their juicy fruits in early winter.

Where To Stay In Seoul

Where To Stay In Seoul

South Korea is truly a country of contrasts. From the bustling, modern city of  Seoul , with cutting-edge designer buildings, VR labs, and AI robots, to peaceful UNESCO World Heritage cities like Jeonju  and  Gyeongju , there are many unique places to explore. If you’ve decided on Seoul, here are some of the best hotels that are well located and highly reviewed.

Choosing the best destinations to visit in Korea can be a challenge, especially if you don’t know what there is to see. You might not have heard of some of these destinations, which is not surprising. Korea is a country of undiscovered wonders that are waiting to be found.

Signiel Hotel Seoul

If you want the best Seoul has to offer, these luxury hotels are for you. Located in Seoul’s glitziest neighborhoods, these hotels are within walking distance of Michelin-starred restaurants, chic boutiques, galleries, museums, and the finest shopping experiences available.

Expect nothing but the best in terms of service and style at these luxury hotels. Silky soft sheets, immaculate rooms with the finest fixtures and fittings, and true 5-star service from the hotel staff. These hotels have sports, dining, and entertainment facilities to make you comfortable during your stay.

Airport transfers are available with these hotels, making your journey into and out of Seoul a breeze. Located in popular upmarket districts in Seoul, these neighborhoods have lots of local charm for you to discover, as well as allow easy access to other parts of the city with excellent transport options nearby.

Not only are these beautiful, comfortable hotels inside, but they are also located in some of the most iconic buildings or districts and provide amazing views over some of Seoul’s most interesting districts. The view from the first hotel is worth the cost alone.

Recommended Luxury Hotels In Seoul

Here are 3 of the best luxury hotels in Seoul that we recommend for an unforgettable stay in Korea’s capital:

Mondrian Seoul Itaewon Hotel

Families. couples and other travelers that want to experience the best of Seoul without breaking the bank can sleep easy with these mid-range hotel recommendations in some of Seoul’s trendy, vibrant districts, including Hongdae, Gangnam, and Myeongdong.

Encounter stylish accommodation in Seoul’s Hongdae districts, which is full of street culture and artistic scenes from the district’s eponymous Hongik University – one of Korea’s leading art centers.

Fashion lovers and shoppers will find lots to love in downtown Gangnam, with its wide streets and glassy storefronts bracketing narrow side streets and hidden delicacies.

Myeongdong is famous for its budget and mid-range accommodation options, including several hotels by the famous Lotte chain – one of Korea’s best mid-range brands.

Whichever mid-range hotel you choose in Seoul, you can be sure you’ll have fantastic city views, convenient subway access, and lots of unique cultural sights, sounds, and tastes to experience.

Recommended Mid-Range Hotels In Seoul

Here are 3 of the best mid-range hotels in Seoul that we recommend for an comfortable stay in Korea’s capital:

L7 Hongdae By Lotte Hotel

Seoul has a wealth of budget accommodation options that will help make your money go further. These hotels are all around $100 or less but offer the comfort and convenience that you’d expect to find in a mid-range hotel. One even has a beautiful rooftop pool.

Although these hotels are cheaper, don’t lower your expectations. You’ll always find great service in Korea. Save on sleeping to spend more on shopping, souvenirs, sights, and all the other fun things there are to do in Seoul.

These budget hotels in Seoul are also in great locations for shopping, enjoying local culture, and seeing the real side of Seoul and Korea. Hongdae offers bargain hunters the chance to get boutique fashion at market prices, Gangnam has plenty of cafes and cheap eats tucked away off the main avenues, and Myeongdong is a budget traveler’s paradise full of $1 street food and bargain souvenirs.

You won’t be disappointed with a night at any of these hotels. If you want to make your budget go further so you can spend more on some of the incredible day trips Seoul has to offer, definitely book a night at one of these hotels.

Recommended Budget Hotels In Seoul

Here are 3 of the best budget hotels in Seoul that we recommend for an affordable stay in Korea’s capital:

Essential Korean Travel Tips

Korean Travel Tips

Korea is a unique country with a written language that looks nothing like English, fascinating etiquette rules , and an always busy lifestyle. Travelers may be lost trying to do even the simplest things.

These travel tips include the best options for staying connected, how to use public transportation easily and cheaply, great discount cards that will save you money as you travel, where to exchange money, and how to learn some basic Korean phrases for when you travel.

These essential Korean travel tips have been crafted by experienced travelers who love to save time and money. Only the best quality services and products are recommended here.

Here are our Korea travel essentials that’ll help you get around more easily, save you money, and let you get the most out of your trip.

Plan ahead now and you’ll have fewer troubles on your travels, giving you more time to enjoy your time in Korea.

If you’re traveling to Korea, you’re almost certainly going to want to get access to the internet to help you navigate, translate Korean, or even book tickets to attractions. Korea has one of the world’s best mobile internet and the prices are very reasonable. 5G mobile internet services are available across the country and Korea was one of the first to get the super-fast service. You won’t have problems connecting with a sim card or WiFi router when you travel.

Korean Sim Cards & Mobile Data Plans​

Sim Cards & Data Plans

A Korean sim card is a great way to get access to all your usual cellphone services when you travel to Korea. Sim cards come with data-only packages, or data and phone services combined.

Buying a Korean sim card will give you access to a Korean phone number, which is useful when using Korean apps. If you want to order food online in Korea, you need to have a Korean phone number to complete the order.

Korean Sim Card Costs

Prices start at W5,900 ($5) for a 1-day sim. You can also get 10-day sim cards (W34,700/$28) and 30-day sim cards (64,400/$52). These all come with unlimited data, domestic calls, and texts.

You can purchase a  Korean Sim Card  From Klook and collect it at the airport. This is a very convenient option as you can use it immediately to help navigate and check in back home.

Korean Portable WiFi Routers​

Portable WiFi Routers

A Korean portable WiFi router will give you access to mobile internet throughout Korea by connecting to WiFi hotspots run by the major phone companies in Korea and comes with great coverage.

The major benefits of a portable WiFi router include a lower cost than a Korean sim card and also the ability to connect up to 3 devices to 1 router. That means that families and groups will be able to share the service.

Korean Portable WiFi Router Costs

The cost of a Korean portable pocket WiFi router is W3,200 ($2.60) per day. You can rent the WiFi router for as many days as you require and pay in advance and pay any excess days when you return it.

You can also purchase a  Korean Portable WiFi Router From Klook and collect it at the airport. You can book online before you travel so that it’s guaranteed to be waiting for you.

Should I Get A Sim Card Or WiFi Router In Korea?​

Both a sim card and WiFi router are great options for travelers to Korea and will almost guarantee a great reception for mobile internet. The choice between whether you should get a sim card or WiFi router in Korea really comes down to the costs involved and if you need a Korean phone number.

WiFi routers are cheaper and allow you to connect 3 devices, so they’re perfect for families. However, a sim card gives you a Korean phone number, which means you can call people and also register for Korean apps which require a phone number.

Check out our detailed article about the  Best Sim Card & Portable WiFi  options for traveling to Korea.

Money Exchange

Korea is a safe, modern country and one that has pushed hard for the mass adoption of cards. Almost every location that deals with money is required to accept card payments. This is great news for travelers to Korea as you can use a card to pay for meals out, entrance tickets, trains, and lots more.

Cash is still needed for some things, such as topping up transportation cards like the T-Money Card (more on that soon) and for paying for small things like street food. Please note, as Korea doesn’t have a tipping culture, you don’t need cash for leaving a tip. In fact, if you try to leave a cash tip, it’ll be returned to you in most places.

Read on to find the best tips to avoid getting ripped off when exchanging money and how to pay the lowest fees when you use a card to pay in Korea. Be a smart traveler and save more money for shopping and souvenirs.

Korean Money Exchange Options​

Once you arrive in Korea, there are several options for exchanging money. First, you can exchange money at a money changer in tourist areas such as Myeongdong. These money changers used to have the best rates in Seoul.

However, a better option these days is to use the currency exchange machines from WOW Exchange. These machines are located all over Seoul’s most popular tourist spots, stations, and hotels. They allow you to exchange foreign cash directly to Korean won, with better rates than at the airport. You can also use these machines to claim a tax refund for your shopping before heading to the airport. Both options require a passport.

Should I Change Money At The Airport?

Exchanging money at the airport is easy and convenient as you can instantly get cash to use for shopping, transportation, and general use. However, the exchange rate at the airport is usually much worse than you’ll find in other places in Korea, as mentioned previously. If you need cash as soon as you land, withdraw a small amount ($50) and then exchange the rest in Seoul.

Wise Travel Money Card

Travel Money Cards For Korea

While cash is useful and familiar when traveling, a much better option is to use a travel money card (also known as a currency card). Travel money cards, such as the Wise Travel Money Card, allow you to pay for travel expenses without the need to carry cash or convert money.

A travel money card offers the convenience of using a credit card without high fees that a regular bank could charge. It also allows you to withdraw cash from an ATM without a fee (up to a limit), so you can avoid carrying any cash on the flight or using a money exchange. The exchange rate is the mid-market rate, meaning it’s better than you’ll find even at the money exchanges listed before.

Can I Use My Bank Card In Korea?​

Credit cards are widely accepted in Korea. Visa and Mastercard users shouldn’t face a problem, but other cards aren’t as widely accepted. Debit cards and cash withdrawals might not work depending on the bank. Your bank may charge a fee when using it overseas, or give a bad exchange rate. Check with your bank before traveling.

The best option for travel money in Korea is to have a mixture of cash and cards, with a backup credit card just in case. Taking some USD with you is always a good option as you can find plenty of places to exchange it to Korean won and probably at a better rate than you’ll get in the US. If you want to withdraw money in Korea, look for the global ATMs in tourist areas.

Taking a  travel money card  will be safer, cheaper, and more convenient than relying on your own bank or credit card, too. These cards offer competitive rates and are widely accepted around the world so you can use them to visit other countries, too. If you use a travel money card and it gets lost or stolen, you can freeze the card instantly with the app and not have to worry about losing the balance on the card.

When you visit Korea, you’ll notice that most people pay for goods with a card or payment app, even for small purchases like a bottle of water. Unfortunately, the payment apps that are common in the US, such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, aren’t available in Korea. Korean apps, such as Kakao Pay, require a Korean bank account, and therefore aren’t an option for travelers.

Korean T-Money Card

T-Money For Public Transport

The T-Money Card is an essential purchase for every traveler to Korea. The T-Money Card is a transportation card that allows contactless travel on Korea’s buses and subways. Simply buy a T-Money Card, top-up the card, then use it to travel.

Not only is this transportation card really convenient, it also saves you money. You’ll receive a discount on every bus or subway journey when you pay with the T-Money Card. These discounted fares are available in all cities across Korea, not just Seoul.

This isn’t the only use of the T-Money Card. You can also use to buy a coffee from Starbucks, get lunch in McDonald’s, shop for Korean cosmetics, and even to watch a baseball game. It’s a very useful card that can be used anywhere you see the T-Money Card.

You can get the  T-Money Card in Korea from subway stations and at certain transport centers, including Seoul Station and Incheon Airport. The card costs 2,500 KRW. You can buy the card with a credit card, but to top-up the card, you need to use cash. If you buy a Discover Seoul Pass, this card includes the T-Money functions.

Discover Seoul Pass Card (2)

Save With The Discover Seoul Pass

Travelers to Seoul have a lot of options for incredible attractions to enjoy and experience. However, tourists, especially families, can find that the cost of these attractions quickly add up, especially when you are visiting many locations in a short time.

A great way to save money when you travel in Seoul is to buy a  Discover Seoul Pass  – a special card that offers you big savings on some of Seoul’s top attractions, as well as other benefits.

If you plan to visit Seoul’s Royal Palaces, N Seoul Tower, Lotte World Adventure Theme Park, the COEX Aquarium, Alive Museum, Seoul Zoo, or other premium attractions, you can gain free entry when you purchase a Discover Seoul Pass.

Not only that, you can also get a free river cruise, free hanbok rental, free ride on the Airport Express from Incheon Airport to Seoul, free City Tour Bus Ride, free T-Money Card and lots more.

The Discover Seoul Pass is valid for 24 | 48 | 72 hours and is valid from the moment you first use it until that many hours later.

N Seoul Tower

Things To See & Do In Korea

If you want to build your own itinerary for South Korea, then this section of the South Korea Travel Guide will provide the building blocks you need to craft the perfect trip.

South Korea is a country packed with famous landmarks and sights, unique culture – modern & historical,  family-fun activities, outdoor adventures, cozy cafe districts, and natural wonders. There’s more to do in Korea than you could imagine and it’s impossible to explore it all in one trip. Try to plan your itinerary by cities and locations. For example, plan your day in Seoul stay by district.

Here are some of the best things to see and do in South Korea, broken down into different themes so you can find things that interest you the most. The location of each of these attractions is included, too, so you can create a city by city itinerary, seeing the best South Korea has to offer.

These attractions are available all year round so whenever you go to Korea, you can enjoy them. There are plenty of things to see and do in Korea that only happen during certain seasons. Check out the  Season Guide  in this South Korea Travel Guide for more information about Korean festivals and seasonal events.

Here are 10 of the best Korean landmarks:

  • Lotte World Tower (Seoul)
  • Bukchon Hanok Village (Seoul)
  • Nami Island (Gapyeong)
  • Banwol ‘Purple Island’ (West Coast)
  • N Seoul Tower (Seoul)
  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza (Seoul)
  • Seoraksan National Park (Gangwon Province)
  • Hwaseong Fortress (Suwon)
  • Cheonggyecheon Stream (Seoul)
  • Gamcheon Cultural Village (Busan)


Why travel to a diverse country such as Korea and not embrace the local culture? Here are 10 of the best unique Korean experiences you can only enjoy fully in Korea. Be brave, try something new and create lasting memories of your Korean adventure.

Here are 10 of the best uniquely Korean experiences:

  • Wear Traditional Korean Hanbok (Royal Palaces)
  • Sing In A Korean Noraebang (Everywhere)
  • Sleep In A Korean Hanok House (Hanok Villages)
  • Visit The Kimchi Museum (Seoul)
  • Eat Street Food (Traditional Markets)
  • Experience A Korean Temple Stay (National Parks)
  • Drink Makgeolli – Korean Rice Wine (Everywhere)
  • Visit The World’s Most Dangerous Border – The DMZ
  • Relax In A Korean Sauna (Everywhere)
  • Visit A Korean Green Tea Field (Boseong, Jeju)

Historic Korean Sights

Here are 10 of the best Korean historic sights:

  • Gyeongbokgung Palace (Seoul)
  • The Secret Garden (Seoul)
  • Bulguksa Temple (Gyeongju)
  • Jeonju Hanok Village (Jeonju)
  • Seoul Fortress Walls (Seoul)
  • Haedong Yonggungsa Temple (Busan)
  • Andong Hahoe Folk Village (Andong)
  • Gyeongju Historic Area (Gyeongju)
  • Baekje Historic Area (Gongju, Buyeo)
  • Jangsaengpo Whale Museum (Ulsan)

Modern K-Culture Sights Including K-Star Road in Gangnam

Here are 10 of the best modern K-Culture spots:

  • K-Pop Headquarters (Seoul)
  • HYBE Insight (Seoul)
  • COEX Artium (Seoul)
  • K-Style Hub (Seoul)
  • Hongdae Shopping Street (Seoul)
  • Hallyu K-Star Road (Seoul)
  • Asia Culture Center (Gwangju)
  • Busan International Film Festival Square (Busan)
  • MBC World Theme Park (Seoul)

As you’ll see, there’s just so much to see and do in Korea. You could spend a whole week in Seoul and not run out of exciting activities to do and sights to explore. Our advice is to try to avoid planning to do too many things in one day and adding in plenty of free time.

There’ll be many random things that catch your eye, such as a curious side street, or your nose, like the delicious smells from a food stall. Make sure you’ve got flexibility in your schedule to investigate these surprises and to take a rest if you need to – walking and traveling for days on end can get tiring.

Korea comes alive at night and markets and city streets are often best explored after the sun goes down. Drab concrete buildings come alive with neon signs, lanterns, and electric lights and are quite a sight to be seen. Visit popular tourist attractions such as the royal palaces and hanok villages during the morning as they’ll be less crowded.

If you plan to visit the Secret Garden in Changdeokgung Palace (you really should!), tickets are available on the day and sell out fast. Getting to these places early can guarantee you get tickets, see the sights unobstructed, and have time in the evening to soak up the night life and culture.

Family Friendly Korean Attraction Lotte World Adventure

Here are the 10 best family-friendly activities in Korea:

  • Nami Island & Garden of Morning Calm (Gapyeong)
  • Seoul Grand Park & Zoo (Seoul)
  • Lotte World Adventure (Seoul, Busan)
  • Alive Museum & Dynamic Maze (Seoul)
  • Seoul Children’s Grand Park (Seoul)
  • Seoul Children’s Museum (Seoul)
  • Everland & Caribbean Bay Theme Parks (Near Seoul)
  • Sea Life Busan Aquarium
  • Jeju Dinosaur Island (Jeju)
  • Alpaca World (Gangwon Province)

Korean Museums & Galleries

Here are the 10 best museums & galleries in Korea:

  • National Museum of Korea (Seoul)
  • Seoul Museum of Art (Seoul)
  • Gyeongju National Museum (Gyeongju)
  • War Memorial of Korea (Seoul)
  • National Folk Museum of Korea (Seoul)
  • National Maritime Museum (Busan)
  • Seodaemun Prison History Museum (Seoul)
  • Seoul Museum of History (Seoul)
  • Museum Kimchikan (Seoul)
  • Daegu Art Museum (Daegu)

Insta-Worthy Cafe Streets In Korea

Here are the 10 best cafe areas in Korea:

  • Ikseondong Hanok Village (Seoul)
  • Gyeongui Line Hongdae (Seoul)
  • Samcheondong Cafe Street (Seoul)
  • Jeonpo Cafe Street (Busan)
  • Hwangnidan-Gil (Gyeongju)
  • Gangneung Coffee Street (Gangneung)
  • Sinsa-Dong / Garosugil Road (Seoul)
  • Jukjeon Cafe Street (Seoul)
  • Hwaseong Haenggung Area (Suwon)
  • Kim Kwang Seok Gil Street (Daegu)

Traditional Markets & Shopping in Korea

Here are 10 of the best Korean markets and shopping areas:

  • Gwangjang Market (Seoul)
  • Myeongdong Market Area (Seoul)
  • Jagalchi Fish Market (Busan)
  • Centum City Mall (Busan)
  • IFC Mall (Seoul)
  • Starfield COEX Mall (Seoul)
  • Nambu Market (Jeonju)
  • Seomyeong Underground Shopping Center (Busan)
  • Seogwipo Maeil Olle Market (Jeju)

Natural Wonders in Korea

Here are 10 of the best natural sights in Korea:

  • Hallasan Mountain (Jeju)
  • Jirisan National Park (Jeollanam Provice)
  • Seoraksan National Park (Gyeonggi Province)
  • Seongsan Ilchulbong Sunrise Peak (Jeju)
  • Damyang Juknokwon Bamboo Forest (Damyang)
  • Boseong Green Tea Plantation (Boseong)
  • Haeundae Beach (Busan)
  • Udo Island (Jeju)
  • Hwaamdonggul Cave (Gangwon Province)

Travel Itinerary For South Korea

Travel Itinerary For Korea

When planning a travel itinerary for South Korea, it’s best to think about what kind of experience you want when you travel to South Korea and build your itinerary from that. What kind of traveler are you and what do you want to take away from your Korea trip? Are you planning a trip for yourself, for your family, or as a romantic escape?

Do you want to learn about traditional Korean culture and history? Are you visiting to immerse yourself in modern Korean culture and maybe meet your idols? Are you planning to get out into Korea’s mountains to hike and join a Buddhist Temple Stay? Or are you going to eat, drink, shop, and make the most of Korea’s discounted goods? Or all of the above?

This section of this South Korea Travel Guide will offer some of the best one-week and two-week itineraries for South Korea. These itineraries are rough guides, created to help you begin planning your trip. Feel free to pick and choose the parts from them that you like to create your own travel itinerary for South Korea. We’ll be adding more great itineraries soon, be sure to check back for the latest ideas.

Classic 1 Week Itinerary For Korea: Seoul, Busan, Gyeongju

This is one of the most popular of the 1-week itineraries for South Korea and will take you to the most famous and interesting places that are top of most travelers’ South Korea bucket lists. Starting in Seoul, Korea’s capital, you’ll explore the best sights in this city before taking a day trip out to the lovely Gapyeong County to get a breath of fresh Korean countryside air.

From day 4, zip across the whole of Korea on the high-speed KTX train and explore Korea’s second city, Busan. See coastal temples, fish markets, wide beaches, and more in Busan before taking a day trip to Korea’s historic UNESCO World Heritage City, Gyeongju. On the last day, it’s time to return to Seoul to pack your bags full of the best souvenirs and snacks and say farewell in the highest part of the city.

korea travel cost

Afternoon : Dressed in your hanbok, enjoy more traditional Seoul with a walk around the narrow streets of the Bukchon Hanok Village. Visit traditional Korean teahouses, galleries, markets, and more.

Evening : Check out the stalls and shops of artsy Insadong, contemplate Jeogyesa Temple, and take an evening stroll along the Cheonggyecheon Stream before dining in Myeongdong or the Jonggak Avenue of Youth. This  Full Day Tour  of Seoul will show you some of the hottest spots in the city, while this  Customized Private Tour of Seoul  will allow you to choose where to go.

South Korea 7 Day Itinerary Day 2

Afternoon : Head back to central Seoul and witness the bustling sights and delicious smells of Seoul’s traditional Gwangjang and Dongdaemun Markets. Try delectable Korean street foods here.

Evening : Take the Namsam Cable Car to the top of Namsan Mountain and watch the sunset from N Seoul Tower. See some of Seoul’s fortress walls before heading back down to go late-night shopping at Myeongdong Market.

South Korea 7 Day Itinerary Day 3

Afternoon : Zip line or sail over to Nami Island for impressive nature, bike rides, leafy walks, and cozy cafes. See popular scenes from K-dramas and even some wild animals, like deer and rabbits.

Evening : Pedal your way along an abandoned railway at the Gangchon Rail Bike Park before heading back to Seoul for fine dining in Gangnam’s Apgujeong Rodeo district.

South Korea 7 Day Itinerary Day 4

Afternoon : Head to the Nampo-dong near Busan Station and visit Jagalchi Market for a fresh seafood lunch. Then explore cosy Bosu-dong Book Alley or take a taxi to the Huinnyeoul Culture Village.

Evening : Take the subway up to Haeundae Beach for Busan’s best night-scenes. Grab dinner overlooking the beach, or at one of the market stalls. If you’re feeling brave, visit BUSAN X the SKY to see breathtaking views over the coast and city.

South Korea 7 Day Itinerary Day 5

Afternoon : Head to the Gyeongju Gyochon Traditional Village for a traditional meal and to see the stunning Woljeonggyo Bridge. Gyeongju National Museum is nearby, too.

Evening : See the tranquil night views of Wolji Pond where palace buildings reflect perfectly in still waters. Stop at Hwangnidan-gil area for dinner and drinks before returning to Busan.

South Korea 7 Day Itinerary Day 6

Afternoon : Explore the artistic shopping streets of Hongdae for last minute souvenirs and gifts for yourself. Take a break in one of the unique animal or artsy cafes.

Evening : Either take a night cruise along the Han River from Yeouido Hangang Park or dine in style at the Lotte World Tower in Jamsil, the world’s 6th tallest building. Both offer great night views of Seoul and unforgettable memories to take home.

Korea Travel Guide to Seasons

Korean Seasons Guide

The best time to visit South Korea is during the warm spring or fall seasons. The weather is mild and clear, there’s a range of festivals and seasonal activities to enjoy, and you can travel to Korea comfortably.

The best months to visit are April, May, September, and October. These months are all during the Korean school semester, so there won’t be as many local travelers around during the weekdays. However, expect the weekends to be busy as people leave the cities to travel within Korea.

Large public holidays, including  Chuseok (mid-autumn festival) in September / October) and Buddha’s Birthday (May), provides travelers with the opportunity to experience Korean culture and celebrations. These holidays change each year based on the lunar calendar.

Korean Weather & Climate

South Korea is a country that experiences four very distinct seasons, with temperatures ranging from 100 Fahrenheit in the summer to below 0 Fahrenheit in the winter. Each of South Korea’s seasons brings opportunities to see unique natural views and enjoy the different climates in Korea.

Spring has some of the gentlest weather, with light rain and a quick jump in temperature to the 60s and 70s by late March. Summer begins with the rainy season in late June and becomes extremely humid and hot throughout July and August before cooling again in September.

Fall has the best weather in Korea, with many warm, sunny days. Cold winter weather appears very quickly in mid-November and the first snow usually appears by late November. Winter is dry and sunny with the lowest chance of rainfall but is also very cold. Snow isn’t constant, but can fall for several weeks on and off during winter.

South Korea Travel Guide To Spring

Visiting in spring offers the chance to see beautiful cherry blossoms stretch across the country, as well as many other spring flowers that brighten up Korea after a cold winter.

Spring starts in late March with the awakening of the cherry blossoms and ends in early June with the start of the rainy season. South Korea is a country with a close connection to nature, which can be witnessed in the many spring festivals and celebrations that happen throughout the year.

Some of the best spring festivals include the Jinhae Cherry Blossom Festival, Damyang Bamboo Forest Festival, Yeon Deung Hoe Lotus Lantern Festival, Jindo Sea Parting Festival, and Boseong Green Tea Plantation Festival.

South Korea Travel Guide To Summer

The weather in summer is perfect for getting outside and relaxing on one of Korea’s many beaches. Some of the best activities include spending a weekend camping or glamping by the beach, hiking in shaded valleys in the national parks, and water sports such as surfing, kayaking, and scuba diving.

Unfortunately, the heat may put off some travelers, and high humidity makes it uncomfortable to move around too much. Fortunately, Korea is a modern country with lots of air-conditioning and ways to deal with the hot weather, including delicious summer dishes.

Cool down with a bowl of Korean bingsu (shaved ice dessert) or a cool latte in one of the many cozy Korean cafes in popular beach destinations.

South Korea Travel Guide To Fall

Travelers to Korea in the fall are treated to spectacular fall foliage creeping far and wide. You can see it falling on palace grounds, sprawled on mountains in national parks, and along city streets.

The start of the fall foliage season in Korea coincides with the end of the hot and humid summer, with clear skies and cool weather, making it the perfect time to travel in Korea. Like spring, the fall season in Korea is one of the festivals and celebrations.

The Chuseok holidays in late September / early October are the biggest public holidays of the year, with cultural events held in popular tourist destinations. There’s also a range of cultural festivals, such as the Andong Mask Festival, Baekje Culture Festival, Jinju Namdang Yudeung Lantern Festival, Jeonju Bibimbap Festival, and the Seoul Kimchi Festival.

South Korea Travel Guide To Winter

Winter, like summer, has more extreme weather than spring and fall, with temperatures often in the 20s and 30s and below. This season, however, is also one of the best for travelers who want to see clear, blue skies and experience good weather.

Winter is the driest season and it very rarely rains. If you don’t mind the cold weather, it’s perfect for traveling around South Korea. One of the biggest draws during winter is the chance to see snowy Korean landscapes, from snow-bedecked royal palaces to frosty peaks atop Korea’s many mountains.

Winter sports are popular in Korea, with ski and snowboard resorts aplenty. Winter also offers the chance for family fun with winter attractions including sledding, winter illuminations, and Christmas parades.

Costs To Travel In Korea

Cost To Travel To Korea

The cost to travel in South Korea largely depends on your personal style of travel. You can travel on a low budget in Korea, for under $50 per day, or you could also travel for 10 times that amount if you wished to.

Food costs range from a few dollars for a bowl of  jajang  (black soybean) noodles to hundreds for premium  hanwoo (Korean beef) steak. The same applies to accommodation, with budget hostels costing $10 per night and premium 5 stars hotels costing hundreds.

Most travelers to Korea will already know what they want to prioritize their spending on. Some travel to Korea to eat, others to shop, and many more to experience the unique culture and history that Korea has to offer.

The costs in this section of our South Korea Travel Guide are based on the latest costs in Korea from this year. Examples of different costs have been covered to give you an idea of what to expect when you try to budget.

Please note, these prices are based on traveling in Seoul during non-peak times. Prices may be higher in peak times, which include cherry blossom season (Apr) and fall foliage season (Oct). Popular tourist cities, such as Gyeongju and Jeonju, may also have higher prices on weekends.

How Much Does It Cost To Travel In South Korea?

Travelers may find they want to spend more on hotels and less on eating out, or vice-versa, so don’t feel like you have to only follow the costs for one section. This is only a guideline to help you plan based on your own personal preferences.

To make it easier to figure out your expected costs to travel in Korea, this South Korea Travel Guide has broken down the costs into 3 different categories. These categories loosely fit 3 different types of travelers, as described below:

  • Accommodation:  $200+ per night, per room (double)

Korea has a wide range of luxurious hotel options, including rooms in the Lotte World Tower, historic hanok houses, and glamping for those who want to escape to the countryside.

  • Food & Drink:  $100+ per day, per person

It’s easy to spend a lot on food and drink in Korea as there are so many delectable restaurants. Fresh seafood, Korean steak, or the finest foreign foods are all available.

  • Transportation:  $20+ per day, per person

Taxis and transportation are relatively cheap in Korea. A taxi journey across Seoul can cost less than $20 for 30 minutes and even the 1st class options on Korea’s high-speed trains are under $100 for the longest journey (Seoul to Busan).

Things To See & Do In South Korea​

  • Accommodation:  $100 ~ $200 per night, per room (double)

You can book 4-star hotels in Seoul for very reasonable prices and enjoy both comfort and lower prices than you’d find at home. Korea has a wide range of comfortable mid-priced hotels.

  • Food & Drink:  $50+ per day, per person

With all-you-can-eat Korean restaurants that serve unlimited Korean BBQ and other dishes for under $20 or $30 per person, it’s easy to enjoy the best food Korea has to offer without breaking the bank.

  • Transportation:  up to $15 per day, per person

Use the subway and buses to get around the big cities and trains to travel further around Korea without breaking the bank. You can even splash out on a taxi and pay only a few dollars per person when traveling as a group for a few dollars extra.

korea travel cost

  • Accommodation:  up to $100 per night, per room (double)

Hostels and guesthouses can be found for under $50 per night and are perfect for somewhere to rest and recharge. If that’s all you need, save money here and spend it elsewhere.

  • Food & Drink:  $20 – $30 per day, per person

If you budget well and stick to street food, free hotel breakfasts, and convenience store foods, you can eat well and still have enough to splurge on good food for dinner.

  • Transportation:  up to $10 per day, per person

Walking and buses are cheap and convenient ways to travel around Korea’s biggest cities. Traveling from city to city is also cheap, with intercity buses costing less than $10 for 1-2 hour journeys.


Further Costs To Travel In South Korea

Besides these everyday costs to travel in South Korea, there are other costs that you’ll need to cover from time to time. These costs include internet & phone access, day trips, activities, souvenirs, travel insurance, and flights. These costs will be broken down into low and high-end costs that you can expect to pay in Korea.

korea travel cost

Museums and galleries offer unique (and authentic) Korean souvenirs such as pottery, painting, tea & soju sets, and more. If you want something a bit more special, head to the underground markets near Gwangjang Market in Seoul and get your own handmade hanbok, which you can get posted back home to save luggage space.

  • Small Souvenirs: $5+
  • Korean Cosmetics: $5+
  • Korean Artworks: $10+
  • Korean Tea (box of): $10 to $20
  • Korean Soju Set: $10 to $20
  • Korean Handcrafts: $10+
  • Tailored Hanbok: $200+

Day Trip Costs In Korea

The day trip prices quoted below are the prices you can expect to pay with a reputable tour company like  Klook  or  Trazy . Hiring a private guide will be a lot more expensive and might come to $200+ per day.

Please note:  The prices quoted below are estimates and may change depending on the season or tour services.

  • DMZ Tour – $50 to $120
  • Nami Island Area – $40 to $70
  • Everland Theme Park – $30 to $50
  • Jeonju Hanok Village – $50 to $70
  • Korean Folk Village – $50 to $60
  • Seoraksan Mountain – $70 to $150

korea travel cost

As mentioned earlier in this South Korea Travel Guide, buying a  Discover Seoul Pass  is a great way to save money on Seoul’s premium attractions.

  • Royal Palaces – $3
  • N Seoul Tower – $10
  • Hanbok Rental – $10+
  • Seoul City Tour Bus – $10
  • Han River Cruise – $15 to $30
  • Seoul Sky Observatory – $30 to $50
  • Aquariums – $20 to $30
  • Seoul Zoo & Seoul Grand Park $10
  • Amusement Parks – $30 to $40

korea travel cost

The cost to fly to Korea is more than twice the normal price right now. Fortunately, Korea ended the restrictions on the number of flights into the country from June 2022 and flight costs and availability should be improved in the near future.

Best of Korea recommends  Skyscanner  and  Expedia  for the best flight deals to Korea.

Discounted Flights To Korea (1)

Why Travel To South Korea?

In recent years, travelers from around the world have been increasingly drawn to South Korea. The country is a must-see destination in Asia, with more than 17 million travelers in 2019. After reading this South Korea Travel Guide, you’ll understand what draws so many people to the Land of The Morning Calm, as Korea is also known.

There are myriad reasons why people visit Korea. Many come to experience life in a unique country, packed with historical and cultural sights that you won’t find elsewhere in the world. In the afternoon you can walk through a royal palace dressed in  hanbok  (traditional Korean clothes), sip green tea in a  hanok  (traditional Korean house), and pass Buddhist monks walking peacefully through an ancient temple.

Modern South Korean culture is conquering the world, with chart-topping acts that include BTS and Black Pink, Oscar-winning movies like Parasite, and phenomenally successful TV shows like Squid Game. This brings in legions of fans flocking to shooting locations and film sets to relive their favorite K-Culture moments. Some lucky travelers even get to catch sight of their favorite K-Stars walking around Gangnam, a hotspot for Korea’s most famous citizens.

Not only is Korea a beautiful country, it’s a country that will make you beautiful, with some of the world’s best fashion and beauty shops. Korea is famous for its K-Beauty products and is a beauty and fashion shoppers paradise. From the street fashions of Hongdae, to the luxurious fashion malls of Gangnam, and the wall-to-wall malls with discount clothes in Dongdaemun, you’re guaranteed to find something you can’t resist at a great price. If you prefer a cultural shopping experience, there are traditional markets all over Korea, where you can experience street food, buy novel gifts, and see how locals live and socialize.

Man in Korean hanbok walking in a palace in Seoul

There’s so much more to South Korea than what you’ll find in the cities, however. South Korea, a country that’s 70% mountainous with coasts on three sides, offers so much to nature and adventure lovers. Hiking, South Korea’s national pastime, is a popular way to see more of the Korean countryside, looking down over rice fields, forested valleys, and pockets of urbanization. Skydiving, parasailing, scuba diving, water sports, cycling, rock climbing, white water rafting, and lots more are on offer and very reasonably priced. South Korea is a great place to enjoy the great outdoors.

The real jewel in South Korea’s natural crown, however, has to be Jeju Island – one of the New 7 Wonders of the Natural World. Explore lava caves, hike to the peak of the central dormant volcano (Hallasan Mountain), trek around the rugged coast, relax on a sandy beach in a modern cafe, and even try your hand at horse riding.

Whatever your reason to travel to South Korea, you’re sure to find more and more reasons to return again and again. Let this South Korea Travel Guide whet your appetite for your first trip, inspire you to plan a follow-up trip, and guide you to the best things to see and do in South Korea.

Korean Air plane arriving in South Korea

South Korea Travel Guide FAQs

Not sure about the South Korea travel restrictions and want to know more about visas, vaccinations, and what the rules are? This next section covers some of the most frequently asked questions about traveling to Korea now. If you have more questions that aren’t covered below, feel free to write to us on the  Best of Korea  Facebook page.

Do I need a visa to travel to South Korea?

US citizens and tourists from 111 other countries, including Canada and Mexico, don’t need a visa to travel to South Korea. The US government and South Korea have a visa-free travel arrangement and tourists can stay for up to 90 days.

What happens when I arrive in South Korea?

From May 2023 onwards, there are no forms to fill out as long as you have nothing to declare to customs. Travelers with nothing to declare can enjoy a hassle-free entry procedure by simply walking through the “Nothing to Declare” passage. Travelers who carry items that exceed the duty-free limit, foreign currency that exceed the value of US$10,000, or other items that require customs declaration must still fill out a declaration form and walk through the “Goods to Declare” passage.

Can I travel to Korea if I'm unvaccinated?

Yes, you can still travel to South Korea if you’re unvaccinated. South Korea no longer restricts travel based on vaccination status (as of October 2022).

South Korea is a dynamic and culturally rich country that deserves a place on everyone’s travel bucket list. Known for its stunning blend of tradition and modernity, Korea features futuristic technology, bustling markets, and a thriving pop culture scene. Perhaps most importantly, visitors can expect a high level of safety and cleanliness while exploring the country and savoring its delicious cuisine.

This South Korea Travel Guide shows you where to go, what to see, and when to travel. Start your journey with itinerary ideas and pre-travel tips, the best day trips, and lots more essential Korean travel advice. Let’s go!


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Requirements To Travel To Korea

No, travelers from the USA don’t need a tourist visa to enter South Korea. You can visit for up to 90 days visa-free. However, you must apply for the K-ETA before traveling and upload your travel plans and hotel details.

Here are 6 of the best destinations in Korea that you absolutely must visit, as well as some of the sights you’ll want to check out while you’re there. We’ll be bringing you lots more detailed destination guides in the future, so be sure to visit again soon

South Korea Travel Guide For Seoul

This  Full Day Tour  of Seoul will show you some of the hottest spots in the city, while this  Customized Private Tour of Seoul  will allow you to choose where to go.

South Korea Travel Guide For Busan

Korea is a unique country with a written language that looks nothing like English, interesting  Korean Cultural And Etiquette Rules , and an always busy lifestyle. Travelers may be lost trying to do even the simplest things.

If you’re traveling to Korea, you’re almost certainly going to want to get access to the internet to help you navigate, translate Korean, or even book tickets to attractions. Korea has one of the world’s best mobile internet and the prices are very reasonable. 5G mobile internet services are available across the country and Korea was one of the first to get the super-fast service. You won’t have problems connecting with a sim card or WiFi router when you travel

korea travel cost

Traveling to any country involves potential scams, bad exchange rates, mistakes, and confusion when it comes to dealing with foreign currency. Fortunately, travelers to Korea have a wide range of options for travel money both before and while they travel.

Wise Travel Money Card

South Korea is a country packed with famous landmarks and sights, unique culture – modern & historical,  family-fun activities, outdoor adventures, cozy cafe districts, and natural wonders. There’s more to do in Korea than you could imagine and it’s impossible to explore it all in one trip. Try to plan your itinerary by cities and locations. For example, plan your day in Seoul and stay by the district.

Here are some of the best things to see and do in South Korea, broken down into different themes so you can find things that interest you the most. The location of each of these attractions is included, too, so you can create a city-by-city itinerary, seeing the best South Korea has to offer.

korea travel cost

Any South Korea Travel Guide would be incomplete without thee top landmarks & famous areas in Korea. These unmissable Korean attractions offer some of the best sights in Korea, showing you Korean history, culture, design, and sense of humor.

Unique Korean Experiences

Learning about Korea’s past is not only enjoyable, it’ll also open your eyes to how modern Korean culture has evolved. Witness the majesty of grand palaces and the humble Buddhist temples and gain an insight into life in Korea with these fascination historical sights.

Modern K-Culture Sights Including K-Star Road in Gangnam

Are you a fan of Korean culture? Then check out these 10 modern K-Culture locations in Korea. Whether you’re ARMY or an arthouse cinema fan, you’ll love these sights. K-Drama fans, check out these  K-Drama Filming Spots in Seoul .

Family Friendly Korean Attraction Lotte World Adventure

If you’re traveling to Korea with your family, you don’t need to worry about the kids getting bored. There are plenty of family-fun attractions in Korea to keep them amused and to show them what Korea’s really like.

Korean Museums & Galleries

Culture lovers will find no shortage of places to learn about Korean, Asian, and world history & culture. Korea has a rich history and displays this through a range of museums. Learn about traditional life, Korean wars, the democracy struggles, and even  kimchi .

Insta-Worthy Cafe Streets In Korea

Once a land of teahouses, Korea has now fully embraced coffee culture. Korea’s late-night culture makes cafes a great place to gather and chat. The rise of social media has also led to hundreds of insta-worthy cafes with photogenic decor, unusual coffee designs, and delicious desserts.

Traditional Markets & Shopping in Korea

Many people travel to Korea just to shop, thanks to the low prices, haggling in the markets, and good quality items. From traditional markets to high-end designer goods, there’s somewhere to shop for everyone. Be sure to try authentic Korean street foods in the markets, too.

Natural Wonders in Korea

Korea is a country surrounded by sea on 3 sides and 70% mountainous, giving it a wealth of natural beauty. Besides  Korean cherry blossoms , flowers, and fall foliage, there are sculpted gardens, shimmering ponds, riverside parks, and a volcano to see.

korea travel cost

Morning : Explore Seoul’s historic royal palaces starting with Gyeongbokgung or Changdeokgung Palace in central Seoul. You get free entry if you’re wearing a Korean hanbok, so be sure to pick one up from the rental shops outside.

korea travel cost

Morning : Learn about Korea’s history at the National Museum or War Memorial in Yeongsan. These fascinating museums have interactive exhibits and feature 1000’s of years of Korean history.

South Korea 7 Day Itinerary Day 3

Morning : Take a day trip from Seoul to explore Gapyeong County. See the wonders of the Garden of Morning Calm and its idyllic nature. This is one of the most beautiful gardens in Korea.

South Korea 7 Day Itinerary Day 4

Morning : Grab an early breakfast at Seoul Station and ride the high-speed KTX train directly to Seoul. It takes less than 4 hours and rides past rice fields, mountains, and the Korean countryside.

South Korea 7 Day Itinerary Day 5

Morning : Take a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Gyeongju and roam the Gyeongju Historic Area. See Daereungwon Tomb Complex and Cheomseongdae Observatory.

South Korea 7 Day Itinerary Day 6

Morning : Pack your bags and ride the KTX back to Seoul. Head to Hongdae for street food snacks or Michelin-starred delights in famous restaurants.

South Korea Travel Guide To Spring

March to May

South Korea Travel Guide To Summer

June To August

South Korea Travel Guide To Fall

September to November

South Korea Travel Guide To Winter

December to February

N Seoul Tower

Korean Souvenir Costs

The best places to buy souvenirs in Korea are in the traditional markets and tourist areas. Insadong in Seoul has a lot of art and souvenir shops, as do the market streets around Bukchon Hanok Village. Hongdae offers lots of bargain snacks and souvenirs to take home.

Day Trip Costs In Korea

Day Trip Costs From Seoul

A day trip from Seoul is a must to see a different side of Korea from what you’ll experience in the capital. Taking a day trip is a great chance to experience Korea’s countryside, nature, and hard-to-reach cultural attractions.

korea travel cost

Korean Activity Costs

Seoul and other Korean cities have so much to offer to tourists. From historical palaces to exciting theme parks and attractions, it’s easy to have fun, explore, and discover more about Korea’s history.

korea travel cost

Flight Costs To Korea

Flight costs depend on which airports you’re traveling from. A flight from Los Angeles to Incheon Airport (Korea’s main airport) costs around $1370 right now. Flight costs vary depending on the season and time of day.

From September 2022 onwards it is no longer necessary to provide any vaccination status or take any PCR or RAT tests. A mandatory health check will be required, but this is only a simple form you can fill in on arrival.

What happens if I get a positive PCR result?

If you test positive for COVID-19 while in Korea, you will need to quarantine for 7 days at government facilities. Travelers who break the quarantine rules are subject to deportation or fines.

However, if a traveler (vaccinated or unvaccinated) tests positive for COVID-19 in Korea, they will have to self-quarantine until negative.

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Average daily travel expense of tourists to South Korea in 2023, by origin

According to a survey conducted in South Korea throughout 2023, tourists from the United States who organized their own trips had the highest average travel expense per person per day while visiting, having spent an average of 486 U.S. dollars. This was followed by tourists from the United Kingdom and the Middle East. That year, the average tourist spent around 340 dollars per day.

Average travel expense per person per day when traveling to South Korea in 2023, by origin (in U.S. dollars)

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Worldwide, South Korea

every month in 2023

16,196 respondents

15 years and older

among visitors who planned their own trips and stayed for less than 90 days

Computer-assisted personal interviews (CAPI)

Respondent count by region was as follows:

Mainland China: 1,588

Japan: 1,963

Taiwan: 1,263

United States: 1,444

Hong Kong: 868

Thailand: 824

Vietnam: 521

Malaysia: 678

Philippines: 512

Singapore: 873

Russia: 332

Middle East: 583

Indonesia: 664

Canada: 537

Australia: 639

United Kingdom: 488 

Mongolia: 359

Germany: 496 

France: 497

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Statistics on " Travel and tourism in Hungary "

  • Inbound visitor growth in CEE 2020-2024
  • Inbound tourist arrivals growth in CEE 2021-2026, by country
  • Travel & Tourism market revenue in Hungary 2017-2028, by segment
  • Share of the GDP of the tourism sector in Hungary 2013-2028
  • Gross value added (GVA) of tourism industries in Hungary 2010-2022
  • Accommodation services and hospitality's share in GVA in Hungary 2015-2022
  • International tourist expenditure in Hungary 2009-2023
  • International overnight tourist arrivals in Hungary 2009-2023
  • International same-day tourist arrivals in Hungary 2009-2023
  • Share of inbound overnight tourist trips to Hungary 2023, by region visited
  • Share of inbound tourist spending in Hungary 2023, by type of expense
  • Total number of days spent by foreigners in Hungary 2018-2023
  • Domestic tourist spending on overnight trips in Hungary 2008-2023
  • Number of overnight domestic tourism trips in Hungary 2008-2023
  • Number of domestic overnight tourism trips in Hungary 2023 by motivation
  • Nights spent on domestic trips in Hungary 2014-2023
  • Quarterly number of domestic overnight trips in Hungary 2019-2023, by region
  • International travel expenditure in Hungary 2012-2023
  • Expenditure on outbound trips made from Hungary 2023, by country of destination
  • Number of outbound trips from Hungary 2008-2023
  • Number of outbound trips made from Hungary 2023, by country of destination
  • Number of same-day outbound trips from Hungary 2012-2023
  • Number of outbound overnight trips from Hungary 2012-2022
  • Total number of days spent abroad by Hungarians 2017-2023
  • Gross revenue from commercial accommodation establishments in Hungary 2021-2022
  • Number of commercial travel accommodation establishments in Hungary 2022, by type
  • Monthly number of domestic arrivals at tourist accommodation in Hungary 2021-2024
  • Monthly international arrivals at tourist accommodation in Hungary 2021-2024
  • International tourist arrivals in accommodation in Budapest 2000-2022
  • Hotel revenue per available room in Budapest 2015-2023
  • Class distribution of hotel rooms in Budapest, Hungary 2023
  • Expenditure of inbound wellness trips in Hungary 2017-2023
  • Number of inbound wellness trips in Hungary 2017-2023
  • Number of overnight domestic wellness trips in Hungary 2015-2023
  • Number of baths offering wellness treatment in Hungary 2010-2022
  • Number of bath visitors in Hungary 2010-2022
  • Frequency of traveling for personal purposes in Hungary 2023
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  • Share of population booking travel products online in Hungary 2023

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  • Premium Statistic Share of the GDP of the tourism sector in Hungary 2013-2028
  • Premium Statistic Gross value added (GVA) of tourism industries in Hungary 2010-2022
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Inbound tourism

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  • Basic Statistic International tourist arrivals in Hungary 2009-2023
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  • Premium Statistic International same-day tourist arrivals in Hungary 2009-2023
  • Premium Statistic Leading international tourist markets arriving in Hungary 2023
  • Premium Statistic Share of inbound overnight tourist trips to Hungary 2023, by region visited
  • Premium Statistic Share of inbound tourist spending in Hungary 2023, by type of expense
  • Premium Statistic Total number of days spent by foreigners in Hungary 2018-2023

Domestic tourism

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  • Premium Statistic Number of overnight domestic tourism trips in Hungary 2008-2023
  • Premium Statistic Number of domestic overnight tourism trips in Hungary 2023 by motivation
  • Premium Statistic Nights spent on domestic trips in Hungary 2014-2023
  • Premium Statistic Quarterly number of domestic overnight trips in Hungary 2019-2023, by region

Outbound tourism

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  • Premium Statistic Expenditure on outbound trips made from Hungary 2023, by country of destination
  • Premium Statistic Number of outbound trips from Hungary 2008-2023
  • Basic Statistic Number of outbound trips made from Hungary 2023, by country of destination
  • Basic Statistic Number of same-day outbound trips from Hungary 2012-2023
  • Basic Statistic Number of outbound overnight trips from Hungary 2012-2022
  • Premium Statistic Total number of days spent abroad by Hungarians 2017-2023
  • Basic Statistic Gross revenue from commercial accommodation establishments in Hungary 2021-2022
  • Premium Statistic Number of commercial travel accommodation establishments in Hungary 2022, by type
  • Premium Statistic Monthly number of domestic arrivals at tourist accommodation in Hungary 2021-2024
  • Premium Statistic Monthly international arrivals at tourist accommodation in Hungary 2021-2024
  • Basic Statistic Tourist arrivals in accommodation in Budapest 2000-2022
  • Premium Statistic International tourist arrivals in accommodation in Budapest 2000-2022
  • Basic Statistic Hotel revenue per available room in Budapest 2015-2023
  • Premium Statistic Class distribution of hotel rooms in Budapest, Hungary 2023

Wellness tourism

  • Premium Statistic Expenditure of inbound wellness trips in Hungary 2017-2023
  • Premium Statistic Number of inbound wellness trips in Hungary 2017-2023
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Travel behavior

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Nomadic Matt: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Better

Southeast Asia Travel Guide

Last Updated: November 27, 2023

A lone person standing on lush, green rice terraces in Southeast Asia on a bright sunny day

Backpackers have been traveling through Southeast Asia since the late 1960s and early 1970s, leaving a well-worn trail around the region.

Starting in beautiful Thailand, the trail makes its way to up-and-coming Laos, through Vietnam, and to the temples of Angkor Wat. It then winds back into Thailand, where people head south to party in the Thai islands before moving down to Malaysia and Singapore.

There are a few variations to the trail, but this is what it mostly covers.

I’ve been visiting this region since 2004 and spent years living in Thailand . I love backpacking Southeast Asia and have written extensively about it as I know it like the back of my hand.

It’s an especially great region for new travelers because it’s easy to travel around, it’s safe, and there are lots of other travelers you can meet. But it’s also perfect for veteran travelers too as there are tons of off-the-beaten-path destinations that the standard backpacker trail doesn’t cover.

In short, Southeast Asia has something for every traveler — and every budget.

This Southeast Asia travel guide will help you travel the region like a pro, ensuring you save money and make the most of your time in this fun, gorgeous, and lively corner of the world.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs on Southeast Asia

Click Here for Country Guides

Top 5 things to see and do in southeast asia.

A lone person standing on lush, green rice terraces in Southeast Asia on a bright sunny day

1. Admire Angkor Wat

One of the greatest human creations in history, the Angkor Wat temple complex is best explored over the course of a few days. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site created by the Khmer Empire and absolutely enormous. Temples to visit include Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple which has 216 gigantic stone face carvings, and Ta Prohm. I spent three days here and that simply wasn’t enough. A one-day pass is $37 USD, while a 1-week pass is $72 USD. If you’re here for multiple days, be sure to hire a driver and see some of the more out of the way ruins away from the main temple complex (and the crowds).

2. Explore Bangkok

Bangkok is the hub of travel activity in Southeast Asia. You can get anywhere you want from here. Though I hated it at first, the more I’ve spent time here the more I love it. Bangkok is like an onion whose many layers need to be peeled back. Some things not to miss include the spectacular Bangkok Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Chatuchak Market and Asiatique, and a canal trip on the Chao Phraya River. This is a city for foodies and wild nightlife.

3. Relax on some tropical islands

No visit to Southeast Asia would be complete without a visit to at least one of the thousands of tropical islands in the region. My top five include the Perhentian Islands (Malaysia), Rabbit Island (Cambodia), Ko Lanta (Thailand), and Boracay (Philippines). Lombok Island (Indonesia) has a chill vibe with unspoiled, perfect “desert island” beaches. There’s so many islands to visit. Be sure to add at least one to your trip. The country guides will have more information for you.

4. See Ha Long Bay

Sailing trips to this island-filled bay with stunning emerald waters, limestone formations, and marine life give you an appreciation for the natural beauty in Vietnam. Tours from Hanoi start at around $110 USD for two-day trips and increase from there. I love the colorful grottoes, hanging stalactites, and stalagmites of Surprise Cave (Sung Sot), Fairy Cave (Tien Ong), and Heaven Palace (Thien Cung). Make sure you go with a reputable company though as some of the cheaper boats are less than ideal. If you’d rather just visit for one day, day trips from Hanoi cost $55 USD.

5. Wander Kuala Lumpur

Other things to see and do in southeast asia, 1. go jungle trekking.

This region of the world is covered in amazing jungles with diverse wildlife, plentiful camping opportunities, and cool waterfalls. The best jungle treks are found in northern Thailand, Western Laos, and Malaysian Borneo (the latter are also the hardest and most intense). Some of my favorites include Danum Valley (Borneo) for its incredible wildlife; Ratanakiri (Cambodia) for its pristine wilderness and thousand-year-old trees; and Pu Luong Nature Reserve (Vietnam). Costs vary but jungle trekking generally costs $30-50 USD per day.

2. Attend the Full Moon Party

The biggest one-night party in the world welcomes up to 30,000 people with a party that stretches until dawn. Cover yourself in glow paint, grab a bucket of booze, and dance the night away with new friends on the island of Ko Phangan in Thailand. As the name would suggest, the party is on the night of the full moon. If you miss it, there’s always the half-moon party, quarter-moon party, and black-moon party. Really, every night is a party on Ko Phangan . Just avoid the flaming jump rope that occurs — I’ve seen people get burned badly!

3. Learn to dive

There are many great dive sites around the region for those interested in underwater exploration. You can learn to dive here at a fraction of what it would cost back home too. Some of the best places are Ko Tao (Thailand), Sipadan (Malaysia), as well as Gili Islands (Indonesia) and Coron, Palawan (The Philippines). A typical diving course is completed in three days. A PADI course typically runs $275 USD in Thailand, including three nights’ accommodation, though at smaller schools you can often negotiate down to $250 USD. Day trips for certified divers start at $165 USD. For information on Ko Tao, check out this blog post .

4. Eat street food in Singapore

Singapore is a foodie’s heaven. Try the hawker stalls of Singapore as well as Little India and Chinatown for some of the best and cheapest food in Asia. If you’re looking for a nice place to sit down and eat, eat at Singapore’s famed restaurants during lunch when restaurants offer discounts, making them a great deal. You’ll also find the most affordable Michelin-starred restaurants here (Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice and Hawker Chan), offering world-class meals for just a couple of bucks!

5. Overload on temples

You can’t turn a corner without seeing a Buddhist temple in this part of the world. You’ll get temple overload at some point but visit as many as you can as each is unique to the country and region of the temple. There are so many places with high concentrations of ornate and beautiful temples. Check out Chiang Mai’s Wat Doi Suthep Temple and hike up the 300 steps to the golden Chedi that’s 600 years old!; Bagan’s Shwesandaw Pagoda from the 11th century with its stunning golden dome; Angkor Wat’s Ta Prohm is covered in iconic vines and enveloped in ancient jungle roots; Hue’s colorful Thien Mu Pagoda is perched atop a lush green embankment; Hoi An’s Quan Cong Temple with incredible Chinese architecture with hand-carved beauty and skill, and Luang Prabang’s Vat Xieng Thong with its golden, canopied roof. Most are free to enter, however, dress codes are enforced (you need to have your shoulders and legs covered).

6. Dive Sipadan

Located off Malaysian Borneo, Sipadan is one of the best dive sites in the world. If you have your dive certificate, make sure you venture out here. I absolutely love this area because it’s teeming with live turtles, diverse cave systems, sharks, dolphins, colorful coral, bright fish, and everything in between. Not a lot of people make it to this part of Malaysia, but it’s worth it to go the extra mile and make your way off the tourist trail a bit. Don’t miss Barracuda Point and The Drop-Off. Keep in mind that only 176 permits to dive at the island are issued each day, costing 140 MYR per person. The resorts on the neighboring islands each get a specific number of permits per day and require divers to stay with them for a few days. So you’ll need to stay at those resorts and dive into the surrounding areas before they can get you a Sipadan permit.

7. Fall in love with Bali

Bali is the most popular destination in Indonesia, and its famous Kuta beach is known for its wild parties and surfing ( though I think it’s overrated ). However, there is much more to Bali than just wild nights and sun-soaked days. If you’re a thrill seeker, hike up to the top of Mount Batur, an active volcano, for a breathtaking sunrise. Paragliding and white water rafting are also super popular here, as is surfing (it’s an affordable place to learn if you’ve never done it). There are also lots of hot springs to enjoy, the Ubud Monkey Forest (a popular temple and nature reserve home to hundreds of monkeys), and numerous places to scuba dive, including the Liberty wreck and Manta Point.

8. Take in Ho Chi Minh City

Frantic, chaotic, and crazy, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam is the embodiment of the controlled chaos that rules Southeast Asia. You can’t quite figure out how this teeming mass of people and cars work together, but it does. Highlights here include touring the tunnels used by the Viet Cong in the 1960s, taking in the view from the Saigon Skydeck, eating your way through the street food scene, and seeing the city’s numerous temples.

9. Admire the sunrise over an Indonesian Volcano

One of the most popular tourist attractions on Java is Mount Bromo and its National Park. Don’t miss out on getting a photo of the smoldering Bromo volcano as it lies surrounded by the almost lunar landscape of the Sea of Sand. Get up early to catch one of the most memorable sunrises of your life. If you’re there in mid-August, you’ll be just in time to see Upacara Kasada, the traditional Hindu ritual of the Tenggerese, a Javanese tribe of the region.

10. Hike in Khao Sok National Park

Located in southern Thailand, Khao Sok National Park is constantly rated as one of the best parks in Thailand, with incredible trekking, camping, limestone karsts, cooling rivers, and a glistening lake. Visit for semi-challenging hikes, tons of wildlife, walking paths, and breathtaking sunsets. Park entrance costs around $6 USD while full-day guided tours are $95 USD. I highly recommend spending at least one night here to get the full experience.

11. Visit Kampot

Most people come to Kampot to enjoy the scenic riverside views, as well as the rolling hills that surround the city. Since you can explore easily enough on foot or by bicycle, Kampot is a great place to slow down and relax. There’s not much to do here but have lazy days by the river, chill, and eat (don’t miss the famous Rusty Keyhole for BBQ!). Don’t miss the pepper farms, as this region of Cambodia is filled with pepper farms where you can learn about the history of the spice, see how it is grown, and pick up what is considered some of the finest pepper in the world. Tours are usually free.

12. Take a cooking class

Food from this region is as varied as the countries themselves and learning how to cook a few dishes is a great souvenir of your time here. Even if you don’t plan to cook back home, you can still spend a day making and eating scrumptious food. Most big cities have cooking schools offering classes of 2-6 hours, often including a trip to the local market beforehand to select ingredients. I absolutely love cooking classes and urge you to take one at least once. They are a fun experience!

13. Take a food tour

If you’d rather eat instead of cook, taking a food tour is a fun way to gain insight into the region’s amazing noodle dishes, fresh seafood, sweets, and street food while learning about the history and culture behind the cuisine. Most major cities in Southeast Asia offer food tours. These include tours around local markets, street stalls, and tours to locally-owned restaurants and cafes where you can sample the local cuisine and connect with a local chef. If you’re nervous about street food, this is a great way to try some in a controlled setting. Tours usually last 2-4 hours and include multiple stops and several different dishes, with prices costing $40-75 USD per person.

14. Visit an elephant sanctuary

While riding an elephant is on many a Southeast Asia bucket list, once you know how much the animals suffer from abuse in order to provide these rides, you might think twice about taking one. An even better way to interact with elephants is to volunteer at or visit the Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai in Thailand. It’s a phenomenal place, allowing you to give back to the community and these magnificent animals all at once. After coming here, you will understand why you should NEVER ride an elephant. A one-day visit costs $70 USD.

15. See The Killing Fields

A visit to Choeung Ek, also known as the Killing Fields, may not be the most cheerful way to spend an afternoon, but it makes for an educational and memorable experience. Over 3 million people were killed by Pol Pot’s regime, including countless women and children. I recommend getting a guide so you can really understand what you’re seeing as you explore the area. Also, this horrific tragedy took place less than 50 years ago and is still very present so please be respectful as a visitor.  The site is located 10 miles from Phnom Penh. Half-day guided tours start at $66 USD.

16. Swim with Whale Sharks in Donsol

If you’re in the Philippines, check out the Donsol Whale Shark Interactive Ecosystem Project because there are not many experiences quite as adrenaline-inducing as swimming with a whale shark for the first time in crystal waters. These incredible creatures are around 45 feet (14 meters) long and yet incredibly gentle and curious. I loved floating at the surface being able to look below and see them slowly swim below me. Get some people together and rent a boat for a half day, explore the area, and go ‘shark-seeing’ for a good cause.  

  For a ton more information, visit my country specific travel guides for more detailed information on each place:

  • Cambodia Travel Guide
  • Indonesia Travel Guide
  • Laos Travel Guide
  • Malaysia Travel Guide
  • Singapore Travel Guide
  • Thailand Travel Guide
  • Vietnam Travel Guide

Southeast Asia Travel Costs

A lone person standing on lush, green rice terraces in Southeast Asia on a bright sunny day

Accommodation – Accommodation in Southeast Asia is really cheap, making it the perfect place to travel if you are on a budget. Hostels are plentiful, as are budget guesthouses and hotels. It’s also very cheap to splash out here if you’re in need of some luxury.

Generally, you can find hostel dorm rooms for as little as $6-8 USD in Cambodia and $3-6 USD in Laos. In Thailand, 4-6-bed dorm rooms are $8-12 USD, while in Vietnam you can expect to pay $5-7 USD. In Indonesia, prices range between $5-10 USD for a 4-6-bed dorm room. Expect to pay at least $15-20 per night for a private room with air conditioning. Free Wi-Fi is standard in most hostels, free breakfast is common, and many hostels even have pools. In more remote areas, hot water isn’t common so make sure to check in advance if that’s an issue for you.

Simple guesthouses or bungalows throughout Southeast Asia generally cost $12-20 USD per night for a basic room with a fan (sometimes air conditioning) and hot water. If you want something nicer that includes a more comfortable bed and a TV, expect to pay $25-35 USD per night.

For backpackers, budgeting around $10 USD per night for accommodation is pretty safe no matter where you go in Southeast Asia. If you’re looking for a higher-end hotel room with more amenities, expect to pay $20-50 USD per night for a room. Anything over that is luxury territory.

Camping is available in certain areas, usually for just a few dollars per night for a basic tent plot without electricity. However, this is about the same price as hostels so it’s not really any cheaper.

Food – While each country’s cuisine varies, overall, Southeast Asian food is aromatic, spicy, and flavorful. Typical spices and herbs include garlic, basil, galangal, cilantro, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, and fish sauce. No matter what region you’re in, you can expect to find a variety of curries, salads, soups, noodle dishes, and stir-fries.

Rice and noodles are central to Southeast Asian food, while the meat is usually pork, chicken, fish, or seafood, which is everywhere on the islands and coastal areas.

While traveling Southeast Asia, street food is the most popular food and cheapest option. On average, these meals cost $1-5 USD. You find these stalls throughout this region lining most streets and every market. They are ubiquitous in the region. In Singapore, street food (from “hawker stands” as they’re known there) costs around $4-5 USD for a meal. Even if you go into small local restaurants, the price doesn’t increase that much.

Food that costs $2 USD at a street stall generally only costs $4-6 USD at a local restaurant. If you went into a restaurant in Thailand, you’d pay around $3-4 USD for a pad Thai that would have cost $1-2 USD on the street.

In Cambodia, street food is around $1-2 USD, while restaurants charge around $3-5 USD for a dish like amok (a coconut milk dish) or luc lac (pepper gravy beef).

Western meals, including burgers, pizza, and sandwiches usually cost around $7-10 USD. But these generally aren’t that great. If you want something that actually tastes as it does back home, expect to spend at least $10-12 USD for your meal.

While cheap, alcohol can take a bite out of your budget if you’re not careful. Those $1-2 USD beers add up! Wine and cocktails are more expensive, generally around $3-5 USD. A cappuccino is typically around $2 USD. Bottled water is plentiful and costs less than $1 USD.

There’s a growing cutting-edge foodie scene in the region and, if you want to splurge, you can do so on some really good meals. Big cities like Bangkok, KL, and Singapore, all have world-class Michelin star restaurants as well some incredible fusion restaurants.

Since dining out is so cheap in the region, there’s no point in grocery shopping unless you’re looking to get some pre-made salads or fruits. Additionally, a general lack of kitchens in most hostels and hotels makes it difficult to cook even if you wanted to. If you do purchase your own groceries, expect to spend around $25 USD per week for basic groceries like local produce, rice, and some meat (while avoiding expensive imported items like cheese and wine).

Backpacking Southeast Asia Suggested Budgets

On a backpacker budget of $45 USD per day, you can stay in hostel dorms, eat out at local markets and street stalls, limit your drinking, do mostly free activities, minimize paid activities, and use public transportation to get around. You’re not going to be able to splash out but you’ll be able to live the typical backpacker experience without really stressing over expenses.

On a mid-range budget of $85 USD per day, you can stay in budget hotels or private hostel rooms, eat more restaurant meals, do more paid activities like cooking classes, take some taxis, and enjoy a few more drinks. You won’t live large, but you won’t be missing out either.

On an upscale budget of $150 USD or more per day, you can stay in nicer hotels with more amenities, eat out as much as you want, do more paid tours including private tours, hire a driver, fly between destinations, and basically do whatever you want. The sky is the limit with this kind of budget!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in USD.

Southeast Asia Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Backpacking Southeast Asia is cheap. There’s little opportunity to spend a lot of money since everything is already so inexpensive unless you intentionally are trying to splash out on fancy meals and high end hotels. The two reasons why most travelers end up overspending is that they eat a lot of Western food and drink way too much. If you want to save money while traveling in this part of the world, cut down on your drinking and skip the Western food. While country guides have more specific ways to save money, here are some general ways to save money in Southeast Asia:

  • Stay with a local – Accommodation is cheap in Southeast Asia but nothing’s cheaper than free! Use Couchsurfing to stay with locals who have extra beds and couches for free. You’ll also meet great people who can show you around and share their insider tips and advice.
  • Book tours and day trips as a group – You have more negotiation power when you’re with a group of people buying multiple spots or tickets. Traveling alone? Meet a friend at a hostel and see if they want to join the same tour as you. I’ve met some great friends over the years doing this and highly recommend it.
  • Don’t book in advance – Don’t book any tours or activities before you get to your destination. They’ll be much cheaper when you arrive as you’ll be able to negotiate a lower price as you’ll find companies are often offering the same tour and competing. Anything you see online is more expensive than you need to pay!
  • Eat on the street – The street food is the best food. The food is the best and cheapest you’ll find. It’s a great way to try new foods and get to chat with locals as well. This is where locals eat so if you want insight into local culture, good food, and savings, eat the street food. Look for where locals are eating to ensure that it’s safe to eat.
  • Bargain hard – Nothing is ever at face value here. Bargain with sellers as most of the time, the price they’ve quoted is way higher. There’s a haggling culture in the region so play the game and save some money. It’s important not to convert it in your head to your own currency because it will usually sound cheap even though you might still be getting ripped off. You’ll never get the local price, but you might come close!
  • Minimize your drinking – Drinks really add up. Even with cheap drinks, if you’re not aware, you’ll end up spending more money on beer than on food and accommodation. If you want to drink, head to the supermarkets, drink at the hostel, or check out the local happy hours.
  • Pack a water bottle – A water bottle with a purifier comes particularly in handy in Southeast Asia since you can’t usually drink the tap water. Save money and thousands of plastic bottles and get a bottle that can purify the tap water for you. My preferred bottle is LifeStraw as it has a built-in filter that ensures your water is always safe and clean.

Where to Stay in Southeast Asia

I’ve been traveling Southeast Asia since 2005 and have stayed in hundreds of places. Here are some of my favorite places to stay in Southeast Asia:

  • The Siem Reap Pub Hostel (Siem Reap)
  • Onederz Siem Reap (Siem Reap)
  • Mad Monkey Siem Reap (Siem Reap)
  • Onederz Sihanoukville (Sihanoukville)
  • Monkey Republic (Sihanoukville)
  • Onederz Phnom Penh (Phnom Penh)
  • Sla Boutique Hostel (Phnom Penh)
  • The Magic Sponge (Kampot)
  • Indigo House Hotel (Luang Prabang)
  • Sa Sa Lao (Luang Prabang)
  • Sanga Hostel (Pakse)
  • Nana Backpackers Hostel (Vang Vieng)
  • Dream Home Hostel (Vientiane)
  • Traveller Bunker Hostel (Cameron Highlands)
  • De’Native Guest House (Cameron Highlands)
  • Kitez Hotel & Bunks (Kuala Lumpur)
  • Sunshine Bedz Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur)
  • Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel (Penang)
  • Mad Monkey Hostel (Bangkok)
  • D&D Inn (Bangkok)
  • Kodchasri B&B (Chiang Mai)
  • The Royal Guest House (Chiang Mai)
  • Green Leaf (Khao Yai)
  • Lonely Beach Resort (Ko Chang)
  • The Sanctuary (Koh Phangan)
  • Na-Tub Hostel (Koh Phangan)
  • Pineapple Guesthouse (Phuket)
  • Dream Lodge
  • The Pod Capsule Hostel
  • The Scarlet
  • Under the Coconut Tree Guesthouse (Hoi An)
  • Fuse Beachside (Hoi An)
  • Pretty Backpackers House (Da Lat)
  • Hanoi Old Quarter Hostel (Hanoi)
  • Luxury Backpackers Hostel (Hanoi)
  • The Hideout (HCMC)
  • City Backpackers Hostel (HCMC)

How to Get Around Southeast Asia

A lone person standing on lush, green rice terraces in Southeast Asia on a bright sunny day

Public transportation – Public transportation costs from a few pennies to a few dollars, with Singapore and Malaysia offering the most comprehensive public transportation systems. In Thailand, local buses cost around $0.25 USD per trip, while the Metro and Skytrain in Bangkok cost $0.50-1.50 USD per trip. In Cambodia, a bus ticket in Phnom Penh costs just $0.40 USD per ride.

Major cities generally have subway systems but mostly you’ll be using the bus or shared taxis to get around.

Tuk-tuks (small, shared taxis with no meter) are available around much of the region and require a bit of haggling. They usually have 3-6 seats and generally cost more than public transportation but are faster. To find a reputable driver, ask your accommodation as they usually know someone. Tuk-tuk drivers can often be hired for the day for a discounted rate (this is what a lot of people do to visit the Killing Fields and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, for example).

Taxi – Taxis in the region are generally safe, though it’s not uncommon to have to haggle. Scams to rip you off aren’t uncommon either, so always ask your accommodation to call you a taxi whenever possible so you know you’ll get a reputable company.

In Singapore and Indonesia, taxi drivers do put on the meter. In Bangkok, you can get taxi drivers to use the meter, but if you’re hailing one in a tourist area, he might try to avoid using it. In Vietnam, the meter is sometimes rigged, but if you can get a reputable company like Mai Linh, you won’t have any problems.

Ridesharing – Grab, DiDi, and Gojek are Asia’s answer to Uber. They work the same way: you hire a driver to take you somewhere via the app, and you can pay via the app or in cash. It’s often more affordable than a regular taxi, though drivers are a bit unreliable as the practice is not as widespread here as in other parts of the world.

Just keep in mind that some drivers are driving motorcycles so be sure to double check what kind of vehicle is picking you up if you don’t want to ride on the back of one.

Bus – The easiest and cheapest way to travel around Southeast Asia is by bus. The backpacker trail is so worn that there is a very well-established tourist bus system to take you anywhere. Buses costs vary between $5-25 USD for a 5-6 hour journey. Overnight buses cost $20-35 USD depending on distance (they often have reclining seats so you can get a decent sleep).

You can check ticket prices and book tickets for all the different bus companies across Southeast Asia at

Train – Train service is limited in the region and not something to really consider when you travel Southeast Asia. You can take a train up and down the coast of Vietnam and there’s some limited scenic rails in Malaysia. Thailand is the only country that has an extensive train system that lets you travel all its regions (and onward to Singapore) from Bangkok.

The train prices in Southeast Asia are determined by distance and class. Night trains with sleeper cars are more expensive than day trains. The night train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok takes twelve hours and costs $27 USD for a sleeper seat. However, that same train during the day is $8-9 USD. In Vietnam, trains run up and down the coast and cost $60 USD from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City.

Flying – The cost of flying around Southeast Asia has come down in recent years due to the rise of low-cost airlines. Scoot, Jetstar, and AirAsia are the biggest. Nok Air has a lot of flights within Thailand , and VietJet Air is popular in Vietnam . Lion Air serves Indonesia , but its safety record is really spotty and I personally would not fly them. If you book early, you can save on fares, as most of the airlines offer deeply discounted fare sales all the time, especially Air Asia.

Just make sure that the airport these budget airlines fly into isn’t too far out of your way (transportation from the secondary airport sometimes negates the savings from using the budget airline itself).

Also, keep in mind that you usually must pay to check your baggage on these cheap flights. If you wait to pay for your luggage at the gate, you end up paying almost double. Travel carry-on only to avoid this added cost.

All in all, I only recommend flying if you are pressed for time or find a super cheap deal. Otherwise, stick to the bus.

Hitchhiking – Hitchhiking in Southeast Asia is safe, though popularity of the practice varies by country (it’s more common in Malaysia, but not so much in Cambodia). Dress respectably, smile while making eye contact with drivers, and use a cardboard sign to tell people where you’re headed. Be prepared for long bouts of no pick-ups, especially if you’re traveling through more rural areas. Pack plenty of water and food. Also, make sure the people picking you up understand you’re hitchhiking and not flagging down a taxi.

Hitchwiki is a great resource for hitchhiking tips.

Car rental I don’t recommend renting a car in Southeast Asia. Rental cars are expensive ($40 USD per day or more) and the roads here are in poor shape. I would never drive around the region.

When to Go to Southeast Asia

The best time of year to visit Southeast Asia is from November to April when temperatures are milder (though temperatures vary drastically by region). It may be mild in Thailand in January and hot in Malaysia but in Northern Vietnam, it’s cold! Also, one of the biggest mistakes people make is not taking into account the rainy season. In some cases it won’t make a big difference but definitely does if it’s a beach trip.

In Indonesia, the best time to visit is April to October. Temperatures average 24-30ºC (75-86ºF), and the weather is mostly dry. July to September is the peak holiday season and when you can expect to pay the highest rates. December to February is the rainy season.

In Malaysia, January-March and June-September are the best time to visit, as these months have the lowest average rainfall. It is still hot and humid during this time though. The rainy season is from October to December. Singapore’s climate/weather is much like Malaysia’s.

In Vietnam, the weather varies by region. In Central Vietnam (including Hoi An and Nha Trang), January-May is the best time to visit because it is dry and the temperatures average 21-30°C (70-86°F). June to August is also a decent time to visit. If you want to stick around Hanoi, March to April is great, or October to December (for mildest temperatures). The rainy season is May-September.

Thailand has three seasons: hot, hotter, and hottest. It’s always warm, though the weather is nicest between November and February (which is also peak tourist season). Bangkok is “coolest” and driest during this time (but still averaging a hot 29°C/85°F each day). April and May are the hottest months, and the rainy season is June-October. The gulf islands get pretty rainy from August to December.

The dry season in Cambodia is from November-May and the cool season is from November-February (and when most people visit). Temperatures during this time are still high, but humidity is lower. Laos has the same cool season as Cambodia, with the dry season running from November-April.

In the Philippines, it’s mostly warm all year long with an average daily high of 26°C (80°F). There are rainy and dry seasons and temperatures are hot and dry from March-May and cooler December-February. The best time to visit is between January-April when it’s less humid. Monsoon Season is July-October.

For more information on when to go to places, visit the specific country guides.

How to Stay Safe in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is an incredibly safe place to backpack and travel — even if you’re traveling solo and even as a solo female traveler. Violent crime is super, duper rare. Petty theft (including bag snatching) is the most common type of crime in Southeast Asia, especially around popular tourist landmarks. Always keep your valuables out of reach on public transportation and in crowds just to be safe. Never leave your valuables unattended while at the beach and always keep a hold of your purse/bag when out and about as bag snatching is common.

That said, outside touristy areas, theft is really rare. Heck, it’s pretty rare in touristy areas too! But a little vigilance goes a long way and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

There are some common scams around that you’ll want to be aware of, such as the motorbike scam. This involves a bike rental company trying to charge you for damage to the bike that you didn’t cause. To avoid this, always take photos of your rental before you leave so you can protect yourself from baseless claims.

Another common scam involves a tuk-tuk driver taking you somewhere you didn’t want to go in hopes you’ll buy something from the shop/restaurant he dropped you off at (he gets a commission if you do). Simply refuse to buy anything and demand to go back to where you were — or find another driver.

For other common travel scams, read this post about major travel scams to avoid in the region .

Solo female travelers should feel safe here, though it’s generally a good idea to avoid walking around alone at night just to be safe. It’s always a good idea to carry some extra cash to get home in a taxi if you need to. Additionally, always keep an eye on your drink at the bar and never accept drinks from strangers. Be sensible when it comes to dating while traveling and meeting people in public places. As I’m not a woman, please check out some solo female travel blogs to get the best insight.

Overall, the people who get in trouble here tend to be involved with drugs or sex tourism. Avoid those two things and you should be fine. Keep in mind that it’s not always obvious how old someone is or if they’re a sex worker so be mindful when getting involved in romantic interactions. Also, penalties for drug use in this region are stiff so even if you’re here to party, skip the drugs.

Always trust your gut instinct. Make copies of your personal documents, including your passport and ID. Forward your itinerary along to loved ones so they’ll know where you are.

For more in-depth coverage of how to stay safe in Southeast Asia, check out this post that answers some frequently asked questions and concerns.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. You can use the widget below to find the policy right for you:

Southeast Asia Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • Agoda – Other than Hostelworld, Agoda is the best hotel accommodation site for Asia.
  • – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Thailand!

Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Thailand!

My detailed 350+ page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guidebooks and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel around Thailand. You’ll find suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, on and off-the-beaten-path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, bars, safety tips, and much more! Click here to learn more and get your copy today.

Southeast Asia Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on Southeast Asia travel and continue planning your trip:

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Passengers look at the tarmac as they wait for their flights at the Beijing Capital International Airport, in Beijing, China, April 20. Reuters-Yonhap

A recovery in Chinese overseas travel from the COVID-19 pandemic is fading as rising costs and difficulties in securing visas cement a preference for local and short-haul destinations.

The delay in a revival to pre-COVID levels by China's outbound travelers, the world's top spenders on international tourism and airlines, is hitting travel-related companies, hotels and retailers globally.

Eighteen months after China dropped strict zero-COVID policies and reopened its borders, the recovery in overseas travel is lagging behind market expectations and the shape of Chinese travel is changing, with a surge in domestic trips.

Pressured by a prolonged property crisis, high unemployment and a gloomy outlook in the world's second-biggest economy, Chinese consumers have become more frugal since the pandemic, prompting discount wars on everything from travel to cars, coffee and clothes.

Chinese people took 87 million trips abroad last year, down 40 percent from pre-COVID 2019, and industry observers say the pace has slowed since the Lunar New Year in February. China's travelers spent 24 percent less last year than in 2019, while U.S. travelers' spending was up 14 percent, according to U.N. Tourism data.

The Chinese lag is bad news for countries like France, Australia and the U.S., which were among the top destinations for Chinese travelers before the pandemic.

Liu Simin, vice president of the tourism branch of the China Society for Futures Studies research institute, forecasts China's international travel might not recover to pre-pandemic levels for another five years.

"The recovery is a lot slower than expected," Liu said. "The devaluation of the Chinese yuan combined with inflation in the U.S. and Europe is a double blow."

The Chinese currency has fallen more than 2 percent against the dollar since the start of the year, raising costs in yuan terms for Chinese travelers abroad.

Consultancy Oliver Wyman last month pushed its estimates for China's international travel recovery to late 2025, half a year later than it forecast last year.

"I would actually argue that consumers are even more cost-conscious than last year, and you'll also see that feed into travel trends," said Imke Wouters, Hong Kong-based partner at Oliver Wyman.

To be sure, overseas travel is rebounding, with Chinese travelers again the world’s top spenders on international tourism last year after falling behind the United States in 2022, according to U.N. Tourism data.

This summer 8 percent of flights at Chinese airports have been international, up from just 1 percent in 2022, according to aviation data provider OAG.

Travelers walk past a display showing departure flights information at Shanghai Pudong International Airport during the Spring Festival travel rush on Lunar New Year's Eve, in Shanghai, China, Feb. 9. Reuters-Yonhap

Travelers walk past a display showing departure flights information at Shanghai Pudong International Airport during the Spring Festival travel rush on Lunar New Year's Eve, in Shanghai, China, Feb. 9. Reuters-Yonhap

Flip to domestic travel

That recovery, however, is overshadowed by the surge in domestic trips, which hit a record 295 million during the five-day May Day holiday, up more than 20 percent from 2019, official data showed.

Domestic airlines seats were up 16 percent in May from the same month in 2019, while international flights were down 30 percent, Cirium data shows.

Wouters at Oliver Wyman said 40 percent of those who travelled abroad in 2023 for the first time since borders reopened had decided not to travel internationally again this year, mainly due to inconvenience and long visa processing times for many European destinations.

Beijing resident Wang Shu, 38, vacationed domestically after cancelling a trip to France because he could not get a visa, despite trying to book a visa appointment months ahead.

"I tried booking the interview in late March, as I planned to attend the French Open tennis in late May, but the earliest date that I could book was June 19," Wang said.

Wang instead vacationed in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, known for its spicy food.

"The food was great, I watched a concert and spent one-tenth of the money I'd have spent in France," he said.

Australia's top source of tourists before COVID, China is now number four, with arrivals down 53 percent in March from March 2019, said Margy Osmond, chief executive of Tourism & Transport Forum Australia.

Chinese travelers to France, the most visited country in the world, have reached only 28.5 percent of 2019 levels, according to airport operator ADP.

Capacity on U.S.-China routes remains down more than 80 percent from 2019 levels, weighed by intensifying bilateral political tensions. The U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office expects Chinese tourism to the U.S. to recover fully only in 2026.

By contrast, countries with visa-free policies have received strong growth in Chinese visitors.

These include Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, where flight capacity has also increased.

Switzerland, growing in popularity with high-end travelers on, boasts a seven-day visa process, said Jane Sun, CEO of Group.

Japan has also received a surge in Chinese travelers this year, boosted by a plunge in the yen's value.

"We are not just seeing a market re-growing, we are seeing a market re-shaping," Gary Bowerman, director of tourism intelligence firm Check-In Asia, told an OAG webinar last month. (Reuters)


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South Korea unveils new visa for foreign K-pop trainees in tourism push

SEOUL, June 17 (UPI) -- South Korea will introduce a new K-culture visa for foreigners to receive entertainment industry training as part of a comprehensive plan to boost inbound tourism unveiled Monday.

The visa will be launched on a trial basis this year, the South Korean Finance Ministry announced , in an effort to leverage the overwhelming global popularity of Hallyu, or the "Korean Wave" of cultural exports. It will allow foreigners to stay in the country for extended periods while studying at training academies in fields such as K-pop, choreography and modeling.

Tourist arrivals to South Korea have been skewing younger in recent years and K-content is cited as the top attraction for those in their 20s and 30s, according to the ministry.

The government is also considering expanding a digital nomad visa for foreigners to live in Korea while working remotely.

A one-year pilot of the digital nomad visa began in January, and officials are looking at adding region-specific offerings to give foreigners more incentives and options to stay in the country.

The moves are part of an overall plan to lift the tourism sector as it continues to rebound from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of foreign arrivals in South Korea swelled from a pandemic low of 970,000 in 2021 to 11 million in 2023, the ministry said. In 2019, some 17.5 million people visited South Korea.

While arrivals are climbing, tourism revenue has been slower to recover. Through April of this year, visitor numbers reached 90% of the level before the pandemic -- but spending was only at 70%.

A move away from group tours to individual travel and an increased emphasis on cultural experiences rather than shopping are the primary reasons, according to officials.

The average length of stay has also decreased, from 7.8 days last year to 6.5 days this year. Specialized visas for K-culture trainees and digital nomads will stimulate longer-term stays, the government hopes, as it has set a target of 30 million tourists visiting Korea and $30 billion in tourism revenue by 2027.

Other measures announced Monday aim to reduce visa issuance times and streamline entry procedures for foreign visitors.

Short-term public transit passes, expanded foreign language content on domestic apps and new flight routes with countries such as Indonesia and Mongolia will also be introduced.

South Korea will introduce a new K-culture visa for foreign trainees in the entertainment industry, Seoul's Finance Ministry announced Monday. The "Korean Wave" of cultural exports such as K-pop and K-dramas has driven overseas tourism to South Korea, as seen at a BTS fan event in 2023


  1. How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Korea 2020? Korean Budget

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  2. How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Korea 2020? Korean Budget

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  3. South Korea Travel Budget Report (39 nights) 2019

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  4. How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Korea 2020? Korean Budget

    korea travel cost

  5. How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Korea 2023? Korean Budget

    korea travel cost

  6. South Korea Budget Travel Guide (Updated 2023)

    korea travel cost


  1. 한국기행

  2. COST OF LIVING IN KOREA💸 #rajaajith

  3. Best 10 lesser known travel destinations in Korea?

  4. 한국기행

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  6. 🇰🇷Is South Korea a Materialistic Country?🥲


  1. South Korea Travel Cost

    How much does it cost to travel to South Korea? You should plan to spend around $108 (₩147,903) per day on your vacation in South Korea. This is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average for one day: $28 (₩38,176) on meals; $16 (₩21,533) on local transportation

  2. The Cost of Travel in South Korea: My 2024 Budget Breakdown

    Tours cost 195,000 KRW ($150) per person and last for a full day. Yes, this is Korea! The highlight of my time in South Korea was hiking in Seoraksan National Park. I knew I wanted to get out into nature while I was in South Korea, as I didn't want my entire trip to focus around gigantic, bustling cities.

  3. How Much Is a Trip to South Korea? Travel Costs, Savings Tips

    The average cost of a round-trip economy flight from cities in the USA like New York or Los Angeles to Seoul ranges from US$1,000-1,700. From the U.S., the cheapest time to fly to South Korea is in mid-January and February, with round-trip prices around US$1,000-1,300. And the most expensive times to buy flight tickets are during the summer ...

  4. South Korea Budget Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    South Korea Travel Costs. Accommodation - A bed in a hostel dorm with 4-6 beds costs 20,000-25,000 KRW per night, while a bed in a dorm with 8 or more beds costs around 14,000-20,000 KRW. A single private room is around 40,000 KRW, while a double private room is 70,000 KRW.

  5. What a Trip to South Korea Costs in 2024

    Average Trip to South Korea Cost in 2024. An average one-week trip to South Korea for two people will cost around $4,900: Average Accommodation Cost: $100 per night. Average Flight Cost: $1,300 per person. Food, Drink & Activities: $100 per person, per day. Transportation: $200 total.

  6. Cost of a Trip to South Korea & the Cheapest Time to Visit South Korea

    Average Solo Traveler. The average cost for one person to visit South Korea for a week is $1,109-$2,277 ($158-$325 per day). Food, Travel, and Sightseeing: $34 to $69 per day for one person's daily expenses. Flights: $535 to $1,308 for economy. Lodging: $56 to $74 per night for one 2 or 3-star hotel room. or $66 to $81 per night for a 1-bed vacation rental

  7. Is South Korea Expensive? (Insider's Guide for 2024)

    Cost of Flights to South Korea. ESTIMATED EXPENSE: $490 - $1133 USD for a roundtrip ticket. When it comes to answering how expensive is South Korea, flights will be a big part of your budget. Mostly, it depends on where in the world you're flying from, and also when you are flying.

  8. Is South Korea Expensive to Visit?

    Based on our calculations from previous travelers, a one week trip to South Korea will cost around $763 per person. This amount includes sightseeing activities, hotels, restaurants, local transportation, and other travel expenses. For two people, a one week trip would cost $1,526. On average, a two week trip to South Korea costs about $1,526 ...

  9. How much does a trip to South Korea Cost?

    Asia / South Korea /. For a trip to South Korea, you should plan for daily costs anywhere between $43 to $277. If there's two of you traveling, your daily expenses could range from $86 to $554. These price ranges are based on the average daily spending of $109 (₩147,903) per person which comes from the travel expenses of other visitors.

  10. 10 Best South Korea Budget Tips + Travel Costs (2024)

    Here's the full breakdown of our South Korea travel costs. We both shared the same card and cash, but for this breakdown, we'll show you roughly how much the same trip would cost for one person too. Our full South Korea travel costs for 2 people (2 weeks) Korean E-Visa - 20,600₩ (£14)

  11. South Korea on a budget

    Daily costs in South Korea. Hostel room: ₩20,000-40,000. Basic guesthouse or minbak room for two: ₩30,000-60,000. Self-catering apartment (including a pension): ₩60,000-120,000. Public transport ticket (one bus ride using a transportation card): ₩1200. Coffee: from ₩3000.

  12. How Much Does It Cost To Travel In Korea 2023? Korean Budget

    The cost to travel in Korea for 7 days is typically around $1,000 USD. However, it can be higher depending on the accommodation you book. This figure also doesn't include flights or visas. Budget travellers can spend a lot less, with daily costs as low as $50 per day ($350 per week), or even less.

  13. 10 Day South Korea Trip Cost

    Entry Fees. Total: $138. Oftentimes, travel entry fees are nothing. You simply get a visa on arrival and go on your merry way. This is especially true for US citizens or one of the most powerful passports in the world. South Korea was easy to enter as a US citizen but it did cost us a little bit.

  14. How much does a trip to South Korea cost?

    A lot of the best things to do in South Korea are free. However, there definitely are some attractions that cost money - entry fees to a museum or an art gallery are usually around ₩19,000 - ₩50,650 per person. If you want to do organised day trips or join smaller tour groups to learn more about some of the sites, budget around ₩108,000 per activity per person.

  15. South Korea Trip Costs Unveiled: Budget, Average, and Luxury

    South Korea Travel Budget for 5/7/10 Days. Planning smartly, seeking affordable options, and embracing the local culture can create an enriching and memorable trip without straining your finances. ... A 5-day trip to Korea will cost you roughly $2,000 to $3,000 per person if you want to splurge on luxury. This budget includes accommodations in ...

  16. South Korea travel budget, Prices and Cost of living in 2024

    Daily budget: $ 105 for 2 ppl. $ 35 per person. $ 16 per person. $ 22 per person. Total budget: $ 3471 * (4782862 ₩) * Estimated local budget for 2 people for 2 weeks. This represents an average across the country (budget may vary depending on the city or region visited).

  17. How to Plan a Trip to South Korea 2024/2025

    How Much Does a Trip to South Korea Cost? The private tour cost in South Korea is about US$400-500 per day per person based on a family of 3-5 people, including 4-star hotels, a full-day itinerary, tickets for attractions, private cars, and private guides. Travel costs are typically one or two times higher in peak times such as the cherry ...

  18. Complete South Korea Travel Guide 2024: Korean Travel Tips

    Cost To Travel In South Korea In 2024. This part of the South Korea travel guide will help you understand some of your expected costs to travel to Korea. The costs to travel to Korea include flights, accommodation, food, drinks, transportation, activities, sim cards, visas, souvenirs, travel insurance, and lots more.

  19. South Korea Budget Tips: Estimate Your Daily Travel Costs

    Having $8 or ₩10,000 will get you a filling meal. If you don't mind scrimping on food so you can use your money on sightseeing or shopping, you can also have gimbap or Korean rice roll for a meal. A serving costs less than $4 in a resto-style snack bar and around $2 in a convenience store. Featured.

  20. South Korea Travel Costs

    How much it costs to travel around South Korea depends on where you plan to visit and the modes of transport selected. Subway tickets typically cost ₩1,300 (around US$1) per journey. Bus fares are similarly priced. Taxi fares vary by region and the size of the vehicle, but the base rate is typically between ₩2,800 and ₩6,500 ...

  21. Seoul Travel Cost

    Food Budget in Seoul Average Daily Costs. Calculated from travelers like you. While meal prices in Seoul can vary, the average cost of food in Seoul is $30 (₩41,265) per day. Based on the spending habits of previous travelers, when dining out an average meal in Seoul should cost around $12 (₩16,506) per person.

  22. South Korea Travel Guide

    The cost to travel in South Korea largely depends on your personal style of travel. You can travel on a low budget in Korea, for under $50 per day, or you could also travel for 10 times that amount if you wished to. Food costs range from a few dollars for a bowl of jajang ...

  23. South Korea: daily travel cost by origin 2023

    Average travel expense per person per day when traveling to South Korea in 2023, by origin (in U.S. dollars) Characteristic Daily per capita average expense in U.S. dollars ...

  24. How to Book Korea Intercity Bus Tickets: Easy & Affordable Travel

    Intercity buses in South Korea are a cost-effective and comfortable travel option with an extensive network connecting major cities and hidden gems. ... The route typically takes around 4 hours and provides a comfortable and cost-effective travel option. This bus service is frequent, with around 2 to 3 departures every hour throughout the day ...

  25. How much did you spend on your trip to Korea? : r/koreatravel

    The longest I'll be in any city is 4-5 days. My 5-days stay in Seoul is $236. domestic plane tickets is ~$185 (Jeju > Seoul & Busan > Jeju) Train ticket from Seoul to Andong ~28000 KRW (have not purchased yet); I assume train from Andong to Busan will be close in price (have not booked) Car rental in Jeju ~$200.

  26. Southeast Asia Budget Travel Guide (Updated 2024)

    Bus - The easiest and cheapest way to travel around Southeast Asia is by bus. The backpacker trail is so worn that there is a very well-established tourist bus system to take you anywhere. Buses costs vary between $5-25 USD for a 5-6 hour journey.

  27. Chinese outbound travel recovery lags due to costs, visa snags

    A recovery in Chinese overseas travel from the COVID-19 pandemic is fading as rising costs and difficulties in securing visas cement a preference for local and short-haul destinations. The Korea Times

  28. South Korea unveils new visa for foreign K-pop trainees in tourism push

    The number of foreign arrivals in South Korea swelled from a pandemic low of 970,000 in 2021 to 11 million in 2023, the ministry said. In 2019, some 17.5 million people visited South Korea.

  29. Joint Travel Regulations

    Joint Travel Regulations. The Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) implements policy and law to establish travel and transportation allowances for Uniformed Service members (i.e., Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps, and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps), Department of Defense (DoD) civilian ...

  30. 13 Best Places to Study Abroad in 2024

    🎓 Top universities: Autonomous University of Barcelona, University of Barcelona, Technical University of Catalonia 📚 Fields of study: Spanish, Hispanic Studies, Science, Modern Languages, Sports Science 💰 Avg cost of tuition for a semester (direct enrollment): $2,000 - $5,000 USD. According to the QS 2023 report, Barcelona is one of the best cities to live in the world as a student ...