Heading to Seoul on a budget doesn't have to be boring and unpleasant. You can have tons of fun in Seoul on a budget, and this guide will help you to make the most of your time in this amazing city. There are so many things to see and do in this part of South Korea, from learning about Korean history to seeing sights like the Seoul Tower to trying out Seoul street food. You will be able to do all of this and more while you save money on your trip.
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Cheap places to stay in Seoul
Saving money and enjoying Seoul on a budget means picking the right hotel for your stay. Deciding on which neighborhood in Seoul to choose should be your first step to finding the perfect accommodations for your time in North Korea. This is a very large city, and choosing to stay in the wrong part of town could add a lot of expense to your trip. However, if you have the T Money Card, you should have no trouble traveling all around the city for a flat rate.
Insa Hostel in Seoul
This simple but comfortable hostel dorm offers rooms for just $41 a night. The rooftop deck has incredible city views of Seoul, and you will be close to a bus station as well as a train station. You are outside the city centre here, so things are quiet and cozy, but all it takes is a short train ride or bus ride to get to attractions like the Seoul Tower. Wi-fi and breakfast are free here, and there is air conditioning as well.
Seoul N Hotel Dongdaemun
For contemporary rooms that are comfortable and cozy, as well as private rooms for an added fee, this hostel dorm is a great choice. Dorm rooms start at $40 a night here, and you can head to a metro station after a short ten-minute walk. This is a good location to get to Hongdae Street with ease or to head to Gyeongbokgung Palace. The rooms do not have heaters here, which can be tough if the weather is cold, but you get free wi-fi and air conditioning as well as free breakfast.
Fairfield by Marriott Seoul
While most major chain hotels are expensive when you travel, this Marriott in South Korea is really affordable. Rooms start at just $76 a night, and you will be given access to wi-fi and a gym here, as well as an in-house convenience store location. You are five minutes from Yeongdeungpo train station and within walking distance of Seoul Color Park. This is a great choice if you want to pay hostel prices but get a private room with all the right perks. For those with the T Money Card, this is a great jumping-off place to get all over the city.
Cheap things to do in Seoul
This attraction is only about $3 to get into, and you will want to make sure to put this South Korea landmark on your list of things to do when you visit Seoul. This palace was built in 1395, and it was the main residence of the royal family during the Joseon dynasty. The rooms were all restored in the 19th century, but they have been largely untouched since then and preserved as a historical landmark. There is a project to restore the palace to its original form, and you can enjoy access to one of the oldest buildings still standing in the city, complete with authentic furnishings and decor.
Namsan Park to Seoul Tower cable car
Riding the cable car from Namsan park to Seoul Tower is a great way to see the entire city spread out below you. The cable car only costs about $8, and you can put a few people into each car. This is a lovely experience that gives you the chance to get a bird's eye view of the beauty of the city. You can also walk up all the stairs of the Tower if you wish, but the cable car is much easier on your feet and a lot more fun for most people.
This is one of the free attractions that you will want to visit when you are in Seoul. You can see all over the city from this vantage point, and there is a coffee shop up near the top of the building as well. Grab a coffee and a pastry and look out over the city. Taking selfies here is ideal, and you do not want to visit Seoul without checking out the lovely view at this affordable attraction.
Cheap places to eat in Seoul
Eating out in Seoul can be spendy, but not if you pick the right places to have your meals. Forget about getting food at convenience stores and check out any of the amazing street food vendors in the city. There are also lots of places where you can get Korean food that will not break the bank. Seoul is a great place to eat heartily and save money at the same time, so you will probably find that every district has lots of great options to pick and choose from. Consider using your T Money Card to go to other parts of the city to experience some of the more unique food offerings that might not be right by your hotel.
Tongin Market Street Food
There are various large street food markets in South Korea, and this is one of the best. You can enjoy a filling and hearty meal for about $4 here, and you will love all the options that are available to you in the market. From local fare to fusion dishes and items that appeal to tourists, this is one of the best places to make sure that everyone in your family or group gets a meal that they love. You can choose to buy per tray here as well, paying a flat fee to enjoy as much food as will fit on your tray.
This cozy little local shop will offer you small tables and a big menu of local cuisine that is delicious and filling. Tonkatsu, which is breaded and deep-fried pork, is a local favorite and offers you classics that you cannot get in tourist areas. You can get a big meal for about $5 here, and there are lots of seasonal options that come and go off the menu, which can be great to try. These spots are almost like street food vendors but with comfortable seating and great service.
Isaac Toast & Coffee Myeongdong
For an affordable breakfast and great coffee, this is the right place to head. This cute shop offers you access to all kinds of breakfast classics as well as Korean food that you might never have tried before. There are package deals as well that you can enjoy if you have a big group of people to feed. This is a place with really friendly service, which can be nice if you want to try out a new South Korean dish of some kind or another. Expect to pay about $5-$10 for your meal here.
Cheap bars in Seoul
Heading out for a night on the town is a must-do item at least once during your time in Seoul. The nightlife in this city is really fun, and there are lots of great places to hang out and drink for affordable prices.
This fun location offers you access to affordable drinks and food, as well as fun things like costume and themed nights. They host dungeons and dragons nights, board game nights, and more, which means that you can easily get involved in these activities and enjoy drink specials to match. The primary focus of the menu here is beer, but you can get lots of great specials on the various beer options. You might find drinks and snacks in combination packages some nights that will only cost you $10.
JS Texas Bar
This Korean take on an Americanized pub can be a really fun place to get a cheap drink (or three). There is an outdoor patio area, or you can hang out inside and belly up to the traditional bar. You will find drink and food specials here, as well as affordable pints for about $6.
Cactus is a little hidden away from the main part of the city, which means that you will see fewer tourists here. You can snuggle up at a cozy table and try out the featured beer or spirits that are offered each day for a discounted price. There are also cocktails for less than $10, and you can get classic bar food as well as fusion snacks here. While slightly more expensive than some of the other options in this guide, the ambiance here is lovely, and the drinks are top-notch.
Bonus budget tips for Seoul
Traveling around Seoul on a budget is easier than you might think. You can head to places like Seoul Station and get to many of the best sightseeing locations around the city with ease. There are various kinds of public transportation available all over the city, and most of these options are quite affordable. This is not a city where you will want to rent a car, and you can get the T Money Transport Card to make all of your public transportation needs easy to pay for and access.
The Seoul tourism board is a great way to get connected with free attractions and free walking tours all over the city. Korean culture is meant to be shared, and you can save money and still see most of the things you want to check off your list by accessing these tours. From walking by traditional Korean houses to seeing national museum locations for free, these tours can help you save money in a variety of ways.
Live like a local
Hostels and guesthouses that are not right in the heart of the city will always be more affordable than those that are close to things like the National Museum. You will also find that you will feel welcomed right into the South Korean culture with open arms at these locations. You might even meet people who are traveling to the same locations and attractions, which will help you to afford to travel more easily if you pool resources.
If you still have time in your day to enjoy Seoul on a budget, you will need to make the most of all the great free things to do in the city. For those traveling with kids or a large group, these options can make every day really fun without breaking the bank. South Korea is a busy place full of things to see and do, and you can take part in almost anything you want to enjoy without having to save up thousands of dollars. From enjoying traditional Korean food to making sure to visit free attractions, you can make your time in Seoul very affordable.
If you have always dreamed of heading to the South Korean capital to learn more about Korean culture and to see one of the most famous cities in the world, you can make this trip even with a tight budget. This guide will help you to maximize your time in Seoul on a budget and have fun along the way.