South Korea is finally gaining more attention after making waves (or hallyu waves) across the world. Although for many, South Korea still remains as kimchi and kpop, it’s definitely way more than that. With its rich culture, colorful quaint villages, unruffled nature, and jaw dropping innovations, South Korea has become one of my favorite countries in Asia. And what better way than to explore it on the cheap? So, here are 7 cool ways to save on your trip for your Korea budget travel!
1. Rent a Hanbok when visiting palaces
Hanbok is the traditional attire of South Korea which goes as far back as 1,600 years ago. In the Joseon Dynasty, both the rich and the poor wore than hanbok so depending on your status, the dress gets more lavish and more beautiful. Now you’re wondering, how will this save you money in your Korea trip? Well, you get free entrances to palaces! If you plan to visit multiple palaces, then renting a hanbok will save you more money.
For instance, admission to the Gyeongbokgung Palace, one of the most famous landmarks in Seoul, will already set you back 3,000 won (Php 150 or 3 USD) and that’s just for one palace. But if you rent a hanbok, it will cost you at least 7,000 won (Php 350 or 7 USD) which will already give you free admission to all palaces! So not only do you get to experience wearing a traditional Korean attire, you also get to see more of the history for an enriching Korea budget travel. Avoid long queue and get discounts when you buy a Hanbok rent voucher from Klook!
Alternatively: You can buy an Integrated Palace Ticket which gives you access to four Palaces in Seoul for only 10,000 won (Php 500 or 10 USD). This includes Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, Deoksugung Palace, Gyeongbokgung Palace and Jongmyo Shrine. You can also get a discounted Palace and Temple Guide for a hassle-free trip from Klook!
2. Stay at hostels with free breakfast
Koreans take their hostel-gaming very seriously. Not only are they huge on aesthetics but they make sure your stay is comfortable and hassle-free. Accommodation in hostels can go as low as Php 500 (10 USD) and with a free breakfast, you get to save a lot of money for a true Korea budget travel. My favorite website to look for best-value hostels is through Hostelworld.com since I can filter the hostels based on price, location, available dates, and ratings.
Alternatively: If you’re traveling in a group and want more privacy, you can stay at a hotel and split the costs. This may be cheaper for you. You can find great deals at Booking.com and if you click on my link, you can get 10% OFF!
But Airbnb can even be cheaper! You can get both privacy and cheap prices when booking with Airbnb. I personally prefer using Airbnb since I usually stay at apartments of locals so the locations are fantastic. If you don’t have an account yet, click here to sign up and get up to $40 credits after booking your first trip!
3. Tax-free shopping of at least 30,000 won
Tax refunds are pretty much normal in every foreign country you will visit but a lot of people still forget about this. Basically, you get 5% tax refund every time you buy items worth at least 30,000 won (Php 1,500 or 30 USD) in a single receipt. So unless you buy that much in a single purchase, it’s better to just allot a one-day shopping trip so you can get that tax refund for your Korea budget travel.
Make sure the shop also allows you to get a tax-refund. They either do an immediate 5% discount or you will get the refund at the airport. Don’t forget to show your passport at the cashier when checking out. No matter how foreign you look, they won’t initiate to give you a tax refund as there are many foreigners living in South Korea.
4. Get food delivered by the Han river
It’s actually a thing. People bring/rent mats and tents by the Han river where they hang out with friends or lovers. You just get your meals delivered by the Han river and chill out for as long as you want! Take outs are relatively cheaper as compared to eating in restaurants. And since you can bring your own drinks, you get to save even more money for your Korea budget travel.
5. Travel with T-money to get discounts
T-money is a rechargeable card used to pay for transportation in South Korea. For Filipinos, T-money is like our Beep card; except it also works on bus, subways, and even taxis. You can also use T-money as a payment method in some stores. It helps you save time from buying a single-ticket every time you hop on the train. And it also gives you a discount of almost 10% in your fares, which is definitely good for a Korea budget travel. If you’re worried about overcharging your T-money, don’t. You get to refund whatever’s left in it. Just try not to lose it like I did (twice).
PRO TIP: Buy your T-money in the subway stations but look for the ones that look like a vending machine (not the one in the photo). This is the only place where you can get a book full of discount coupons when you buy your T-money. The cheapest T-money card costs 2,000 won (Php 100 or 2 USD). It doesn’t have credits so you will have to charge it with a minimum credit of 3,000 won (Php 150 or 3 USD). You can do so in subway stations and convenience stores.
Alternatively: You can get a personalized T-money with your own photo on it. It will cost more but it’s good for souvenir. And if you’re not traveling by yourself, opt for the couple card which will cost even less!
6. Rent a public bicycle
If conforming to the norm is not your thing then renting a bicycle is perfect for you. With over 300 biking stations and more than 3000 bicycles, you won’t worry about missing one! This public bicycle rental service is available in the regions of Ansan, Goyan, Yeosu, Changwon, Daejeon, Suwon, Danyang, and Seoul. And since I’m guessing you will visit Seoul then you will need to look out for Ddareungi bike sharing. You’ll find a lot of these bike rentals near the Han river. For more details and actual bookings, feel free to visit their website.
7. Bring your own water bottle
This tip goes out to every travel that you will ever have in your life. Not only for your Korea budget travel. You may not realize it but the amount of money you will spend on water will surprise you. By bringing your own water bottle, you get to save money, stay hydrated, and reduce plastic waste! It’s a win-win! Now go have fun in your Korea budget travel!
If you have more tips or want to share your experiences, feel free to comment down below!