Asia,  Travel

Korea Budget Travel: 7 Cool Ways To Save on Your Trip

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

korea budget travel
My sister flaunting her 10,000 won (Php 500 or 10 USD) Hanbok at Gyeongbokgung Palace
korea budget travel
Hanbok rental shop near Gyeongbokgung palace. The prettier the dress, the more costly it is

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.

korea budget travel
The iconic “changing of guards” at Gyeongbokgung Palace

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!

korea budget travel
Buy a discounted voucher for Hanbok rental at Klook.com
korea budget travel
Palace and Temple Guide with a discounted voucher from Klook.com

 

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

korea budget travel
Hostels in Korea are super cute and cozy! Most of them have free breakfasts too! (Photo courtesy of worldbesthotels)

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.

korea budget travel
Click the link to book at Hostelworld.com

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!

Click this link to sign up for an Airbnb account and get up to $40 OFF!
Click this link to get 10% OFF your hotel accommodation from Booking.com

3. Tax-free shopping of at least 30,000 won

korea budget travel
Shop at least 30,000 won to get your 5% tax refund. (Photo courtesy of Koreabizwire)

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

korea budget travel
Popular instant noodles that you can cook at the convenience store then eat by the Han river
korea budget travel
Try this famous yogurt drink! My favorite’s the strawberry-flavored one
korea budget travel
Save more money by getting food delivered to you (and your friends) and enjoy the view of 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

korea budget travel
Get discounts when you pay with your T-money card for transportation
korea budget travel
Get your T-money or recharge it on ticket vending machines on subway stations

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

korea budget travel
Public bike rental near the Han river

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

Who said water bottles can’t be fashionable? (Photo courtesy of Pinterest)

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!

54 Comments

  • Eric Gamble

    Great tips on saving $$ when travelling around Korea! I love staying in Hostels even at my age and especially if they offer a good breakfast! Though Airbnb can be a great alternative too.
    As for food, that can often get you if you eat out all the time but if you go into local grocery stores its great cause you not only get to experience what the locals are eating but it can save you tons of money.
    I think Darcee would love to rent a traditional dress too…how cool is that!

    • christinewillg0

      That’s true! Hostels are the best accommodation when traveling. Definitely try wearing a Hanbok at least once in your life!

  • Laura

    I visited Korea few years ago but I didn’t know that renting a hanbok would allow me to get a free admission to all palaces. I’d keep that in mind on my next visit. Thanks for sharing this!

    • christinewillg0

      Not a lot of people know it either so I hope I can share this information to more people! Thanks for reading!

  • HartWanders

    I agree. Korea is now gaining soo much attention because of KDrama and KPop. Though medyo naging strict now si Korea for us Filipinos, i think wala pa ring makakapigil sa pagkaadik natin sa kanila. Haha..

    • christinewillg0

      I didn’t know they got more strict with us Filipinos! I guess that’s why they updated the list of requirements for visa application. But true! It won’t stop us from getting obsessed with their kdrama and kpop 😂

  • Ivan Jose

    Honestly, I have never really paid much attention to Korea but with the many beautiful pictures shared on social media, I was suddenly interested with their rich culture and beautiful sights. Hoping to go there, too, when all expenses have normalized for us.

    • christinewillg0

      I thought the same way before I traveled to Korea. It used to be just another country in Asia for me and honestly, I was more interested in Japan that I went 3 times to Japan before I even considered visiting its neighboring country. But I’m so glad I did! I hope you get to see Korea soon too

  • Geoff C

    Thank you so much for these tips, they are really useful for me , will share to my friends as well! I will go visit Korea next month when I come back I will share some experiences

    • christinewillg0

      Thank you Geoff! I hope you and your friends enjoy your trip to Korea! Would love to hear your experiences especially if you tried out my tips ✌️

  • LiveLoveAndAdventure

    Thanks for your post! It has a lot of useful tips to save money. I especially liked the one about renting hanbok to save mone and get free entrances to palaces! It would also be kind of fun to wear one while visiting!

    • christinewillg0

      I’m glad you found it useful! Wearing a Hanbok is really a unique and fun experience to do in Korea, especially when seeing others doing the same. I thought I was back in the Joseon Dynasty!

  • Annreeba

    I was interested in Korea’s rich culture and beautiful sights. Hoping to go there, too. Thanks for sharing these tips with us.

  • Sulav Sapkota

    I wonder when I could visit this lovely country. But when I do, I will make sure to follow your tips. Thank you for sharing.

  • Laurie

    This is one of my favorite travel tip blog posts that I have ever read! It has GREAT inside information. I have never heard of a “Hanbok” before. It seems like it would be a great way to visit palaces and get immersed in the history/traditions of the location. I. Love. This. Thank. You.

  • Anna

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for these great tips. I love Korea and I am already planning a big trip with my family. Your information will definitely be useful to me!

  • Marge

    I originally intended to rent a hanbok but when I was there and I saw all these women wearing the traditional clothing, I suddenly thought it’s corny hahaha.. Also, I had my tripod, my camera, and a bag, it would be such a hassle for me if I was wearing a hanbok while carrying all of these stuff.

    Renting a bike is something that I was not able to do, but now that I think of it, why the hell not. Seoul is a bike-friendly city anyway.

  • Ann

    Never been to Korea yet! Would love to stay at this cute hostels and shop! Have worn the Hanbok though in Japan ( at a Korea town inspired park) Enjoyed the post, thanks!

  • Val

    So many great money saving tips and so many beautiful photos! I’ve never traveled outside of the US but would love to visit Korea some day.

  • Katchutravels

    The one on the Handbook was too good. Not sure why they would do free entry into palaces but that seemed like a cool hack. Is there something for a male that can be worn? I also liked the one where you talk about cooking by the HAN river. Love seeing the tents and the community together in action!

    • christinewillgo

      Yes there is a Hanbok for men. I think it’s the same price as for women’s. They do this as part of their promotion of tourism since wearing a Hanbok is an eye-catcher, it helps encourage people to 1) visit palaces 2) rent Hanboks to increase sales and 3) learn more about Korean history.

  • Astrid

    These are excellent tips that I think can be applied for traveling anywhere. I actually had no idea that you get a 5% tax refund Wow that’s awesome! I learned something new today. I can’t wait to visit Korea, I head really good things about it.

  • Marie Fe

    I really love to travel in Korea. It’s in my bucket list. My friend visited this place and she said it’s so beautiful. Thanks for sharing this post to save while traveling in Korea

  • Mane

    I love it!! I’ve always wanted to visit Korea. I love your pictures you’ve captured the awesome scenes. Thank you for sharing these tips!

  • Dalene Ekirapa

    Ever since I watched the Phantom Thief,I just loved how the Hanbok looked like and definitely, I’d love to wear one while exploring Korea. Anyway, these are awesome tips and I agree that using public transportation and counting on deals could make one save a lot during travel.

  • KS Rao

    I can understand how important its to control your budget while on travel, since its one thing which one can easily over shoot, great tips for who wants to travel to Korea, I think any traveler would be looking for such valuable tips. I do myself look for tips whenever i travel. And many times its helpful.

  • Ally

    There are so many insightful tips in this post! I love staying at places where breakfast is provided for free, I’ve never heard of that meal delivery service before -if I ever go to Korea I will keep it in mind!

  • Cat Uy

    thanks for those great tips, we’ve just been to korea last month and did some of those you suggested. it will surely help those who havent been to korea.

  • Alexine

    Thank you for this lovely list for budget travelers like me (haha) I love being thrifty while traveling. Since I’m planning my visit to Korea this is really perfect! I’ll abosolutely buy that T money thanks for your tips!

  • Princess Quinn

    I don’t think trips to Korea will be more than worth it if it is not to this. It definitely has realistic simple hacks to follow through. This is a must read.

  • JV

    I visited Korea thrice during the period 2012 to 2014 and traveled extensively on a shoestring budget. On my third visit, I stayed 58 days though I wanted to even extend my allowed 59 days stay because I love the country so much but I wasn’t allowed to by the immigration office because my reason is not an emergency case. Then I planned to just use up the 59 days allowed stay but then the flight to Dubai, my next destination, was so expensive on that day so I left after 58 days but I intentionally left out visiting Jeju Island so that I will have another reason to visit Korea. The recent North and South Korean summit gives me hope that unification will soon be achieved which will give me more reason to visit Korea in the future.

    Anyways, I like your blog and I hope you continue your travels and inspire more students to travel despite the inconveniences of holding a Philippine passport.

    • christinewillgo

      I know how you feel. Korea is such a beautiful country that no amount of days is enough. Thank you for reading my blog. I really wish to inspire Filipinos to travel more and realize that traveling doesn’t always need to be expensive.

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