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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.
A reasonable budget for two for a week in South Korea is around ₩1,508,000.
This 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.
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.See latest hotel deals in South Korea
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.See the highest rated hostels in South Korea
Keep in mind that accommodation can be more expensive in Seoul, so budget accordingly if you'll be spending more time in the city.
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 a small amount of 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, although you can always find cheaper options in the supermarket. 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.
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.
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 (Spring, Autumn 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.