South Korea Travel Guide
South Korea is quickly becoming one of the most interesting travel destinations in Northeast Asia. Many associate this country with the vibrant and fashionable city of Seoul; yet beyond the city border lies a beautiful countryside. Dubbed the “Land of the Morning Calm,” here you will find another side to South Korea, a country of souring mountain peaks and serene temples.
Of course if you prefer round-the-clock action, Seoul has you covered! Fill your shopping bags at the luxurious Gangnam shopping centers, or bargain for treasures at the markets near Ehwa and Insadong. Feast on delicious Korean barbeque and wash it down with some soju, a popular potato-starch liquor.
From the lively metropolitan to the peaceful countryside, every visitor will find unique beauty in the Korean culture.
Planning your budget
$1 USD is ≈ 1,100 KRW (Won)
For 1,100 Won ($1) you can buy…
- 1 bottle of soju
- 1 subway ticket
- 1 red bean fish toast (and various other street food items)
*All exchange rates are approximate. Try the XE Currency app for the latest rates.
Accommodation in South Korea is extremely reasonable compared to neighboring countries such as Japan. From cheap to traditional, below is a breakdown of accommodation options for the budget traveler:
- Jjimjilbang Bathhouse ≈ $10
- Guesthouse ≈ $20
- Love Hotel ≈ $45
- 3-4 Star Hotel ≈ $80
South Korea has an extensive and efficient transportation system. It’s very easy to get around, and almost all public transportation signs are in Korean and English. Taxis are extremely reasonable, usually less than $20 for a 25 minute taxi ride.
- City bus ≈ $1
- Local train ≈ $2
- Ferry (domestic) ≈ $50
- KTX, High Speed Train ≈ $45 each way
Recommend booking via Korail
Korean food is intricately woven into the Korean culture. People travel from all over the world to experience some of these unique dishes first-hand:
- Hoeddeok Sweet Pancake ≈ $3
- Bibimbap ≈ $5
- Ddukbokkie Rice Cake ≈ $6
- Korean BBQ ≈ $8
- Yangnyeom Tongdak Fried Chicken ≈ $9
*Tipping is not common in South Korea.
Within the city, many people visit simply for the shopping and bargain deals. Seoul is also a prime destination in the new phenomena of medical tourism. The cost of laser eye surgery, for example, is around only $600 compared to $5,000+ in many other countries.
Outside of Seoul, enjoy a more natural setting of beautiful hiking trails, zen temples, and quiet villages.
- Jimjilbang Spa & Sauna ≈ $10
- Lotte World Theme Park ≈ $25
- Day tour ≈ $70
- DMZ Tour ≈ $80
South Korea Bucket List
- Climb Mount Hallasan, a volcanic mountain on the beautiful island of Jeju
- Explore the peaceful grounds of Gyeongbokgung Palace, the “palace of shining happiness”
- Take the cable car to N Seoul Tower and attach a love lock at the top
- Sleep in traditional wooden hanok house in Jeonju Hanok Village
- Get messy at the Boryeong Mud Festival in July
- Sing your heart out at a noraebang, the Korean version of karaoke
- Feast on traditional Korean foods such as galbi (Korean BBQ) & kimchi (fermented spicy cabbage)
- Sample some makkeolli, an increasingly popular and delicious milky rice wine
- Hike along the wall of the Namhansanseong Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Shop for deals at Myeongdong (brand names), Dongdeamun (Korean fashion), and Ewha (cheap women’s fashion)