There’s a reason that South Korea made it onto our 2019 Budget Destinations list. The country’s electric capital city of Seoul is where traditional meets modern, and bustle meets beauty. And while a trip to this city is affordable, we’ve rounded up some tips on how to save even more.
- Book a connecting flight. Sure, flying direct to your destination is preferred, but if you’re looking to save, consider taking a connecting flight. Besides, when it comes to jetting to Asia, the savings can be outstanding. For example, an indirect flight to Seoul from New York City offers savings of up to $600 per person (that's nearly the cost of a week's worth of hotels).
Ditch a luxury stay in Gangnam. The high-end neighborhood (known by many from a certain viral hit from artist PSY in 2012) may be tempting to stay in, but there are many other areas in Seoul that offer more value for less. If you want to explore Gangnam, simply take the subway there (more on this below). We recommend staying in Myeongdong (a lively area that’s great for shopping and is also close to popular N Seoul Tower), or Insadong (an under-the-radar art hub that’s great for first-time visitors).
Take advantage of the transit system. Seoul is a big city, which means you may soon get tired of walking everywhere. Instead, utilize the stellar transit system. The subway here is clean, efficient, and effortless to navigate. What’s more, the price of a train pass (known as a T-money card) is a lot less than a taxi, and can get you farther. However, it's important to note that the train does close from midnight to 5:30 a.m. During this time, taxis are available for an affordable price.
Enjoy the street food. While you should treat yourself to some authentic Korean barbecue during your stay, there are copious amounts of street food available that's just as good. Sample some gyeran-ppang (egg bread), bungeo-ppang (fun fish-shaped pastries filled with chocolate), and tteok-bokki (rice cakes in a spicy-sweet sauce). The best part? These delectable snacks cost no more than $5. Once you get tired of street food, head to some of the city’s famed food markets, including Gwangjang Market (home to hundreds of well-priced eats) or Namdaemun Market, which is one of Korea’s oldest markets.
- Visit all the palaces with an integrated ticket pass. A trip to Seoul wouldn’t be complete without visiting the city’s historic and awe-inspiring palaces. Sprinkled in between towering modern buildings, these sites dating back to Korea’s Joseon Dynasty in the 14th century, and are truly one-of-a-kind. While you’re here, be sure to stop by the Gyeongbokgung Palace and wander through its gorgeous and memorably grandiose premises. Also, take in the beauty of the Changdeokgung Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that's certainly bucket list-worthy. A ticket to explore each of these historic gems costs less than $3; however, it’s well worth it to purchase a multi-palace ticket. For less than $10, you will gain access to (almost) all of these jaw-dropping palaces, for a fraction of the price.